Sometimes Junkrat struggled. It was hard when no one wanted to be your friend. And sure, sure, most of the time he could bounce back from rejection. Weren't like he wasn't used to it. But there were only so many knocks a man could take before even the most jolly of blokes got down in the dumps.
Literally, he was in a dump.
Why was he in a dump again?
Didn't matter, the point was that he was struggling. He wasn't used to struggle. His life was perfect! Loads of people at Junkertown loved to whinge about how sodding awful they had it, all because they had to deal with a little bit of radiation poisoning and the loss of their land and former lives before the omnium explosion. It was a mite ridiculous, in Junkrat's honest opinion, because really, what was the point of getting upset about dead parents or whatever? Everyone had dead people in their lives! It was a normal part of childhood! People die, you take whatever they left behind for your own, and you move on. Done. Half of the Junkers were all soft.
Oh, maybe pointing that out was why he lost some friends. Hindsight!
Right, so they all usually struggled, like weaklings. He, on the other hand, thrived in the wastelands. He didn't really remember much about his life beforehand, but he was pretty sure he was born to be a Junker. Destiny and all that.
Except for the friend thing. Wasn't really thriving when it came to friends.
But it wasn't for lack of trying! He tried his hardest to become friends with, well, just about everyone who crossed his path. (Unless they were a suit. He hated suits. He had never trusted a suit in his entire life. Not even in that "going legit" scheme that he was fairly certain Roadhog had dreamed up. The mission had failed so, obviously, it was not a product of his intellectual genius.) And this last rejection was really just the straw that broke the dingo's back.
He was in a dump. Why had he come to the dump again?
He woke up that morning all amped up, just really raring to go.
"Rise and shine! Up and at 'em, 'Hog, it's a beautiful day!" He rested his chin on Roadhog's massive belly, having fallen asleep on top of him. When Roadhog didn't immediately answer, he poked at Roadhog's breathing apparatus, which earned him a truly unfair shove onto the floor.
So he decided to make breakfast for the two of them. After pouring two bowls of cereal and throwing the box on the floor, he wandered out to his workshop to entertain himself.
His memory got a little fuzzy there, probably because of the five cups of coffee he promptly inhaled. He was pretty sure he got a brilliant idea for a new invention and then realised he would need junk to make it with, and he was running low on scrap materials.
He left Roadhog a note: "Be back soon." To clarify, he drew a mess of triangles that approximated the shape of his head, a lumpy outline that represented the rubbish dump, and an arrow connecting the two. Roadhog would understand what that meant.
Like all people, Junkers created rubbish. They were efficient about it, they found ways to utilise bits and bobs that would have been chucked out in any other society. But there was always stuff that couldn't be broken down. Things that couldn't be repurposed or scrapped. Organic matter that had no home. And it all needed to go somewhere. Hence, the rubbish dump.
Junkrat made the trek out to the rubbish dump all by himself, since he didn't know how to operate Roadhog's motorcycle, and besides, Roadhog kept his keys in his pockets somewhere. Like he didn't trust Junkrat or something. Ridiculous, really.
He was delighted to find that he wasn't alone when he arrived at the dump. Another man, a fellow Junker by the look of his goggles and spike-studded breastplate, who was digging through a heap of rubbish in search of some treasure or another. Well, if it was treasure he was looking for, it wouldn't be Junkrat's, that was for sure. He had far more secure places to bury his treasure than in a dump. Such as within an explosive tire.
Junkrat picked his way through the refuse to approach this new, like-minded stranger. He waved his arm over his head to attract the man's attention.
“I’m not your mate,” the man said, barely glancing up.
Okay, so that was an unexpected and unfortunate response. Junkrat edged closer to him to peer at the task he was absorbed in. He was elbow-deep in rubbish, with various collected grimy strings hanging over his shoulder. As Junkrat stared, fascinated, the stranger extricated another long thread from somewhere in the congealed mass.
He felt a strange kinship with this man, with his wild, radioactive-green hair that greyed at the roots, and the peculiar, distinctive smell that came from layers of body odor, dirty feet, the dirt of the Outback, and ash.
"And to think, they all tell me I need a bath!" he said with a hearty little chortle.
That got the man's attention. He looked up at Junkrat and narrowed his eyes at him. "You tellin' me I stink, you great ugly weasel?"
"'Rat, actually. Get it roight. And no, no, 'course not! I mean, maybe jus' a little. Not that I mean it in a bad sort of way. Just happy to see another misfit around here! Us freaks gotta stick together, eh? Be all friendly like?”
"You have a funny way of bein' friendly like." The man threw the string over his shoulder and wiped his hands on his shorts.
Well, that was just pure nonsense. Junkrat didn't understand why everyone always got so offended whenever he tried to bond with them. It wasn't like he was insulting them. He was simply showing them that they weren't all that different from him, and therefore they should be friends. This was his strategy: find some common ground and share it with your new friend. It wasn't his fault that people didn't like being compared to his looks, his penchant for clowning around, his odd behavior in general, or, apparently, his smell.
