Let The Ricks Fall Where They May

Written by Kat_Aclysm
Beta Read by Unlvcrjchick
Rated: - T for language

Disclaimers + Copyrights: I don't own any of these characters, this is a work of fanfiction. Rick and Morty is an Adult Swim animated comedy. Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. Closing Time by Semisonic (C) 1999 Geffen Records. Cover art by author.

NOTE: This is the beginning of something crazy. Chapter has been proofread (and now beta'ed) for readability and the grammar has been tidied. Enjoy!

Chapter 1 - BabyRicker

November 16th, 9:47 AM, 2001
Earth, Dimension Unknown

It was a cold morning in the middle of November. The sky was overcast and it had snowed overnight; it looked like winter was going to come early this year. He'd only gotten the call about an hour ago, but when Rick Sanchez was needed, he came. He was on the front doorstep of the house as soon as he could make it, more than happy to help his daughter whenever she was in a bind.

Before he even got the chance to knock on the door, Beth had already opened it; she had seen him coming through the glass panels in the front door. The older man's ears were immediately assaulted by the sound of a crying child, yet he ignored it and offered his daughter a wide grin. His first observation was that the woman was already at her wit's end; her hair was in disarray and her expression looked like she was having a hard time coping.

"Hi, sweetie," Rick attempted his most saccharine sweet voice as he wiped his boots on the doormat. "Well I'm here now, thanks for opening the door for me. W-what did you need?" He stepped through the front door, closing it behind him.

"Hi, Dad." Beth seemed very happy to see him. "Thanks for showing up so quickly. You're a lifesaver..." She moved in to give him a quick hug.

At that moment, Summer ran up the hallway and bumped into her mother's leg, keen to see who was at the door. She stared up at her grandpa with tear-stained eyes, not saying anything. She had obviously been upset about only a moment ago, though she was calm now.

"I came as soon as I could," Rick began to unbutton his snow jacket. "Fortunately for you, I wasn't doing anything particularly important... n-not really, anyway." He glanced down at Summer, offering his best grin; one that was actually genuine. "Well, hello to you, too. Hey, Summer, you're getting tall. How old are you again?"

Summer simply stared back at her grandfather as she hugged her mother's leg, completely silent, unwilling to answer his question in her shyness.

"She's four in a couple of months." Beth answered for her. "We can't chat, I'm afraid. I have to take her to daycare and I'm running late as it is... Jerry's at a job interview so he couldn't do it," the blonde haired woman made an exasperated sigh. "I'm really sorry for the short notice, Dad, bu-"

"That's OK." Rick was quick to cut her off and raised his hand as if to dismiss it. "Just give me the details."

Beth suddenly twisted her brow, becoming upset. "Work called me, I have to go in right away, we need to do surgery on some horses. Some disgruntled punter got into one of the stables at the track last night and shot a bunch of them. Asshole was pissed off that his horse didn't win."

Rick raised his eyebrows. "Jesus, Beth. That's terrible." He tried to sound as sympathetic as he could, but in reality he couldn't have cared less. Things died all the time and he didn't see any sense in worrying about it. Still, he wasn't about to put down his own daughter's beliefs, especially not in front of her, straight to her face.

"Yeah..." Beth glanced off to the side, needing a moment to contain herself. "Anyway, Dad, I need you to take care of Morty for the day. He's still asleep, so leave him down until he starts crying. He's teething again so he might be a bit grumpy." She reached down to pick Summer up. "I have to get going. There's coffee brewing and food in the cupboards. Eat whatever you want, I'll replace it when I have the chance to go shopping again." She briskly moved off down the corridor again, carrying Summer with her. "Come on baby, we have to get out of here!"

Rick let them go. He dusted off his snow jacket and hung it up on the clothing rack near the door. He stood in the hallway for a little while, simply staying out of the way and quietly taking in the chaos within the household. Summer had started her screaming protest again and before long, Beth was talking back to her in stern authoritative tones.

He moved into the lounge room and sat down on the couch, picking up the remote so he could flip through TV channels. He kept the sound off, though; the cacophony of his daughter and granddaughter was way more entertaining than anything that could have been on TV. He couldn't help but smirk about it as he heard the yelling; two very dominating personalities were arguing back and forth at each other with the same amount of fervor as he would have done himself. Rick couldn't help but wonder if those strong-willed personality genes being expressed were from him.

