Minor Alterations
Chapter Eight

By: Bell
Fandom: Pokémon
Pairings: Honorshipping (MortyxFalkner).
Rating: M
Warnings: Slash relationships, non-explicit sexual content, coarse language, mpreg.

Summary: Two Gym Leaders come to crossroads in their lives, and are unwittingly forced onto the same path.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokémon or any of the characters. I am merely borrowing them for the purposes of this FanFiction.

Author's Note: In which the boys get their date! :D I've been working hard to get this chapter out before the start of NaNoWriMo - didn't QUITE make it on schedule, but you guys will be happy to know that this fic will make up some of my word count this year! I'm very excited. :) Happy writing, everyone!

As an added note, a friend of mine had the scenario with the arm happen to her years ago, after taking a fall from a tree. It was nasty, but provided me with inspiration here! D:


It wasn't a solution, Morty knew all too well, but standing in front of the mirror felt like progress. Like pinning his scarf in place and trying (and failing) to smooth down the unruly tufts of his hair was a step in the right direction.

The problem wasn't going away. It would be foolish to think it would disappear if he closed his eyes for long enough; like wallpapering over mould, or resolutely ignoring cracks in the ceiling and telling concerned neighbours that it'll be alright - just cosmetic damage. Trivial.

All well and good, until the damp starts to seep through, or one day you go to take a bath and wind up in the room directly below. Morty had always been one to pay attention to warning signs (with the debatable exception of his steadily deteriorating relationship with Eusine prior to the walk-out), but now he was sure he understood exactly why it was easier just to carry on as if it wasn't happening, even with the threat of falling through the ceiling duly noted.

As he stood there, looking absently into the eyes of his own reflection, the example of Whitney seemed to fit the circumstances pretty well; to be precise, the summer she'd tripped over construction materials during a tour of her nearly-refurbished gym back in Goldenrod. Not all that long ago, but still a couple of years, and yet somehow it felt like yesterday. The incident wasn't exactly forgettable.

It wasn't everyday that a person managed to break their own arm without realising it. At the time, Whitney had complained about the pain but had otherwise insisted she was perfectly alright - she had vehemently turned down the offer of medical attention in favour of continuing on to see her new Leader's post.

By the time she did think it best to get it checked out, it had healed back wrong and the doctors had been forced to break it all over again in order to set it correctly. Exactly how she had managed to go about her business in the days leading up to the hospital visit was completely beyond Morty; the girl had even managed to get a few decent nights' sleep with her broken limb. Mad, now he thought back to it, but so typically Whitney that he couldn't help smiling just a little.

If Whitney's arm was Morty's relationship with Eusine, and the break in the joint was comparable with the break in Morty's heart, then it was obvious. The sensible thing for Whitney to have done was to accept that she needed to be checked out by a doctor. The sensible choice for Morty was to talk to Eusine. To sit down like the adults they were and talk things out; that way, he could properly move on.

But this… Just leaving it and covering it up by taking Falkner out was as much use as Whitney putting a sticking plaster over the damage; it was all well and good to hide the ugly truth behind bright colours and cartoons, but it would still hurt the next morning. And the next. And the one after that.

Eusine would still be there. Unless, of course, he decided to go and throw himself off another mountain, but the thought was enough to fill Morty with such consuming horror that he put it firmly out of mind.

…He'd sort it. He would - he'd speak to Eusine the next time the other man had the time to get in touch, and they'd arrange an opportunity to talk properly. He'd let Eusine come to him, but in the meantime just be prepared for when the inevitable happened and they had to string a civil conversation together.

Making the decision was comparatively simple, but actually figuring out what to say would be the difficult part. Maybe working out exactly where the situation had left them; after all, dwelling on the past wouldn't change anything. Looking back, it was easier to see the problem - the long absences that had rotted away the very foundations of their connection - and Morty knew in his heart that there was no salvaging it. Not now. He had long since made up his mind to let it all go, and was determined to tell Eusine exactly that.

