Author's foreword: This fic contains a dark theme, sex scenes, foul language, a little violence, and everything else your mother told you not to eat when you were a child. If you're one of the types who prefers campy adventure or bad lemon material and are offended by reality, stay away.

To give credit where credit is due, Stephen Zacharus is to thank for the existence of this fic-if he hadn't suggested I do a serious work rather than continue Kung Fused, you wouldn't be reading this.

Enjoy.

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THE FINAL STEP

A more serious Sonic fic by Tengu2

Story copyright©2002 Tengu2, David Macintyre, any of my aliases.

Characters and locations copyright©???? Sonic Team.

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CHAPTER ONE

COLD

***

In. Out. In. Out. Further in. Further out.

***

*Lightning* *thunder* *rain*

God, it's cold.

*lightning*

It's taken me long enough to figure it out. I deduce that I've been cold for the last hour or so. Freezing for the last twenty minutes.

*lightning*

God, it is so cold here. I hate it. I despise it. I loathe it.

I loathe this dismal, dingy, dark, damp, dusty, dickheaded, and other things that begin with D Angel Island. An island. A fucking island about fifty yards from one end to the other on all sides. In the middle of the freaking sky.

How do I survive up here? My mind is so clouded with thought that I've forgotten what there is to eat up here. There's an apple tree. A bare apple tree. And the things I occasionally get from Sonic and the others when this idiotic piece of floating shit decides to drop down into the sea below. For no apparent reason. They last me about a week, if a day. Because I'm so goddamn hungry.

There's nobody else here. I'm all alone. On this island. Fifty yards wide. In the middle of the sky. With no food. No water. And a huge, freaking piece of green shit-covered rock to protect with my life and my sanity for the rest of my days. Which could be anywhere from tomorrow to eternity. There's nothing to kill me up here, obviously.

*lightning*

The rain has soaked through all of the ink in my magazines. A few somethings I picked up last time I was down below. when I was so fucking gullible. Then he lent me the money. And I changed my mind about him. Obviously the blue man knows about being blue. And alone.

I'm not surprised. He won't give that pink girl the time of day, let alone what she wants. How the hell is he supposed to get something anywhere else? I don't even think a prostitute would do multi-species. Oh well. I know what it's like. I hear you, brother, and all that. I think he's deaf.

No point in keeping garbage around. I pick up the pile of magazines and tense up to keep warm and somehow dry. They're not worth much anyway. most of the pages are stuck together anyhow. There's Time and all that sort of shit. But those wear out quickly. Vicki, Hustler, Playboy, more important than current events-and they last longer. I'm not into the outside world. I never have a reason.

"Bubye, Angelique," I say, taking the mags and chucking them over the side to the sea below. Let some lucky fish have some fun with them. No use to me anymore. Lucky for me I've got a hell of an imagination. It comes natural up here.

I can go to the movies that I direct. I can watch the TV shows I devise. I can read the books I write. I can listen to the CDs I burn. Yet I have none of these things in any physical form. Most would call me lucky. I don't think so.

Nobody ever thinks of this side of me. Of my life.

They read the interviews, they watch me on Letterman after the big stop- Eggman events. Sonic hogs the limelight. It's not his fault. Nobody ever wonders how fucking lonely I may be when I head back to the floating piece of boring crap in what most of you probably think is Heaven.

There's a word I'd like you happy people to learn. It's called masturbation, but it likes to go by several light hearted nicknames. It can get tiresome after. three years? I'm sixteen. Nightly. Daily when I'm bored.

But they don't care.

I'm just the hero.

They don't care.

They don't care that I'm alone. They don't care that I'd never get asked out. The young girls who give me those dreamy looks? No. The elderly types who look like they'd like to share a cup of tea? Hm. Nope. Even those guys. They give me 'the look'. 'the whistle'. but not 'the line'. like I'd turn them down. Honestly. None of them even stop to consider what I must go through.

