The only reason the old grandfather clock was there was for the quiet moments not unlike this. The wise machine towered over both its master and her guest, older than the polished wooden frame and shimmering brass chimes would suggest. It did not quite fit in with the otherwise modern office; the sleek new furniture and the lustrous console on the desk. Not even it's ability to keep time was required, thanks to the digital clock on the wall above the door. The only reason the old gizmo was needed was for it's constant metronome.
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
It was the only sound holding off the lonely buzzing of silence as the two occupants of the modern office sat in complete quiet. The taller of the two was the clock's master, a tidy and professional looking woman with an even stare, lips pressed together into a thin line. Her gaze was directed downward, for the most part, at a clipboard, where she made occasional scribbles but, mostly, just read the same lines over and over again. On occasion, her gaze left the black lines to watch her charge, sitting opposite of her on a considerably comfortable looking couch.
He was her exact opposite, her charge. Where as the clock's master kept her hair and fur neat and tidy, the boy's was unkempt, at best. Where as she dressed professionally, he clearly just threw on the first pair of clean pants he saw. Where as her eyes had focus, be it on her young charge or her paperwork, his gaze was indistinct, watching the plain white ceiling tiles without aim.
This session was typical. It began when the clock's largest hand was angled straight upward, while its shorter partner was pointed at the elegantly painted number four. She always tried to ask him questions; filling the void of empty sound with her calm tone while he sat exactly as he did now, omitting her voice pointedly even as she tried to do her job. The clock currently read five minutes to five, and she had given up her inquiry several minutes previously, instead taking notes as her charge -once again- ignored her.
"Hey, Doc?" The smaller male asked, in a carefree tone that caused most to eye him with suspicion, "Look, it's almost been an hour. How about you just sign that paper and I get out of your hair?"
The woman frowned pointedly at him; a controlled expression that showed only impersonal disapproval at his request, "I'm sorry, Ratchet. I'm not going to risk losing my license because you get a little antsy," She adjusted the slim frames resting on her nose and forced their gazes to meet, "If you would just cooperate with me, though, you wouldn't have to come here every week."
"I don't NEED to be here," Ratchet objected, propping himself up on his elbows as his expression and tone changed from carefree to agitated in an instant, "I'm FINE. There's nothing wrong with me."
With professional detachment, the doctor stated, bluntly, "You tried to kill yourself."
A moment of silence persisted, where the drone of the grandfather clock became dominant once again.
"...that was a year ago," Ratchet pointed out, still clearly upset, but with none of the kick of his earlier words, "It was a mistake. I'm not going to do it again."
There was the sound of scribbling as the doctor quickly jotted something down, before looking back up at her patient, "I wish I could believe you, Ratchet," She stated, neutrally, "I honestly wish I could. But you've given me no reason to believe that you won't attempt something like this again. If anything, you're exactly the type of person who'd try something like that again."
Something between a scoff and a snort escaped the young male, tinged with disbelief, "Oh, yeah, I'm the ideal candidate for depression. You're telling me a ten year old in an orphanage can hang himself in his room and it's perfectly okay, but a teenage Lombax swallows a few pills in a restroom and suddenly everyone and their mother has to drop everything and pretend to care?"
"No," The doctor shook her head, "That's not what I'm saying at all... but it's interesting that you chose that particular example."
The clock's symmetrical thrum reigned supreme once again. This lasted for quite some time.
"Look, lady," Ratchet sat up, squinting in irritation at the woman sitting across from him, far too calmly. The tail that had previously been dangling and waving uselessly over the other side of the couch was suddenly tense and still behind him, "You wanna help someone? Fine. Go down to the local orphanage. I guarantee you half the kids you meet there think about suicide on a daily basis. Oh, but wait," His expression turned into one of mock sympathy, "You wouldn't get paid if you did that, would you? No, better just to sit there and get paid for pretending to give a damn while I, who actually has to work for a living, gets stuck in here wasting time!"
There was silence again. The doctor's expression was infuriatingly impartial to the Lombax's speech, even as Ratchet himself took deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself. Then, there was the sound of more scribbling, which earned a frustrated growl from the room's other occupant. At long last, the larger hand was once again pointing to the sky, while it's partner had shifted from four to five. In correspondence, five loud chimes roared through the small room, effectively soothing the teenager, if just a little.
Without a glance to the doctor, Ratchet stood abruptly, taking a moment to stretch his limbs before treading as quickly as he could towards the door. He kept his head and shoulders straight, conducting himself proudly even despite the conversation that had just occurred. On the other hand, the female remained seated, watching every step her charge took intently, as though they held some sort of clue she had missed. As Ratchet reached for the doorknob, she called to him, "I'll see you next week, Ratchet."
Without any sort of response, Ratchet quickly let himself out, leaving only the doctor and her clock. Patient gone, she released a sigh, making a final note on the stationary resting in her lap. The only noise that sounded in the office for quite some time was that of the clock's beating ticks.
"Sigmund! Oh, Sigmund!"
The former maintenance bot lifted his head suddenly at the familiar voice's call, bumping into the pipe right above his head. Grumbling some, he gave it a rub to check for damage -or rather, further damage- and, upon finding none, quickly floated in the direction of the voice, wondering why Orvus would be calling him.
