Ratchet and Alister:
Good VS Evil
I DO NOT OWN RATCHET AND CLANK, INSOMNIAC GAMES DOES! I OWN ANYTHING ELSE!
Chapter 28: The Highs and the Lows
"Ratchet?! Where are you?!"
His voice was only taken away by the dusty wind as soon as he opened his mouth. They had been searching for the younger Lombax for a while now and not having any clues as to where he could have gone didn't settle his mind. It was already dark outside which didn't help their search, the breeze was chilly too. The elder Lombax cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled out for the other again while walking around. "RATCHET?!" Where in Fastoon is he?
White ears were perked to the highest point to try and listen for a response but unfortunately nothing was heard again. Worry was clear through his voice and expressions as he wondered around Torren IV near his home as he didn't think Ratchet would have gone that far. He was frantic about the other's safety as he had no protection with him - no armour or weapons - making him vulnerable out in the open.
He was about to call out the younger's name again until something caught his eye. Blood. Trails of blood at the edge of the path, immediately reminding him that Ratchet was bleeding badly before running away.
Following the sprinkle of what-seemed-to-be-dried-blood he was soon led to where a ditch was where the trail stopped. Amber eyes glanced around carefully - looking for anything suspicious in the area but he couldn't see anything out of place. Having no other leads, Azimuth decided to go down the steep edge to reach the ditch, bending his knees a little to make it easier. It took a good amount of time before finally coming to the bottom. His eyes grew wide at the sight. Ratchet - an unconscious Ratchet curled up on the dirty ground covered in dry blood.
The elder rushed down to the younger's side and checked for a pulse, it was faint but there was one. The body of Ratchet felt cold - even feeling it through his gloves - and was shivering. His terrified eyes then noticed that some of his wounds were still bleeding, it was slow but still bad as he didn't know how much blood he had lost. Taking another quick look over the boy he then came to a decision that it was okay to pick him up.
Sliding his arms gently underneath the limp Lombax he held him close to his chest before standing back up on his two feet. He contacted Clank and told him Ratchet was with him and they were on their way home.
While walking Alister looked down at the one in his arms before sighing sorrowfully, he just wanted everything to be how it use to be; he doubted it though as he knew Ratchet would never be the same after all of the nightmare was over. He had failed to protect him. He failed Kaden's wish. He promised to support and care for Ratchet if he ever met him in the future - which he did of course. He blamed himself for letting the younger get this bad, and even for getting bitten in the first place back on Grenpud months ago now. He knew he should have acted faster to save him in time. Felt like it was his fault. Oh, Kaden... You probably hate me from making your son go through this pain... I just... don't know what to do... I'm sorry...
He blinked the tears forming in his saddened eyes away. He had to stay strong for Ratchet.
The next moment Azimuth knew, he was outside his house. Blinking a few times, he shook his head, he always seemed to doze off when thinking. Just managing to open the door, he walked inside and closed the door with his foot, still trying to be careful with the sleeping Lombax he was carrying.
He noticed Clank was already here and stepping over to them with worry clear across his face.
"Is he okay? Is he hurt bad?"
"He is fine. He little cold and dirty but I can take care of that. I'll just go clean him up and put him in bed to rest." And with that, Alister took Ratchet to the bathroom and settled him in the bathtub before grabbing a cloth. He added warm water and a little bit of soap to it, after that was sorted the golden fur on the other's body was being wiped over with the cloth to get rid of the dirt and blood. It took a few long minutes but in the end Ratchet's fur with nice and clean.
The elder used another cloth, an un-moistened one, to dry the fur before taking him out of the tub and carrying him to the guest room where he slept.
Once the young one was tucked in bed Alister sat in the chair next to the bed. He watched him sleep as he thought about the other's behaviour over the past several months. Everything was getting out of hand. He was suspicious enough when he saw him covered in fresh blood and wounds, but now it just kept growing and growing the more he thought about all the previous events.
I know Ratchet's hiding something, but why would he lie about not getting hurt by someone... Unless he was... harming himself again... No. I can't think like this again. I just need to relax and keep an eye on Ratchet while he sleeps. Maybe I'll pick up some information.
Over the time Ratchet slept Azimuth kept a close eye on him and reported the younger's condition to Dr. Jackson after he stayed in a comatose for a week. He was getting rather worried about Ratchet because he was scared that he would never wake up again. Clank kept reassuring him that everything was going to be fine yet again, he just had to keep his faith and hope up for the yellow Lombax.
