Bv T EvansDisclaimer: I do not own Sonic in any way, shape or form.
A/N: I wondered what would happen if the Fleetway and Sega universe Sonics happened to meet, and this is what came of it.
Hopefully it should be obvious which Sonic is which.
This is AU, does not tie in with any of my other fanfiction and could be set anywhere after Sonic Heroes. I have no idea how Sonic got into this situation (or indeed how he's going to get out of it…)
Of all the crazy worlds I've ended up in, this has got to be the weirdest.
At least nobody's tried to kill me yet, I think, as I pace back and forth. Although… I could do with some badniks to smash, something, because I've been here for two days now and nothing's happened.
Here I am, trapped in some freakish Mirror Zone, and the one person I thought I could count on to help out is doing nothing. Where's the urgency? What kind of place is this, anyway?
I think I answered my own question there.
This place is weird.
I pause. Shake my head, continue pacing. Can't run indoors, but I need to be doing… something!
"Will you cut that out? I'm getting dizzy watching you."
"What?" I shoot a glance at… him. He's leaning back in that huge human-scale chair, feet up on the wooden table, relaxed as you please. And smiling. He's always smirking at something or other in that weird little brain of his.
"I'm trying to think of a way out of this mess. Since you can't be bothered to lift a finger," I snap, irritated by the smile. I'm really starting to hate that smile. I don't smile that much, do I?
He just blinks at me, brow furrowed slightly as if he doesn't quite get it.
"Hey, calm down, okay? What're you worried about?"
"I'm worried about being trapped in this crazy place forever! Don't you understand? I've got to get home before a certain someone realises I'm gone and tries something-"
I grit my teeth to try to stop the frustrated scream that's been building up for the past two days, and turn away from the bemused little smirk and the green eyes that still have the spark of amusement in them.
"Now what's the matter?" he says, as if he hadn't heard a word I'd just said. Which, knowing him, he probably hadn't.
Knowing him? What am I saying?
I glance back over my shoulder. He's still lounging in the chair, swinging on the back two legs with his arms folded casually behind his head, somehow avoiding getting cut up by the mass of blue quills.
"You really should stop stressing out over the slightest thing, you know. Stuff like this always sorts itself out. Tails is working on some… I don't know, a cross dimensional thing, so why worry about it?" The grin again. He speaks with my voice- different accent, but the same voice. Same blue fur, same glowing eyes. He's me. And he's not me. Not me at all.
There's a Tails, too, but not my Tails… because to be fair to the little pixel brain, my Tails isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. His Tails has a mind like a scalpel- definitely the brains of the outfit, and I never thought I'd say that.
"Stuff like this- always sorts itself out-?!" I sputter at him, turning to stare and point a disbelieving finger at him. "What the hell are you talking about?!"
His feet slide off the table at my outburst, and the overbalanced chair nearly goes over backwards. A large part of me wishes it had.
But no luck. Instead, the legs of the big chair thump down solidly and he stares at me in open disbelief, ears perked forward and those eyes wide.
"Whoa, man… you're so serious! Are you sure you're not really Shadow?"
"That's the third time you've called me that, and I still have no idea who you're talking about," I sigh, letting my hand drop.
"Yeah, he doesn't have the sense of humour to try something like this," the other hedgehog thinks for a moment, before adding with a chuckle, "Or the hair dye, for that matter. But c'mon, why so grumpy all the time?"
"Why are you so flipping chirpy?" I mutter under my breath. "Okay, lemme think." I start to count off the reasons on my fingers. "One, I'm stuck in some weird alternate dimension with a version of myself who's quite obviously insane. Two, no one in this world seems to think there's anything odd about that, and three, Robotnik could attack my world at any second and there's nothing I can do about it!"
That confused look again. "Well, okay... that's kind of a bummer, but…"
"Kind of a bummer?" I repeat, feeling that scream trying to escape again and forcing it back down with as much patience as I can dredge up. "Listen: Robotnik. Going to attack. My Mobius. Not good. Got it?"
The Sonic tilts his head a little to one side. "I'm not deaf. Eggman's always up to something here, too. Yeah, he's a pain, but your Tails and Knuckles can handle him for a while, can't they?" he shrugs. Actually shrugs it off, like the threat to my planet is nothing! "And what's a Mobius, anyway?"
I echo his blank stare, until I remember that his world isn't like my world. It's Mobius all right- I recognised the Zone I was in when I got dumped out here, although the place I'm in now- Mystic Ruins, I think he called it- is no Zone I've ever been to. But they don't call them Zones, and they don't call it Mobius. There aren't even very many Mobians- just this Sonic and a handful of others, and everyone else is human.
Some of my friends don't even exist here.
"Mobius is the name of my planet," I explain, slowly, as if he's a small and rather stupid child. "And Robotnik is the guy who enslaved most of it, until I stopped him. And he'd do it again given half a chance. What does your Robotnik do? Send you flowers?"
He casually waves a hand. "Oh, he tries to kill me with robots, comes up with a new doomsday weapon every two minutes... the usual. He unleashed some water demon on me a while back." Another shrug.
"Yeah. That one was kinda tough. Thank goodness for the emeralds, right?"
"He… kind of tough…?" words fail me, and I feel an involuntary shudder. For the first time there's a shadow of concern in the green eyes, and he rises to his feet, asking if I'm all right- and I can only nod in response.
Because I'm remembering Chaos.
Hell on Mobius, probably… worst day of my life, definitely. But 'kinda tough?' No. I know how I look when think of that creature. But I can see nothing of that in his face…
And I begin to understand that this really isn't my world.
"How… how did you beat him?" I manage to say.
