But instead of metal blades penetrating his skin, he felt…

…a slap.

Metal Sonic had slapped him squarely across the face.

Sonic´s head snapped to the side and his eyes opened wide in astonishment as he turned back towards his enemy. The robot, if possible, was scowling.

"Idiot biological hedgehog. Idiot mission objective."

"What…?"

Before the biological hedgehog could utter another word, though, Mecha reached down and rammed something into his side. Sonic yelped at the sharp sting. This was…!

A sedative, he realized as everything went black. The last thing he felt was being hoisted into the air by Metal and the rocket blaster carrying both of them away.

---

Sonic woke up, astonishingly, in a prison cell, a comfy metal cube without furnishings or windows whatsoever, cheerfully lit by a glaring neon light.

Now he was completely confused. The sedative had worn off and his head felt suprisingly clear. Just how long had he been out? And what on earth was going on? Metal Sonic had not killed him…was he meant for the roboticizer? He shivered at the thought although he was not able to fathom why he was not a mindless slave already if that was the Doctor´s aim.

Sonic then tried to move his feet and was greeted by the clinking of chains.

Just great, he thought and conveniently discovered that he apparently wore handcuffs as well.

Jeez, Eggman was sure being thorough this time. The only thing missing was a friggin…

He reached up to his neck and groaned. Friggin metal collar. Check.

The chains allowed for some freedom to move, though. He stood up and tested his legs. At least he was no longer a walking jelly. But to spindash would mean to choke himself…he yanked the chain frustratedly and tried to think of something else.

The date. It was today.

Sonic slapped his forehead. How could he still be thinking of that stupid thing?! That was what had got him into all this trouble the first time around, being distracted.

But it was an important occasion…and he got the vague feeling that it was important for his friends, too…
but just as he thought he had almost figured it out, a voice blaring over the loudspeaker embedded in the ceiling interrupted all thought processes.

"Well, my dear Sonic, awake yet? Enjoying the hospitality, are we?"

The hedgehog had to bite back a snarl. Even Amy in his face when he woke up was a better alternative than this.

"What do you want, Eggman? What´d you capture me for?" He snapped, adding silently: And how did you manage the explosion?

"There´s no need to be so hostile, rodent. I merely desired your company. Or, to be more precise," he continued as if he had heard Sonic´s snort at that declaration, "I have a few…clients who asked for your company, too, Sonic. Especially today."

Sonic´s jaw nearly hit the floor. What was wrong with the world?! Everybody was acting insanely out-of-character and it seemed as if his memory was even worse than Shadow´s. (and that was saying a lot, considering that the ebony emo was probably the only one who could confuse pleas to make the world a happier place with the request for the utter anniliation of the human race – Heck, Shads would probably also manage to bring home weapons of mass destruction when you asked him to pick up some milk.)

Seriously though, how could even Eggman know something he desperately tried to remember?

The hedgehog strained against the chains binding him as he tried to bellow into the microphone implemented in the wall.

"Stop the riddles already! What´s your game this time, you whacko?"

"Really, Sonic, one would think that in your particular situation one would be a trifle bit more polite towards his host. It seems as if I have no option left but to send you the room service…" he started laughing maniacally but was suddenly cut short and mumbled something along the lines of "Alright, alright. You never let mad brilliant scientists have any fun, do you?" and with a final static crackle, the speaker went off.

Sonic had the feeling that those last lines had not been aimed at him.

He stood there for a while, his chains, ears and quills equally drooping as his head seemed to go into overload from all the inexplicable things that had happened to him over the past few hours. Could this all be a dream?

Slowly, his hand went to his side and he winced. No, the spot where Metal Sonic had injected him with that stuff was still sore. So, no dream.

His ears twitched as he heard the sound of metal clanging from the corridor. Immediately, a shiver ran down his spine and the hedgehog felt his innards squirm while he had the urge to curl up. Oddball behaviour or not – he was trapped in his archenemy´s fortress and was practically defenceless!

Sonic´s quills bristled in fear and he backed against the wall as far as his shackles would let him. Unfortunately, since his collar and footcuffs were connected to opposing boundaries of his cell, this didn´t mean much.

The robotic footsteps came closer and he tried to at least force his features into a defiant expression. He had no idea whether Eggman would try to torture, roboticize, or kill him but there was no way he´d let the Doctor see him break.

Maybe his friends would rescue him. Even if I behaved pretty much like a complete, self-centred idiot towards them…

He hung his head briefly but raised it again as soon as the door opened and two Egg Pawns entered. No Metal Sonic?