Voicing it would prove he was serious and, if everything went as he hoped it would, help to soothe the heartbreak. There was no future for him and Eusine, and there was a big part of Morty that needed to hear it. He needed to break out of the loop he had locked himself into - unable to live with Eusine, but unable to live without him, either. It wasn't healthy.

Morty would move on, with Whitney and Falkner to support him. He could go back to being the stable, emotionally-secure one; people came to him with their problems, not the other way around. Whitney had been amazingly supportive - as if she had somehow matured when he wasn't looking - and Falkner…

There was no denying that Morty liked him. He'd been there for Morty when he needed him most, and while the Ecruteak Leader wasn't certain how he would have coped without Falkner to lean on, the thought also served to worsen the guilt.

Romance could be complicated, but most of the time it all boiled down to something very simple; I like you, and I want to spend my time with you. And yet, gut instinct told Morty that his offer to take Falkner out for the night was based on more than just innocent attraction.

Healing. A way to stop him bleeding out his hurt over Eusine and harming himself further in the process. Falkner was the cheerfully-coloured plaster over the break, and the thought made Morty feel faintly ill. As if he was just using Falkner as a means of coming back from his loss…

Morty steeled himself, taking one last look at his reflection before reaching for his keys. He would never do that to someone - he didn't have the capacity for it. He wasn't manipulative or mean, and he would never use Falkner just to forget that Eusine was ever part of his life.

I'll forget all about it, he told himself, going over to the window to watch out for his taxi. He twirled the keys nervously around his fingers. I'll just forget about the whole Eusine thing and enjoy myself. Enjoy spending time with Falkner. It all sounded so easy - he'd keep the messy situation out of mind, and just be himself. He was going out for an evening of harmless fun with a casual date; there was no need to over-complicate things by thinking on it too much.

In a way, it would perhaps be refreshing. He wouldn't have to take himself too seriously, and they could just relax and have a good time. With Falkner there would be no stress and no worry; perfectly straightforward in comparison to the labyrinth of conflicted emotion surrounding his relationship with Eusine.

A broken limb, he kept reminding himself, a broken limb that has to be fixed properly, or not at all.

The taxi finally pulled up outside his house and Morty left through the front door, keys jingling as he locked it behind him. As he walked down the path to the waiting vehicle, he was blissfully unaware that, for all his worry over taking advantage, 'simple', 'uncomplicated' Falkner would go on to result in fractures of his own, further down the line.

Had Morty been able to see the future, maybe things would have been different. However, as they were, he was getting into a taxi that would take him into a new maze; yet another puzzle to figure out, or drive himself mad over.

"Violet City, please," he said to the man behind the steering wheel, and the engine rumbled to life.


Butterflies. Falkner had always rejected the analogy, but then again, he wasn't sure he had ever been quite this worked up - he was sure he could feel a fluttering in his gut, his insides twisting with anticipation and worry.

He'd been ready to go for a good half an hour now; sat perched on the edge of the sofa, listening intently for the knock at the door. He had been all set to go much too early, he knew - somehow, he hadn't been able to help himself. It was pretty much all he had thought about for the past couple of days; going out with Morty. A real date, Morty had said.

Did this make Morty his boyfriend…? Falkner wasn't sure. They were still testing the waters, and that was fine with him; he would give Morty as much time as he wanted. As much space as he wanted. Whatever it took to keep him comfortable-

The doorbell rang, and Falkner's knees gave out; he slipped from his seat and onto the floor, jarring his backside on impact. He ignored the sudden pain, scrambling to his feet and dusting himself down, nervously smoothing out invisible creases in his jacket. Falkner had never been one to linger too long over his appearance, but he hadn't quite been able to rein himself in when it came to picking out the best of his (admittedly limited) wardrobe; as if it would somehow lessen his chances of screwing everything up again.

