Sally and Bunnie
Belong to people who are
Not me. Oh bollocks.
A/N: Inspired completely and utterly by the fanarts 'Sally's Father' by Tazi-san (www dot deviantart dot com slash deviation slash 45180096 slash) and 'Sally – Loss' by Emmychidna (www dot deviantart dot com slash deviation slash 46291039 slash). Nothing whatsoever to do with the Amy Lee/Seether song of the same name.
Feedback: Reviews are always appreciated, as are all other types of feedback.
© Scribbler, January 2007.
"You don't die of a broken heart, you only wish you did." -- Marilyn Peterson
Bunnie never considered what she might do if Sally broke.
She was aware of the pressure on all of them, to right wrongs and restore balance and get their world back, but Sally had always been a lynchpin of that. If the Freedom Fighters scratched beneath the surface of their fight, they would've seen that Sally was at the centre of all their hopes and dreams. If the residents of Knothole had looked past the beacon of those fighting on their behalf, they would've seen that without Sally there would be no fight. Sally had started it all when she was only a child. Sally inspired them. Sally kept them going. If Sally broke … nobody acknowledged that even though Sonic was their leader, it was Sally they absolutely couldn't do without.
So when Bunnie went to debrief after her spell on watch duty, it was with a jolt of shock and dismay that she found Sally on the floor.
No hut in Knothole had a lock; the beasts who lived there trusted each other's integrity and privacy. It was part of what made them so close. Bunnie had walked into Sally's hut hundreds of times – thousands, even. She didn't even think about it when her friend was slow to answer; she just went on in, assuming Sally was hard at work as usual. Sally could be deaf, dumb and blind and blind to the world when she really got into something. That time they brought back files containing maps of Robotnik's citadel she'd spent three whole days in her study, not coming out even for the Summer Solstice celebrations. Her friends had to take food in for her, and eventually Sonic whizzed in to steal Nicole to make Sally emerge blinking into the light like a newborn kit.
The door to Sally's bedroom was ajar. A strange, thin noise emanated from it. It reminded Bunnie of baby birds, too young to do anything but cry for food. Frowning, she pushed it open … and stopped.
Sally looked up without loosening her hands, which were clasped above her head as if in prayer. Her expression was startled. She was lying on her side in a foetal position and blinked at Bunnie as though not knowing who she was. Bunnie noticed the tears and smashed photoframe in the same heartbeat.
"Bunnie," Sally said, scrubbing one eye with her lower arm. "I-I didn't hear you come in." She sat up. Everything about her demeanour was slightly off kilter, from the way her fingers trembled to the way her nose quivered and ran. Her eyes flicked to the photograph and she reached to pick it up. "I guess I must've knocked this off the dresser. Clumsy of me - "
"Sally-girl," Bunnie broke in, "you don't gotta lie to me."
"What?" Sally blinked again.
For a second Bunnie could see her drawing all the parts of herself together again, like a net dragging shoals of thrashing fish in towards a boat. Her fingers flexed in and out. Her jaw squared. Bunnie could see the familiar stoicism reoccupying Sally's face, turning her mouth into a line that smiled only rarely. The leader she knew rose to the surface like a body in a bog.
Then their eyes met, and the façade crumpled.
Sally sniffed, just holding the frame in her hands. "I … couldn't remember what he looked like. I usually keep this where I can't see it. It's too painful. But I tried to think of him and I couldn't see his face. I tried, but it just wasn't there."
Bunnie came to sit next to her. Gingerly, she rubbed Sally's back with her flesh hand. She was always careful to get the balance right – flesh for comfort, steel for combat. It was an easier thing to maintain than this role. It wasn't one she adopted often, but she remembered the way things went from when they were kits, fresh from the coup and sharing a dormitory in what should've been the Royal Retreat.
"S'okay, Sally-girl," she murmured.
"But it's not okay, Bunnie. What if I never see him again? What if … what if he can't come home? What if I really have lost him?"
Bunnie swallowed. Her mouth was dry. "That's a whole bunch of what-ifs."
"And I can't find proper answers to any of them." Sally sniffed again. Her chest convulsed. It seemed she was full of sobs almost breaking her ribs to free themselves.
Bunnie rubbed harder at her back, almost forcing her friend's head onto her shoulder, which Sally did without complaint. Sally rarely accepted help unless she'd asked for it. That she took it now created a lump of uneasiness in the pit of Bunnie's stomach.
They stayed that way for a long time. Bunnie waited for Sally to weep – to scream and shriek and rage at the unfairness of it all. She waited for Sally to be … well, Sally. Not Princess Sally Acorn. Not Sally of the Freedom Fighters. Just plain Sally.
Except that Sally was too Sally to be Sally.
Gradually her breathing evened out, until she raised her head and got to her feet. She brushed dust from her fur and ran a hand through her hair. And just like that she was back to normal. "Thanks, Bunnie."
"Don't, uh, mention it, sugar." Discomfited, Bunnie also got to her feet. "But don't you wanna - "
Sally cut her off. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell Sonic or the others about this. Nicole," she went on, flipping open the computer, "time left until my watch duty?"
"FIVE MINUTES, SALLY."
"Bilberries!" Sally used an old nursery curse as she surveyed the mess.
"Uh, I'll clean up here, if'n you like," Bunnie offered.
"Would you? I'd be really grateful."
"Sure, but Sally-girl, don't you wanna talk about - "
"Sorry, Bunnie, I can't stop. Sonic's on duty before me and you know he leaves before his replacement arrives if given half the chance." Sally made for the door, but paused halfway through it. She looked back, and Bunnie briefly saw the stoicism lift again. "Thanks, Bunnie. Really."
Bunnie nodded, uneasiness unknotting even as a fresh lump took its place. "I won't say nothin', sugar."
Sally nodded and left.
It was a sad fact that Sally wasn't allowed to break like the rest of them, Bunnie reflected, scooping pieces of broken glass off the floor with her metal hand. She dumped the pieces in the waste paper basket, and then returned to pick up the photograph. "What would you do, sir?" she asked, as she removed it from its ruined frame.
The King just stared back at her with a fixed grin. On his knee, a much younger Sally looked up at him with unabashed love shining in her eyes, caught in the smile of a daughter who thinks her father will always be there for her.
"Sometimes I wish I were a kid again; skinned knees are a lot easier to fix than a broken heart." -- Anonymous.
"The worst thing about getting your heart broken is going to sleep and knowing you're going to wake up and nothing has changed" -- Anonymous.