"Probably." He thought to himself with a smirk, and couldn't help but feel proud. Strong-willed personalities meant strong successful people who wouldn't become stomped on or screwed over. He had stashed a hip flask in his shirt pocket and surreptitiously took a sip from it while Beth was distracted; he didn't really want a lecture about drinking so early in the day.

Beth was soon at the front door with a bag in one arm and Summer in the other. "Thanks again, Dad. I'll be home later this afternoon. Jerry will pick Summer up from daycare. Once he gets home, you can take off if you want."

"Wh-whatever he wants. Don't worry about it, sweetie." Rick called out to her from the couch. "Have a good day at wor-UUURRRRRPPk!" He heard the door-jam click shut and finally turned the TV volume up now that the house was quiet, flicking channels once again.

A boring soap opera. Click. A morning variety show. Click. A kid's cartoon about flying superheroes in bright spandex outfits. Click. An infomercial about a hybrid coffee maker and blender; he had always hated those stupid things. Click. He finally settled on a news briefing channel and watched, though he was already bored of it. When he heard the miserable wailing sounds coming from Morty's bedroom halfway through a commercial, he was only too happy to get up.

He moved into the baby's room and peered over the side of the crib to greet his grandson, though he immediately regretted his decision as two of his senses were assaulted; the sound of the baby's crying was bad enough, however, the smell was even worse.

"Hey there, little buddy. What's all that noise for?" Rick picked up the screaming youngster and narrowed his eyes at him; he really did smell appalling. "So... s-so that's how it's going to be, huh?" He continued to glare at the child and watched him carefully. He already knew what the issue was and he began mentally running through the steps that would come next; it had been a long time since he had changed a poopy diaper.

Morty had calmed down just long enough to look back at his grandfather, though he was still clearly upset. He was hungry and very uncomfortable, his mouth hurt, this person wasn't his mother and he was still waking up. All of these factors contributed to his current mood and the youngster scrunched his little face up, resuming the loud miserable wailing.

Rick made an irritated huff and carried Morty over to the changing table. "Stop making that noise, i-it's not all that bad. It's only a big sloppy wet turd." He got out everything he needed to before starting, suddenly remembering how much he hated this part. "I gotta be level with you, kid... I've shit myself before. It's not something I'm proud of, but... it's something you get over pretty quickly, i-it's not the end of the world."

"OK, so I gotta negotiate with you, little buddy. We gotta lay down some ground rules if this is going to become a regular thing with you." He popped open the press-studs on the bottom of the baby's onesie; if he could scowl further as he opened the diaper, he would have. "Rule number one: w-we do not piss or shit on Grandpa... got that? It's a violation of my... m-my personal space and I do not consent to it." He immediately pulled out a packet of baby wipes and began cleaning him up.

Morty simply replied with whimpering noises, though his volume had lowered now; the mere presence of a familiar person was enough to start calming him down.

Rick finished the job quickly, throwing everything into the trash as he went, not wanting to spend any more time on the task than necessary. Once he had placed the clean diaper snugly around the baby's waist, he fastened the tapes up and stripped the onesie off him entirely, as it would have needed laundering anyway. He picked up the youngster and set him down on the floor, before he rolled up the poopy diaper and tossed it into the lidded diaper pail beside the changing table.

"Don't move anywhere, kid. And more importantly, DON'T get into anything while I'm out of the room." Rick stepped out to wash his hands, though he momentarily lingered at the doorway. "I'm trusting you on this one, little buddy. Don't blow it."

Morty watched the spiky haired man leave with indifference, then shakily got to his feet and clumsily moved across the room so he could push over his toy box. By the time Rick had come back, the little boy had already thrown out more than half of the toys and was sitting on the floor among the mess he had made, chewing on the ear of his stuffed rabbit. Of all his toys, he liked that one most of all.

"What did I just say to you, kiddo? Sheesh." Rick navigated his way through the clutter and went through the closet in the corner of the room to pick out something that he thought was suitable. Once he had the clothes ready, he bent down and pulled a yellow t-shirt over Morty's head before the kid could move or put up a fight. He attempted to put pants on him next, but Morty had already begun trying to escape.

