A/N: Final Chapter!
"Just a little tighter Ratchet."
"Easy for you to say Clank," Ratchet groaned as he yanked harder on his Omniwrench, "I'm the one doing all the tightening."
With another heave of his wrench, the satisfying click of the bolt settling into place was heard. Ratchet wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked down approvingly at the almost complete Sky Ripper.
"Excellent work. Just a few more modifications and we will be ready to test it." Clank announced, inspecting the thrusters. Ratchet ran his hand along the frame lovingly and sighed.
"I can't wait to see people's faces when we jump the gorge in this bad boy."
"Indeed. It will be quite the spectacle." Clank agreed. Ratchet stretched his tired limbs and stared at the setting of Veldin's sun. He slightly frowned looking into the red orb that was slowly disappearing. It had been a long day and it didn't help matters with everything that had been going on in his head lately. The lombax sat down on the sandy surface, taking his sweat soaked shirt off and tossing it aside without much care. He opened a jug of water from a nearby cooler and dunked it on his head after removing his cap. He took a few swigs of the cool liquid and proceeded to stare off into the distance.
Clank had been watching him the entire time and it was no secret to the little robot about what was on his partner's mind.
He had seen Ratchet and his moods and was often careful about how he should approach them. Ratchet wasn't the type to sit around and mope but he never did a good job of hiding his emotions. Clank slowly made his way over to his friend and sat down beside him in the sand and dirt.
Ratchet didn't seem to notice as he continued to stare out into the horizon, water dripping off his ears and muzzle.
"Ratchet?" The robot asked, his green eyes searching for Ratchet's emerald ones. The metallic voice caused Ratchet to snap out of his stupor and look down at Clank.
"Is everything alright? You have seemed very distracted for the past few days."
"I'm fine Clank. Just tired is all." Ratchet said with a weak smile. It wasn't a total lie. He had not slept much lately.
"You are certain it has nothing to do with what happened at the restaurant?"
Ratchet's smile faded and he looked back out to the setting sun. Clank was always good at seeing through his lies. He leaned back on his elbows, letting out a labored sigh.
"I just…can't believe that Angela would date a guy like that, you know? If I had ever pulled that kind of crap with her, she would have tied my tail in a knot and hung me over a pit of ravenous Zyphoids."
"Ratchet," Clank began, "I know how much Angela meant to you in the past and it is clear you still harbor some feeling for her. Are you sure that your questioning of her romantic pursuits are not just a reaction of jealousy?"
Ratchet sneered at the robot's question and waved it off with his hand. "This has nothing to do with jealousy. That guy is a prick, plain and simple. Angela deserves better. She should be with someone who treats her right! Someone who cares about her! Someone like…like…"
"Like you?" Clank finished for him. Ratchet gave him a stern glare but it softened as he knew that was exactly what he was thinking.
"Oh boy…" He mumbled to himself, shaking his head. Clank sighed at the sight of his best friend so downtrodden and disheartened. He placed his tiny metal hand on the lombax's shoulder in a gesture of comfort.
"While I do not proclaim to be an expert in the field of organic relationships Ratchet, I feel that I must ask you this; have you considered telling Angela why you left?"
Ratchet lifted his head to gaze at the setting sun once more.
It was a fair question. It was one that Ratchet had asked himself over a million times. There were times, specifically in the last few days, where he had her number on his holo-phone waiting to be dialed. He could never do it though. There was too much shame and to be honest, he didn't think that she would believe him anyway.
"Look Clank," He sighed, "I know you understand why I did what I did but…I don't think that Angela will."
"How can you be certain?"
"When you share a bed with someone for a long time, you tend to get to know them pretty well. Angela's the smartest girl I've ever known. A girl that smart knows to distrust anything a piece of crap like me would say…"
"You are being too hard on yourself Ratchet." Clank said, standing up. "We have traveled the universe together for a long time and if there is one thing I have learned, it is that there is no such thing as a perfect being, organic or machine. Mistakes will be made by all."
Ratchet didn't say anything but Clank continued.
"Perhaps you made a mistake in the strategy of dealing with Angela. But you did what you thought in your heart what was best for her. That is not something I believe you should blame yourself for. You are a good person Ratchet and I trust one day Angela will remember that."
Ratchet remained silent as he stared at his feet but brought his gaze up to meet his friend's.
"Thanks pal. It's nice to know maybe I'm not a total screw up." He said with a small smile. It dissipated quickly however as he watched a small breeze pick up some dust and sand, twirling it through the air in a hypnotizing dance.
