Innocence beneath what is known

"Hey Sonic, what's the matter?"

"I'm cold..."

Manic did a double take on Sonic's current state. He was currently standing there, holding himself and shiverring beneath his fur with his shoes and socks currently lost somewhere. "It's freezing..." the little boy whimpered as the older one came up to scoop him up into his arms, petting him gently in an almost confirming manner.

"Oh man, you really are cold..." Manic gave him a worried look, holding Sonic close, bundling him into his jacket and racking his brain in thinking of what to do for him.

He couldn't blame Sonic for being cold, experience proved that fur thickened with age. Since Sonic's shoes and socks were lost and ultimately much too big for him now then there wasn't really anything at all keeping him warm. The five year old was naked in a sense, naked in a poorly heated enviroment.
Sonic wrapped his arms around Manic's neck, comfortably cuddling up for warmth. The older hedgehog chuckled lovingly as he walked into his room and sat the youngster down on the bed "Just wait here a sec,"

Wide, child like eyes watched the elder sibling wonderously as he searched through the large chest of drawers "What're you looking for?" he asked. Manic swore he detected a hint of shyness in Sonic's question

"This!" the emerald hedgehog grinned, pulling out one of his old T-Shirts "This'll keep ya nice and warm,"

Sonic watched still as Manic pulled the shirt over his head; easing his head and arms through the holes

"Whoa! This is way too big..." Sonic's tone of voice was quiet and shy, much different than what Manic was priorly used to...around Sonic anyway.

"Yeah, but think of it this way; there's more of it to keep ya warm!" he chuckled once more when he stood the boy up on the floor; Sonic was right in one respect, the shirt was big enough to brush against his toes and nearly trip him up when he tried to walk "and more to keep ya out of trouble..." he snickered, starting to walk out of the room; glancing back now and then to make sure his brother was in his protective sight.

The child followed as closely as he could. Keeping up wasn't the problem, he could do that without a second thought, but keeping up when your shirt tried to trip you up was another matter completely. One careful step accidentally led to a careless one, causing the child to trip over lose his footing; sending him crashing to the cold, hard ground with a yelp of pain
"AH!!"

Manic's head snapped around to look back at him instantly "Sonic?" he knelt down to the fallen boy.

Sonic shakilly laid there with his entire front pressed to the ground.Tears were welling up in his wide jade green eyes which in turn led to small, pitiful sobs. Manic couldn't help but look at him sympathetically, holding his arms out to prop him up on his knees "hey...hey c'mon now..." he spoke softly, tilting Sonic's head to look at him

"i-i-it hurt..." Sonic whimpered through his sobs, little hands clenching around the material of his brother's shirt

"I know, I know. But c'mon, you're not hurt that badly right?" Manic's voice was gentle and loving, prompting the child to answer with ease

"n-no..." he whimpered "b-but i-it-it really hurt..."
Manic nodded, wiping the tears away from his eyes

"I know it did Sonic, but you could have taken a worse hit ya know," he gently chided, standing up with Sonic in his arms

"h-huh?..."

"Yeah, you might not know it, but believe me, you could have." the green furred elder teenager's words caused Sonic's small cries to gradually subside

"i-it still hurts..." he sniffled, feeling his older brother wipe away some tears with his thumb

"I'll bet it did," Manic agreed, gently standing him up "but I know for a fact that you'll be fine, little one." he smiled gently, petting behind Sonic's head.

Sonic stood there, sniffling still as he closed his eyes, brow furrowing "mr.Jingles..."

"huh?" Manic raised a confused brow

"something I have to..." the younger one didn't finish his sentence, he just blinked wonderously in the direction of his room "In there," he ran over, carefully this time, and pushed open the large door.

Manic joined him soon after.

It was a simple little room, simple but well adjusted for a general fifteen year old. The first thing noticed by Sonic was the bed, causing his reaction of climbing onto it almost instantly.

Manic wandered over, arms behind his head in a relaxed way "What're ya looking for anyway? If ya don't mind me asking?"

The younger one didn't answer right away, he was too pre-occupied looking around the bed "Jingles..." he whispered gently, crawling over to the pillows, pulling them away and revealing something that Manic was just not expecting;

"A teddy-bear?" he blinked, watching as Sonic immediately sat down by the pillows and cuddled the new-found little treasure close to his chest

"mouse..." he corrected in a mumble, fiddling slightly with the tail "teddy-mouse..."

"So I see...how long have ya had that?"

"I dunno..." the young boy shrugged as Manic sat down next to him "I just...feel better though, when I have him close, when I'm upset..." he sighed "it's comforting...when nobody else can..."

Those words and actions, prompted something within the teenager, a feeling in which he just had to reach out and hug the younger one, much to his confusion.

"Manic?..." he wondered aloud. The older one said nothing, at first anyway, he just cuddled his younger brother close to him; coming to terms with what he had on his hands here. In his head, he knew physically that Sonic was now just a five-year old boy, vulnerable and memory-less. But that was it at first; he'd never thought that his brother's current personality, could really be just a reflection of his older self's secret emotional state, that had never occured to him!

"Manic?" Sonic pulled away a little, looking at him with ever-wondering eyes "You're my brother...right?"

"Right," Manic nodded, holding and supporting him still

"Does that mean that...you...love me? Maybe?..." he seemed to shy away at that question, holding his Mr.Jingles closer under his chin.

Manic couldn't help but chuckle lovingly

"Ofcourse I love you..." he cuddled the child closer, nuzzling him "I'll always love you, Sonic." he sighed mentally "In any way, shape or form..."

tbc...