Rick was faster and simply grabbed him by the arm. "Not another step. Though, you know what? I get it... sometimes I hate wearing pants too, b-but you still need to wear them because it's cold outside." He grumbled as he grabbed the youngster up off the floor and fought with him as he struggled to get his pants on. Somehow, through the wiggling and leg kicking, he managed the feat.

Once successful, he held the kid against his side and looked down at him. Morty was well over a year old now, nearly a year and a half. He was walking confidently; that developmental milestone had been right on time. Rick had also noticed that the kid was keen to explore the world around him and get into anything he could. He hadn't started talking yet, which Beth worried about, but maybe that was a good thing; most people Rick knew talked far too much for him to tolerate them for very long. However, he could tolerate his grandson and then some; he'd known the kid since birth, but like any baby, he was boring initially. Now that he was growing bigger, his little personality was starting to come out and flourish and Rick found himself coming up with more reasons to come over and spend time with him. Although he would never want to admit to it, somehow he'd managed to fall in love along the way.

As the little boy stared back up him, Rick couldn't help but wonder what lay ahead for him in the future; he could see the sharp attentiveness in his eyes as they focused on him, keen and bright. Although he wasn't talking, it didn't matter; he was full of potential, even if he did have Jerry's genes.

Morty wasn't really sure what to make of the situation. Although he knew exactly who this person was, he still wasn't his mother. He began to grumble and whine again as he pulled at his grandfather's clothes, trying to indicate that he was hungry.

"Yeah, I know. I'm on it." Rick took the cue and headed out to the kitchen. He placed the kid into his high chair, tied a bib around his neck and opened a jar of banana baby food, thankful for the fact he didn't have to do anything else; he hated cooking. Thankfully for him, Morty was hungry so he didn't have to do the puerile airplane thing with the spoon; he was well above such stupidity.

"So, rule number two," Rick began explaining as he shoveled a large glob of of lumpy yellow mush into the youngster's mouth with a plastic spoon. "Don't vomit on Grandpa. In fact, save it for your father." He had to smirk at that thought. "You can throw up on the floor, anyone else, or... or even on yourself. Hell, I've done that more times than I care to admit." He shoveled another spoonful of mush into Morty's mouth, lightly poking the kid in the shoulder with his free hand to emphasize his words. "But don't do it on Grandpa. Again, i-it's a violation of my personal spa-UUURRRPce. Got that?"

Morty made a loud happy squeal in response to Rick's burping, his attention on his grandfather's thick spiky hair; it swayed as he talked and moved his head. He reached up, wanting to grab at it.

Rick took the happy noise as a sign of agreement. "Good. Glad to see we're on the same page for once." He finished feeding Morty and tossed the jar into the sink. After wiping the excess food off the kid's face, he pulled him out of the high chair and held him at his side again, looking down at him expectantly.

"OK, kid. Your call, you're the boss now. Do you want to watch TV or something?"

Morty made another happy burble in reply and then made a loud burp, his attention fixated on Rick's hair.

Rick chuckled at the sound. "Y-yeah, OK, you got me. I can see how we're related now."

He moved back into the lounge room, sat back down on the couch and set Morty down beside him, although he really wasn't interested in watching TV. Morty had all of his attention now; he was way more interested in simply watching his grandson be himself. Now that he was big enough to explore the world around him with some degree of independence, he was only getting more entertaining and it was amusing as hell to watch.

Morty immediately reached forward to grab at Rick's arm, gripping onto his shirt to haul himself up onto his feet. Once standing, he grabbed up at the first tuft of spiked hair he could reach and yanked on it.

Rick sat there patiently and let him. "Go for it, kiddo, just don't pull too hard. I'll let you know when it hurts." If it were anyone else in the world, Rick would have never let anyone near his hair and would have shoved them away. But for Morty, he would show all the self-restraint in the world; he'd already taken a hefty poke in the eye on a previous babysitting episode, and on one occasion, Morty had been playing a stomping game in his lap and had accidentally stomped a heel straight into his most sensitive of regions. Despite this, he was happy to absorb the kid's excesses of energy without deflating his spirit. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, Rick was crazy about his grandson; he even preferred being around him than some of his own friends.