"Clank." He said, eyes transfixed on the horizon. "Yes Ratchet?" The little robot responded, looking up to the lombax.
"I miss her."
Clank said nothing. What could he say? His processors were full of sympathy for him but he knew it would be of little comfort to Ratchet. He could only pat him gently on the back and stare out into the Veldin landscape as well.
Ratchet let out a sigh and stood up, brushing the dust off his pants and jerked a thumb over to the Sky Ripper.
"C'mon Clank. Let's get this thing back into the garage before nightfall. I'm not doing us any good by sitting around moping." He said.
"As you wish Ratchet. You will be alright, yes?"
"I'll be fine buddy. I'm not one for feeling sorry for myself for too long. Besides, it's not like thinking about her will magically make her fall out of the sky and into my lap, right?"
As soon as Ratchet finished his sentence, his ears twitched at a small roaring sound in the distance. It started to become louder and he turned his head around to see a small object in the sky coming towards the planet's surface. Ratchet squinted and could faintly make out the outline of a ship.
"You expecting any visitors Clank? TV producers or what not?" He asked. "Not to my knowledge." Clank mused as he too watched as the ship continued its decent.
The closer it drifted towards the surface the more details they could make out. Clank's optical sensors zoomed in on the craft and noticed some very familiar markings. The entire structure of the ship seemed to be lined with some sort of hosing that flowed from the cockpit all the way to the back of the thrusters. He recognized the hosing as thermal out ports that were used for keeping the ship warm on icy planets. Clank was confused as to why a ship like that would be on Veldin. A ship like that would be found on...
"Oh my." Clank muttered to himself as the realization hit him. He looked over to Ratchet who had walked a little further to get a better look. Clank tapped his fingers together awkwardly and contemplated telling the lombax what he knew or not. But seeing as the answer was already on its way, it seemed there was very little difference either way.
"Yeah?" Ratchet answered, hand over his eyes to try and make out the now closer spacecraft with the setting sun in the distance.
"If I tell you something do you, do you promise not to overreact?" Clank asked him. Ratchet frowned and looked down suspiciously to his companion. "What's going on Clank?"
"Well...from what I can gather, that ship looks like it could possibly hail from..." He paused.
Ratchet stared at Clank for almost a minute in complete silence. Clank raised his hand to say something but found that he was staring at nothing. He turned his head to see Ratchet stumble and trip over his own tail as he raced towards the now landing ship.
Ratchet picked up his pace as he saw the ship send up a small storm of debris and dust as it touched down. He couldn't believe she was here. She had come to see him. Maybe she realized what a douche that markazian was. Maybe Clank was right.
Maybe she did remember.
He could feel his legs pick up speed as the rush of seeing her beautiful face gave him a burst of adrenaline. The cockpit door opened. His heart was pounding in his ears and it had nothing to do with the running. Ratchet saw Angela stand up and jump down onto Veldin's surface.
It was like a dream sequence in slow motion.
Her ponytail and a few loosed strands of hair waved in the wind as she looked around, her beauty and alluring figure outlined by the sunset. She turned and caught his eyes and Ratchet could feel a large grin spread across his muzzle. Angela looked so amazing, so radiant, so…angry?
Ratchet felt his smile fade and his steps start to slow. Angela's face was twisted into a look of pure hate and malice and she started towards him. Fast.
Ratchet felt his legs suddenly start back tracking and found himself running in the opposite direction. He could hear Angela's footsteps pounding into the sand and her voice carrying across the air to his ears.
"Ratchet!" She screamed at the top of her lungs. Ratchet forgot how much of temper she could have.
"I'm going to rip off your tail and hang you by it!"
Oh how he forgot.
Ratchet blew past Clank who watched as the female lombax bolted after him, the anger practically emanating off her into a physical mist. He tried to say something but his gentle voice was drowned out by words of malicious intent.
"Goddamnit Ratchet!" Angela screamed as she slipped in the dirt, Ratchet suddenly turning direction to avoid her grasp.
"What! What did I do!" He yelled back confused and frightened. He hopped over the Sky Ripper and Angela came to a stop on the other side. Both lombaxes shifted from one foot to the other trying to anticipate or trick the other into going a certain direction. Angela snarled at him and raked her claws over the Sky Ripper's chrome finish. Ratchet winced at the marks they left in his prized machine.
