Author's Note: He's chapter one, actually on time for once! It's a miracle! Heh. It's still rather short, but I don't want to get to the action of the plot too soon, after all. ;) All I can say about upcoming chapters is: poor Sonic. But then, I can sort of say that about this chapter. I went over it pretty carefully before I uploaded it, but there may be a few errors I missed. Please be patient with me, as I am trying my hardest to make this story pleasing to my readers. Thank you and enjoy! Oh, and apprently FF.N is being a pain and won't let me use line breaks. . . So I shall use this in place of them, at least temporarily: ------------
Disclaimer: I don't own any characters herein. However, I do torture and tease them mercilessly.
The mid-afternoon sunshine woke Sonic up. He blinked against the brightness that dared to interrupt his sleep, then threw an arm over his eyes and tried to go back to sleep. He had just begun to doze off again when he was suddenly smacked over the head with a pillow.
Sonic twitched an ear at the insistent voice and turned his face into the back of the couch.
"Later, Amy. I'm tired," he mumbled.
He received another light whap with the pillow.
"You sleep too much. Now get up – you missed lunch, you know."
Reluctantly, Sonic opened his eyes. He took in Amy's determined expression and worried frown without concern, and yawned. "I'm not hungry."
"You're never hungry, but you still need to eat! You're going to starve to death at this rate."
The blue hedgehog glanced down at himself and took in his appearance: Overly-skinny form covered with more clothing than he'd ever worn in his life, and legs that just lay there, like spaghetti. 'Overcooked spaghetti,' He thought to himself, and closed his eyes again. "So?"
Amy's response was to literally drag him off the couch and into his wheelchair. Sonic didn't fight her – it wasn't worth the effort. This had become a routine in the past few months, and Sonic knew by now how futile it was to resist Amy when she got like this.
It only served to make him feel worse about himself.
He did, however, do his very best to annoy her into leaving him alone.
"You better not have cooked it!"
"I did cook it, Sonikku – just like I cooked the breakfast this morning that you didn't eat."
"Hence the reason why I didn't eat it," Sonic grumbled, folding his arms and regarding Amy crossly. The pink hedgehog seemed mildly annoyed, but nowhere near as much as Sonic had wanted her to be. He was so tired of her being patient with him! He was about to say something more cutting, when a flash of red just outside the window drew his attention.
It was gone by the time he focused on the place where it had been, but that didn't stop the stab of fear that shot through him. Robo Knux had haunted Sonic's nightmares for the last few months. The hedgehog was just getting to the point where he stopped jumping at shadows, and wasn't expecting an attack at every waking moment. Just seeing that flash of color outside the window was nearly enough to undo him.
"Sonic? Sonic what's wrong?"
Sonic just barely managed to tear his eyes away from the window and meet Amy's concerned gaze. He noticed, in an oddly distracted manner, that his hands were shaking. "Sonikku?" Sonic jumped as Amy set her hand on his shoulder.
"N-nothing, Amy. Thought I saw something, but it's not there now."
"Are you sure?" Amy questioned worriedly. "Do you want me to go che-"
"No!" Sonic shouted, nearly heaving himself out of his chair. Amy started, and then blinked at the other hedgehog in surprise. "I mean," Sonic paused, looking away. "You don't need to. There's nothing there . . . and there's no point in going to look at nothing, right?"
Amy nodded, slowly, "I guess. . ."
"Besides," Sonic continued hastily, "I think I might be hungry enough to eat something for once, so let's just go into the kitchen and forget about this, okay?" Refusing to look at her, he started to wheel himself in the direction of the kitchen.
Now it was obvious that something was wrong. Sonic hadn't been interested in eating since he had left the hospital, and it showed in his too-thin physique. Thus, his sudden interest in eating was more than enough to set off alarm bells in Amy's head.
The pink hedgehog narrowed her eyes and grabbed the back of her companion's wheelchair, halting him halfway to the kitchen.
"You did see something." It wasn't a question.
"Well, maybe, but it was probably just my imagination – really, it's nothing, I swear." Sonic insisted, closing his eyes so Amy wouldn't see the fear in them.