Hoothoot cocked its head curiously, watching him from the top of the doorframe where it had fallen asleep earlier that evening. "Hooo…" it said, and Falkner raised an eyebrow.

"How do I look?" he asked, holding his arms out and scanning a critical eye down the length of his own body.

The Pokémon closed its eyes and settled back into its slumber; uninterested in its master's trivial insecurities.

A knock at the door this time; a cheerful rapping of knuckles against the wood. Falkner shook his head, mentally reminding himself to raise his team to be more useful in such times of crisis, and went to answer the door. His hand shook a little as he reached for the handle, reminding himself to keep calm…

Be cool, Falkner, he thought, trying to be firm with himself. Be cool.

The door creaked on its hinges as it swung open, and there he was; smiling in a way that had the fluttery feeling collapsing to pool in the bottom of Falkner's stomach, his innards seemingly turning to mush as his words stuck in his throat, and-

And…

"Why do you always look so unhappy to see me, huh?" was Morty's query in the absence of a greeting, but the smile didn't falter. Falkner visibly composed himself, silently repeated his newfound mantra of 'be cool, be cool, be cool' and locked the front door behind him.

"I'm sorry - why I can't seem to control my facial expressions is completely beyond me…" he quipped, doing his best to suppress the irritating waver in his voice. He swallowed and then, "It's great to see you, Morty," he said honestly, glad it was dark enough that the stupid blush would probably go unnoticed if it chose to resurface.

The smile widened, and Falkner knew he had said the right thing. "You too," Morty returned, sounding pleased. He stood back, one arm making a sweeping gesture towards the steps as if he were a gentleman out of a period drama. "Shall we?"

It sounded like a good idea to Falkner. He walked ahead down the flight of steps that led up to his top-floor flat, somehow acutely aware of Morty's presence behind him. It was a nice evening, if not for the usual chill; it was only worsened by the clear sky, but with that came an unobstructed view of the moon that Falkner had to admit was beautiful. He had a good feeling, and good feelings didn't exactly come along very often.

"Here we are," said Morty as they turned onto the pavement, and Falkner noticed the taxi pulled up on the kerb, its engine running while the driver waited. Falkner looked questioningly at Morty.

"We're not going on foot?" he asked, and Morty shook his head.

"It's a little too far to walk," he said. "Well, unless you want to go traipsing all the way across town in the dark. Don't worry - I'll pay."

Falkner frowned, suddenly suspicious. "Where are we going, exactly?" he asked, and Morty's grin turned suddenly mischievous.

"Hmmm… it's a secret."

"A secret?" Falkner didn't like the sound of that. Violet was his city, dammit - wasn't this supposed to be the other way around? "Sure you can't tell me? How do I know you're not gonna lead me out into the middle of nowhere and knock me unconscious?" he joked, trying to sound serious but failing miserably.

Morty laughed. "What, so I can have my wicked way with you…?" he asked, and Falkner couldn't stop the blushing as he was suddenly hit with a barrage of mental images; some select fantasies interspersed with memories of the kiss back in Goldenrod. He swallowed.

"Uh, that is… erm-"

"Come on." Morty put his hand on Falkner's arm, and Falkner felt his resistance melt. "I just wanted it to be a surprise - I promise not to try anything funny."

Falkner smiled, allowing himself to be steered towards the waiting vehicle. Again, his words seemed to flow easier the more relaxed he became - Morty just seemed to have that calming influence on him. "Why else would someone like you be with someone like me?" he teased flippantly, getting into the backseat and sliding over to make room.

Busy turning to find his seatbelt, he missed the look on Morty's face; the Ecruteak Leader seemed suddenly uncomfortable and vaguely guilty, but schooled his expression back to normal as he settled himself in next to Falkner.

"Good to go?" Morty asked, and Falkner nodded, shifting a little in his seat. Yes - there were the butterflies again. Falkner took a deep breath, trying to steady the frantic beat of his heart; Morty would be the death of him at this rate. It was just an evening out, after all. People did things like this all the time, didn't they?