Not that he was complaining, of course, but it seemed odd for the Senior Caretaker of the Great Clock to suddenly summon his Junior Caretaker without any prior warning to... whatever was important enough to occupy his attention. Then again, it seemed odd that the Senior Caretaker of the Great Clock would choose a defective maintenance bot from Zordoom as his Junior Caretaker, as opposed to some brilliant supercomputer or some tough war machine. It had been... hundreds? Thousands?...quite a lot of years, and it was still as surreal and amazing as his first day on the job.
He ended up finding his superior in a distant chamber of the clock, back turned to the entryway. Metaphorically swallowing his nerves, Sigmund moved cautiously to his friend and boss, hands being clenched together, lest they begin shaking. Upon realizing he hadn't been noticed, Sigmund announced himself quietly, "Sir..."
"Ah! Sigmund!" Without turning completely, Orvus' head moved to face his younger companion, arms curled into his chest as though to protect something, "I'm glad your here. Come! I want you to meet someone!"
Curious -and more than a little nervous- Sigmund approached his senior with caution. With a grin that was more than delighted, Orvus turned around completely, allowing the baffled Sigmund to get a glimpse of what he had been cradling: a glowing green light, small enough to fit comfortably into his hands. It was held forth slightly to allow Sigmund to examine it, which he did. The maintenance bot peered at it cautiously, optics running over the smooth green glow without quite knowing what he was supposed to see.
"Uh..." Sigmund mumbled, then blurted out, "It's a very nice star, sir," As soon as the words slipped out, the younger bot felt the distinct urge to slap himself in the face, even as Orvus' smile morphed from pride to amusement.
"Oh, dear Sigmund," He spoke, not unkindly, "This is no star! What I am holding here... is XJ-0641. My son," The pride returned to his eyes as he gazed down at the softly radiating light, "Or his soul, rather. I've been working on it for about a year now, and it's finally complete."
The little light seemed to glow a bit brighter, and Sigmund could only stare at it in amazement. The 'secret project' his old friend had been working so hard on for so long was this little piece of life. He didn't know what would come of it, but already the small light felt like a part of their little family, "Hi there," Sigmund greeted, a mix of nerves and excitement, "XJ-0641. Uh, welcome to the Great Clock."
For some reason, Orvus' amusement grew, and Sigmund blinked in surprise when the older robot started chuckling fondly in that bizarre, distinct laugh, "Oh, Sigmund, he cannot hear you," The younger of the two rubbed the back of his head, more than a little confused, "You see, XJ-0461 has not been born yet."
Oddly, the words did nothing to help Sigmund's confusion.
"Let me explain," Orvus began, with a kind smile, "In the Solana galaxy there exists a robot factory run by a supercomputer. As we speak, she is currently finishing production on a small robot which, in one week's time, will be born and sent out to stop her creator -a rather unpleasant fellow by the name of Drek- from destroying the Solana galaxy. But," There was a brief pause, and a look of sadness fell over Orvus. Sigmund gulped and braced himself for bad news, "there will be an error in the production. A Blargian override in one of the program chips will reprogram the little robot to serve Drek, and he will report his mother. The Solana galaxy will be destroyed in a few short years."
He looked overwhelmingly sad as he announced this, but brightened up before Sigmund could respond, "That is why I created this!" He held the orb slightly higher, showing off the neon green radiance, "With a soul, all influence by both parties will be neutralized, allowing him to do the right thing of his own accordance," His optics glistened fondly at the orb, "He will be able to act of his own free will, outside of his programming's parameters, a privilege only defective robots have enjoyed until now," Blinking, he added suddenly, "No offense, Sigmund."
The maintenance bot shrugged, having already accepted the label, "Eh, I've been called worse."
He was met with a small, sad smile, before Orvus' attention once again fell on the orb, "It may be a while before my son is able to join us here at the Great Clock... so we have some time to prepare," Both of the robots laughed heartily at this, "But in the meanwhile, I must get ready to head out into the Solana galaxy. I must be there for his birth."
Sigmund nodded, watching the little orb shimmer in waves with each of Orvus' words. His friend had stated that the little orb could not hear them, but it seemed to react vibrantly to the sound of Orvus' voice -recognizing it's father, he supposed. The light cascaded off of the little thing as Orvus held it out once more, so that both robots could admire the brilliance of a newly created soul together.
"You know, Sigmund," Orvus spoke quietly, after a moment, "I think I've always wanted a son."
Authoress' Notes: I do not own Ratchet and Clank.
I'm... not quite sure how I came up with this. I started writing a fanfiction-ization of the first R&C game some time ago, but deleted it because it just felt... weightless. I dunno. I didn't really add anything. This, however, I'm certain will add something, at least. Expect headcannons, changed dialogues and analysis on our characters. Also, the update schedule... yeah, not sure how that's gonna work out. I guess I'll upload every Monday I can, cause what better way to improve your Monday than a fanfiction update, right? I know that would certainly lift my spirits! ...I was a lonely child. Have I ever told you that?
What did I do good on?: I really like the part in the first section where I was describing stuff. Like the clock and the doctor and Ratchet. I didn't give Doc Know-It-All (as Ratchet calls her later) a name 'cause A) I don't think Ratchet cares all that much and B) I don't think YOU care all that much.
What did I fail on?: My headcannons. Not the headcannons themselves, but how I describe them. It just doesn't feel like I did it right. I'm sure you can tell what they are.
Random Question for Reviewers: What does silence sound like for you? I mean, complete and total silence, no sound anywhere. For me, it sounds like a buzzing in my ear. It's high-pitched and really annoying, which is why I play so much music.