These are one-shots that revolve around Dylan and will include (in most) a different Sonic character per chapter. There will be nonsense, drama, humor, romance (limes), uncomfortable discussions, confrontations, loop-de-loops, and teenage drama. Each one-shot technically may build upon the other, so it may be good to read them in order. Takes place right after Project Miracle and each one-shot may not have a 'regular' linear climax. After these are done, I'll write a regular sequel, which will heavily include Shadow.
To the guest reviewers of Project Miracle ch 15 - thank you so much! Your reviews mean a lot to me.
A rare, velvety black sky of open stars greeted him, quite the treat for a cold December night in Station Square. If it wasn't the clouds of impending winter, it was the skyscrapers and the associated light pollution that clogged the lower atmosphere, dimming many of the celestial bodies from view. Tonight, however, as he dropped down on his back, letting out a fatigued sigh from that day's travails, Dylan peered up and backwards through the window at the gift of those thousands of heavenly bodies. His eyes twinkled in delight as he lay on his bed, blinking occasionally, just absently thanking them for being there.
His phone rumbled, but he ignored it. What a day it had been. No. It wasn't his body that was sore. It was his mind. His mother always had a way of ingratiating her brick wall of a will upon him. But that was alright. In particular, he was thinking about how every day since they'd moved into this two-bedroom, single-family house on the edge of the suburbs of the city, she'd not let up at all when it came to his studies.
Her attentions were a blessing and a curse. In the not-so-distant past days of when he was a human, his mother had rarely cared at all about his schooling, except to lecture him for an entire minute on this or that Friday evening at his continually sliding grades.
Some time ago, Dylan had come to terms that he'd been a bad student academically, because it had been a reflection of his psychological state. Only baking had held interest for him, and there he'd excelled. Yet, though he enjoyed school far more than he used to, and the topics were generally more interesting, his mother pushed him without mercy.
It was strange. Delightful and loving and infuriating at the same time. Would he want her to cut him some slack? He honestly wasn't sure. It had only been a couple months since Sonic and Shadow had obliterated Eggman's Egg Fleet and he and his mother were both still far from having comfortably readjusted to each other. He was the same and yet he was different, and the same could be ascribed of her.
He rolled onto his side to fully face the window, bringing his hands in close, curling up just a little bit so he could focus better on the soft light beaming down on him in the dark, and at all those little white crystals in space.
Yes, he was mentally exhausted. There were too many algebraic equations jumbled all up inside, mixed in with several dozen dates and facts he was still trying to memorize for history. In two days, his scientific research paper about the petrification process as a result of volcanic eruptions was due. There was a thin stack of lessons for English he was still working to catch up on, and-
Dylan let out a frustrated sigh. There should be some kind of exception for someone in his unique position! Of course, that was a lame excuse. His "unique position" involved being dissected like a frog and sewn back up in this little hedgehog body. He could never tell anyone that.
As he inwardly grumbled, his door creaked, and he involuntarily peaked up. His mother was standing under the frame, looking just a bit creepy thanks to mostly just her outline showing. She cricked her neck and wearily came in, quite without permission, and slowly lay down on her back next to him, some of her bones cracking like some ancient thing.
Dylan found this very uncharacteristic of her and he didn't move, unsure what any course of action would be proper to take.
After a half minute, she groaned to roll onto her side, facing his back, and grabbed him also very abruptly and uncharacteristically to her.
"These spines," she grumbled, pushing them down carefully to rest them against her, flat and harmless. "Last thing I need is to get my eye stabbed by them."
Dylan actually smiled to himself at such rancorous grumbling over such a thing.
"Oddly, it makes me think about how I never could get you to keep your hair combed properly. Back then, you didn't look like a hedgehog, but a porcupine."
He couldn't help that and gave off a chuckle.
Isolena responded by holding him more snugly to her. That she'd come to his room this late was strange; that she was laying behind him and had him wrapped up against her was so bizarre in a wonderful way, that Dylan didn't want to move and shatter it.
She wasn't in any rush to leave, inhaling and slowly exhaling, "Dylan, do you miss your father?"
A chill slithered down to Dylan's tail. Where had that come from? It was painful to raise the topic, bringing forth memories and moments that he and his father had shared together. He hadn't been able to see his father before he'd died and hadn't been there at the memorial service.
"Since the pace of our lives are slower now, I've had time to think about things. Naturally, he's been on my mind a lot. I just wasn't ready to talk to you about those last hours, until I had it sorted myself."
"Last hours?" Dylan whispered.
"Yes. I want you to be calm, Dylan, or I won't tell you."
He so terribly wanted to know! How could she put a qualifier on it? He deserved to know despite any emotional state that might come up! First, he was upset; then he tried to do as she said and kept laying there still.
Isolena slid her fingers slowly down his belly and stopped there. Was she just thinking? Her fingers were quite warm against his fur, aiding Dylan in realizing he was a little too cold. Perhaps it was a little strange for him, but he liked the warmness and so didn't ask her to remove her hand.
She even scratched his stomach a little and his muscles relaxed from how affectionate it felt.
As was her nature, she noticed the enjoyment he felt, but only acknowledged it by continuing to rub and scratch him slowly, softly.
She began, talking slowly, "I didn't notice the signs enough at that time. Your father was very stressed from work, but I chalked that up to him just being hungry and not having slept in two days. But he'd kept some facts back from me about the state of our work, namely that he'd known the only way to make things continue was to use you."