"Well, will you look at that," said a familiar voice, cutting into his thoughts. He looked up to see the driver had pulled the dividing window back and was leering at him from his seat behind the steering wheel. "It's the other one! I remember you, Sleeping Beauty! I never forget a face, me!"

Realisation nearly had Falkner slapping a hand to his forehead. Of course - of all the drivers in Johto, it would have to be the guy from the Blackthorn trip. "Ah," he said, without enthusiasm, "small world, eh?"

The man didn't seem deterred by his tone in the slightest. "You were seriously out of it! It's a wonder we didn't have to carry you inside, you were so tired."

"Well, erm-"

"Could have been worse, mind - you could've been stuck back in Blackthorn, stood outside in the rain all night."

Morty cleared his throat. "Um, we should probably get going - we have a reservation and we probably shouldn't keep them waiting-"

"I'm never going to understand you Gym Leader-types. What do you two even talk about?" The driver asked, his brow creasing. "Doesn't it get boring, comparing badges? Whose gym is bigger? Which sort of Pokémon is better? Are all these meetings really necessary?"

"Actually, it's not official business," Morty explained hurriedly, "and we should probably get going if we're gonna make it in time-"

"Ohhhh…" If Falkner looked hard enough, he was sure he'd see a light bulb appear over the driver's head. "I see how it is. You two are… as in, you and him, you're…" He gestured between the two of them, nodding. "Right. I mean - that's good! My, uh, my sister is that… um, way. You get my meaning."

There was a quick denial waiting on the tip of Falkner's tongue, that they were most definitely just friends off out for the night, but he was cut off by Morty the moment he opened his mouth. "Yeah, we're going out tonight," Morty said, so easily it wasn't even an admission.

Falkner blinked.

"That's cool, that's cool…" the driver said, turning back to the wheel. "Well, I guess I've been rambling on again. The wife always tells me I talk way too much." He rolled his eyes. "So - off to the secret locationthen?" He and Morty exchanged a knowing grin in the windscreen mirror, and Falkner sunk lower in his seat.

This definitely wasn't helping his nerves.


"Here we are," the driver had said with a flourish, as they pulled up a little way out of town. "Ha - don't look so scared!" And then, to Morty, "He's a jumpy one, isn't he? A regular rabbit in the headlights!" Falkner had resisted the urge to voice a sharp retort, determined to hold onto his dignity as he got out of the taxi.

He had to admit, it was something of a relief when it pulled away, and they were finally left alone.

"Thank God for that…" Morty was saying, when Falkner pulled himself together. "I thought we'd never make it! Here - look." He pointed over Falkner's shoulder, looking distinctly pleased with himself.

They were stood outside what appeared to be a small restaurant, just outside the city limits. It was set against the backdrop of the forest, illuminated by coloured lamps not unlike those Falkner had seen in Ecruteak. He could see why Morty would want to bring him here.

A smile twitched at his lips. "Done your research, then?" he asked, and Morty shook his head.

"No, no… I told Whit I'd be taking you out for a meal, and she suggested I come here." He laughed openly when the blood drained from Falkner's face and he took on a look of pure horror. "Don't worry! I'm kidding - don't panic. She doesn't know anything for now."

Falkner exhaled a sigh. "Don't joke about that!" he admonished, shaking his head. "I still worry about what she'd do to me if she knew…" She'd probably have his head - perhaps even literally. The mental image of Whitney waving his severed head around on a stick sprung unbidden to mind, and Falkner shuddered.

"You don't know her like I do - she'd be absolutely fine with it," Morty told him, and then turned back to the building before Falkner could tell him that he still wasn't convinced in the slightest. "It's almost nostalgic, being back here." Morty's expression turned sheepish. "We - uh, Eusine and I - used to drop in every now and again. I used to travel quite a lot. Between Ho-Oh and Suicune, I was always going to and from Ecruteak. This place was quite often on our route."

