Stone walked back towards the lab, two lattes in hand. The doctor had been working nonstop for a ridiculous amount of time now and showed no sign that he planned on stopping, so Stone decided it would be good to get some caffeine into their systems. He was already feeling exhausted and he had mostly just been standing around, assisting Robotnik occasionally, but not doing nearly as much as him.
Before Stone could get back into the lab he was stopped by someone placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Hey Stone,” Agent Spencer, newly self proclaimed ‘psychic’ said. He convinced himself he could sense when someone had a problem and that he always knew exactly how to solve it. No one else was buying it. It didn’t get in the way of his work, it just made him way more annoying to be around.
And Stone was far too tired to deal with him right now.
“Please get your hand off my shoulder,” Stone said, trying to be polite even though he wanted to shove the other agent off of him and go straight into the lab without another word.
Spencer removed his hand, but moved around to stand in front of Stone, blocking his way. “I can sense that there’s something bothering you, and I think I can help!”
“Yeah, there is something bothering me,” Stone admitted, “it's you, and you can help by going away.”
“I’m serious, man!” So was Stone. “Your vibe is way off right now!”
“I’m just tired, now can you move? I’d like to bring the doctor his coffee-”
“Oh! Now I’ve got it!” Spencer interrupted, basically ignoring the other man, “it’s that freaky doctor you’re stuck working for!”
“What are you talking about? Robotnik isn’t ‘freaky!’ And I’m not ‘stuck’ working for him.”
“Yeah, you just like being around him, sure.” Spencer replied sarcastically, despite being completely right. Even if he didn’t realize it. “Did that wacko say or do something to you that-”
“Would you quit talking about him like that?” Stone interrupted him this time. At first he was just annoyed, as anyone would be having to deal with a guy who never learned how to keep his nose in his own business, but now he was getting mad. Who was this guy to talk about Robotnik like that? Robotnik was a genius, and he created so much for the government, yet they acted like he was nothing but a burden.
“What? Am I wrong about him or something? I’ve heard stories from his other assistants! They had nothing good to say, and they didn’t even work for him as long as you have.” His tone switched to pitying, “I can’t imagine what he must put you through.”
“He doesn’t put me through anything! In fact I like working for him!”
“Come on Stone, you can be honest with me! I won’t tell anyone, I swear! Especially not the doctor.”
Stone was on the verge of dumping his latte onto the other agent, but he tried to at least appear like he was keeping his cool, “Get out of my way Spencer.”
Stone tried to step past him, but when he did Spencer would move as well, and unfortunately Stone couldn’t shove him away without spilling one of the lattes.
“Not until you tell me the truth! How do you really feel about Dr. Robotnik? You can’t honestly like him! That’s insane!”
Stone sighed. He really wasn’t going to get anywhere like this. At least not before the lattes got cold.
“Fine.” He’d just tell him what he wanted to hear then be on his way.
Robotnik placed his tools down. How long did it take to get a couple of lattes? Not this long. Not usually, not when Stone was doing it.
What was taking him so long?
Robotnik pulled up a screen and started typing. He’d just check the cameras, then he’d know exactly what was taking his assistant so long.
He spotted him not too far from the lab, it seemed like he was talking with some other agent.
Robotnik put on his headphones and turned on the audio.
“You wanna know what I really think of Dr. Robotnik so bad? Fine,” he heard Stone say. This wasn’t what he expected to hear, but it was definitely interesting. He never really cared what others thought of him, but it was good to know sometimes.
He wondered for a moment why he didn’t think to look into what Stone really thought of him sooner, but deep down he knew why.
He didn’t really want to know, he knew it couldn’t possibly be good.
“For one, he’s self centered prick! He doesn’t care about anyone or anything except his machines! And don’t get me started on how he treats anyone who isn’t one of those machines. The constant insults!”
Robotnik stared at the screen as Stone ranted about him. Nothing he said was anything he hadn’t heard before, but coming from Stone- it actually hurt this time.
“Oh and he’s so demanding too! If you don’t do exactly what he wants how he wants it he goes off! Not as much as when he’s stroking his ego, though. He’ll just go on and on about how great and how much smarter he is than everyone else!”
Robotnik turned the screen off and tossed his headphones away. He didn’t want to hear anymore of that.
He should have known Stone secretly hated him. Really, how could he not? What was there to like?
It was still nice to imagine.
He wasn’t exactly sure why Stone hating him hurt so much more than anyone else hating him. Why should he even care? Why was Stone so… different to him? No other human ever made him feel the way Stone had made him feel. Most of it was good feelings, but not this.
Robotnik was snapped out of his thoughts by the sound of the lab door opening.
“Sorry I took so long Doctor!” Stone announced as he entered the lab, sounding as happy to be there as he normally did. Such a good actor.
Robotnik’s vision was blurred with tears he didn’t even realize he had cried. He quickly wiped them off his face.
“If the latte got cold I can go reheat it for you,” Stone offered.
“Just put it down the table there, and get out.” Robotnik ordered, trying to keep his voice steady.
“Sir? Is everything alright?” He sounded genuinely worried. Or did Robotnik just not know what genuine worry sounded like?
“Don’t make me repeat myself.”
Stone went quiet. He moved towards the doctor and placed a latte on the desk in front of him.
Before he left, he placed a hand on Robotnik’s arm, “If you need anything, at all, just let me know, okay?”
Robotnik just froze. Half of him was angry. Angry at Stone for pretending to care. He wanted to shove his hand away, scream at him for making him believe someone really cared about him.