"You had to ruin everything, didn't you!" She shouted.
"Ruin what! I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Everything was fine until you came along!" The enraged female told him, leaning over and taking a swipe. "I was happy! I was content! You couldn't let me have that, could you!"
Ratchet ducked out of reach from her reach and fell over his own feet in the process. Angela jumped the Sky Ripper and dove into the sand after him but ended up crashing on her chest as he scrambled out of the way just in time. It was of little matter as she was immediately back on her feet chasing after him again. Ratchet ran towards his garage, his brain trying to figure out some sort of escape plan or, in more dire urgencies, a weapon to protect himself from what he could only describe as a possible raging tornado of estrogen and menstruation.
Angela was gaining on him but saw Clank jump in the way of her path, holding out his hands.
"Please Ms. Cross, if you just calm down, we can-"
Clank didn't get to finish his plea as Angela, lost in a haze of her anger, threw a hard kick at the robot and sent him flying into the air like a metal football. He landed a few yards away with a solid 'thunk!' and a small cloud of dust rising out into the sky. She paused for a moment when she realized what she did and shouted out,
"Oh! Sorry Clank!"
Her concern for the little A.I. unit was soon forgotten however when her ire returned back to Ratchet who had reached the garage. She sprinted after him, picking up his Omniwrench that lay in the sand. Angela sped up and came to the garage to find Ratchet desperately looking around for something. She raised her arm to strike him but paused when she suddenly noticed something.
She was so lost in the drunkenness of her anger that she didn't even notice the alluring physical changes in the male lombax.
Ratchet stood there in a panic, his face lined with confusion as she stared at him. Angela's eyes roamed his body, her blue irises drinking up the athletic physique he possessed. She had always known him to be slender and rather skinny. Now, he sported hard definition all over his arms, chest and abdomen, looking bigger than he ever did before. A physique that was most likely carved by saving the universe multiple times. Ratchet noticed her eyes wandering all over him and he timidly shrugged his shoulders.
"Uh, like what you see?"
Angela snapped out of her trance and snarled, the wrench coming down at him. Ratchet rolled out of the way as it slammed into his work bench. She recoiled and took another swing and he ducked that one just in time. Seeing a spare piece of scrap metal on the floor, he picked it up and held it in front of him as Angela threw swing after swing against it, the loud crashing sound echoing out into the landscape.
"Why did you have to be at that stupid restaurant! Why couldn't you have just left!" She screeched, her voice starting to shake along with the rest of her body.
"What are you talking about Angela!"
"You were right you asshole! You were right about everything!" Her voice exploding all around the room along with the crashing of metal against metal. Ratchet could feel his arms growing numb with each strike and shake of the metal.
"I chose not to see what was in front of me! I knew Ethan was nothing more than a walking suit and cellphone! I knew I deserved better but it made me forget about you and that was all I ever wanted!"
She threw one last strike against Ratchet's improvised shield and she dropped the wrench, ragged and deep breaths shaking her body. Ratchet dropped the scrap metal and looked at her with utter confusion and shock. She let her face fall into her hands and sniffed loudly, tears threatening to fall.
"It's all I ever wanted…" She sighed softly. "To forget about you. Forget about us. Forget how much I missed you…"
Ratchet's look softened as he stood up. He reached a hand out to touch her but decided against it. She looked back up at him, her eyes shining and full of sadness.
"But you couldn't let me have that could you?" She whispered, a tear sliding down her cheek, the tan fur becoming darker in the streak. Ratchet opened his mouth to speak but found his mouth to be dry. A wave of guilt and shame starting to well up inside him at the sound of her words and the sight of her tears. Angela let out an exhausted sigh and walked out of the garage. Ratchet stood where he was, watching her walk out into the last rays of light from the sun and sit down in the dust.
Clank appeared from around the opening of the garage, brushing off the dirt from his chest plate.
"It would be assumed that this is not what you meant by her falling out of the sky?" He asked, fixing the bend in his antennae. Ratchet said nothing as he stared at the lombax in the distance that he had hurt so long ago.
The lombax that he was still hurting.
Clank looked up to see the remorseful and despondent look on his friend's face. He looked to Angela sitting in the foreground of the Veldin sun's dying rays. He gently placed a hand on Ratchet's leg, causing him to look down.
"I think it is time you tell her Ratchet." He said with sympathy and encouragement. Ratchet looked back up to her figure in the distance and sighed. He started to walk off towards her, leaving Clank to wish him a silent bought of luck.
