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Legal Disclaimer: I do not own Sonic the Hedgehog or any of its associated characters, I do not claim ownership of Sonic the Hedgehog or any of its associated characters, nor am I making profit from this original work of fan-fiction that was created and published for entertainment purposes only. The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is created by owned by SEGA Sammy Holdings Inc. All rights of Sonic the Hedgehog belong to SEGA Sammy Holdings Inc.

Mina & Ash Mongoose © and ™ Karl Bollers, Bernadette & Jules Hedgehog © and ™ Ken Penders

Chapter 1: Writing’s on the Wall

Written by Felicia Rondo

Summary: Popstars can seem indestructible up on stage, on the very top of the world they’re rocking with their moves and melodies, but the truth can sometimes hurt more than even the saddest song. In this story, Mina faces that painful truth when it becomes clear that she and Ash are past their third verse without an encore.

Breakups may be tough, but our songoose is tougher.

Contains: An Abusive Relationship, Music Metaphors, and Bernadette being the best mom.

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“I can’t do this,” spoke the mongoose on a hot mic, one night after a particularly-long rehearsal.

It took her a beat to realize the thought had escaped her lips. The four words in that order were a common refrain for popstar Mina Mongoose, but they were not what she had rehearsed for this particular performance.

Tiredly, she lifted her head up from where it was buried in her crossed arms and focused her tired eyes on a very puzzled Ash. The other Knothole Knuts had left several minutes before, so it was just the two of them. A recipe for bliss, to be certain.

“Can’t do what?” he asked. No matter how much he ‘softened’ his voice, the sound of his voice in her ears couldn’t help but echo every time he had yelled at her before.

“This… just, another tour. I can’t,” answered Mina, running a hand through her sweaty purple hair, “I think I need a break.”

It wasn’t the tours that were getting to the Songoose. Sure, they were work, but striving to not let the crowds down made her feel alive like so little else. It wasn’t even her bandmates - unlike so many other acts, the popstar got along perfectly fine with the musicians who brought the singer-songwriter’s music to life.

Unfortunately for her, the only way she could get from studio to stage in front of her beloved fans was through her manager boyfriend. She liked to think her mother raised a fairly-resilient girl, and she’d gladly sing her heart out all night, but ‘performing’ off-stage for Ash was unsustainable.

“We can work that,” Ash said, after giving it a moment’s thought, “yeah, leave ‘em wanting more! We can do that no problem, kid.” Her skin crawled each time he called her that.

“Thanks,” Mina replied, giving him a tired smile, “I’m gonna go get some air. Don’t wait up.” Before the wretched instrument of her boyfriend’s voice could play one more ‘note,’ she stood up and walked out of the room and into the night.

He’d have a major passive-aggressive attitude when she came back, since he was as inept at communicating in a relationship as he was at keeping his role as her manager professional, but that would be a problem for future Mina.

“Tch, future,” Mina bitterly scoffed at her own thoughts, “as if I’ve got one.”

She walked alone in the hushed dark, the moon above her being the only source of light shining down on the secret village of Knothole. Dead air wasn’t her favorite tune, but it tends to grow on a girl after listening to “Now That’s What I Call Being A Shitty Boyfriend: Volume God Knows How Many” for too long.

The sound of silence faded, though, as she caught an unfamiliar melody weaving its way through the sky. It was a lot softer to hear it from hundreds of feet below, but she recognized the sound of the Tornado coming in for a late-night landing. Unless Hope had gotten herself into some mischief again, that meant she’d found Tails - and where there was Tails…

“Sonic…” she muttered under her breath, a name that could sound so much like music to her ears even in a whisper, before quickly looking around herself in a panic to see if Ash had been there to overhear it. Thankfully, this is not that kind of fan-fic, so she remained safe from that guilt-trip.

It wasn’t as if she was going to fall at his feet and beg him to just hold her, if he couldn’t love her like she loved him. She knew she was no competition for Sally in the hedgehog’s heart, and she was perfectly happy to be friends with him. Really.

… Ash constantly bringing him up and practically forcing her to think about how much better of a boyfriend he could’ve been for her than him may have compromised that platonic affection, slightly, but she was determined to give him the friendship he so readily gave her… even after she sprung that kiss on him that one time. She didn’t need him to love her.

She followed the sound of the Tornado to its landing, gritting her teeth for the brief moment she was close enough to hear its shrill engine at full volume shortly before it shut off. She walked over to its side where she saw its… lone pilot disembarking. The silhouette of his twin-tails snipping her hopes of catching Sonic like the fluffiest pair of scissors you’d ever seen.

“Huh? Who’s there!” The pilot reacted when he turned to look back at the unforeseen figure in the night, only for his bright blue eyes to quickly discover, “Mina? Mina! What’re you doing out here?” the fox smiled.

“Oh, not much, just… happened to be passing by…” she answered, feeling a bit bad for getting so disappointed he wasn’t Sonic. Tails was her friend too, they just… didn’t talk as much, or hang out as much, or have as much in common… for all she knew, anyway.

“That’s cool!” Tails replied, “I was just taking the Tornado out for a ride to clear my head. D’you need anything?”

“I don’t know, Tails, I’ve… kind of got a lot on my mind tonight…” sighed Mina, before realizing that perhaps unloading on an 11 year-old was not the best course of action for her to take, “… Do you think the Hedgehogs would mind if I visited?”

“Not at all!” Tails beamed, before floating down from the biplane to the doorstep of his foster family, swinging it open for her.

