Okay, I know I said I probably wouldn't post any new fanfics for a while, but this one has been almost done for quite some time and I finally got unstuck about how to finish it. XD This is basically my idea of what could happen directly after the events of the first game to really cement Ratchet and Clank's friendship to the point where they become inseparable. The story is four chapters long, and I'll be posting them at one week intervals. Have fun!

The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?

Proverbs 18:14

« ... »

"Hold still," Ratchet muttered, tightening a screw inside the joint of a small metal arm. "This may tickle."

Clank gave him a funny look. "Forgive me, as I am not yet entirely familiar with your mannerisms, but... that was humor, correct?"

Ratchet cleared his throat hard before he sarcastically asked, "What do you mean?"

"Well, I am a robot. I do not think it is possible for me to experience such a sensation as—"

He stopped suddenly, his eyes zipped wide open, and he started laughing.

"Wow, you mean it actually tickles?" Ratchet marveled in a hoarse voice with a smile on his face. He coughed as he added, "You're a real weirdo, you know that?"

"Stop, Ratchet, I cannot take it!" Clank exclaimed through his laughter, frantically kicking his left foot.

With one eye closed, Ratchet continued to work closely with a pair of precision pliers in Clank's shoulder joint. "Hang on, I've almost got it... There."

Something clicked, and Ratchet backed away from Clank, who sighed in relief and began to experiment with his arm.

"I must commend your skill," he said. "It is as good as new."

"You bet," Ratchet bragged. His voice sounded a little rough. "Why would I have any—" (he paused to cough) "any trouble fixing up a toaster like you?" As Ratchet finished this jab he started coughing repeatedly.

"Ratchet, are you all right? You have been coughing a lot in the past few hours."

"I'm fine," Ratchet rasped.

"You do not sound fine," Clank muttered with concern. "Perhaps you should see a physician."

Ratchet scoffed. "Please. I didn't need a doctor when I had desert flu, when I got my tail caught in a warp injector, or any of the times I broke a limb. I don't need one for a stupid—"

Suddenly he burst into a fit of coughing.

"Ratchet, be reasonable..." Clank pleaded, looking worried.

Ratchet rolled his eyes and headed for the door. "Aw, don't be such a worry-wart! I'm totally—" He stopped mid-sentence and stumbled a bit, like he was dizzy. His ears wilted behind his head. "—totally..."

He faltered, and then suddenly collapsed.

"Ratchet!" Clank hopped down from the work bench and rushed to his side. He rolled him over on his back and checked his vitals. He was out cold, and his heartbeat was erratic.

"Oh, dear..." Clank murmured with deep concern.

« ... »

The doctor heaved a doubtful sigh as he listened to his stethoscope and shook his head while jotting something down on his clipboard. Ratchet was laid out on a bed in the trailer atop the work shed, still unconscious and breathing heavily.
"How is he?" Clank asked, hands clasped nervously together. "What is wrong with him?"

"Well, I don't know how to tell you this..." the man muttered, removing his glasses to look down and meet the hopeful eyes of the little robot. "He's definitely fighting off some kind of disease or infection, but I can't tell exactly what he has."

"What?" Clank muttered in disbelief.

"He spent time on about a dozen different planets in the span of just a few days, and that after having never spent time off Veldin before. It was just too big a shock for his immune system to take. There's any number of ailments he could've come in contact with on a trip like the one you two had. Quite frankly, I'm surprised he didn't get sick sooner.

Clank stared for a long, dreadful moment at the bearer of this terrible news. He had never considered the possibility that something like this could happen to Ratchet as a result of the endeavor he'd gotten him involved in. It never even occurred to him. He had been thinking only of his objective.

"Can you help him?" he asked.

The doctor looked apologetic. "I can give him antibiotics and some medicines to numb the symptoms, but..."


"Well, there's another problem... You see, your friend here is a Lombax."


"And, Lombaxes are extremely rare creatures. All anyone in this galaxy seems to know about them is what they look like. In fact, this kid is the only one I've ever actually seen."

Clank blinked in sheer bewilderment. "I did not know..."

The doctor sighed and morosely went on, "So you see, without a better fundamental understanding of his physiology, there's not much I can do."

Clank wilted. "I see..."

He glanced over at Ratchet, who looked like he had one foot in the grave—perspiring heavily and fidgeting like he was having a nightmare... or just in terrible pain.

The doctor gave the robot a sympathetic look, and in a poor attempt at offering comfort said, "Try not to worry. It's all up to him now, and his will to live. If he survives this, I have no doubt he can survive anything."

Clank looked up into the doctor's eyes and asked, "What are the chances he will survive?"

The doctor pulled back and bit his lip, breaking eye-contact with Clank. "Like I said, his body is a mystery to me."

Clank got the impression that this was his way of sugar-coating the truth.

Author's Notes:

- Ticklish— Just in case anyone's wondering, my justification for this is the parts in the Nundac Asteroid Field levels in ToD where Clank sometimes giggles and says it tickles when they go through the transport cannon thingies. I always thought that was just adorable, and I'm so happy that I got to tickle him in one of my fanfics. ^-^

- Ratchet's Workshop/Trailer— I may be fudging it a bit with this one. :P In the R&C comic, Ratchet's workshop has a strange little structure on top that I can only describe as a 'trailer,' and that appeared to be the living area where the bed, sink, etc. were. I don't think it existed yet in the first game, but I needed a place for Ratchet to crash, so yeah.