Falkner felt a wave of uncertainty wash over him. All of a sudden he didn't feel quite so brave anymore. "If… if this is a place for you and Eusine… You know what I mean - if it's special because the two of you used to come here…"

Morty blinked, as if the thought had never occurred to him. "Falkner…"

"I understand if you wanna try somewhere else, that's all-"

"Falkner," Morty cut him off, shaking his head rapidly. "No - no, I wanted to bring you here! I chose it because… well, I don't know much about Violet, but I wanted to take you out. And I figured you'd like it." He looked down at his feet, scuffing his shoes against the stone path. "When I said- erm, this isn't about remembering Eusine. I don't need any more memories of our time; it's painful enough. I just meant that there is good food and good service and it's fairly small so you don't get all anxious, or close up on me like you do…" he explained hurriedly, and Falkner found that his doubt was rapidly turning to warmth.

This was… it was nice. People rarely gave him 'nice'.

Morty was watching him carefully, as if trying to decipher his expression. "We can go elsewhere," the Ghost Trainer offered, in a small voice, "if you really want to?"

"No." Falkner shook his head and, feeling suddenly bold, slipped his arm through the crook of Morty's elbow. "No, this is perfect. It really is - thank you," he said, hoping Morty understood his appreciation. He wasn't exactly practiced when it came to letting his emotions to the surface.

To his relief, however, it seemed to work; the smile was back - happy and unguarded - and Morty was leading them up towards the entranceway before Falkner could even think to suggest that they go inside. It would be nice to get out of the cold.

Morty had been right. It was small and, importantly, completely unthreatening; nothing like 'The Dratini' back at Blackthorn, with its imposing height and cold stone and glass. There were a few people eating or ordering at the bar, but it wasn't ridiculously busy; clearly Morty had made his choice well, and the fact that he had considered Falkner's needs specifically when choosing made Falkner feel a little guilty for wanting to go elsewhere. They walked through into the restaurant's main seating area, choosing a table next to the window, where they could see the lanterns swaying from the overhang of the roof.

"The reservation was just an attempt to get him moving, then?" Falkner asked, sliding into the seat opposite Morty.

"I thought he'd never just get on with it!" Morty grinned, and then shrugged his shoulders. "In all seriousness, there's never really been any need to reserve a table before. I guess they just don't do that much business out here. Just relax, yeah? I want you to be able to wind down."

"You think I'm uptight, don't you?" Falkner asked, but his tone was light.

"Just a little," Morty admitted. Falkner opened his mouth to deny it, and Morty hurriedly cut him off with, "But it's okay. It means I can help you! Technically," he leaned back in his seat, getting comfortable, and his smile turned deliberately sly, "the more we do this, the better it will be for you. Any doctor would probably tell you the same. It'll be highly beneficial to your health if I get a second date…"

Falkner was pretty sure that happiness had never killed anyone before, but he could have sworn that his heart was trying to escape his body. If he had fallen asleep and was dreaming, he would be so incredibly angry when he woke up… "The first one isn't even over with yet…" he replied, for the sake of a response. His voice trembled a little as he spoke.

"Can't hurt to plan ahead…?" Morty tried, and Falkner shook his head. He couldn't stop the way his mouth stretched into that idiotic smile; he felt ridiculous, but then, there was a large part of him that didn't care.

"You're terrible," he laughed.

"I know." Morty shrugged his shoulders. "I just want you to know that… well, I'd like us to keep on doing this. I don't want this to be a random one-off."

"It won't be," Falkner said, and then added, "I hope, anyway. That is, if you still want to… you know. Keep on seeing me - I would never force you…" He fiddled with the cutlery on the table, needing to occupy his shaking fingers.