This was fine. He was adaptable. Resilient. He had other tactics to try when it came to becoming chums with new people.
He twirled his finger and pointed it at the stranger's shoulder. "Think I could take a look at one of those strings? Mighty useful for me inventions."
"You’ll have to kill me first."
Junkrat patted his pockets. He hadn’t brought any explosives, and besides, he’d hate to kill his new friend. "Come on, what’s a little sharin' between friends? Don't see no harm in poolin' our resources." Or, y'know, taking the lion's share for himself and leaving his buddy here with the scraps.
"I said, I’m not your friend. Why haven't you gotten that through your thick skull yet?"
Junkrat frowned. "I’m hurt."
"And I’m annoyed," the stranger retorted. "You’re off your rocker, you mad cunt. I’m leavin'." He swiped the strings off his shoulder and deposited them in a bucket of odds and ends -- and oh, they were good things, he must have been out here at the arsecrack of dawn, finding all of this loot.
"Fine!" Junkrat said, flippantly waving a hand after the stranger as he took his bucket and trudged out of the dump. "I don't need yer friendship anyway, ya son-ova-bitch, I got heaps of friends!"
The man left him alone in the pit with a sardonic "Sure you do."
Which brought him to now. He hadn't even bothered beginning his search for his supplies. Mr. Sunshine and Roses (those were the flowers that were supposed to smell good, right? Growing up in social isolation in the Outback meant that his experience with them was limited to tattoo art. People really liked getting tattoos of roses for some reason) had probably stripped the place of all its worth, anyway.
So instead, he was moping, because he felt rather sorry for himself. For the first time in his life, he was experiencing the hardship of rejection.
Except some traitorous part of his brain, the bastard with a mind of its own, reminded him that it wasn’t the first time someone had callously dismissed his friendly overtures and outwardly shunned him. That this was, in fact, a repeating pattern that had been occurring for his entire life because, no matter how cheery he was, there was something about him that others found inherently unlikable.
Junkrat draped himself languorously over a pile of rubbish. Despondent. That was the only word for the depth of his emotions at this moment. He heaved a dramatic and entirely overblown sigh that he felt appropriately conveyed this feeling.
He was squinting into the sun and considering flinging an arm over his eyes, partially to block out the rays but mostly to add to the melodrama, when a shadow fell over him.
Junkrat tipped his head back to see the source and glimpsed a familiar tattoo. He broke out into a grin, the kind of grin that made your face hurt from smiling too hard. "Roadhog, my friend!"
"You're like this even when no one's watching."
Junkrat rolled over and slid onto the ground. There was no graceful way to get up from the mound of waste you had turned into an impromptu fainting couch. "No idea what you're talkin' about. Got my note, did ya?"
Roadhog grunted in the affirmative.
Junkrat hummed. He picked a bit of what appeared to be a lump of fried rice off of his shoulder. It was not fried rice. He wasn’t sure what it was, the texture was rather slimy, but he ate it anyway. "Roadhog, you're my best mate, ain't ya?"
Roadhog stared at him.
Junkrat looked into the opaque and expressionless eyes of Roadhog's gas mask. The answer was clear as day. He laughed, a giddy sound of relief. "Roight, of course you're roight! It's a stupid question to ask. Silly me for even askin'! Of course we're best mates!"
Roadhog continued to be silent.
Junkrat hadn't arrived at a satisfactory answer, if Roadhog still wasn't offering up a reaction to his question. The ol' lug was like that, let him ramble it out until he found the flaw in his own plan or the solution to his own question. Flattering, really, his faith in Junkrat. He was the only man who ever appreciated his genius. It brought a tear to his eye.
"I mean, in so much as we're mates." Junkrat scratched one of the bald patches on his head. "Kinda more than that now?" They hadn't really defined their relationship, but it was definitely… more. He'd unofficially moved into Roadhog's house after unintentionally (no, really, unintentionally) falling asleep on him. That was as far as their relationship had gone, sleeping in the same bed together. Although, in the early mornings, when Roadhog hadn't woken up yet, Junkrat couldn't help but look at him and fantasize about taking things further.
"Not really just partners-in-crime anymore," he continued. "More like, just partners? So like, kinda a best mate. Only…. More."
There it was, then, that nod that said yes, you figured it out. "Partners," Roadhog confirmed.
Junkrat grinned at him. His stomach was flip-flopping in the best of ways. "Partners," he repeated.
Really, who needed friends? He had Roadhog.
"You're worth ten friends," he told Roadhog. "In value and size!" He cackled gleefully and ducked Roadhog's attempt to cuff him.
He popped up next to his partner and pulled Roadhog's arm over his own shoulders, manipulating Roadhog's body into a hug.
He could hear the huff of Roadhog's breathers as he exhaled. "You're a piece of work."
"Wouldya have me any other way?"
Roadhog squeezed. "No."
Junkrat came to the realisation that he had never struggled in his life, ever. People liked him! Like his partner! He was an utter joy to be around, and people were damn lucky to have him in their lives.
Life was good.