Title: When All is Said and Done
Spoilers: Episode 16 – Bug
Summary: Coda to the episode. Manic's feeling the after-effects of multiple druggings by Robotniks flies. Sibling fluffiness ensues.
Manic rubbed his temples gingerly. Their mission to stop Robotnik's bug-bots might have been successful, but he wasn't exactly in the mood to celebrate. His head had been pounding steadily all afternoon and his ears were faintly ringing. The hypnotic effects from the serum might have worn off, but apparently he was going to have to deal with the after-effects for a while. Most people had to deal with one or two doses – he'd been continually dosed for a whole day, at least seven times in a row. He grimaced as the bites on his stomach flared with itchiness. These things never seemed to happen to Sonic or Sonia. It wasn't fair, as far as he was concerned.
Speak of the devil…
"Y'okay, bro?" Sonic stuck his head back between the front seats. Sonia was the de facto driver for the foreseeable future, claiming Manic's fondness for potholes and Sonic's lead foot would be the death of them unless she stepped in. "You don't look so hot."
"You get doped up for a day and see how hot you look," Manic groused. "'Feels like my drums are doing a thrashin' solo inside my brain, man."
"We never did find out if there were any other side effects to that bug juice," Sonic mused, looking concerned. He reached out with a gloved hand, pushing back Manic's spikes to check his forehead. "You're running a bit of a fever there."
"Could be worse," Manic said with a shrug. Which was absolutely true. He wasn't one for recreational drugs, but he had lived in Sewer Central almost his entire life. He'd seen first-hand the effects of war and loss and tragedy on the people. Some turned to drugs to forget about it all. Farrel had warned him about the dangers of letting yourself be caught too high to escape the clutches of the Swatbots. "Only one day man, I'll get through this in no time."
"You sound like you're speaking from experience."
"Kinda am, bro." Manic squinted, and Sonic reached over, dimming the light from the screens lining the interior of their van with the flick of a switch. "Thanks. And could you get me some water?"
"Sure." Sonic zipped over to the fridge and pulled out a water bottle. "What did you mean?" he asked as he handed it over. "What kind of experience?"
Manic snorted. "Come on, Sonic. You should know what people turn to when they wanna escape it all. You telling me there were no drug fiends in the freedom fighters?"
Sonic shrugged. "Not really. I mean, I'm sure there were, but they hid it well. Uncle Chuck was the leader of our resistance group and he didn't want anything to do with drugs. He wouldn't let anyone stay in the headquarters without a random drug test."
"Huh." Manic sipped the water. It was cool and refreshing and went a long way to settle the sickly rumblings in his stomach. "Well, in Sewer Central, we kinda minded our business. Didn't bother Farrel if someone needed to escape reality, as long as they didn't endanger anyone else. If they did, he'd threaten to deliver them to Robotnik himself."
"He didn't really, did he?" Sonic looked horrified.
"Nah. Mostly all talk. But he definitely would kick 'em out, and when you're high as a kite, dude, that's just asking to be caught. You're defenseless." Manic shuddered. "I saw some of them bro, they didn't know which way was up half the time. They forgot the day, where they were, who they were… I saw mother's forget to feed their kids who were screaming from hunger while they lay there, half in a coma. Tough guys who could break you in half, curled up in a ball shaking like they were gonna come apart. Nasty stuff, bro."
Sonic gazed at him. There was no suspicion in his voice, just curiosity and concern when he asked, "Did you ever try that?"
Manic shrugged. "Once. Nothing major, just some local-grown loco-weed. One of the Mouse Patrollers found some and we were curious. Didn't do much more than make us giggle for hours, and make us sick to our stomachs. Farrel found out and man, was he angry. Tanned my backside but good, and then sat me down and told me the dangers of it. I was more upset that he was disappointed in me than anything else." Manic smiled at the memory. "I was sobbing and he just hugged me and asked me not to do it again. Said he couldn't bear it if anything happened to me." He looked back at Sonic who was smiling back at him. "Never touched the stuff again, or anything like it." He suddenly scowled. "Until today, that is."
"Not your fault, Manic-man." Sonic sat down next to him. "I mean, yeah, you shouldn't have gone off on your own—"
"I thought you said we were good about that," Manic protested.
Sonic punched him lightly on the arm. "We are. I'm just saying, you didn't ask for that stuff. It happened against your will. So don't think you feel off the wagon, okay?"
Manic glared at him. "Hey, I was never on the wagon, thank you very much!"
"Here Manic." Sonia suddenly appeared in front of him, holding out two small pills in the palm of her glove. "That should help with the headache."
"Hey, who's driving?" Sonic yelped.
"And how'd you know I had a headache?" Manic asked, blinking in confusion.
"If you guys would pay more attention to your surroundings, you'd notice that I stopped the van five minutes ago," Sonia said with a huff. "And, dear brother, all that squinting and temple massaging is causing wrinkles to form before their time. We're triplets, remember? I can't have you looking old before me – everyone would add years onto my age, and then I'd be forced to kill you."
Manic grinned and tossed the pills back with a long pull from his water bottle. Wiping the back of his glove across his mouth, he tilted the bottle at her in a salute. "Thanks, sis."
Sonia nodded, and then before Manic could say anything else, she had him up and bundled in blankets, backing him towards the bunk and settling him down faster than he could whistle. Sonic was shoving a pillow under his head. "Nap time, little brother," Sonic said with a grin.
"Excuse me?" Manic struggled to free himself from the cocoon of blankets Sonia had wrapped him in. "We're the same age!"
"Ah, but I'm four hours older, so that makes you the baby of the family," Sonic said, waggling his finger at him. "And like a good big brother, I'm making sure my little brother recovers from being overdosed on bug venom."
Manic would have protested harder, but something in Sonic's tone made him stop and consider his siblings warily. Sonic was grinning but there had been an edge to his voice when he said 'overdose.' And Sonia couldn't hide the concern in her eyes if her life depended on it.
He could force the issue, untangle himself and insist on being treated like an adult. That would do nothing except upset his siblings AND make his headache even worse. Or he could go with the flow, cop some Z's and make his sibs happy. Yeah. This was a no-brainer.
"S'my turn to drive when I wake up, right?"
Sonia snorted as she and Sonic returned to the front of the van. "Yeah, right. In your dreams, Manic."
"Fair enough," he yawned. Smiling to himself, he turned over, curled into a ball, and went to sleep feeling safe and protected.
If his headache was gone by the time he woke up, well, that was just icing on the cake.
Rewatched Sonic Underground this week. ^^ I feel the urge to write. ^^