Ratchet approached her and with every step he wondered how he was going to do this. She was already mad and hurt beyond what he imagined. He had no idea that after all this time she was still hurting that badly from what he had done. It made him feel sick. He was a little less than a few feet away from her, her sobs reaching his ears and making him cringe. He didn't want this for her. She didn't deserve those tears. She deserved the truth.
He just wished he had realized that sooner.
Ratchet came to a stop beside her and hesitated in speaking. She wiped away her tears and turned her head away from him, resting her chin on her knees that were pulled up to her chest.
"Angela…I'm sorry." He finally said. She scoffed a broken laugh and shook her head. Ratchet ran a hand through his head fur and looked out towards the last sliver of sunlight that disappeared over the horizon.
"I'm going to tell you something I should have told you a long time ago." He said softly. Whether or not she was listening, he had no idea but continued.
"Leaving you was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I didn't want to but…I thought it was what was best."
"Best? Leaving me without so much as a word? You thought that was best?" She replied, looking at him in disbelief and irritation.
"Yes. I did it to protect you."
"Oh don't give me that Ratchet…"
"It's true." He said sternly, a bit of aggravation building up inside him. "I was hurting too, okay? I…I loved you." He whispered. Angela remained silent but the words made her ears twitch.
"It was because I loved you that I left. I couldn't stand to see you get hurt."
"What are you talking about Ratchet?" Angela asked, confusion now gripping her.
"I knew how lucky I was to have you," He said, "I knew how much you cared for me. You were the most important thing in the galaxy to me. But me and Clank…we stand for what's right in the universe. We know if our help is needed, we'll be there. And…I couldn't let that hurt you."
Angela scrunched her brow at him and stood up. Her face has softened and her tears had stopped. She wrapped her arms around herself and asked, "What do you mean? Ratchet, stop this and just tell me."
Ratchet studied her face for a moment before sighing and looking away from her.
"I couldn't stand the thought of you waiting around to see if I was going to come back home alive or not."
Angela felt her eyebrows rise up in surprise as Ratchet met her gaze again and continued. "I didn't want that for you. I wanted you to be with someone who could be there with you all the time. Someone that you didn't have to worry about if they were going to be killed in some foolish heroic and noble cause. Someone you could grow old with."
Ratchet toyed with his fingers and tried to avoid her open mouthed stare. Angela was bewildered. None of this had ever occurred to her nor had Ratchet ever mentioned it when they were together. The galactic hero tiredly pinched the bridge of his muzzle and let out a sad laugh.
"I guess I should have told you this but I knew you would have fought me on it. Because I knew that you loved me as much as I loved you."
Angela felt her cheeks heat up and she placed a hand over her mouth. It was true. She would have put up the wildest fight imaginable.
"That's why…that's why I left the way I did. That's why I…got involved with others. I knew that if you hated me with every fibre of your being…you would never have to deal with the pain if I died." He finished softly.
Angela was speechless. She could feel her heart aching as years of resentment and hurt came flooding back to into her mind. All of it caused on purpose. To protect her. Ratchet could only shrug his shoulders and stick his hands in his pockets in embarrassment.
"I didn't realize that you would still be that kind and caring person I've always known and still have me on your mind. I never wanted that either. I just wanted you to forget about me too Angela. I wanted to forget. Forget how much…I still love you."
There was a heavy silence and neither spoke. Angela continued to stare at him with a shocked expression and Ratchet tried to avoid it. Angela suddenly shook her head and growled, her hands coming up and giving him a heavy shove.
"You shit head!" She screamed. Ratchet nearly fell over but regained his balance only to be shoved again.
"How could you be so stupid! How could you be so selfish!"
"How was I selfish!" He cried back, another shove sending him stumbling. "It wasn't your decision to make!" She answered hotly.
"It's my life Ratchet! If I want to be with someone who risks their neck for the universe then so be it! If I want to stay up all night worrying about you then I'll do it! Don't you get it you stupid gear head!"
She went to give him one last shove and ended up falling into his arms. She cried into his shoulder, her arms wrapping around his neck and hugging him close. Ratchet, while confounded by her actions held her tightly to him. She sobbed into his shoulder for almost a minute before pulling back and staring into his green eyes, her muzzle and cheeks damp.
"When you love someone, you take the risks involved. All of them." She whispered.
"But it wasn't fair to you…" Ratchet mumbled. Angela let herself smile at him and she gently smacked him on the nose. "Life's not fair bolts for brains. That doesn't mean you just throw away everything that's important to you."