The other half was scared. Scared that when Stone left the lab he’d never come back. He wanted to grab onto his hand and never let go, and pretend he didn’t hear what he said.
Instead he did neither, he just stared at his work until he heard Stone leave the lab.
Over the next few days, Stone noticed Robotnik was acting strange. At least towards him.
Robtonik seemed like himself when he was alone, or when he was insulting some other agent or official. But with him, it was different. Robotnik was avoiding him, sending him out of the lab way more often than usual. And when he was in the lab, Robotnik would either ignore him or just glare at him when he said anything. No actual insults, just the cold shoulder.
Stone didn’t understand it. If he’d done something that upset the doctor, he would’ve told him, right?
When Robotnik didn’t like something, he said it. If you said something to piss him off, you’d know.
“Sir, can I ask you something?”
Robotnik said nothing, just continued working on whatever it was he was making.
“What’s going on?”
Robotnik sighed, “What do you mean?”
“This!” Stone exclaimed, “you’ve been acting weird around me for days! Did I do something?”
The doctor placed his tools down, but didn’t turn to face Stone. “Not exactly.”
“Then was it something I said?” Stone asked, “why don’t you just tell me?”
Robotnik turned his chair around and stood up, staring down his assistant. “What do you think of me, Agent Stone?” He asked. “And be honest.”
Stone wondered where this was coming from, “Well... I think you’re brilliant and passionate, and-”
“Hm, yes, very interesting,” Robotnik cut him off, “because I would’ve thought something more along the lines of me being a ‘self centered, demanding prick, who’s nothing but a nightmare to be around!’”
“What?” Stone said, shocked. “Why would I-” and then he remembered. His conversation with Agent Spencer, was Robotnik listening? “Oh no-”
“Oh yes!” Robotnik exclaimed, “I heard what you ‘really think’ about me!”
“Sir I’m so sorry! It’s not what you think-”
“What else could it be, Agent?” He asked, rhetorically.
“I didn’t mean any of that! Let me explain-”
“You can stop there,” Robotnik said, rolling his eyes, “I’m not going to fire you.” He turned back to his work, “So you don’t have to pretend to like me.”
“I’m not pretending,” Stone insisted. “That agent, Agent Spencer, he wouldn’t leave me alone until I told him what he wanted to hear. I honestly didn’t mean any of it!”
“Why are you still saying that?” Robotnik asked, angry and confused. “I just told you it doesn’t matter, you’re not losing your job.”
“This isn’t about my job, it’s about you!” Stone exclaimed. “Why do you think I’ve been doing this so long? You think I like assistant work that much?” Well, when he was doing it for Robotnik, yeah, but for anyone else he wouldn’t like it nearly as much. “Not really! It’s because I like you, and being around you!”
Robotnik dropped his tools, “Why?” He asked, his voice shaking, “Why would you like being around someone so- so…” he paused. “Terrible!”
Stone pulled Robotnik’s chair away from the desk and stood in front of him. “I don’t think you’re terrible! Sure, you’ve done a lot of bad things and could honestly be considered ‘evil’ and possibly a ‘threat to society’ but those are just some of the things I love about you.”
Robotnik and Stone stared at each other, until they processed what Stone had just said.
“Love?” Robotnik repeated softly, barely above a whisper.
Stone stepped back, very flustered, “Did- did I say that? I’m sorry- I meant like! Things I like about you!” He attempted to lie as he moved around the doctor, “I’m sorry, I should go-”
He moved to leave but was stopped, “Wait!” Robotnik exclaimed, standing up and grabbing the agent’s wrist. “Don’t leave! Please.” The please was much quieter, but Stone still heard it.
Stone turned back to face the doctor, adjusting his arm so instead of Robotnik grabbing his wrist, Stone was holding his hand.
“I’ll stay as long as you want me to,” Stone promised, “I just didn’t think you’d want me to after I said… that.”
“Why would I want that? Especially since I- I think I,” Robotnik, for once, sounded unsure, “love you, as well.”
“Wait,” Stone couldn’t believe what he just heard, “really?”
“Well, you’ve made me feel things no one else has ever made me feel before,” Robotnik explained. “I didn’t know what it was and I hadn’t even considered that it could love but… when I say it it just makes sense.”
Stone was at a loss for words. Despite how often he dreamed about Robotnik feeling the same way he had no idea what he should say now that he actually heard it, aloud, in real life.
“I’m not dreaming am I?”
“You’re not, and I can pinch you if you need me to prove it.” Robotnik offered, “or I could do this,” he held Stone’s hand a bit tighter.
“Wow... this is real,” Stone said, he could hardly believe it. “Can I… kiss you?”
“Yes! I mean sure- absolutely!” Robotnik answered, getting flustered, “please do.”
Stone smiled softly and tentatively reached his free hand up and placed it on Robotnik’s cheek. The two of them moved closer, closing the space between them.
Stone hesitantly leaned forward and pressed his lips to Robotnik’s. Once they’re together it just felt right. Like they really belong together. Like as long as they’re together, they’ll be fine. Like they’re going to stay together, neither of them going to abandon the other.
They pulled away and stared into each other's eyes, taking in the moment, never wanting it to end.
“So does this mean you don’t hate me?” Robotnik asked. He knew the answer, of course, but he needed to make sure.
“Of course I don’t hate you,” Stone answered, “and just so you know, I’m never going to stop loving you either.”