The last few words fell off her tongue monotonously, for it was the only she could say such a thing. They shared a few seconds of contemplative regret.
Then she continued, "I did know that was most likely the only way to go, but your father assured me he'd find another solution, and I believed him." She let out a frustrated sigh, "I had wanted to believe him. But I should have realized that your father was too good to do such a thing, and so I should have confronted him about it."
Dylan's breathing was shallow, listening so intently, feeling so strange and almost afraid of what she'd say next.
"Richard would have stopped everything. He was—well, you know how he was, being your father. I didn't try to stop whatever it was he had planned, because I didn't want to."
Silence again fell on them both. Dylan didn't want to assume she was upsetting herself, but he could feel her frame tightening some.
"Dylan—" Came her voice, choked with self-anger. "I want to be honest with you. Can you handle it?"
As frightened as Dylan was of what she'd say, he slid his hand over hers with a squeeze.
Isolena took hold of it, "All I wanted was for the project to go forward, at any cost. Even though I saw your father struggling, I really didn't care, when it came down to it. I thought he was weak when he tried to destroy everything. I hated him."
Her son sucked his stomach in and Isolena grabbed onto him tighter, as if he'd wriggle free if she didn't grasp onto him. But it was not so. Dylan felt a mix of things, including some anger at her, but he wanted very much to hear all she was trying to say. She'd never been the type to share her heart, as black as it might have been, and he wasn't going to discourage her.
Isolena exhaled, "But, thinking about it, I've come to realize that I'm the one I hated. Hating everyone else was the way I deflected my own self-loathing and helped me justify my goals."
She shifted slightly, the blanket crinkling in protest. By her sudden hitching of breath, Dylan felt a chill roll down his spine. The difficulty she was experiencing was obvious, yet she swallowed and forced herself to continue.
"That night when I came home and spent time with you was the night your father died. Destroyed the lab. Killed himself—killed himself to save you, Dylan." Her voice lowered to a whisper, "He wasn't a bad parent like me. Richard sacrificed his dreams and his life for you."
He hadn't imagined the timorous wave of her voice at the closing of that explanation. Her fingers still rested on his stomach, and in those seconds Isolena used to refocus herself, she started to rub him again.
"I almost made his death vain and—I'm very sorry for all of it, Dylan."
Dylan sought to press his fingers between hers to steady his small voice, "Can you tell me any details about Dad's death? You know, in the lab."
That query silenced her for some pressing seconds, a feat rarely managed by anyone for any reason. "Yes," Isolena responded, yet paused again. "He-" This was probably the hardest part for her, as she could never wipe the memory of his corpse from her mind. "It's a good thing that the only photographic documentation of your father is out of your reach. He wouldn't want you to remember him like that. But you have a right to know, so I'll tell you now. Richard caused the smoke alarm sprinklers to activate in the lab and then he electrocuted all the systems, and, sadly, that included him, too. Because your body was full of chaos emerald powder, the specimen survived almost completely untouched. It was miraculous, but it meant that Richard had failed to prevent what happened with you after. His body was-"
"It's okay," Dylan hastily cut her off, swallowing, almost perspiring at what she'd been about to describe. "Was there anything else?"
"No. He just regretted neglecting you. He loved you."
Dylan shut his eyes and let some tears roll off his face to the blanket. Of course, his father had loved him! Even though the man had been overworked and stressed, Dylan had never felt negative vibes come off him like he had his mother. When Richard had actually had free time, he'd spent it all with Dylan. When Isolena had found extra hours to waste, she'd tried to do something else, usually an activity in the city that excluded him.
None of the mistakes his father had made could be fixed, now. None of the time he'd missed and none of the things Dylan had wanted to tell him could be related. This was life and it was harsh and no one got second chances.
It was like Isolena had read his mind as she softly lamented, her voice crushed thick by tears of her own she was trying to hide, "I hope you'll find yourself able to forgive me at some point, but I understand if you never can. We can't go back; only try to avoid similar mistakes in the future. That's uncharacteristic of me to say, but I hope I have changed, even in some inconsequential way, and that I'll continue to make efforts to treat you better now."
Dylan forced himself to turn about so they were face-to-face. He could see the outline of her figure, but not her features that well. It didn't matter. Her tone was transparent enough.
"Mom, I don't hate you at all," he searched for her hands anew and found them, holding them tightly. "I—forgave you at Fortress Island. Really, I don't have any grudges, but I do want to understand why."
"Give me time," she whispered at length.
Dylan understood. As well, he needed time to develop full acceptance of himself and he still had so much self-exploration to do. Perhaps this was best, and they could understand that in their different ways, they both needed to be patient with the other and give each other space.
"Remember that you told me words were cheap without action?" He mumbled, feeling tired all of a sudden.
"Yes," once more, she pulled him to her to clasp his body, so he'd stay warm.
"You gave me love tonight, Mom," now his voice was small and fading still. "I know you love me."
Isolena lay quietly, but her son didn't speak again. His breathing began to slow and deepen. From what he'd just said, a strong sense of motherly protection overcame her, and she didn't want to let him go. For a few more minutes, she slowly ran her hands up and down his back as he fully sunk into a healthy, deep sleep. Before her, through the clear window, an entire galaxy of stars lit up the room just enough that she could make out the outline of her son's body. He was a simple but profound teenager. With the most innocent words, he'd made her heart bleed and birthed in her bones an unquenchable determination to change into a person worth his love. And when she decided on a matter, no one could change her mind.
She dropped a firm whisper of promise down to him, "I'll make sure you feel my love."