The robots ambled speedily over to the locks of the chains, opened them and took the ends in their claws. Sonic knew that know was his chance. He leaped, intending to curl over in midair and homing-attack the Egg Pawn left from him to pieces.

He had not planned for the one behind him to yank the shackles on his legs, though.

His jump brutally interrupted, the hedgehog landed on his behind and cursed his bound feet. He hated being cooped up! Even cleaning the blasted island with Knuckles would have been better than this…

Another vicious tug, this time on his collar, brought him back on his feet, yelping.

He rubbed his sore throat as best as he could and shot both robots a glare.

"That´s the best you can do, Eggman? Harrassing harmless hedgehogs when they´re helpless?" he called, angrily facing the speaker, fully knowing that the doctor could probably see him.

"You surprise me, Sonic. Trying to fight with alliterations, now?"

As Sonic only looked at him with blazing eyes, the doctor sighed. "Very well. I have means here to force your jaws apart, hedgehog." He then seemed turn away from the microphone as the next part was slightly muffled, but Sonic´s acute hearing, now also overly sensitive from fear, picked out the words nevertheless. "Will you please tell her to stop squealing? I think by now we all know that he 'looks SO cute when he´s angry.'…"

The hedgehog´s eyes opened wide at that nonsensical statement and he strained to hear more. Robotnik unfortunately seemed to have realized that the system was still on and just barked one irritated last command at his robots before shutting it off.

"Bring the rodent here, you useless trash. And there´s no need to be gentle."

"No, wait, what…"

A painful tear at the chain connected to his collar shut him up immediately. The Doctor´s metal slaves seemed to get down to business now. Sonic was taken by surprise and tumbled down as his feet were tugged from underneath him. He was now lying on his back, frantically trying to scramble into at least a sitting position before he even realized what was going on. One Pawn held the shackle that trapped his legs up high so that there was no way he could upright himself, while the other one still held his ensnared wrists. The first one took the chain from the second one in the same hand and extended his telescopic arm, effectively dangling Sonic from his four limbs in midair, his back and head swinging a few feet above the floor.

The hedgehog struggled at this indignity, feeling like an absurd trophy prize. A cold hand reached into his quills and he felt the chain disconnect from the metal ring around his neck as the two robots started walking and left the cell with him. Sonic squirmed as soon as they had left the confinement room, but although his hands were now held beside his ankles, there was now way he could open the locks that still trapped his feet.

Suffice to say, the two Egg pawns carried an extremely annoyed hedgehog trophy prize through the fortress.

"Eggman! You´ll pay for this!"

Sonic was red in the face from both fury and embarrassment. The torture that the doctor had hinted at still lingered in his mind, though, and he caught himself swallowing at the thought what would await him when they finally reached their destination.

What if…Robotnik would do something to his legs? The hero instantly stiffened, his hands grabbing around his calves as he imagined maybe never being able to run again.

Cursing his overactive imagination, Sonic shook his head and tried to regain his calm. He would never give the human the satisfaction of begging for mercy. Whatever that madman could throw at him, Sonic would take it without losing his nerves.

The robots turned a corner, stopped briefly before a hissing hydraulic door, entered a massive hall of sorts and Sonic´s resolve lasted about two seconds.

"WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING HERE?!"

He had craned his neck back to sneak a glance at Eggman who would surely be somewhere in here, but what he had not expected to see was Amy standing right next to him. And Tails. And Knuckles. And a grinning Shadow. And Rouge, Cream, Vanilla, Metal Sonic and Omega.

"Hey Sonic, long time no see!"

At the same instant, the robots released him and he plummeted down to earth, eliciting a few chuckles from the others. Dumbfounded, he sat up and for the first time took in everything around him. The usually bleak metallic surroundings were cheerfully decorated. Bright balloons and streamers hung under the ceiling and fought a fierce battle against the mirror balls for dominance. At the right side was apparently a grand table upon which stood…the biggest cake Sonic had ever seen.

Robotnik must have finally snapped.

Or I ran through a wormhole. This is actually an alternate reality.

Or maybe those berries I ate yesterday were the kind that you shouldn´t eat. For obvious reasons. Or maybe…maybe…

His brain ran out of ideas at this moment and he just stared.

"Uhm…has…uhm, Eggman captured you guys, too?" the hero finally asked and felt utterly ridiculous. After all, he was the one handcuffed while they were apparently completely unrestricted.

"Oh, Sonic! Of course not!" squealed a delighted Amy, who could not contain herself any longer and rushed up to hug a still stunned Sonic, dragging him to his feet and crushing his ribs. "Awww! You looked so cute in that cell! And you can´t even run away now…" she giggled, trailing her fingers playfully along his shackles and grinning.

