Sonic the Hedgehog
Fire and Ice
By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: As always, Nackie is copyright Sega and Nic is copyright Archie Comics. Groovy story title suggested by JP! Story idea is mine! ^_~

Nic raised her gun suspiciously. What was that noise? She detested being in the old boiler room anyway, and she didn't want anything more to happen, such as having her bounty sneak up on her unaware.

She aimed around the corner at whatever had just stepped down on the floor. "Go on," she challenged. "Make my day!"


"Not again!" Nic found herself facing Nack, who also had his stun gun held high. "Are you followin' me around or somethin'?"

Nack sighed. "Not now, Nic," he said, not relishing the thought of another argument. "Not today. Don't start."

"Well, why do you always turn up wherever I am?" Nic demanded, not intending to let the matter go.

"Because I always wind up hired by the rival of your employer," Nack drawled. "Sometimes actually *by* your employer—as insurance, you know?"

"Oh, I know alright," Nic snapped. "I know only too dang well! Once again, they don't trust me simply 'cause I'm a female bounty hunter!"

"C'mon, Nic, you're bein' paranoid," Nack replied, rolling his eyes.

"Oh, am I now? And then, why, pray tell, do my employers hire a boy bounty hunter too?"

"In case the other kicks the bucket," Nack said, half-closing his eyes. "You know that, Nic. It has nothing to do with gender."

"You'd just love to have me believe that, wouldn't you?" Nic's eyes narrowed. "I've just about had it with you!"

"Whoa, there, Firefly," Nack said, holding up his hands in protest, using their mother's old nickname for his sister.

"Don't 'whoa there' me!" Nic snapped. "I'm just as good as any boy bounty hunter—probably better!"

"We're actually pretty much equal in skill, Nic. It's just that you always act so childish . . ."

"Oh yeah, yeah, sure. Blame it on me, will you?"

"I ain't blamin' you, Nic," Nack returned. "Though you are a fine one to speak—always accusing me like you do."

"Maybe that's 'cause you're always guilty!" Nic shot back. "You know, Nack . . ."

"Nic, get away!" Nic interrupted, tackling her and sending her flying backward.

Nic shrieked. "How dare you push me, you . . . you . . ."

Before she could finish her sentence, a horrible rumble echoed throughout the building, which quickly escalated into a large-scale explosion.

"What's happening?" Nic gasped. "It sounds like all heck's breaking loose!" She tried to rise from the floor where she'd landed, but something tore away from the ceiling above and suddenly clanked Nic on the head, sending her into a world of oblivion.
Nic slowly opened her eyes. Smoke and water were everywhere, as well as pieces of metal and wood.

"What happened?" she moaned, trying to get up. Instead she found herself pinned down with a pipe, which, she realized, must have been what had knocked her out. Angrily she pushed it away, and memories came flooding back as she stood up.

"Nack . . . he must've known something was gonna blow," she said softly. "He wasn't trying to push me away so he wouldn't have to argue with me anymore—he pushed me away so I'd still be around later to argue with!"

Her head was throbbing, but she stumbled through the debris, searching for her brother. "Nack"—she coughed from the smoke—"Nack, where are you?"

And then, pushing aside a large piece of metal from the erupted machine, she saw him. Nack was laying between two metal lockers, only a few feet from the boiler, which was what had burst apart."Nack!" she exclaimed, rushing forward. Lifting his Stetson hat up, Nic saw that his eyes were closed and that blood trickled from his mouth.

She laid a hand on her brother's shoulder. "Nack, speak to me!" she pleaded, shaking him, gently at first, then harder. "I didn't mean it! I'm still a firefly! I can't control my temper!" She gathered him into her arms, her eyes filling with tears as his head fell back, his neck and whole body limp.

"Don't go, Nack," she whispered. "Don't leave me!" She wasn't sure just how badly Nack had been affected by the blast, but she could tell from his pale complexion and cold brow that it hadn't been good. If he wasn't dead already, she feared he would be soon.