Morty had finally grown tired of playing with Rick's hair. He sat down beside his grandfather and began idly chewing on his shirt. He made soft unhappy noises each time he bit down on the fabric and had begun drooling.

"Yeah, I know, buddy. Your mom told me that you're teething." Rick gently nudged the kid off him and waited until he was sitting on the couch cushion before getting to his feet. "Stay there, and this time I mean it. Actually... scratch that. You can help me find something." He knew it was better to grab the kid up and take him with him rather than risk having him fall off the couch.

Once back in the kitchen, he set Morty down on the floor and immediately began going through the drawers. Nothing. He checked the kitchen cupboards, going through all the plasticware and cooking pots, still finding nothing.

"Damn it. Where the hell does your mom keep your dumb baby sh-" He cut himself off quickly, not wanting to curse in front of the youngster. "Where does your mother keep all your stuff, kiddo?"

Morty didn't make a sound in reply as he was currently preoccupied playing with a bottle cap he had found on the floor.

Rick sighed at the sight and scooped him up off the floor again. "That's not for you, little buddy. You're only going to shove it in your mouth, and then you'll choke to death, and your mother will blame me despite the fact you're the one who made that choice in the first place. B-baby logic, right? Sheesh." Despite his words, he was grinning; Morty had already forgotten all about the bottle cap and was making another grab at his hair.

Rick carried the kid across the room to the fridge and resumed his search, soon finding what he was after; an entire container of teething rings. Fortunately for him, Beth was a prepared mother who planned everything ahead of time and she had the sense to keep them ready to go in the freezer. Rick silently thanked his daughter's preparedness as he grabbed two teething rings out of the open container and immediately popped one into Morty's mouth.

Morty wasted no time grabbing onto it so he could start chewing.

"There you go, kiddo, d-don't say that Grandpa doesn't do anything for you. I got you, bro." As he watched the young kid, his brows furrowed in thought; a strange idea had suddenly come to mind. He shuffled the youngster and firmly held him in one arm up against his hip as he returned to the crockery cupboard, grabbing up a bowl.

"Your mom will probably kill me for this, but what she doesn't know can't hurt her, right?" Rick dropped the spare frozen teething ring into the bowl and carried Morty back out to the lounge room. "Don't tell her anything. What happens with Grandpa stays with Grandpa."

He placed the bowl down on the coffee table and set Morty back down on the couch. He took out his hip flask and began pouring whiskey into the bowl, measuring out just enough to immerse the teething ring in the stuff.

"Again, don't tell her about this, but if it works, then who cares, right?" Rick let the whiskey-soaked teething ring sit for a moment before dipping two fingers in to pick it out, swapping it over with the one Morty had. He licked the fingers he had in the bowl and began to observe the reaction, curious to see what would happen.

Morty immediately reacted to the new taste sensation with positive sounding noises; he didn't know what the new flavor was, but he seemed to really like the strong taste. He held onto the new teething ring with both hands, seeming much happier to chew on the new one over the old.

"Is it working? Should be. Anyway, t-that should numb your mouth for a while, little buddy." Rick explained to his grandson, not seeming to care in the slightest that he was a baby and wouldn't understand, "and if your mom bitches, you can basically tell her we're cutting out the middle-man. That teething gel crap she gives you? It's basically glycerin gel with alcohol in it."

Rick figured it would keep him occupied for a while and resumed watching television, changing the channel over to a childish looking animated cartoon for Morty.

Over the next couple of hours, Rick would swap the teething rings over, noting that Morty seemed much happier to chew on them after they were immersed in whiskey. He would have shared his observations with Beth when she got home, but he knew even mentioning it would have her yelling at him about giving alcohol to her son. It would have also provided her with a great opportunity to complain about his alcohol dependency issues, which weren't issues at all, at least in his eyes.

It was often a sore point of conversation between them that ended in one or the other walking away in anger; Beth typically brought it up because she was worried. Meanwhile, Rick wasn't worried at all - it was a comfortable habit that relaxed him and he could give it up any time he wanted to; he just chose not to. His daughter brought it up so often that he was immune to her complaints by now, but he wasn't about to risk his chances at being allowed to babysit again.

"R-remind me to hide the evidence before your mom comes home." Rick took a short swig from his hip flask and recapped it, stuffing it back into his shirt pocket. "We don't want to get into any shi-UUURRGGt."