"You saw Robo Knux, didn't you?" Amy's voice shook as she replied, causing Sonic to open his eyes and twist around as much as he could in order to see her better. At the same time, he stammered a denial.
"W-what gave you that idea, Amy? Why would you think I saw Robo – " He broke off, as a synthetic voice spoke up.
"Why, because I'm standing right in front of you, fool!"
Sonic screamed as the robot attacked.
His eyes snapped open, and Sonic drew in rapid, panicked breaths as he searched for his attacker. After a few minutes that seemed like an eternity to the frightened hedgehog, his mind caught up with his body, and he realized that he was in bed with the rising sun shining through the window across from him.
Sonic forced himself to relax – to calm down and take slower breaths. It wouldn't be good if he were to hyperventilate and pass out, after all.
Breathe in; breathe out. Robo Knux wasn't there; he hadn't hurt anyone. Amy was still at her house and perfectly safe.
It had just been another nightmare.
Sonic let out a groan and grabbed his pillow out from under his head. Slamming it over his face, he growled in annoyance. 'Stupid nightmares!' He'd never get back to sleep now. Taking the pillow off of his face, the paraplegic hedgehog rolled his eyes and decided that he might as well get up – at the very least he would surprise Amy when she came over with breakfast; she usually had to drag him out of bed.
Getting up and around took a lot longer than it used to – just getting out of bed was a challenge at times, to say nothing of showering and getting dressed. There was one area, however, that took less time for Sonic to accomplish now than it had his entire life: styling his quills.
Whereas he used to spend upwards of an hour combing and gelling his quills to perfection, he now barely bothered to comb them and didn't tough the hair gel. With no need to maintain his image or fight Eggman, it simply wasn't worth messing with. Besides, Sonic enjoyed being fast in at least one area of his life, even if it was just styling his quills.
After getting dressed, Sonic wheeled himself over to his writing desk for what he called his "morning torture session", or writing in his journal. While it had been recommended by hospital staff, (or perhaps because of it), the former hero refused to see a counselor. His friends had reluctantly agreed with his decision, making him promise to tell someone what was bothering him.
He compromised by writing in his journal, mainly because he didn't have to feel as humiliated as he would talking to an actual person. If he could, he would rather have just forgotten about it entirely. Unfortunately for him, Amy checked his journal to make sure he was writing in it. She didn't read what he wrote –or at least she said she didn't, but sometimes he wondered-, but she did check it every single day.
So Sonic kept the journal, writing in it every morning, and sometimes twice daily if he really needed to spill something. Rubbing one of the scars on his right arm, Sonic sighed, and then searched around the desk until he spotted a pencil. Grabbing it, he opened his journal and began to write.
I had another nightmare. I. . . I think I'm starting to lose it, actually. Every day, it's taking me a little longer to remember that it's not real. Sometimes I wonder if I should tell anyone, but then they already think I have enough problems – I don't want them to think I'm crazy on top of it.
What really worries me, though, is that every time they go on a little longer before I wake up. One of these days I'll have one and I won't wake up before his attacks hit. And it makes me wonder . . . can you feel pain in dreams? Stupid question, I know.
But I really hope not, because I don't think I could go through that again.
I sound like a wimp.
Man, as bad as these nightmares are, I don't even want to think about what would happen if he were actually to show up again . . . I think I really would lose it.
I scared myself just writing that thought down. It's funny – I didn't use to be scared of Robo Knux, or any robot, for that matter. But that was when I could fight back. Now I can't, as much as I hate to admit it.
Robo Knux could do anything he wanted to me. . . or to Amy my friends, and I wouldn't be able to do anything to stop him.
It all comes back to the uselessness, I guess.
"Good morning, Sonikku; it's time to – You're up already? Oh, this is so wonderful!"
Sonic found himself on the receiving end of one of Amy's trademark hugs. Despite his lack of ability to breath, the blue hedgehog found himself enjoying it – it was another link back to his old life, and he could almost pretend everything was normal again as long as Amy Rose squeezed the life out of him.
"Hey . . . Amy," He greeted her in a somewhat strangled fashion. She didn't seem to notice, so overjoyed was she that she didn't have to force Sonic to get up and face the world. Finally, just when Sonic thought he would pass out (and was wondering if it would make Amy stop choking him if he did), she let go.