"Oh Nack," she said low, "it will be my fault if you die."
Almost as soon as Nack had pushed Nic away, the boiler, built up with way too much pressure, had suddenly torn asunder—probably, Nack had reflected in the split-second he had before being violently thrown back, something the bounty had done to get rid of them.

Now, as Nack lay nearly dead on the floor, a painful breath rippled through his body as his eyes slowly closed. "At least Nic will be alright," he moaned softly, giving in finally to the oblivion.
Back in the here and now, Nic sobbed, unable to control her emotions. "Nack! I don't want you to die!" She laid a hand on Nack's forehead, which was still very cool to the touch. Much too cool to be normal. "Wake up, Nack," she whispered in his ear. "Come back. Please!"

Nack still lay motionless in her arms, with barely any signs of life, but luckily, the bleeding in his mouth had stopped. "You can't die, Nack," Nic said fiercely. "It should be me, not you. Not you!!" She could hear him breathing shallowly and felt her heart twist. Was it her imagination, or was he breathing less and less? "I won't let you die, Nack!" she exclaimed, clutching him close to her.

Suddenly Nack's eyes opened, but Nic could see they were glazed over and unfocused. "Nack?"

"I'm sorry, Nic," he rasped.

"Sorry? Sorry for what?" Nic saw that Nack seemed to be fading. "Sorry for what, Nack?" she asked again.

"Sorry . . . that you feel I'm in the way . . . of your becoming a successful bounty hunter." Nack took a slow breath. "Looks like . . . you won't havta worry about that anymore."

"No, Nack!" Nic shrieked. "No! Don't leave me, Nack!"

Nack's eyes closed again and he went even more limp than before, nearly falling out of Nic's arms.

"I didn't mean it, Nack," she wailed. "I didn't mean it!"
Nic stumbled as she carried Nack's lifeless body out of the old remnants of the building and laid him in the long grass by the creek. "It's my fault," she cried, her tears falling on Nack's closed eyelids. "It's my fault!"

Pausing as she became aware of the rushing brook, Nic slowly removed her red bandanna, dipping it in the icy water. Could Nack possibly still have life left in him? She had assumed her poor brother had met his end, but what if . . .?

"Come on, Nack," she whispered, placing her damp scarf on Nack's forehead. "Don't go! Remember that fighting spirit our family is known for! A little ol' explosion . . . come on, you've survived worse than that!" Her voice and hands shook as she tried to remain calm.

At first nothing happened. Then Nack took a long, rasping breath and Nic heard him moan.

"Nack?" she said, afraid to believe.

Nack coughed, rolling over on his side.

"Can you hear me, Nack?" Nic asked.

There was a long pause, then Nack slowly nodded.

"Oh, Nack, you're alive!" Nic exclaimed.

Nack's eyes opened again, but this time Nic could see they were shining and clear. "Any reason why I shouldn't be?" he asked with that mischievous grin of his. "You're stuck with me, sis."

Nic hesitated, peering at her brother curiously. "You don't remember what you said, do you?"

"When?" Nack pushed his hat up, studying Nic through confused eyes.

"You woke up about forty minutes ago," Nic replied, "and you said . . ." She paused.

"What?" Nack asked.

"Forget it, Nack," Nic said softly.

"No, really, what was it?"

"Naw, you were delirious or something. You spoke briefly and then you passed out again. Doggone it, Nack, I thought you'd gone and died right in my arms!" Nic turned away, not wanting Nack to see her crying.

Nack struggled to get up. "I don't remember waking up any time before now, but then again, everything's kinda foggy since before the durn boiler went blooey. I do recall saving you, though."

Nic turned back around. "And just in time, too. Oh Nack. . . ." She pulled her brother into an embrace. "I didn't mean what I said. I was just flying off the handle again. I was so scared when I saw you layin' there, so limp, and the blood . . ."

"Aw . . . Don't worry, sis," Nack said softly. "I ain't dyin' for a long, long time yet."