The next hour was spent entertaining his young grandson with toys. Now that he wasn't in pain anymore, he was very playful. Morty seemed to like it best when Rick made spaceship noises with the stuffed animals as he waved them around in the air before playfully crashing them straight into his belly; he could do it as many times as he wanted and the youngster would still squeal with laughter every time. He was pretty easy to please.

Rick took the time out to clean up the teething rings that had been soaking in booze and disposed of the evidence down the sink, rinsing everything thoroughly afterwards. Although it was a shame to waste such expensive whiskey, it had baby slobber in it.

Soon after that, he had retrieved the acoustic guitar he kept in his car, figuring that playing some tunes would keep the both of them occupied for a while. He also decided it would probably be a good idea to impart his love of music onto the impressionable youngster as early as he could.

He sat down on the floor with the case and immediately lay on the carpet next to Morty, propping his upper belly up on his elbows.

"Hey kid, you probably don't know this, but... your Grandpa has a pretty good ear for music." He grinned as Morty shuffled across the floor to him with great interest. "I used to be in a band... I was the lead guitarist. They used to call me the axe-man." He lowered his head as he watched Morty make another grab for his hair and he sat there patiently while the tiny pair of hands grabbed at great clumps of spikes, pulling on them. "Yeah, my hair was better back then, too. Glad to see it keeps you happy."

When Morty tried to stuff one of the spikes into his mouth, Rick gently pried the kid's hands off again and sat up properly, sitting cross-legged on the floor.

"Yeah, don't slobber on me, I do plenty of that already. Save it for yourself." He unzipped the guitar case and took out the large musical instrument, setting it in his lap. "If you want... when you're a little older, I'll show you how to use this." He moved one hand up the fret of the guitar and began to pluck a few strings with the other, testing to see if the thing was still in tune.

Morty was fascinated by the unusual object and the strange new noises. He wasted no time standing up and clumsily stumbling across the short space to the guitar, practically falling onto it as he grabbed at the strings. When he discovered that they made noise, he giggled in amusement and began whacking them with his hands.

Rick didn't seem to mind too much as he played a couple more chords, letting the kid's tiny hands disrupt the harmony of the sound he was creating. "You can do that if you want, but," he reached back to retrieve a plectrum from the guitar case. "If you keep that up, you'll break my strings. It's a giant pain in the ass to replace them, so be a little more gentle, huh?" He tapped the rounded bottom end of the instrument. "Why don't you play with this part instead?" He casually rapped his fingers on the case, demonstrating the loud wooden noise that it made when he did it.

Morty began to imitate what Rick had just done, whacking the guitar with the palms of his hands, squealing with joy at the discovery of making a such a loud noise.

"You wanna hear a song, little buddy? I know all the classics. Good stuff, none of that new bullcrap." He hummed for a couple of moments as he tried to remember something, then continued the tune by strumming it out.

Morty wasn't listening; hitting the base of the guitar was far more entertaining for him than anything else could have been right now.

"Actually, come to think of it, I know one that kinda reminds me of you," Rick took a moment to retune the guitar strings and then began casually playing the opening riffs to 'Closing Time'. "Like I said, one of the classics. And if you want a piece of trivia, it's actually not about a bar." He paused, smirking. "Yeah, I know. Your mom would probably have something to say about that."

Morty had stopped hitting the side of the guitar and was listening to the harmonious guitar music now.

Rick grinned down at his grandson, seeming quite pleased to have his attention. He began singing the words aloud, strumming out the music on the strings, "Closing time, open all the doors and let you out into the world," he began nodding his head in time to the beat. "Closing time, turn all of the lights up over every boy and every girl..." He sang loudly and his key was on point. Fingers expertly moved across the strings as they had done many times before, not skipping a single note.

"You don't have to go home, but you can't… stay here."

Before long, Rick had his eyes closed and his mind was totally focused on strumming out the rest of the song, losing himself to it entirely. As he sang, he put his heart into it and nothing else in the world mattered to him in that moment except for the fact that he was singing for his favorite little person.

He was so involved in what he was doing that he didn't see Jerry come in the front door, nor did he see the other approaching him. It wasn't until he opened his eyes again that he saw him overhead, a sort of dumb expression hanging over his face.