'Angel' Island. A blatant misnomer. I'm in Hell. Who knew the fiery pits of Hades would actually be up here in the sky? Who knew the supposed eternity of torture and pain would actually be phrased like this? Close to God, you might say. That's what THEY said. Phaw. If there was a such a sweet, merciful Lord of all in the skies above me, he would've killed me a long time ago.

It's so FUCKING COLD!

*lightning*

It's RAINING!

*thunder*

IT'S POURING DOWN BARRELS, KENNELS FULL OF CATS AND DOGS ALL OVER MY FEVER- STRICKEN CORPSE!

*lightning*

GOD, GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Nothing happens, of course.

But then there's a huge crash from the master emerald.

And the Island begins to fall.

***

In. Out. In. Out. Further in. Further out. Warning shot. Rest.

***

Small talk. Shit, it's all I ever have time for on my short visits down below. Story of my life. Of course, small talk has become similar to sex for me. I only get it every once in awhile. Good enough.

We've moved on from small talk to full scale conversation-oh good, orgasm.

"It was really weird," I'm telling the others. We're at the burger shop in Station Square.

"So we've heard," Sonic comments sardonically.

"I'm not crazy," I insist, not believing myself. Sonic rolls his eyes.

"Right."

"Fine. Fuck it, I'm crazy."

"Yeah, well, what can you expect?" Amy asks, giving Sonic a disapproving glance. He chuckles in that way of his which shows he is playing around with her again.

"That was genuinely insensitive," I say, grinning. At least she's on my side.

"I can't imagine what it must be like up there, all alone," she says. "You must get really bored."

"That's why Sonic lends me money," I say, cutting him off. We both laugh. Amy looks disgusted.

"You two are sick," Miles comments, chuckling as well. Good old Miles. I remember what I was like on the front of adolescence, like him. I of course didn't have the advantage of TCP/IP. I like to see how he develops as a youngster. Remind me of what I never had. What I never got to go through. School. Homework. Girls. Exams. Graduation. I am now 18 and still a virgin. Unfortunately I am unable to be the sort of mentor to young master Prower that Sonic is. And that's probably a good thing, because I'd most likely screw him up. Make him a loser. Like me.

God, I know how gay I sound.

"Thank you."

"Indeedly doodly."

He chuckles and shakes his head.

"Look, back on the topic, I'm not crazy," I say, adjusting the collar of the black winter coat Amy bought me. A large, black trench coat. I like it. Makes me look Russian. Or something like that. At least it'll keep me warm in the rain.

"I think you are."

"You don't count."

"Aww, now you hurt my feelings," Sonic says sarcastically. Amy shoots him another look.

"You don't count either," he says to her. She pushes him and looks hurt.

"Look, just give me some time and I'll figure it out," I say. "When," I say to the waitress who has come with our pitcher of soda. Coke, Root beer, insert your favorite. She smiles at me. I smile back. When she leaves my sight I frown and roll my eyes. Obviously pity. She's been listening to us for the last ten minutes.

"Ooh, she likes you," Miles says pitifully. The age old pathetic 'she likes you' insult.

"She wants you BAD!" Sonic adds, punching me playfully.

"You've been smoking again," I say to him. He half smiles, half frowns.

"Naw," he counters. "Just stoked." A deliberate pun.

"Why?"

"I dunno. Just jazzed to see you again, buddy, I haven't seen your butt- ugly face in years. Where the hell have you been, man? We miss you."

The answer is.

"Where the fuck do you think?" I say, glaring at him. He realizes he was won 'stupid, insensitive question of the day'.

"Busted," Miles whispers under his breath.

"Cancel my order," I say to the waitress, who nods. She seems somewhat happy to see me go. I can't tell. It's been too long.

I get up and leave in a huff. Miles is taking a sip your favorite flavor of soda, not really knowing the significance of the incident. Amy is giving Sonic one of her looks. Like he cares. I know he doesn't feel that way about her anyhow. She's just a source, as it were.