"Are you ready for breakfast, Sonikku? I made over at my house and it's ready to eat now."
Sonic shook his head, "Nah – I'm not hungry."
Amy's smile faltered, but she covered it and tried again, "I worked really hard on it, Sonikku! Will you at least try it?"
Knowing what Amy could do to him if he continued to refuse, Sonic acquiesced.
Upon entering the kitchen, the sight of the food laid out on the small table was nearly enough to send Sonic backing out of the room. Still, he forced himself to give it a chance, at least to put Amy at ease. If he didn't, she might suggest a shrink again – something Sonic wanted to avoid at all costs.
He halfheartedly nibbled on a piece of toast as Amy chattered about her plans for the day. He wasn't really listening, but one thing she said did catch his attention.
". . . And later today, Sonikku, you and I are going out!"
Sonic's reaction was immediate.
Amy took no notice of the blue hedgehog's complete and utter shock, continuing on quite happily. "We're going to go by Tails' workshop and visit him for a bit – he said he wanted to test something, I'm not sure what -, then we're going to go get something to eat, maybe see a movie – there's this new one out I really think you'd like, Sonikku – and then maybe go to the library; I bet you've never been there before!" She ended her speech with a smile, obviously pleased with her itinerary.
It took a few moments before Sonic got his jaw working again, and when it did, he raised his hands. "No way, Amy. I'm not leaving."
She sighed, "You have to get out sometime, Sonikku. You can't just hide in here forever, you know."
"It's not healthy, Sonikku!"
Sonic just closed his eyes and ignored her; his favorite way of telling her he could care less. His ear twitched as Amy let out a frustrated growl and stomped out of the room. Sonic let her go without comment; maybe she'd stop insisting her get out of the house now. She'd be back any minute and admit that he was right, it was too soon – he was sure of it.
However, the minutes passed, and Amy didn't come back. Remembering his nightmares, Sonic began to grow nervous. What if something had happened to her? He had to check. Wheeling himself into the next room, he was startled to see Amy literally beating the stuffing out of one of his couch cushions. It would have been amusing if she weren't crying.
"Stupid – stupid, Sonic; I just want to help; can't he see that? Stupid Sonic, stupid, stupid Sonic," she chanted as she smacked the pillow around. Sonic winced and backed out of the room quietly, hoping she wouldn't notice him.
She must be really frustrated with him, he realized. He supposed she had a right to be – he knew what a problem he could be when he wanted to. It made him feel guilty, a bit, but he shoved that down into himself. He didn't care – he was suffering; why shouldn't everyone else suffer too?
It was only fair, after all.
'Maybe. . . just this once . . .' Sonic's eyes narrowed in thought, as he turned possibilities over in his mind.
When Amy returned a few minutes later, there was no sign she'd been crying. She smiled cheerfully at Sonic and looked his plate over. When she saw that, as usual, he'd barely touched it, she sighed. "Oh, Sonikku . . ."
A slight, embarrassed cough drew her attention to Sonic, who looked uncomfortable for some reason. His ears were flattened to his skull and he was unable to look her directly in the eye, which aroused her concern. "Sonikku – is something wrong? We .. . we really don't have to go if you're not up to it. I can call Tails and let him know we aren't coming. . ."
"No . . . I'll. . . I'll go, Amy. At least to Tails'. I just don't know about all of that other stuff."
Upon hearing this, Amy squealed and threw her arms around the other hedgehog. Sonic let her hug him, but make no move to hug her back. His thoughts were elsewhere – going out terrified him. Not the outdoors itself, of course; he relished the opportunity to get out and see the world again. No, it was the people that terrified him, even as they'd haunted his mind in the hospital. He didn't think he could stand being stared at in pity.
Nevertheless, Amy was right – though he'd never admit it to her face – he did have to start getting out of the house. It might help him, who knew? And visiting Tails would help a lot, because of course the test Tails wanted to do involved his research on Sonic's condition; the kid might even have a breakthrough while he was there, and how cool would that be?
Even if nothing came of that visit, however, Sonic had to admit to himself that making Amy so happy was, just maybe, enough reward in itself.