Not So Rotten
The robot stared intently at the shivering lombax.
It had only been twenty minutes since the fire went out but the oncoming wind gusts and frost cradled Ratchet's small body as he struggled to keep warm.
Dr Nefarious kept his opticals fixated on Ratchet. He hadn't felt coldness for quite a long time now but he remembered all too well what it felt like. Ratchet couldn't stop himself from shaking vigorously as the icy wind swept through his fur. He had no idea the doctor was glaring at him from the far left of the once-lit fire.
Ratchet coughed. The burnt out ashes in the fire heap lifted up into the air from the force. The nimble wind carried it off into the frost-stricken night. He gazed over at Qwark and Clank who were deep in sleep to the North-East of the fire. Ratchet sniffed as the temperature was making his nose run.
Nefarious could feel all but pity for the poorly creature as he shifted his body so his head was facing away from the sight of the freezing lombax. Honestly he couldn't care less about the shivering rat, afterall, next to Qwark, Ratchet was Nefarious' biggest enemy and even know Nefarious had to now work alongside him it didn't change his feelings towards him.
With the top half of his body pressed against a large tree Nefarious folded his arms and closed his eyes.
Ratchet prayed in silence as Nefarious drifted off…
It was only an hour later that Nefarious awoke from being nudged by a certain someone.
Words whispered through the wind, "Nefarious, I'm sorry to bother you but I can't wake up Qwark and I can't deactivate Clank's sleep mode. I was wondering if by any chance you could help me find a way to keep warm?"
It was Ratchet. His fur wet with frost. His ears drooped. His eyes squinted and red. His body shaking as he hunched over holding his abdomen. He was sitting on the ground about 4 feet away from Nefarious.
Stupid twit. The bitterness that Nefarious felt was similar to a lemon's tang. His glare portrayed his hatred towards the lombax. Ratchet's eyes glimmered back full of hope of a chance that Nefarious would be understanding of Ratchet's dire situation.
"Excuse me space rat, but I'm obviously having a nightmare," Nefarious remarked sourly with a fixed lowered brow. Ratchet's ears drooped even more as Nefarious turned his back on him and shifted his weight against the tree.
An elapse of thirty seconds went by then Ratchet enquired a second time.
"Well…could you maybe…at least help me wake up Qwark?"
With a growl Nefarious sat up and reached for his side. He pulled out a combustor and, ignoring Ratchet's expression of horror, aimed it at Qwark.
Ratchet's reaction was almost faster than his initial thought of reacting.
"DON'T BE SO STUPID!" Ratchet immediately grabbed the gun and Nefarious' arm pulling both down to the ground. Ratchet gave Nefarious a threatening glare and sighed heavily; his breathing laboured.
Nefarious felt Ratchet's wet fur as he grasped both Nefarious' arm and his gun.
Nefarious was getting annoyed and hated the fact that his sworn enemy was trying to get help from him. Angst swelled inside of him. How could this rotten creature, the one who foiled the very triumph of Nefarious' plans, be pleading for assistance? It made Nefarious' bitterness curdle. He couldn't contain his angst anymore.
"Fine!" Nefarious pulled back his arm and gun from Ratchet's grasp, "because there is no way that I would ever help you! Did you honestly think there would be a chance in this galaxy? I couldn't care less if you are cold or wet or sad; you aren't my friend. Just because I have to tag along with you doesn't mean we are allies! I despise this situation even more than the failure you make of me! To be honest, I'm starting to hate you even more than Qwark! You mean nothing to me and that's never going to change!"
He then retreated back to his position against the tree; arms folded and legs bent up against himself, facing away from Ratchet.
Nefarious felt no remorse.
He regretted nothing he just said.
Nothing at all.
He did feel something.
At first it was the eerie tug of Ratchet's eyes.
As if the lombax's eyes were fixated on the robot.
Nefarious felt a cold ominous feeling inside of him. He had never felt such a feeling before.
"I…I…I was hoping you…would…maybe…" Ratchet's husky whisper broke apart and he fell silent.
Ratchet's voice, so sickly and desperate, touched Nefarious' hard outer shell. It made him so still. So motionless. So numb. He couldn't take this feeling anymore. This feeling…of remorse?...guilt?...shame?....what was it? Nefarious clenched his fists; it was like the feeling was draining him of his life. He wanted it gone!
Ratchet's tired gaze met with Nefarious' alarmed eyes as Nefarious sat up from his position. Ratchet felt hope surge through him as they both sat across from each other on the hoarfrost. Both robot and lombax stared at each other both not knowing what to say. Nefarious felt he had to say something to Ratchet; but what? Of course something that would get rid of this suffocating feeling that lay deep inside of him. Ratchet held onto the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Nefarious would help him. He awaited some sort of response from the doctor.
"…this tree stands out of the wind's path," Nefarious' voice broke the silence.
Ratchet listened attentively with the wind tugging at his ears.
"…it's the only thing that would keep you from freezing…"
Nefarious could see the hopefulness and despair in the lombax's large green eyes.
He took a breath then finished, "You could…you could sleep next to me… if you want…"
With that he looked away from Ratchet's face as if remorse took over him. But the depressing feeling he felt earlier…was gone.
Ratchet felt happiness glide through his bones. He smiled; only a small smile, but big enough for Nefarious to notice in the corner of his broken gaze.
"You don't know how much I appreciate that Nefarious, "Ratchet's words stumbled together, "….thank you."
Nefarious didn't reply. He couldn't reply because he didn't know what to say.
Ratchet then crept closer to Nefarious and positioned himself against the tree. Nefarious was right, the wind was a lot less turbulent. Ratchet felt the inner warmth of the tree and the dryness of the bark. He looked over at Nefarious who was now positioning himself for sleep once again. The funny thing was Ratchet somehow trusted Nefarious not to do something devious while he slept beside him. It was a new feeling for Ratchet and he liked it.
"Goodnight," Ratchet whispered.
Still lost for words Nefarious replied with a small "hmm".
They slept back to back till morning.