There was a pause. Then, "Is it what you want?" Morty asked, and Falkner was convinced Morty had somehow become both blind and oblivious overnight-

"Of course it's what I want," he said, his voice quiet. "I'll admit… it's what I've wanted for a while now, Morty. I was just too shy to do anything about it, and what with everything that's happened with you and Eusine, you know, I would never… never prey on you when you were vulnerable… There just wasn't a good time. And even if there had been, I would've messed it up anyway."

"…I'm sorry," said Morty, after a moment's thought. Falkner jumped when Morty reached across the table to touch his hand where he was still tapping his fork against the table. The Ecruteak Leader was warm where their skin touched, and when Falkner took a furtive glance around the room, no one was looking their way. He felt himself relax, even as Morty was staring searchingly into his face.

"You're…" Falkner frowned, confused. "Morty, what?"

"I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. That you want this like I do. I thought… urgh." Morty dropped his gaze to the table between them, tracing the pattern of the tablecloth with his free hand. "I… You know what? It doesn't matter."

Falkner blinked. "It doesn't…?"

"No, no. Don't worry about it - I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry you."

"Morty, if something's wrong, you know you can tell me. I don't mind." He laced their fingers a little tighter together, squeezing gently.

"It's… it's nothing." Morty shot him a weak smile. He drew in a long breath, as if he were pausing to think. "I'm still sorting through the debris, shall we say. That's all - I'm just trying to get myself back to normal." He visibly perked up a bit, pulling back to reach for the menu. "Just ignore me; I'm getting there, I promise. The only thing is, every now and again, I'm reminded of how things really are right now - even when I try to forget and just have a good time. But I am moving on."

"No one expects you to get over everything right away," Falkner said. "These things take time, don't they?"

"It's no excuse to ruin the mood."

"I don't… Wait, there's a mood?" Falkner paused, and felt the familiar blush creep up under his skin as Morty winked at him.

"You're far too easy to tease," Morty told him cheerfully, before handing the menu over. "Here - we should probably go and order soon. You can choose first. Whatever you like, my treat." When he saw Falkner's expression falter, he added, "I've brought you out, remember? I want to do this for you - don't worry."

Falkner looked up, and there was the honesty again. A part of him wanted to be suspicious - wanted to consider the possibility of a cruel trick and tie himself up in knots of worry over it - but then, there was also a part of him that felt like the luckiest man in the world. The part that couldn't quite believe what was happening to him, but wasn't mistrustful of it.

And Morty clearly needed this too. This was his distraction as much as Falkner's; Morty wanted to move on from what had happened between him and Eusine, just as Falkner wanted to forget the countless long evenings he had spent alone. He had to stop thinking so much and just go with it.

He looked up at Morty over the menu, and felt himself smile. "Okay."


It was getting increasingly difficult to feel appropriately guilty. The longer they stayed there, just eating their meal and talking about trivial, inconsequential things (that most definitely had nothing to do with gyms or Eusine or anything that encroached even slightly into dangerous territory), the more Morty found himself distancing himself from his earlier dilemma.

They were having fun. Nothing complicated about that - there was simplicity in how Falkner seemed more relaxed in himself, and how the conversation flowed easily. Morty thought back to the Leaders' meeting in Goldenrod, and it seemed like a lifetime ago. Falkner had been scared of him, he was sure (and more than a little rude, because of it), and now?

Morty dutifully hid his grin around a forkful of potato, feeling suddenly, inexplicably happy.

It felt like a long time since he had felt anything less than wounded, and now they were sitting in the very restaurant he and Eusine had haunted on and off during their travels, and he felt fine. Perfectly okay with the world, and completely unapologetic about it.

Maybe he had just been paranoid. In fact, he was pretty sure of it - he wanted to be there, Falkner wanted to be there, and they were both having a good time. Falkner knew very well about Morty's history with Eusine, and it didn't change a thing; unless you counted Falkner's own worries about taking advantage of Morty.

We've both been idiots, Morty thought, taking a sip of his water. What must have been relief washed over him; as if a literal weight had been lifted from his tired shoulders. One less thing to fret about. He was finally free just to enjoy himself.