Sonic was already making preparations for a full-fledged panic attack as Knuckles intervened.

"Oh, come on, Amy, cut that guy some slack!" he called, adding "Not that he doesn´t deserve every single thing he´s been going through, mind you…" with a mischievious glint in his eye.

"Uh-huh!" Tails chirped in, but sidled over to the pair nevertheless to hug Sonic as well. "Glad to have you back, big bro."

"You have recovered remarkably soon, Faker. We nearly weren´t ready when you woke up."

"Ready…?" Sonic looked from one face to another. The colourful decorations. The Chaos Emerald in Shadow´s hand. The way too happy Eggman in the background.

"…I think I´m going to hate you for this..."

"But Mr. Sonic! Wasn´t playing tag with Mr. Metal fun?" Cream had opened her mouth for the first time and regarded him with a wide, sincere smile.

Sonic closed his eyes and reminded himself that six-year olds were not to be mauled under any circumstances.

"Yes…Cream, it was. Never felt so entertained in my entire life. Maybe I should let myself get abducted more often."

"I´m glad you liked it! We had so much fun thinking up the plan! And Mr. Robotnik helped us, he was really nice!" The mentioned scientist gave a small wave.

Rouge was able to pick up even the subtlest mood swings.

"Uh, guys, maybe you should think about pinning down those chains of his again…"

"He did what?!"

"Well, you brought it upon yourself, you know?" Knuckles stepped in front of the hedgehog before Sonic could even work up a temper.

"…I did?"

"Sure. After all, how on mobius can you go hiking when you know full well that you´re going to miss out on one big event…and ruin the party for the rest of us."

"Huh?" the hero scratched the back of his head, completely lost.

"Sonic, you moron!" Rouge interrupted, "Today is…"

As if they had practiced it, everybody joined in: "Your Birthday! Congratulations!"

Sonic could have slapped himself. Or maybe just ask Metal Sonic again to do that for him.

"My…" How could I have forgotten?! Today´s June 23rd!

"You´re sixteen, now! Only two years away from legal marriage!"

He groaned. "Amy…"

"Happy birthday, Mr.Sonic!" Cream shook his hand happily and he was only then reminded of the fact that he still wore his chains.

"Uh...do you think you could take those off, now?"

"Why, Sonic, sure. Sometimes all it takes is asking nicely." Robotnik pressed a button on a remote and the rings around his ankles and wrist immediately opened and fell down. Relieved, if disbelieving, Sonic stepped out of his former bonds as he noticed something.

"Hey! I want that collar off, too!"

The Doctor shrugged. "Can´t help you there."

"What do you mean, you…"

"Oh, Sonic, that´s my present! Isn´t it beautiful?!" Amy raised a small mirror and Sonic was able to see it for the first time. A thin, pale oval gold ring, winding around his neck like a small snake with a tiny green, unpolished emerald shard embedded in the front. Amy had bought jewellery for him! He felt himself blush for the second time that day.

"Uh…Amy, where´s the lock?"

"I don´t know! Ask Shadow how he gets his rings off."

Sonic turned around with a questioning glance and looked at the black hedgehog.

"Simple," replied the Ultimate Lifeform, "I don´t."

Sonic shot a despairing look at Amy. "Uh, I hadn´t thought of that before…" she giggled.

What have I done to deserve this?

"Uhm, anyway, it´s pretty so you won´t need to take it off, ever, right?"

Whatever it was, I´m already sorry for it!

"…right. So, how come I am spending my birthday in one of my friendly archenemy´s bases, then?"

"Well, we figured you´d need a lesson in staying in touch with and listening to your friends." Knuckles started.

"And we weren´t sure how to actually catch you either." continued Rouge, "so…"

"…when I asked them to work together on this occasion, they all agreed." finished Robotnik himself.

"What?! You trusted him in a scheme to catch me?! Maybe this is a paralell universe after all…"

"Shadow assured us that Robotnik wasn´t trying to screw us over this time."

"And then Shadow and the Doctor wanted to celebrate my birthday with me?"

Yup. Definitive paralell universe. Bizarro, anyone?

The human gave the hedgehog an angelic smile. Sonic felt sick.

"Let´s just say I had a…change of heart, Sonic. Just for today, mind you. Tomorrow I will hunt you down again mercilessly."

"Thanks?"

"Metal Sonic and Shadow went out to retrieve you. They made a formidable team and had a lot of fun, isn´t that right, Mecha?" The scientist gave his robot a friendly slap on the back.