The elder Lombax was so exhausted from looking after the other so much, he really started to notice these past few months when Ratchet was getting worse. However he would be there for him all the time as he wanted to help. He sighed and just decided to carry on making dinner, hoping that Ratchet would at least wake up soon, however he would wait as long as he needed to. He knew this would keep the Lombax out of trouble if he was asleep, as bad as it sounded, it was true.
Whimpering, a couple of tears fell down his golden cheeks, having another nightmare with Hunter torturing him, mumbling random things in his sleep as he tossed and turned on his bed. His ears twitched when the bedroom door opened, Alister appearing into the room seconds after.
Amber eyes wonder over to the Lombax in bed, his ears fell when he saw that he was moving about, knowing it was obviously another nightmare but he was surprised because that was the first time he had moved while being asleep for one week straight. His ears then perked up again from hearing the younger mumbling but he couldn't quite pick up what he was saying as it was quiet.
"No... You... You c-can't... Stop... please... Just l-let me g-g-go... I... I'm... b-begging y-y-you..."
Azimuth walked over to the double bed to try and wake up the Lombax. "Ratchet? Ratchet, please wake up. It's only a-" His eyes grew wide in horror as bloody wounds started to appear all over Ratchet's body. "What...?" Anguish washed over his face and filled in his eyes as he desperately tries to wake him up now, beginning to shake one of his shoulders but he didn't want to hurt him further so he did it mildly, wondering what the heck was going on and why Ratchet was getting covered in wounds and bruises when nothing was hitting him.
He sat up screaming the next second right after when the bad hallucinated dream ended, he was panting heavily from the blood loss and from being so petrified by the cause of the torturing during the nightmare. His eyes then witnessed Alister gaping at him with a suspicious yet concerned face, forgetting about his stinging wounds now as he was remarkably anxious about what the older one would think about what he obviously just saw.
He doesn't know what to say or do because he was just traumatized from what he witnessed moments ago.
Knowing that he was caught red handed, he opened his mouth to tell Alister about Hunter and the truth about what had happened over the past several months, however he refrained when he noticed Hunter standing behind the elder and glaring dangerously at him with his arms crossed, giving him a look to not tell the elder or he would die.
His bottom lip trembled as he crawled backwards on the bed in terror, quivering madly and then gripping onto his head fur tightly, not caring if he was pulling out his fur.
White ears fell flat against his head again as he had no idea why Ratchet was freaking out all of a sudden. "Ratchet, it's okay. There's nothing to be afraid of. I'm not mad at you. Just please, calm down." He slowly approached the younger, not wanting to scare him even more.
"NOOOO!" Panicking more was just making Hunter laugh in joy but he didn't take any notice because he was just worried about Alister's safety right now. He watched as the evil Lombax grinned darkly while holding up a knife as if he was ready to stab Alister from behind. Ratchet fell off of the bed with a loud thud after crawling back too far, he ignored his wounds which were throbbing with pain even more now and curled into a tight ball in the corner of the room right by the bed, his whole body shivering.
"Ratchet!" He acted fast and rushed over to the boy in fear, not knowing what else to do he just simply pulled Ratchet into a gentle embrace, trying to at least get him to stop crying and calm down, he whispered in golden ears. "It's alright... I'm here... Just calm down... Nobody is going to hurt you."
Not doing at first he just carried on weeping with more tears falling down his face, he then hesitated but wrapped his arms around the elder a few moments later, gradually managing to stop crying but he was still shivering in fear from what happened in the nightmare and the threat Hunter made about killing Alister. He knew the other was so confused about what just happened but he pushed the thought aside and just concentrated on happy memories to wipe away from bad ones.
"There we go... Just take deep breaths now..."
Clank was watching the whole thing from the doorway because he was extremely worried when he heard his best friend scream earlier, he didn't want to go up to the Lombaxes as he didn't want to disturb them or cause Ratchet to get more worked-up.
He did as Alister said and slowly took in deep breaths and then exhaled them out again, repeating this many times to help calm him down. Closing his eyes, he focused on the warm hug and the other's coaching voice which was actually reassuring to himself. He sniffled a little from crying, slowly pulling away from his father figure once he had settled down, mumbling. "S-Sorry..." His ears stayed low against his head because he knew Alister was going to mention what just happened.