Outside, I pull out a pack of cigarettes from the front of the jacket, a pack Sonic got for me, of course. I know I shouldn't have gotten so angry with him. But it was genuinely the wrong question.

"God damn," I mutter to myself, lighting one of them with a pack of matches I found on the street. So this is what my life is reduced to. Smoking a pack of cigarettes that my friend bought me, out of the pocket of a jacket another friend bought me, outside of a restaurant for lunch that both friends are buying me, angry because I'm so sick of how horrible my life is. God, some people would kill to have their friends buy everything for them. But for me it's not quite enough. I need love.

Not in some sexual or mushy sense of the word. I need love. And to love. From other people, to other people. I need to be civilized. Because that's who I am. Or is it? It's been far too long since I've ever had to live like a normal person for me to tell.

"Knuckles," Sonic calls, coming out of the restaurant looking for me. I'm smoking, of course. He spots me, and catches up.

"Knuckles."

"No, the prime minister of Malaysia."

"I'm real sorry," he apologizes. "You're right, I've been on the shit again. I wasn't thinking straight."

"It's not your fault," I say. "I'd be dissing the hell out of myself if I had the chance."

"I wasn't dissing you, man," he says, sniffing. He must have a cold. I hope.

"Don't worry about it."

He looks pained. "I'm sorry, man, too late. I'm worried about you." I mull over it for a bit.

"No you're not," I say.

"What?"

"You're not worried about me. As a person. You're just worried about my brain. Because I know stuff. I've worked for Eggman," I say, patting the scar across my pectoral crest from training. Horrible day. But that's another story. "And I know how he thinks. You just want me because I make you look good on Letterman. Me, all pathetic. I'm just your freaking publicity stunt. Your comparison. No, you're not worried about me. You're worried about what'll happen to you if something happens to me, because then you might lose to Eggman. And if you win, and you make O'Brien, you might look bad for not coming to my aid when you needed to. You're not worried about me, you're worried about your fame. Your fucking reputation."

His lip quivers. Maybe he knows I'm right. Maybe he thinks I'm totally wrong. It doesn't matter. At least I've gotten my point across-he doesn't come off as knowing or giving a damn what I go through.

No. I won't put him through that. He's already maimed himself-I won't finish the job.

"Thanks," I say appreciatively. The words taste bitter as they leave my mouth. But it's what he wants to hear.

Incidentally, why the hell do I care what HE wants to hear?

When I want to hear so many things. So many things that I'll never get a chance to hear for myself. Things like "I love you," or, "I want to be with you forever," or, "I'll never let you go," or "I can't live without you."

Or, "You've earned a promotion."

Or, "I can't thank you enough."

Or, "It's a boy."

That last one stings me the most. I'll never have the joy of kids. Therefore I don't have, and never will have an heir. So where's my current job going to go when I die? Which, at the moment, feels like it won't happen soon enough.

He gives me a pat on the shoulder.

"Remember, Knucklehead, you're my friend."

Amy and Miles come out of the restaurant with to-go orders. They know I'm not going back inside for encores after that disgusting performance.

"I guess we'll catch you later, then," Sonic says, patting me on the shoulder again and zipping up his sweater. "We'll see you later."

"Yeah. Stay off the hweed," I say, puffing on my cigar.

"Only when you stop sucking on ant poison and tar, buddy."

"Touché."

"Later, Knux," says Miles.

"Bye, Knuckles," from Amy.

Amy shoots me a smile. A faint, slight smile. The sort I like most. Not like they're doing it reluctantly. It's more the gushy eyed, loving smile that only curves your mouth up a little bit because you're so overcome by passion.

No, I'm wrong. It's a reluctant smile. Obviously.

At the time of writing I am 16 and still a virgin. Now I'm 18. Nothing has changed. And my birthday is next month.

END OF CHAPTER ONE

***

That's the end of part one.. Read more I say! Or I shall summon the ghosts of a thousand fleas to infest your grandmother's chest hair!

. or just leave a review and say you hate it, either works.

D. Macintyre