Rick immediately stopped playing and was silent.

"Wow, don't stop on account of me." Jerry said suddenly, looking quite pleased with himself.

Rick scowled and moved his hands away from the strings, leaning an arm on the side of his guitar. "Hello Jeeeerrrryyyy." He drawled out the name with particular bitterness. "What do you want?"

"Wow, Rick," Jerry replied, "that was actually... really good! I didn't know you could play the guitar. I didn't know you could sing either."

"There's a lot of things you don't know about me, Jerry." Rick set his brows in a deep scowl. He hated the fact that Jerry had walked in on him while playing and felt a little self-conscious about it. He certainly didn't want to talk about the subject anymore, especially if he was going to be open to his musical ability being criticized. "How long have you been standing there?" He quickly stuffed the guitar back into its case.

At that moment, Beth had come in through the front door as well. She said nothing and walked off down the hallway.

"Oh don't worry, I just got in," Jerry's smirk was condescending as he looked down at Rick, liking the elevated position he had over the other man. "I've had a really big day and I think I just landed a new job at a big advertising firm. If I get it, we just might need you around the house to babysit a bit more, if it doesn't disrupt your work, that is. What is it you even do again? Some kinda important science stuff? It can't be that important, can it?" His eyes narrowed and his smirk was even wider now. "We never hear about it on the news or anything."

Rick glowered back at the other man with utter contempt for his entire existence, not saying anything. He didn't want to hear any of it and he didn't like the fact the other was openly mocking what he did with his time. He opened his mouth to protest, but when he saw that Beth had moved to stand behind Jerry, he knew better to just keep his mouth shut. He didn't need to do anything; the guy knew how to get himself in trouble without his help.

Meanwhile, Morty wanted to play again. He sharply tugged at Rick's sleeve and made demanding nonsensical noises at him, trying to get his attention.

Rick silently glared back at Jerry's smug face for another moment, locking eyes with him, wordlessly expressing the fact that he hated him with every fiber of his being. In another moment he had decided that he wanted to ignore him entirely and returned his attention towards Morty, picking him up. "Hey there, buddy," he held him comfortably in one arm and wiggled a finger across the youngster's belly with his free hand, "I'm glad you liked it."

"Nice to see you're able to make friends with people of your own age and maturity level there, Rick." Jerry folded his arms, feeling confident in continuing his verbal assault. "He's cute now, but he might not like you when he's older."

That one had felt like a punch straight to the gut. He didn't show it, however. "Wow, Jerry... just wow." Rick stayed down, glaring hard. He felt his blood boiling now, but he kept himself contained. "I was just having a private moment, trying to connect with my grandson down here. I didn't ask for any of your attitude. What did I do to you? You don't have to be a jerk about it."

"Oh, you're one to talk!" Jerry hissed back, stepping forward to stand directly over him now. He placed his hands on his hips, adopting a posture of superiority. "You openly mock me and expect me to take it from you. Screw you, Rick! What have you ever done for this family?"

"Jerry?" Beth spoke behind him, her voice cool and very angry. "Why are you talking to my dad like that?"

"Oh heeey, sweetheart," Jerry flinched at her voice and turned around suddenly, offering his best pathetic grin. "I didn't see you come in. How was work...?"

Beth simply folded her arms and glared at her husband, silent.

"I don't like it, Jerry," Rick continued to talk as he lowered his head, acting out his best impression of sounding hurt. He knew damn well that Beth was watching and listening to their every word and fully intended to use it to his advantage. "I come into your house, take care of your kids for you, for free I might add, and you want to behave like that towards me? Why...?" He made his voice break a little, and he knew not to overdo it in case he was caught out.

"Oh come on, Rick... enough with this charade. You always behave like a total douchebag towards me!" Jerry took the bait right away and raised his voice. "Don't pretend you're innocent!"

"Whoa, language!" Rick protested suddenly and covered Morty's ears with his hands. "Not in front of the kid, Jer. Do you want him to have a filthy potty mouth? You want him to grow up with good influences, right?"

"Good influences? You best be staying away from him then, Rick!" Jerry was yelling now. "You say far worse things than that all the time!"