A quiet sigh left his mouth and his broad shoulders slouched a bit. "You don't need to apologize, Ratchet..." He didn't want to bring up what happened yet as he knew that the younger didn't want to talk about it, and he wasn't going to mention it when he just mentally broke down. Slowly standing up, not wanting to startle Ratchet, he glanced down at the Lombax. "Hey. Why don't I go make you something to eat and drink?" He smiled slightly, trying to lighten up the boy.
His emerald eyes took a glimpse up at Alister from where he was kneeling on the floor before studying the floor again, wiping his eyes and cheeks dry from sobbing earlier. Nodding his head once to the question the other asked him, his tail curled as he gradually stood up too.
One of his hands rubbed the tuff of fur on top of Ratchet's golden furred head in reassurance. "You just sit and I'll be right back." He then lowered his hand and walked away, leaving the room and heading downstairs again. Stepping into the kitchen he went back over to the cooker and saw that his homemade vegetable soup was almost ready to be served. He collected two bowls and spoons for himself and Ratchet when the soup was fully heated through.
He exhaled heavily and then sat down on the edge of his bed, glancing over to the door to only see Clank standing there. A smile was forced onto his face, tilting his head to the side a bit as if to say he could come into the room. "Hey, pal..."
"Hello, Ratchet." His little feet moved which brought him over to Ratchet, climbing onto the bed and then sitting down beside his organic friend. "Is there anything you want to tell me? Or do for you?"
Staying silent for a while, he then looked at Clank, shrugging his shoulders. "Got any nanotech...?" His wounds were still bleeding but not as much as they were before, they were just mainly stinging like mad now.
He searched through his chest compartment and soon pulled out two orbs of nanotech, passing them to the Lombax carefully. "Are you okay, Ratchet?" He was anxious about the cuts over his friend's body, wondering what happened because he didn't see what Alister saw when Ratchet was still asleep.
His whole body tensed up from the question, knowing he had to lie yet again to his friend. His ears perked up and smiled at Clank to try and convince him that he was completely fine. "Yeah... Sure I am. Just a bit tired and achy, that's all..." After he said that, his hands smashed the orbs against each other, smothering the blue healing substance over his wounds, sighing out in relief that his wounds disappeared along with the pain.
His detectors always sensed that Ratchet lied when he said he was fine, and it was undeniable that he was hiding something anyway because his condition was getting more hellish as the days went by; he just still didn't understand why his friend wasn't telling them anything. He assumed that Ratchet was at least telling Lyrcia about what was going on as he knew the therapist couldn't tell anyone else at all about all of the information and stories the Lombax had told her, and he knew that Lyrica kept her word - the same with Dr. Jackson - because she was a really wonderful and smart person.
The following day, 10am.
Ratchet was in Lyrica's office on planet Igliak in the Praxus Sector of the Polaris galaxy. He was at a therapy session again but was waiting inside of Miss. Anderson's office because her and Alister were having a quick chat outside. Even if he didn't know what the conversation between the two was about, he had a very good guess that it was about him. Sighing heavily, he looked out of the window from where he was sitting on the big cushioned window sill, watching the world go by as he had nothing else to do until Lyrica came back into the room. His back was leaning against the wall where he was sitting because it was comfortable for him.
"Ya know weeping like this isn't going to solve anything."
The golden Lombax glanced in front of him, spotting Hunter sitting opposite but in the same position as him on the cushioned window sill area, his ears folded back before gazing back out the window, grumbling, "what do you want...?"
His nose turned up slightly from the other's attitude. "Hmph... No need to act like that, just... came to check up on you and your visit here to that Markazian." A big grin split across his face as his ears perk up in enthusiasm too.
Glaring out of the corner of his eye, he growled. "Don't you dare try anything..."
Hunter tapped his nose as if to say it was a secret, smirking more. "I'll be listening." Ratchet then watched as he disappeared from his sight, shivering from the thought and looked worried encase the evil one was going to do anything while he was speaking with Lyrica.
Meanwhile, Azimuth was just discussing with Miss. Anderson that Ratchet had done self-harming but won't admit it to him or Clank, not anyone; also mentioning that when the younger ran off and he didn't find him until hours later, not waking up until a week later too, along with explaining what he saw yesterday while Ratchet was asleep during the nightmare. "I just don't get it. I know I wasn't hallucinating because Clank saw the wounds too, just that he didn't see them appear all over Ratchet's body. It's really strange but I don't know how it happened; I didn't even think it was possible.