The other Sonic's eyes have a self-satisfied glow in them. They're speaking of a job well done, just another villain defeated- there's none of the pain there. The smile is almost nostalgic. He'd relive the whole thing given the chance.
Me, I'd do anything to forget it.
"The usual," he says lightly. "I turned Super and kicked his watery butt. That was some fight... heheh."
So that was different, too.
He shakes his head and smirks, as if expecting the same response from me, and looks puzzled when he doesn't get it. "But it must've been the same for you, right?"
"No. Not exactly." I can't meet his gaze.
Because I know what I want to ask. And I can already see the answer written on his face: Johnny who?
In this world, he probably never even existed.
"I… guess things happened differently where you came from," he offers after the silence has dragged on for a few more seconds. His voice is still confused. He doesn't get it, doesn't get it at all.
I look up at this hedgehog who is me and not me. He's a couple of inches taller than I am, but we're otherwise almost identical. But looking at him I realise how much more open and relaxed he is, how his eyes lack the hardness that I see in the mirror, and that darkness that's always just under the surface. I realise why he's so cheerful and laid-back: This is not only a different world, it's an easier world. He hasn't seen the things I have, hasn't done the things I have. Doesn't have to remember what I do. He doesn't have a fixed home; he goes where he pleases. He's free and more alive than I've been in years.
I envy him, suddenly and powerfully envy him. Part of me is screaming that's it's a betrayal of Johnny's memory, and of all the friends I'd never have known had I been born in this world. But… there's another part of me that would do anything for his life.
To be carefree like he is.
I was once, I think. But I realise now… all these years playing the part, with a grin and a cocky one-liner at the ready, and I can't even remember what it felt like.
"Hey, snap out of it. I know that look. Don't go doing the flashback thing on me, okay?"
I snarl softy at my own weakness and glance up, dreading the pity that I'm sure is going to be written on his face.
I'm wrong. There's no pity there. In fact he looks… understanding?
The other hedgehog's voice is still light, but suddenly it's lost that half-joking tone it always seemed to have before. "Dunno what happened where you came from," he continues, "But it was bad here, too. Chaos destroyed most of Station square, completely flooded it…"
"The whole city?" I hear myself repeat. Nothing like that happened in my world- from what he's told me, Station Square is this world's Metropolis City. It's huge. "Then how many people…"
The other Sonic shakes his head. He doesn't know. He doesn't want to know. For the first time I see something I recognise in his face- it's been there all along, so well hidden that didn't know it was there.
Suddenly the mask is gone and I'm looking at myself. Sonic the hedgehog, who is responsible for the safety of his world but knows from painful experience that you can't save everyone.
"There's no going back," he says with a grim smile. "Bad things happen, but you can't dwell on them. You've got to keep moving or it'll destroy you." The moment passes- he shrugs, and his eyes light up again. "'Cause who knows what'll happen tomorrow, right?" and he flashes that infectious grin that seems to come so easily.
And then suddenly it hits me. He's not the one who doesn't get it, I am. His confusion is not because he doesn't understand what I've been through- he's been to hell and back himself, what he doesn't understand is the way I deal with it. In the end the only real difference between us is that he knows when to let go.
"You need to lighten up. Seriously," he's saying. My other self snaps his fingers, startling me, and his grin gets wider- if that's even possible. "Hey, here's an idea. How about a race round the Ruins? That'll take your mind off things. Loser gets to deal with Amy when she shows up, which she will, once she finds out there's two of us."
I blink- that's another thing about this Sonic. His mood changes on a moment's notice.
"Shouldn't we be trying to figure out a way to get me home?"
"I told you, Tails is working on it. Why worry? If his invention doesn't work we'll find another way, and we can't do anything 'til he finishes building it." A shrug. "Might as well enjoy yourself while you're here. Don't you ever just run?"
"Yeah, when I'm not busy saving the planet..."
"Oh, I get it." Before I can react he steps forward and pokes me firmly in the chest, sniggering playfully. He's like a kid at heart, despite that serious side I caught a glimpse of just now. "You're scared of losing!"
"I am not!" I can't help but fire back.
"Well you're obviously slower than me," he sniffs, glancing at me sideways. "You said yourself, you weren't born with your speed. I was. I've got years more experience."
"Most of which you've spent lounging around on beaches sipping cocktails, from what I've seen." I narrow my eyes and give him a wicked smirk of my own.
He makes a point of straightening to his full height, forcing me to look up slightly. "And I'm probably stronger than you, too. You're tiny."
"I'm compact," I growl. "How many times have you tripped up on those lanky legs of yours?"
"Ooh, that's harsh!" the eyes flash with amusement. "This means war. I'm gonna teach you how the real Sonic runs!"
I think for a moment. Maybe this 'crazy' hedgehog was right all along- at this moment there's nothing I can do to get home or help my friends there. Can't change the past, either. Maybe it's time I remembered how to relax and live in the moment, like he does… no harm in having a little fun now and then, is there?
"…Okay, why not. You're on." I mirror his eternal grin. "But I think I'll be the one doing the teaching…"
He raises a sceptical eyebrow and heads for the door.
"Yeah, right. Hmm… let's make it a bit more interesting. No rings allowed, okay?"
"Don't tell me you still rely on rings! Please! What an amateur!"
"Heh, we'll see about that…"
I guess it all comes down to a choice. Although I can't remember exactly when it happened, somewhere along the way I chose to carry my burdens with me. He chose to leave them behind, and be at peace with himself.
I don't know if I can ever really be like him. But perhaps, just until I find a way home, I can choose to be carefree.
Even if it's only for a little while.