Wiry fingers tangled together as their nervous owner wrung them together restlessly. Sigmund had never considered himself a calm sort of robot in the least pressuring of circumstances, and what was about to occur could certainly not be placed in that particular category. Remaining silent in his anxiety, Sigmund cautiously peered into the small chamber where Orvus had holed himself up in since returning from depositing XJ-0641's soul into the body that the Zoni Elder had specifically chosen for him. Taking one final moment to calm himself, Sigmund approached cautiously, clutching both hands to his chest as he muttered, "Sir?"
"Ah," Orvus turned around, that beloved smile still on his face. But it seemed... different, somehow. It didn't quite match with the story the rest of his face told, "Sigmund. Please, come in," Just as careful as ever, the younger 'bot approached, hands tangling with each other to prevent themselves from reaching out to comfort his superior. Turning back to stare into the screen that had so captivated his attention since returning from infusing the soul of XJ-0641 with the body chosen specifically for him, Orvus asked, "What can I do for you, my friend?"
"I- um..." Again the jitters caught Sigmund, causing him to stare at his hands as his words sputtered on, "I was just passing by and... you seem... sad, sir."
The older caretaker looked up, an almost tired glaze in his eyes, "Do I?" The smile never wavered, even as he looked again to the screen, "Hmm... well, regardless, it is good that you stopped by. I need to tell you..." Orvus paused, taking a deep breath and exhaling loudly, "that it will be quite some time before XJ-0641 – Clank – is able to join us here at the Great Clock."
Sigmund blinked. Once. Twice. Disappointment was evident in his expression and he did not try to hide it; new faces were rare around here. Hands kneaded together, the robot asked, "Sir? What do you mean?
"Come see for yourself," Cryptically responded the Zoni, and with that returned his attention to the screen which Sigmund noticed, for the first time, was displaying the scene of a robot and a... cat?
"Turn it off! Turn it off!"
Fumbling a bit with the remote, a small gray robot complied – finally aiming it at the black box and pressing down, effectively cutting off the connection of the black box. Frowning in a mixture of experiment and disgust, the robot commented, "Well, that was... disturbing. On a number of levels."
The feline creature sighed heavily, collapsing laxly into its chair so that it was more laying than sitting, "Understatement of the millennium, pal," Then, cautiously opening one eye, it sat up a bit, peering over to the other chair and asking as if the thought just occurred to it, "Uh... hey, how's your arm doing?"
In response to the question, the other brought up an arm and bent it in several ways, obviously testing the servos, "As good as new... almost as if this never happened."
"That's good..." The large cat trailed off awkwardly, then brought a hand to its head and scratched, "So, now what? I mean, with Drek dead and the Blarg under Galactic surveillance..."
"I am honestly not certain," Replied the robot, staring down at its folded hands, "Stopping Drek's plans was my singular purpose for existing... with him dead, I do not really have any reason to exist now, do I?"
The feline was sitting up fully in an instant, eyes narrowed as it harshly snapped, "Don't talk like that!" Then, almost immediately, it back-pedaled, speaking quite a bit softer as it spoke, "I-I mean, you'll think of something, right?" There was a visible sadness in its eyes, "It's not like you're the first guy to have an existential crisis."
Missing the lingering despondency within its companion's tone, the robot cheered considerably, "You are right, Ratchet. I mean, you organics are born without any purpose at all, existing simply to exist without any point," Ignorant to the growing misery on Ratchet's features, the robot spun suddenly, smiling up at the cat with such liveliness that it could not help but smile back, "And yet, you all find your own purpose as you go along. Perhaps that is a staple of sentience; to chose your own destiny. Nevertheless, I will continue to think on it."
"Well, until you have it figured out," Ratchet leaned on the arm of its chair, watching the robot pace about as it spoke, "You're welcome to stay here, I guess. I mean, with your diagnosis skills, repairs would go even faster than ever! And... I guess a little company wouldn't hurt."
Spinning around to face the cat, the robot paused, scanning its face, "You are certain? I mean... I can find something else."
"Hey, nobody's forcing you to stay," Replied Ratchet, tone suddenly becoming defensive, "I'm just saying door's open, if you want."
"I... I would like that, yes," The robot responded, a ghost of a smile coating his metal mouth. Ratchet, still sitting, matched it with the tiniest bit of enthusiasm lighting his eyes.
"I have seen Ratchet's past," Orvus spoke gravely, as if his words contained great tragedy, "And I know... he will need my son far more than either of us will."
"But, sir..." Memories of their conversation concerning XJ-0641's place at the Clock came into vivid, accurate focus, "You said you wanted..."
Orvus gently shushed the Junior Caretaker, smiling with sadness, "Yes, I did want that. But fate has decided otherwise... and so it shall be. In time, my son may find his way here to the Clock, but right now his place is elsewhere," The childlike knowledge of a secret lit Orvus' eyes through the quiet mourning, "I know my son is in good hands, Sigmund. We will just have to wait until time and fate bring him back to us."
Suddenly, without warning, Orvus turned to Sigmund, surprising the younger robot.
"And, if I am being completely honest... Clank is a much better name for him, anyways."
Three gentle knocks rang through the small room, drawing the woman working studiously at her desk from her computer, "Yes?"
At this cue the door opened, slowly, carefully, so that she could not see who was behind it until the door was resting against a wall. To say the identity of the one interrupting her was a surprise was quite the understatement.
Blinking, numb in her surprise, the doctor spoke gently, "Ratchet."