"If you weren´t my creator, I´d take your arm off right now."

"Ever the cheerful one! The new A.I. I gave him is working out brilliantly…although I wonder who could be having such a sarcastic influence on him…"

Shadow pretended not to notice the stares. Metal Sonic muttered something about being a killer machine and not a delivery boy.

"Wait a moment, the explosion was you!"

The black hedgehog gave a malicious grin and tossed the Emerald once more. "Indeed. 'Chaos Blast' mean anything to you?"

"…I won´t even answer that."

Sonic sighed. "So, you let me be kicked, punched, blasted into trees, sedated, imprisoned, (and no, that´s not just my daily routine, Shads, thank you so much for asking), and chained up, just so you could show me that I should care more about what you have to say?"

"That´s right." Smiling.

"...I think that´s the most awesome birthday I ever had."

"It hasn´t even started, Sonic!"

At that point, the console behind them burst into life and started playing a rock version of 'Happy Birthday'.

"Care to cut the cake, faker?"

The party was the most enjoyable birthday Sonic could remember so far.

The food was delicious, (even if none of the ohters would try the Chili Dogs for some reason), the music just asking to dance (and everybody was glad that Robotnik didn´t) and everyone was generally having a blast ("Say, Sonic…why is Shadow dancing on the table?"), the latter one probably being due to the massive amounts alcohol someone had poured into the bowle.

Amy was giggling helplessly and clinging to Sonic. The hedgehog knew this was all Rouge´s fault (who was now able to very effectively seduce a drunken echidna) but since he had downed a fair share as well, didn´t even care.

At least Cream was already sleeping soundly.

"Sonic, I never told you, but you´re actually very dear to me…"

"Uh, tha-that´s very nice, Robuh…Robo…Roboman…and maybe Metal is my brother! Hey, Metal!"

"Orders forbid me to shred you today, even though you are completely defenceless. My only wish now is to jump into a car compressor."

And then, Tails figured out how to rewire Mecha into a karaoke machine.

---

Later:

"Sweet, sweet, you're so sweet

There's no where to hide

Sweet, sweet, you're so sweet

Come on, settle our lives…"

"Ivo, come on down there, we wanna sing, too!"

-

Tails was next. He chose his song and started the music – only wobbling slightly when doing so and grabbing the mic on the second try.

"Born to be wi-hi-hi-hild…"

Rouge later nearly fainted upon Knuckles growling during "Pretty Woman" and everyone cheered at Shadow´s rendition of "Killing me Softly". (Especially Vanilla who had to sit down). Sonic gave an equally worthwhile performance with a song he had chosen for himself…

"You can bugger the bear, if you do it with care,

In the winter, when he is asleep in his lair,

Though I would not advise it in spring or in fall--

But the hedgehog can never be buggered at all!

If you're feeling quite coarse, you can bugger the horse,

Or the palfrey, the jennet, the stallion (with force)..."

…and this time it was Shadow who had to lie down.

-

Rouge killed everybody with her act –

"Oh, the night is my world - city lights
painted girls. . . .
I live among the creatures of the night..."

- and mostly the Guardian with her hip swings.

-

Amy and Vanilla soon had the two up and running again when R-E-S-P-E-C-T thundered through the base, though.

As fatigue slowly started to cloud their minds in the end, "House of the Rising Sun" was the last song to be played, sung in horribly off-key unison but with much enthusiasm.

Metal Sonic afterwards was last seen trying to commit suicide in a blender.

Finally, they left – Shadow, now declaring his never-dying love for Sonic, Tails and a random paper bag that happened to be lying around, helped them with Chaos Control (and promptly dumped them in the lake next to Tails´ workshop. It´s hard to manipulate the fabric of the space-time continuum when you already have trouble not walking into trees.).

Alone in his fortress, Robotnik reclined in his chair again, feeling at peace for the night. (Only occasionally disturbed by various agonized screams from Metal who was trying to repair himself).

True, he had wasted a perfectly good chance to finish the pesky hedgehog off once and for all. And all he had gotten in exchange was a party. A party on June 23rd.

Now why would he have wanted that?

"Say, Sonic…" he muttered in the darkness,

"…have you ever wondered whether there weren´t two people celebrating their birthdays today?"


Finished! Meant as a birthday special and will be probably taken down later, when everything´s over again - or left online, if someone wants it here. Applause for Shad´s first story, please.

Dedicated to the Blue Blur himself and meant as honest thanks for the 16 years of entertainment he´s brought us so far. Happy Birthday, Sonic:)