The war had taken many things from him. His childhood, his sense of safety, friends in such numbers that to count them would only bring him closer to that horizon of despair he was always running from...

Except not anymore. The robians had been freed- his Uncle Chuck was now safe and sound at home, where he should be. He wasn't risking synthetic life and limb as a double agent in the lost city of Robotropolis. He didn't have to anymore. Robotnik was gone, and so was the city they'd been trying to recapture for the better part of a decade. A city that was no more home to him than the miles of waste between where its limits began and the scorched earth of industrialization ended at the Great Forest.
But that city- that awful overlander- wasn't important anymore. What was important now was learning how to deal with the unfamiliar in his own home. Or... not his home. His home was a tiny little hut that he had once shared with Antoine, a rickety little thing that leaked when it rained and always smelled faintly of that aftershave the coyote always wore. The guy had insisted on practically drenching himself in the stuff, back when the fighting was for the seasoned soldiers and not the straggling children they'd left behind.

'Eet makes me all ze more professional, no?' Antoine would say, parading around in his father's too-big coat, the sword practically twice his size dragging along the floor in its sheath as the cloth draped loosely over the other's scrawny, flighty form. And Sonic would laugh, and point out that if he went out like that, the Swatbots would catch him in the time it took to wrestle the too-long blade from the belt. He never did manage to buff out those nasty cuts in his bed posts.

Now, this house was different. For one it was larger, boasting an entire two stories, although the rooms it contained were hardly larger than the space a particularly sizable bed might take up. He was never one for material objects, anyways, and the view was nice, so he didn't care much. He had a new house- one that didn't leak in the rainy season- and a cool bed, and... new roommates. He didn't mind it at all.

At the foot of his bed there was the sound like a motorcycle engine in miniature; Sonic glanced down from the ceiling to find Muttski having a little snooze, his left hind leg kicking up a bit of a storm as he chased electric rabbits in his dreams. The child soldier sat up, a smile flickering onto his face as he reached down to pet the robotocized dog's head. The poor guy wouldn't be able to feel it, of course, what with the metal skin and all, but the action was somewhat of a comfort. He knew dogs- the feral kind, at least. And he knew his would stay the same. He at least remembered Muttski. Unlike the two in the kitchen. The one standing at the stove, boiling tofu sausages and stirring up a pot of spicy chili that would have but one consumer. The one sitting at the dining table, reading a magazine and downing a can of motor oil like it was hot coffee. His... roommates.

Uncle Chuck was still in the basement, tinkering. He was always down there, these days. Old habits were hard to break, as Sonic could attest, even if they made you a little odd sometimes. Leaning back in his bed again, the boy grabbed his battered guitar and began to pluck its strings halfheartedly. It was one of the few possessions he actually cared about; a gift from Rosie on his tenth birthday, when he said he'd liked the records of the pretty musician on the album. He'd played until his fingers bled, learning how to make that same music, agonizing over every note and chord, writing his own music for the fighters that would come back to their tiny hideaway, often in smaller numbers than they left with. Always looking so tired. His fingers curled around the well-loved wood a bit more tightly.

Well, Sonic would never let himself get tired. How could he, when there had always been so much to do? Scavenging for building materials and medicine, fixing up "temporary" housing for other freedom fighters, learning new chinks in Robotnik's armor... All of it had been better than coming home to an empty hut.

Or, at least that's what he'd thought. A voice called from downstairs, the not-quite natural tone of synthesized words reaching his ears and making him flinch.

The war took a lot from him, yeah. He'd never expected to get anything back, even for all his hard work. And now that he did? Now that he had a family waiting for him? Parents that wanted to make up for lost time? Parents that gave rules and set curfew like he hadn't spent just as much time as they had on the battlefield years earlier than they had, learning how to craft bombs in lieu of sparkly macaroni art? Parents that had once been nothing more than the fleeting memory of cool silver and warm arms?

...Sonic nearly preferred the silence.