The Lombax entered the room, left hand reaching across his body to gently squeeze the right one, as if granting himself reassurance. He seemed different from the hardened boy whom had been required to attend therapy; something inside of him had been ruptured, she was sure. His being here was proof enough of that. There was a sense of paranoia about him as he entered, eyes trying to scan the room before forcing themselves to stop. The action, from what she'd heard of his activities, was not all that surprising. Not nearly as surprising as his presence here.
Keeping standing, the young Lombax made his way to the center of the room, right hand clenched while his left continued to remain wrapped around it. His face was kept down as he spoke; eyes refused to meet her, "Hey, doc."
For a while, there were no words. Breaking free of her shock, the doctor had then patiently awaited for Ratchet to speak... and when he did not, she did, "I heard about what you did, Ratchet. Saved the planet, possibly the galaxy... I believe a congratulations are in order."
"I've had enough of that from everyone around here," Dismissed Ratchet with a wave of his hand, "But, ah, I need to talk to you about something."
Nodding, the female doctor leaned forward, propping her head on her fists and granting Ratchet her full attention, "I'm listening."
Taking a deep breath, the Lombax collected his thoughts; an oddly fascinating thing to watch. When he spoke, his words were carefully constructed, "I... think I made a friend, recently. I dunno. He's going to be living with me for a while and... well, he's a nice guy and everything, but, it's like... I can talk to him, and stuff, and not feel the need to, you know, fight him away. It's weird," While speaking, Ratchet had let himself get carried away, waving his arms around fervently; now, however, he caught himself and went back to his guarded positioning, "I don't like it."
"So, you don't feel the need to defend yourself from him," Summarized the therapist with a pointed look, "I fail to see the problem here, Ratchet. Isn't this a good thing?"
"Not really, no," The Lombax gave a shuttering gasp, "I mean, I almost died, not too long ago, and it would have been perfectly fine if I did. Not like anyone'd miss me, I thought. Then he just flew up outta nowhere and saved me and got hurt," Ratchet caught himself, stopping his rambling for a second to collect his thoughts, "And I felt... guilty. Not cause he saved me or even that he got hurt... I felt guilty because I wouldn't have minded dying right then. And he'd have been left with that and..." Running out of things to say, he just repeated himself, "I just don't like this."
Comprehension dawned on the doctor, though she kept it off of her face. Gracing Ratchet with a rare, gentle smile, she spoke neutrally and professionally, "I think I see your problem. And must I say, this is quite the conundrum."
"Yeah," Ratchet took a moment's breather, and she let him. Finally, he spoke again, "I think I have a problem."
"You certainly have changed since our last meeting," The doctor commented almost idly as she pushed herself off the desk and moved to face her computer, moving and rearranging until Ratchet's schedule showed up on screen. Moving it back to its original position, she turned to give him a slight nod of approval, "It looks like saving the galaxy did you some good."
Almost cryptically, Ratchet corrected, "Saving the galaxy had nothing to do with it. Well, not really," One hand rubbing at the back of his neck, Ratchet asked, "So, I'll see you at the usual time?"
"Yes," The doctor agreed, a ghost of a smile crossing her lips as Ratchet's time frame was restored to her schedule, "You will," With that, the Lombax quietly slipped out, pulling the door closed behind him. Only when he was gone did the smile break out on her face, subtle and small but still there. Her fingers returned to her work, but her mind remained on the Lombax.
Whenever she met this mysterious friend, she'd have to thank him.
Disclaimer: Ratchet and Clank do not belong to me.
Authoress' Notes: Oh my god... we're done. Epilogue, done. That's it. Well, that's not it, it. Just, wow. Never really thought this day would come, ya know?
What did I do good on?: The beginning was just... really good, in my opinion.
What did I fail on?: Awkward Ratchet is awkward to write.
So, anyways, a few things to tell you. I have some projects I'm going to be working on post this story. So, as of Monday, July 15, 2013, here's what I'm planning on doing:
Carpe Diem Sequel: Yes, there will be a sequel with R&C2:GC. As of now, it's in the planning stages. At the earliest, it'll be up in my first week of college; at latest, around late November/early December. I'm not going to rush this and mess it up, okay?
Unnamed Ratchet/Clank story: Again, still in the planning stages; this one is an Au-ish kinda deal. I'll go into detail when it's posted.
30 Days OTP Prompts Meme: Will be begun as soon as I find the prompt list. Just something to do, I guess.
Behind the Mask: An R&C adaptation of Majora's Mask; heavily based off of and inspired by the game, but not actually the same. Just... just let me have my fun, okay? First few chapters are finished, will be posted when I have a little more done.
One-shots?: Eh, a few ideas. They'll be up whenever.
So, basically, my future plans are: come up with things and write them whenever you feel like it. Isn't that grand?
Final thoughts on Carpe Diem: This is my first multi-chapter fanfiction, and it succeeded on so many levels. I'm probably gonna look back on this one day and be like, "pfft, that was so stupid," but right now it, and you guys, are literally my greatest fanfiction accomplishment. Of course, there're some things I just couldn't fit in but, eh, what are ya gonna do? Overall, I'm really proud of this. And I'm glad you all enjoyed it too (hopefully).
Final Stats (As of June 15, 2013):
Favorite Chapter: After going through them all again and correcting all the typos I could find... I would say Orxon II: Teamwork is still my favorite chapter. There's just something about the symbolism that draws me in.
Least Favorite Chapter: To my increasing surprise, Metropolis: Goals was actually the most taxing chapter to go through and correct. Maybe because it's the longest, but I've corrected a twenty-page essay, so that can't be it... I dunno.
Word Count: 144,344
Random Question For Reviewers: What was your favorite chapter and why?