The Underground Game – a 50 Phrases collection
"Subdue your passion or it will subdue you."
DISCLAIMER: Sonic in Sonic Underground is a jerk. An honest jerk, but he's cranky, mean and sullen – all while pretending to be nice, fun and carefree. In my canon it's because he doesn't really want to be there or doing what he's doing, which—considering the Sonic we know from the games—is just not who Sonic is. Talk about stifling…
"I'm not saying he's a bad guy, I'm just saying he's gonna get us all killed."
"Yo, bro, easy on the honesty."
"What? Manic, don't tell me you agree with him!"
"O'course he does. It's hard not to, when your fi-on-say almost got him dipped in acid today."
Sonia sat back with a huff, folding her arms as she looked between them, but there wasn't a whole lot she could say and they all knew it. Bartleby had almost gotten them killed today, because he just had to go back and save a priceless fur coat from auction because his 'grandmamma' had once said she 'fancied' it.
It was just hard, because she knew what it was like to want to preserve those things. It was like… a link to a life she'd lost. They just couldn't afford precious, silly things anymore. She had her brothers to make up for it, but Bartleby didn't have anything. Not even her, because she couldn't be with him and on the frontlines, because… well… because her brothers were right. Bartleby would get them killed.
"He – it's not like he does this all the time," she tried, her eyes flicking up to Sonic's hard gaze and back again. "It's just that this was important."
"It was a coat," he snapped. "Look, princess, my family was big on clothes too, but when it comes down to it, it's just excess fur. Next time he thinks something like this is important, tell him to shed it, or ship out, 'cause I ain't savin' his butt every time he wants to swan around like he's somethin' special."
"I understand that, but it's not… Sonic, you don't know what it's like," she said, and sat forward in her chair. "Growing up like we do… clothes aren't just excess fur, they're… they're a way of life. They tell you everything about a person. Having things like that coat… it's not just having nice things, it's more than that. It's about being who you are."
"It's a coat," he said again, firmer this time. "Spots, stripes, pink, blue or green, it's just fur."
She sighed, shaking her head as she stood up. "You could never understand."
"Sis'," Manic interjected, and she paused to look at him. He shrugged, gesturing at Sonic's irritable glance. "We get it. Give us some credit. You and how you look, it's the same as me and my sticks. You can't take 'em away from me and not expect me to have a bit of withdrawal. But there's a time and a place. I ain't gonna start drummin' away in the middle o' Robotropolis just 'cause I hear a slammin' beat and wanna join in."
"Well, maybe you should," she said with a sly grin. "A little earthquake to knock out a couple of bots never did anyone any harm."
"Except for the massive crater in the middle of the street," Sonic added, and she immediately lost her smile. He raised his eyebrows back at her. "You're the one who's always tellin' us to think ahead. Prioritise. And stuff."
"Prioritise?" she repeated incredulously. "You really don't understand! It's not logical; it's not about what makes strategic sense! It's about desire, and love, and self-image, and –"
"And if we always make that stuff more important than livin' to fight another day, we ain't gonna have a self to have an image of," Manic said firmly. "We're not askin' you to give it up entirely. Just make sure he—"
"And you," Sonic added coldly.
"—knows when to let stuff go," he finished.
"Ah, what is the phrase?" a new voice suddenly interrupted, and they whipped around to see Bartleby step into the room, wearing his new coat and stroking it thoughtfully. "'Subdue your passion, or it will subdue you'… is that your meaning, my dear friends?"
Manic blinked rapidly, not following, but Sonic grimaced. "Only reason I ain't guzzlin' chilli dogs at five hundred miles an hour is 'cause I know it'll slow me down."
"Indeed. A most unfortunate consequence," he said dryly, and Sonic rolled his eyes at Manic, who shrugged. Bartleby continued regardless. "I will take your counsel under direct consideration. But at present, I believe the risk well worth the pay-off."
Manic twitched as his acid-singed leg throbbed in remembered pain, and Sonia groaned. "Bartleby…!"
"Yes, my dear Sonia?"
"I can't take it," Sonic said, standing up. "I gotta get outta here."
"Oh, I do hope it wasn't something I said?" Bartleby asked, and turned to follow as Sonic stalked out of the room. He was mostly ignored, which, of course, he couldn't bear. He snatched Sonic's arm, but quickly pulled back at the look it earned him. "Oh, come, Sonic. I am so grateful for your assistance today. Please tell me how I might make you up for it!"
"Listen, Bartlebreath, the only way you… what?" he asked, suddenly noticing Bartleby's smirk. "What're you smilin' at?"
"Chilli dogs," he said, as if that were the answer to everything.
Sonic just frowned back. "Unless you're offerin', I'm not followin'."
"Oh please, Sonic. Since we are so nearly brothers—"
"You are not my brother," he growled, but Bartleby just continued over the top of him.
"—we should be honest with one another! Tell me your true passion, and in recompense for your actions today, I shall give it to you."
He snorted despite himself, looking back toward the room he could see his siblings peering out of, probably making sure he didn't slug Mr. High and Mighty. Worry warts. "And what makes you think I've got one?" he asked, looking back with a raised eyebrow. "You know me: the barbarian. I love me some bot-smashing."
"No, seriously, that's it," he said lightly. "I'm doin' what I love every day. Kickin' 'Botnik butt and savin' damsels in distress. Real hero stuff. S'what I live for."
Bartleby just continued smirking at him in silence, the same darn way he did when Sonia got that stupid debutante invitation. He glanced back at the doorway, then away, folding his arms and tapping his foot impatiently. Bartleby just kept waiting. For a very long minute.
"I haven't got time for this," he muttered finally, and sped past him, out of Bartleby's safe house and up the nearest building until he could stand on the top antennae, gazing out over the city, and the great wide world far beyond.
But until Robotropolis was free, and his family could take the throne again… he sighed and ignored the wind, staying where he was for now.
This is a challenge to myself, inspired by my friend Jkateel, who told me to stop complaining about how I can't write anything and just do it.
And so, at least once a week, I will write a fic based around one of the 50 phrases. I will post it, whether I like it or not (so sorry for the spam). And to further force myself, I'm going to say it will be in my head canon of Sonic Underground merged with the Sonic games, because that's a canon that's stayed with me for years, so it's not like I'll lose interest.
I'm not actually doing it on LiveJournal because for one, I can't find the community again, and for another, I don't think I'm actually matching the rules. I just copied down the challenges once and still have it.
No restrictions on length. It does not need to have a point. Just a story or a thought. And the phrase, of course.
Because fanfic should be about fun, not whether it's fabulous or not.