Morty drained his glass, and set his knife and fork down on his empty plate. "I needed that," he sighed, pressing a hand to his midsection. "You want another drink?"

"Could do," Falkner shrugged, eyeing his own empty glass. "If you wanted to stay for a little longer?"

There was a pause, and Morty bit his lower lip. "The reason you don't drink…" he began, slowly. "As in, alcohol. Religion?"

Falkner shook his head. "Nope."

"Health?"

"Guess again?" Falkner offered, smiling. When Morty looked stumped, he shrugged his shoulders and continued, "I've just never really seen the point. Or had anyone to drink with - I think that's the main thing. Why break a habit of a lifetime, right?" He gestured to Morty's glass. "But you're welcome to have whatever you like; I don't want you to feel like you have to stop yourself just because I don't drink."

"That's…"

"Boring?" Falkner supplied, his voice wry.

"Sensible," Morty firmly corrected. "I don't drink a lot myself - it's not great for the gift. Keeping the body clear and alert is important, or so they say." He shrugged. "A little amongst friends has never hurt, though. If you don't mind, that is; I wouldn't want to make you feel uncomfortable."

"No, no - as I said, it's not a big deal." Falkner leaned back in his seat. "Could I just get an orange juice? If that's okay, that is." He looked a little awkward; as if Morty would say no.

"I'll be back in a second," Morty said, by way of an answer. He left for the bar, well aware of Falkner's eyes on his retreating back. There was something appreciative in the younger man's aura, Morty was sure of it; something that had nothing to do with the juice. He found himself subtly exaggerating the sway of his hips just a little more than necessary, and could feel the Violet Leader's focus on him even as he gave their order to the bartender.

It was weird, being wanted again. There had been many a time when he had been sure that Suicune did it for Eusine more than Morty ever could, particularly towards the end of their relationship, and Falkner's attention was flattering if nothing else. It said, 'There's nothing wrong with you, Morty', and Morty found himself welcoming it, grateful for it, if only for the fact that it was Falkner staring at him from across the room.

The Bird Trainer might not have been what could be considered to be traditionally handsome, but there was definitely something about him. Something that Morty hadn't exactly had much time to ponder, in between his own misplaced sense of fault and trying to figure out the enigma that was Eusine, but somehow it had worked out alright in the end.

Falkner's aura was more noticeable now, and when Morty turned, he found the blue-haired man standing directly behind him. Needless to say, he jumped. "Ah - uh, Falkner?" he stuttered out, confused when Falkner just smiled at him and leaned forward on the bar to address the smartly-dressed man behind it.

"Sorry about that - forget the orange juice. Two of whatever he's having, please," he said, gesturing towards Morty, who was still trying to regain his composure. The bartender nodded, and turned to take another glass from the shelf.

"I'd better not have corrupted you," said Morty, shaking his head. "And you gave me quite a fright there - sneaking up on me…"

"As I said, I've never had anyone to drink with before. Just the one won't hurt anything," Falkner said slyly, and then actually grinned, seemingly happy to be able to derail Morty's self-control just as Morty regularly did to him.

Morty threw him a sideways glance. "I hope this isn't peer pressure at work…?" he asked, not liking the idea of being directly responsible for anything Falkner would later go on to regret. "I couldn't live with myself if you threw away your morals just because I'm here." The bartender put the drinks in front of them, and Morty handed over the money.

"Nah." Falkner shook his head, and when the man turned away to get Morty's change, he continued, "I think… I'm just too set in my old ways. But let's face it - they haven't exactly been doing me much good this far. Maybe a few little changes are exactly what I need." He took a sip out of the glass in front of him, screwing his nose up at the taste. "Even if they are bitter."

"You'll get used to it," Morty laughed.

Falkner stuck out his tongue, now eyeing the offensive liquid distastefully. "I very much doubt that," he said, before Morty's laugh became infectious and the pair of them returned to their seats.