"For the love of god, Jerry, just stop!" Beth snapped at him. "Stop being such an unbearable asshole to my dad! He did a huge favor for us today, did you know that? Do you know how hard it is to get a babysitter with only half an hour's notice? Do you!? Have some damn respect for the guy. We're going to talk about this in the kitchen, right now!" She grabbed her husband by the arm and hauled him away.

Rick raised his head as he watched them go, a wide victorious toothy grin on his face; a dark part of him actually found it fun to play the two off against each other. He gently held Morty in his arms to keep him quiet through the screaming match that ensued in the next room over. "Try not to get yourself into that mess later in life, kiddo." He told him quietly, his expression turning serious; this time he actually meant it. "You're perfectly fine the way you are."

After the screaming had died down, Rick got to his feet carefully, the baby still cradled in his arms. Morty had begun uncomfortably wiggling and grunting, his little belly rumbling in protest. At once he knew the kid was working on something horrible.

"Heh, what perfect timing you have."

Morty stopped wiggling after another couple of moments. He relaxed again, looking absolutely dreamily content; that one had hurt to push out.

"Whew. You little stinker." Rick wrinkled his nose at the smell in the air. He headed back out to the kitchen and handed baby Morty back over to Jerry, frowning at him. "Look, Jerry, I get it... you win. You're a real alpha male, a proud confident breadwinner. Y-you're the real man of the house, not me. So you should probably take care of this, huh? You're his father, after all."

Jerry clumsily took the youngster back, visibly cringing when the smell hit his nostrils. "Ah geez, Morty has a poopy diaper." He turned his attention towards Beth, his expression pathetic and pleading. "Can't you do this one...? Honey?"

Beth watched the two males, teary-eyed. When Jerry tried to hand her son over, she kept her arms folded, refusing to take him. "You heard him. You're quite capable of doing it yourself. Off you go." Her reply was cool and dismissive.

Jerry lowered his head in defeat and walked out of the room, carrying one very stinky baby in his arms.

Rick watched him leave and waited until he was gone before speaking again. "Hey sweetie, sorry about that. I don't know what got into him." He rubbed the back of his head, feigning his best impression of unhappiness. "I-I'm just going to take off now, it seems to be for the best... you totally have this one handled. I'll just take my guitar and leave."

"Oh geez, Dad..." Beth shook her head, feeling terrible for him. "I'm so sorry about Jerry. I don't know why he has to be such an asshole to you, but please, don't let it get to you, OK? We love you and I really valued your help today. You're a lifesaver."

Rick slowly nodded in response. He reached out to gently pat his daughter once on the shoulder and then retreated back into the lounge room to retrieve his guitar case. He headed out the front door, though he slowed down when he noticed that Beth was following in his peripheral vision. He raised an eyebrow and turned so he could look at her again, stopping on the pathway to the mailbox.

"Dad?" Beth stopped as soon as he had. She placed a hand on his shoulder, sighing. "Really, I mean it. Don't let Jerry get to you, I'm sorry he's such an asshole."

"It's OK, really." Rick replied, his voice calm. "I get it."

"Dad," Beth said suddenly, "I'm really sorry to put this on you again, but I have to rush off to work again tomorrow morning. Can you swing by for a couple of hours and watch Morty again? Same time as today."

Rick responded with a singular nod of agreement. "Sure." He was silent for a moment, then quietly added to the statement. "Say hi to Summer for me when you pick her up from daycare. One of these days I'll have to come over on a weekend so we can actually spend time together. Take her out to the park or some crap like that, I-I don't know what kids do these days."

"That would be really nice." Beth squeezed his arm, suddenly feeling quite happy at the suggestion. "Thanks for taking Morty again tomorrow. He seems to really like you, and I'd rather leave him with you than a total stranger from the babysitting agency."

Rick stepped over to his car, opening up the door. "Of course." He climbed in and shut the door, winding the window down so he could speak again. " You can count on me any time... y-you know that, right?"

"Thanks so much, Dad." Beth sighed, smiling. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief, feeling so much better than she had a little while ago.

"You're welcome, sweetie." Rick quickly replied, and then started the car. He reversed out of the driveway and drove off down the street. Once out of view from the house, he pressed a few buttons on the center console and took it into the sky, flying off over the horizon.

Tomorrow was going to be interesting. And it would be, in a way that he never would have guessed.