Ratchet looked at her then softly chuckled, his head shaking. "I really am a stupid gear head aren't I?" He asked her. Angela's smile widened and nodded.
"You are. But you're a sweet, caring and wonderful man too. A man who did a very stupid thing but did it because he loved me…A man I've missed for a long time…"
"I've missed you too…"
They stared at each other, Ratchet getting lost in her blue eyes and Angela in his green ones. Slowly, Ratchet leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers. Angela tightened her grip on him and kissed back, the feeling of his lips on hers was an old familiarity, one she missed dearly. Ratchet pulled her tighter against him and growled low in his throat at her sweet taste. Angela grinned in the kiss and sucked at his bottom lip only to let go and deepened their kiss.
Both lombaxes broke away and looked down to see Clank standing awkwardly at their feet.
"I do not wish to disturb such a romantic moment of reconciliation but I must point out that if we do not get the Sky Ripper in the garage, there is a good chance that Horny Toads will try and nest in the exhaust ports."
"Sure thing pal." Ratchet chuckled, giving Angela another squeeze.
"Oh Clank!" Angela gasped as she suddenly remembered what happened not too long ago. "I'm so sorry about kicking you!"
"It is quite alright Ms. Cross. I have been to many systems and planets and fought many foes and I can say that yours was probably the least threatening encounter I've had." Clank responded with a smile and a giggle.
Angela smiled down at him and laughed herself, rubbing away the remaining stray tears. Ratchet gave her a kiss on the forehead and released her from his grasp.
"I'll be right back." He told her and jogged off with Clank to move the Sky Ripper into the garage. He and the robot settled it into place and Ratchet looked back out to Angela then to Clank.
"Listen Clank, I don't mean to ditch you or anything but..." He stammered, feeling guilty about what he wanted to do and leaving his little buddy in the dust. Clank offered him a smile and a wave of his hand.
"Do not trouble yourself about me Ratchet. You have gained back something you lost a long time ago and that is something I wish for you to enjoy more than anything. I can keep myself entertained." He said.
Ratchet smiled and pulled him into a hug. "Thanks Clank. I mean that."
"You are most welcome my friend. Now go." Clank told him, ushering him with his hands. Ratchet turned back and returned to the beautiful lombax who was sitting down again, staring up at the stars. She smiled at him, a genuine smile and held her hand out to receive his own.
"Sit with me. Like we use to." She whispered. Ratchet sat down behind her, wrapping his arms tightly around her slender frame again. Angela nestled herself against him, her head underneath his chin with one arm wrapped around his waist while the other affectionately stroked his chest.
"Mmm. I'm going to have to get used this new Ratchet." She purred, feeling the hard muscle underneath his fur. He snickered and held her tighter.
"So you do like what you see."
"I do but I still like the short and skinny lombax that came to my house in the middle of the night all those years ago." She replied.
"Yeah, I really did rock the stumpy and scrawny like nobody's business." Ratchet said with pride in his voice. Angela laughed and leaned farther into him, the comfort of his embrace making her body fill with content. She looked up, seeing the endless siege of stars above them and heard Ratchet whisper into her ear.
"I don't mean to kill the mood but...what about Ethan?" He asked. Ratchet had lost himself in the excitement and passion of his reunion with her that he over looked a crucial dilemma.
"Ethan's gone." She whispered back, her eyes still focused on the stars. "Oh...what happened?" Ratchet found himself asking though he couldn't have been more thrilled. Angela was silent for a moment before saying,
"Someone once told me that Ethan didn't know me very well. He was right."
"Hmm. Sounds like a smart guy."
"He has his moments except for that time he made a really dumb decision that almost cost him the woman who loved him."
"Oh yes, that certainly was dumb but you know what?"
"He's never going to make the mistake again…ever. And if you let him…he'll spend the rest of his life trying to make it up to you. That is if you want to take another chance on a glorified grease monkey."
"That certainly is a big chance to take. But…I think it's one worth taking again."
The two were silent after that. Angela nestled into his body even more and Ratchet rested his chin on the top of her head. Nothing was said. There was no need for it. No words could be uttered that could define what they were feeling right now. So there they sat in the Veldin dirt basking in the warmth of each other and the blanket of stars above them.
You don't always find again what you lost but if you do, you never want to let go.
A/N: There ya go! I hope all enjoyed! We'll see you next time!