Disclaimer: I do not own Monsters Inc. or Monsters Universityor any of its characters. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.
It wasn't that he disliked Mike.
It was just that Mike wasn't exactly scarer material. Sulley had a reputation to live up to, and spending time with Mike didn't help it. He wasn't scary; his presence in the scare program at MU was a joke.
Yet here he was, attempting to work his way back into it.
Sulley had to admit that his tenacity was impressive. Had he been in Mike's position, he probably would have quit long ago and resigned himself to a life of secondhand occupations. He wasn't in Mike's position, though; he was a Sullivan.
"Just stay focused," his dad had warned him, proud and chiding at once, hands on his shoulders as he looked down at him, "and stay out of trouble." Then, offering him the edges of a smile, he'd added, "You're a Sullivan. Live up to it."
Live up to it. Easy words for a monster that had already made a name for himself. Sulley had nothing but his reputation, and even that was clinging to a thread after he'd had his dignity shredded by Dean Hardscrabble.
Don't think about it, he warned himself, twisting on the bed, his nose scrunching up in frustration as he caught a glimpse at the time. 4:32 AM. Perfect.
Mike was snoring underneath him, ensconced in dreams and already making kissy faces at his bed post. Sulley wrinkled his nose, amusement trickling past his exhaustion as he stared at the ceiling above him.
Oozma Kappa wasn't so bad, once he got past the flowers and frills. The beds were nice. The neighbors were quiet. The house itself felt like a home, and Sulley's stomach twisted as thoughts of home washed over him.
Thankfully, Mike snored again - loudly - and interrupted the nostalgia that threatened to engulf him. He couldn't get sentimental now. He needed to keep his head in the game. They were only one more round away from successfully winning the Scare Games. If they did that, then they'd be back in the scare program, and everything would work out fine. They'd be on the fast track to being the top scarers in Monstropolis, and someday, they'd be enlisted by Monsters Incorporated to be among the best of the best.
Until then, he was stuck. He didn't like it, but he didn't have a choice: it was unlikely that Hardscrabble would let him back into the program if he begged, and pulling his father into it would probably just make it worse. He'd be disappointed that Sulley had gotten himself kicked out of the program in the first place (it hurt just to think about his failure; he turned angrily on his side at the thought that he'd gotten kicked out of scaring) and would probably insist on speaking with Hardscrabble directly to see what the best course of action would be.
That wouldn't be a pleasant conversation. His dad would probably pull him from the university himself if he knew.
He'd been dreading writing his parents about the incident. Thankfully expulsion from the scarer program wasn't substantial enough that the dean had sent home her own letters. She'd left it to them to tell their parents about their fates: a blessing and a curse.
Shifting restlessly on the bunk bed, Sulley sighed and carefully crawled out of bed, landing with a surprisingly soft thud on the floor. A shower of bright blue fur slipped between the mattress and Mike's bed; Sulley winced as some of it landed right on him. Mike froze, and Sulley held his breath, one foot poised carefully above the floorboards so it wouldn't creak. If he woke up now, then there'd be questions - sleepy, stupid questions, like Why are you up? and No, Ma, I didn't forget my allergy medication - but all he did was grumble a little, sneeze, and then turn onto his opposite side, snoring again in seconds.
Tiptoeing out of the room, Sulley peered down the hallway before creeping into it and shutting the door behind him with a quiet click. Waiting a moment for the inevitable reaction, he relaxed when he realized that no one had noticed. No one was coming after him to interrogate him about his insomnia.
Slowly padding down the length of the hall, illuminated only by a large window at the far end of it, he made his way carefully downstairs.
No one stirred, and as he reached the bottom step, he let out a soft sigh of relief.
Lying down and doing nothing hadn't helped calm his nerves or clear his head, but maybe a walk would. Exercise was good. Keeping fit kept him from losing his edge, that extra bump that put him ahead of other scarers. Deny it all they wanted to, physicality was a big part of being a top scarer. Bigger monsters were scarier. Bigger, stronger monsters were the scariest of them all.
Sulley donned his Monsters University jacket and slipped quietly out into the night.
At once, the wash of crickets chirping filled the air, almost loud compared to the utter silence of the house. He walked to the end of the sidewalk and spared a look at the neighborhood as a whole before starting down the eastbound path, his claws clicking faintly against the concrete.
He lost track of time as the sky began to lighten from pitch black to deep blue, his eyes straining to see the path in front of him as every nervous premonition about their chances of actually winning the Scare Games came back to him. He knew that he could pull the big numbers and keep their team afloat, but they were a team, and that meant that everyone had to keep their heads above water.
Panting softly with the exertion - he'd walked farther than he thought, Sulley realized with a start, looking around at an unfamiliar park - he staggered over to a large oak tree and sat at its base, his feet sliding out in front of him, his eyes closing as he leaned his head back against the tree.
They had to win the Scare Games. But they couldn't win if it meant that Mike had to scare someone. Mike knew the rules better than anyone, he knew every word in their textbooks, and he'd do his absolute best to dig deep and scare the living daylights out of the simulator, but Sulley knew that it wouldn't be enough. He just wasn't scary.
And that . . . that terrified him. Because if Mike wasn't scary, then their team would fail, and they would be expelled, and everything that they had been working towards would fall to pieces.
Squinting at the daylight seeping underneath his closed eyelids, Sulley blinked and looked around. They had hours before the competition - it wasn't until four - but all at once, it seemed like mere seconds before they would be forced to face the inevitable. Roar Omega Roar were all good scarers, the best, and they were . . . they were them.
Clenching his claws in the dirt, Sulley pushed himself to his feet. Moping was easier, but it wasn't good for him. If he let himself think too much about the upcoming challenge, then he'd back out of it. He couldn't do that. His father had told him to make him proud, to live up to the Sullivan name, and he'd sooner tuck his tail between his legs and beg Roar Omega Roar to forgive him than he would quit while there was still a chance.
A chance. A slim, marginal, impossible chance, but a chance, nonetheless.
As he slipped back into his room quietly half an hour later, he breathed out slowly in relief as his back touched the soft mattress, feeling sleep pulling him down. He'd work something out. That's what Sullivans did. They took challenges and barreled through them, regardless of how difficult they were, because nothing scared them.
And nothing scared Mike, either, Sulley realized: not the threat of expulsion, not the possibility of failure or the deep shame that would ensue, not even the humiliation that he would face when he realized that he wasn't scarer material.
Mike was fearless. Maybe not fearful, but fearless.
That had to count for something.
As he drifted off, his own heavy breaths resonating in his ears, he couldn't help but pray that it would be enough.
It had to be.
Author's Notes: So, I recently had the pleasure of watching Monsters University. I had never intended to write anything about it, but this little drabble wouldn't leave me alone, so I wrote it anyway.
This takes place right after the conversation that Mike and Sulley have just before the last competition at the Scare Games. A bit of introspection, as well as some Sulley feels.
I hope you enjoyed! I'm currently involved in the Star Trek fandom primarily, and I was involved in the Glee fandom before that, if you're interested in any of those fics. I may or may not write another drabble for MU; who knows!