"Hmm... That certainly is unusual..." She made it seem like she had no clue what was going on because she didn't want anyone else to know about Hunter - she promised Ratchet, and she didn't want anyone else to be on that devil's kill list. She tapped her chin in thought before lowering her hand, pushing her glasses up her nose after to see better. "I'll see what I can get out of him. Don't worry, Mr. Azimuth. I always try my best to help my clients, especially Ratchet because of his situation." A gracious smile came into view on her face. "Trust me. I know what I'm doing."
The elder Lombax grieved a little bit, ears lowering against his head. "Okay. Just try your best..." After that was said he began to walk away, leaving the building soon after because he knew he didn't need to be back until a couple of hours later when the therapy session finished. He found his ship in the parking lot, getting into it and flying off. He was going to get some shopping as they needed some more food, thinking about getting Ratchet his favourite dessert for tonight.
After watching Azimuth walk away she then went into her office at last, going over to the other Lombax and smiling warmly at him. "Sorry about that, Alister just wanted to chat with me." Sitting down in her chair at her desk, she collected the folder from the sessions she had with Ratchet. "So, how have you been lately, Ratchet? Anything new happened with... you know who...?"
Flinching at the question, he glanced down at his hands, not really wanting to talk about his self-harming problem at all, being glad he was wearing gloves today. "Umm..." Exhaling heavily out of his nose, he looked over at her while shrugging and mumbling, "I... I've been better obviously... And well... Not m-much... Just that he... he... did it again... and... A-Alister s-s-saw the wounds... I panicked and screamed and trembled badly... Hunter was taunting me behind Alister's back..." His eyes then took a glimpse down at his lap in remorse for the reason that he didn't know what to do, just feeling like giving up so much just to get everything over and done with, so he didn't have to feel all the agony any more, but he knew that Lyrica wouldn't let him do that.
She sighed quietly because she knew Hunter wasn't going to give up until he got what he wanted - to take over Ratchet's body forever. "Right... I'm presuming you didn't think of that happy place I told you to think about whenever something like this happened...?" Even if she looked at him in wonder, it was an obvious answer that he didn't or it just didn't work because the evil self inside of the younger was too strong for anything to work now.
"...No... I-I'm sorry but I forgot..."
"There's no need to apologize, Ratchet. It's okay, I'm not mad at you for not doing it. I just don't want you to get hurt any more by that monster..."
He mumbled under his breath, "Neither do I..." Turning his observance to the window, watching as the people and hovercars moved around the city near the bottom of the building they were in at the moment.
"...Can I ask you something, Ratchet?" She wanted to get his attention straight away so she didn't wait for him to answer her first question. "Alister told me about what happened... and he mentioned that about a week ago you cut your wrists and forearms..." A pause. "Did Hunter make you do it?"
"...It doesn't matter any more... It's already been done, there's nothing no one can do for me..."
She wasn't stupid and knew he was just trying to avoid the question but she wouldn't let him so she tried to encourage him to explain what happened to make him do it, not expecting that someone like him would do this but then again his evil self wasn't helping by trying to break him down to take over his body. "It's alright, you can tell me what happened. Remember, I promised that I would keep all of our conversations between you and me." She knew Hunter could obviously hear them but she didn't mention it for the sake of Ratchet to not get uncomfortable.
His emerald eyes gazed over to her for a moment then back at his hands, slouching his shoulders too while leaning back against the wall behind him, peering out of the window from where he was sitting on the cushioned window sill. "...I know I can... But basically, I just wanted to end the nightmare for myself... but I couldn't do it... So I thought that I could just give myself a bit of pain to show Hunter that I would kill myself if he tried to take over my body... I know I shouldn't have cut myself at all but, I don't know... it just... kinda happened once I got the idea into my head..." He knew that it was a lousy excuse but it was the truth.
Now that Ratchet explained why he cut himself like that she was more worried about him because that he wanted to kill himself; she knew there was another way, he just needed to believe it, intending that he was strong enough to fight back but it had been going on far too long for him to cope with it all which was the bad thing. "Well, can you at least promise me that you won't do it again? You've already been in enough pain as it is, you don't need all of this self-harming to make it worse for yourself and better for Hunter."
"You might think that it is going you some good but it really isn't."
His tail wrapped around his ankle lightly from what she said, guessing she was right but she didn't understand how he felt all of the time, not being able to know when his evil self was going to strike next - if he was going to take over or not. "...I guess so..." His ears drooped more as he wished that he could just open the window and jump off of the tall building but something was holding him back form doing it so he stayed perched where he was sitting on the cushioned area of the window sill.
A couple of hours later...
The younger had told Lyrica everything he needed to, giving her updates on the circumstancing between himself and Hunter. He was just waiting for Alister to come and pick him up now so was just talking with Lyrica about his previous adventures when he first became a galactic hero in the Solana galaxy.
Soon after they heard someone knocking at the door which caused Ratchet to stop talking. The Markazian glanced at the Lombax and smiled softly. "I'll go and get that." She then stood up and strolled over to her office door, opening it up to only see the white elder Lombax standing there. "Hello, Mr. Azimuth. You're just on time really, he's ready to go now."
He smiled back at her. "That's good to hear. Thank you again for doing this for him." He knew that she had assisted Ratchet as much as possible and it certainly had helped him mentally so he was glad for that. All he wondered about was if Ratchet told her about what was really gong on with him at least.
Speaking of Ratchet, he roamed up to the door where the other two were, seeing Alister just outside the office. "Hey..." A grin was forced onto his face but it vanished soon after, stepping out of the room and going beside the older Lombax, looking back at his therapist. "And yeah... Thanks for today..."
Her head nodded once as if to say to both of them it was no problem. "That's okay, Ratchet. I'm always here to help you, no matter what time or what day it is; if you want to have a chat you just come and see me."
"I'm sure he will." One of his hands ruffled the fur tuff on top of the shorter Lombax's head gently, watching down on him. "Let's head back home then, shall we?"
He acknowledged what Azimuth said, saying goodbye to Lyrica before leaving the building together with Alister, following the elder one to where the ship was parked in the parking lo just across the road. Using his hands, he began to rub his eyes and then yawned from being tired from all the travelling around today and from all of the talking he did with Miss. Anderson during his therapy session.
His amber eyes picked up that the younger seemed exhausted. "You should have a nap when we get home, you look really drained." He finally found his ship and then unlocked it as well as opened the hatch for them to get in.
His shoulders shrugged effortlessly. "Maybe..." The little Lombax then climbed into the elder's ship and sat down onto the passenger's seat, loosely crossing his arms over his chest, waiting for Alister to get in too. He examined as the other got into the ship too, watching as the hatch closed and locked up afterwards.
Azimuth perched himself onto the driver's seat before starting up the ship's engines, once they were warm enough he flew the ship up and off of the planet, leaving the atmosphere and beginning to drive back to Torren IV to go home.
On the way back home Ratchet's eyelids were feeling really heavy due to being really fatigued, more than he originally thought. His eyes close for a moment but before he knew it he was asleep, snoring faintly too.
Long white ears flickered when he heard the sound of soft snoring coming from the seat beside him so he took a quick glimpse at Ratchet to spot that he was sleeping peacefully which made him smile at the sight.
They then soon arrived at home so he entered the planet's atmosphere, finding his house soon after and landing outside the front of it. Once done he turned off the engines and unlocked the hatch again, letting it open too. Alister then jumped out of his ship, walking around to the other side before climbing back onto the ship to carefully pick up the younger Lombax without waking him up. He allowed Ratchet to rest his chin on his broad shoulder and then placed his small arms around his neck to prevent him from falling off, his own stronger arms went underneath the other's knees to support him better. After all of that was sorted out the hatch of the ship closed and locked up once more.
Azimuth stepped over to his house and went indoors straight after, shutting the door with his foot because his hands were full. He walked past the living room because he was going to put Ratchet in bed for now until he woke up later however Clank stopped him from going any further.
The two foot robot saw that the tall white Lombax was carrying his best friend so he presumed that maybe Ratchet was hurt or something similar to that, he strolled up to the other and glanced up at him. "Is Ratchet okay? Why is he passed out? What happened?"
A chuckle escaped his mouth. "It's alright, Clank. He's only asleep. He's completely fine right now." He then walked off and went upstairs, heading to the spare room - which was now technically Ratchet's room anyway from having the younger living here for so long. He stepped into the second bedroom and attentively placed the Lombax onto the double bed. Taking off the other's shoes, he put them down by the end of the bed on the floor. Once all of that is done the blankets were pulled over Ratchet up to his chin, getting tucked in nicely.
One of Azimuth's hands stroked over Ratchet's forehead lightly, not wanting to wake him up but wanting to get him to relax. After feeling that the younger was comfortable in bed and not tense any more, he pulled his hand away and stood up straight. He walked over to the door and switched off the lights, clicking shut the door behind him as he left the room in silence.