Mina squinted her eyes as they adjusted to the light coming from inside the home. She couldn’t tell if Sonic was still up at that hour, or if he was even there, but she stepped inside if for no other reason than to spare the twin-tailed fox the chilly night weather.

“Okay, mom, I’m home!” Tails exclaimed as he followed shortly after her, “Mina wanted to visit, so I thought I’d let her in. Hope you don’t mind!” The junior pilot ran up to Bernadette for a goodnight ‘funny kiss’ before racing over to the bathroom to get his teeth brushed.

“That’s okay, Tails, Mina’s always welcome here - and good on you for being a proper gentleman and not leaving the poor girl out in the cold!” said Bernie, smiling at the little one they’d taken in as their own, before turning to face her guest. “Now what brings you here, Mina?”

Squeezing her elbow, Mina looked around the room and found no sign of Sonic. Seeming to read the popstar’s mind, Bernie simply gestured for Mina to come take a seat at the table, which she reluctantly did.

“I… wanted someone to talk to,” she admitted sheepishly, “someone I could trust to tell me whatever’s on their mind, but who wouldn’t tell anyone about it afterward…”

“Well then it’s a good thing my Sonic isn’t here, then,” giggled Bernie, causing Mina’s face to flush, “he’s a lot of things, dear, but good at keeping secrets isn’t one of them. I should know.”

Mina gulped dryly, scratching the back of her head as her eyes focused on the table for lack of anywhere else to rest comfortably.

“What’s on your mind, hon?” the older woman asked, “you can tell me anything, you know, I want you to feel safe here.”

“It’s… m-my… Well…” Mina started, then stopped, before sighing and settling, “… Can I ask when you knew your husband was the one?”

“Ooh, that’s a big question - there must be a big problem to go with it, then,” Bernie teased, smiling as the teen proceeded to squirm before reassuring her, “it’s all right, dear, but let me fix us up some tea before I get into that.”

“Okay…” Mina replied, with a shy smile.

When she returned with two warm cups of tea, she began, “There wasn’t really any one moment I could point you to,” she handed a cup over to her young guest and took a sip from her own, before continuing, “it just… made sense, after spending so much time with him, to keep doing that.” Gazing at her power ring wedding band, she sighed as it conjured so many warm memories to mind.

“Did you ever… have any second thoughts?” inquired the anxious mongoose, who’d already drank up all her tea in a fit of nervous sipping.

“Not really… Though, between you and me, his brother’s not too hard on the eyes either,” the mother winked, causing the teen to gasp before they both erupted into giggles. “But what makes you ask that? Are you having second thoughts yourself?”

“No!” Mina replied impulsively, before her resolve proceeded to crumble as the older woman held her gaze, “… Kinda,” she admitted, a little more honestly, “it’s… it’s never been easy with Ash, but for awhile it felt like there was something there worth working toward… but…”

“But then Sonic came back?” Bernie finished for her, staring over her mug as she took a sip.

“I-it’s not that it’s his fault! Honest, I’m overjoyed that he’s alive, and he has nothing to do with our problems… no matter how much Ash insists he does…” she sighed, rubbing her temples while Bernie listened and nodded.

“When I write the songs, I can only do it wearing my heart on my sleeve…” Mina explained, choosing her next words carefully so as not to be unfair, “and sometimes what gets put down can make him feel put down?… But then even when I’m not songwriting and we’re just with friends, it’s like he can’t let anyone exist without convincing himself he’s better than them… I guess our relationship has a jealousy problem.”

“It sounds like your relationship with Ash has an ‘Ash’ problem, if I may be so frank,” stated the mature woman, causing Mina to tense… only to relent and nod. Bernie had heard this song before. “You want the truth? I’m sure you could stay with him for another several years, working on your relationship and making it more sustainable than it is now, but you have to ask yourself if that’s how you want to spend those years.

“You’re a nice girl and I’m sure you could make a difference in Ash’s life, but so could a lot of other folks on Mobius. You need to figure out if he’s worth it for you, and if it’s worth staying to prove whatever you want to prove about yourself.”

Tears began to well in Mina’s eyes as the words sank in. Quickly, she wiped them away, only for more to come in their place. Defeated, she looked back at the misty vision of the woman before her and answered,

“That’s what I’m afraid of… I’m afraid he’s not worth it and I spent all this time… and he’s the manager of my band, and… I don’t want to g-give up… a-and…”

Warm, caring arms wrapped around Mina.

“I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news for you, sweetie,” Bernie spoke softly into the mongoose’s pierced ear, “the good news is you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and that time you’re regretting having spent wasn’t so unthinkably-long even if it feels that way right now, in the grand scheme of things.”

“And the bad news…?” Mina sobbed against Bernie.

“Bad news is it’s going to be hard getting through this while you’re in it and, while you have friends you can lean on for some of it, you’re only gonna have your own two feet to stand on for a lot of it,” Bernie answered, “but you’re strong, honey - maybe more than you realize.”

The sound of her own sniffling clogged the popstar’s ears for a good while, but her calm steadily returned to her as the mother rubbed her back soothingly. Before long, but not too soon, she unburied her face from the bosom of the hedgehog - who promptly offered her a handkerchief.

“Thanks,” Mina spoke, voice worn from crying, as she wiped her face clean, “I think I need to make a call or two… do you mind…?” Her gracious host simply shook her head and gestured to where she would find the home phone.

Nervously, she approached the phone. Her heart was racing, wondering if she even had enough voice left to make the call after rehearsal and that sobbing fit… before a little voice inside reminded her that she was Mina Mongoose and she’d performed under far more strenuous circumstances. Her fans believed in her, and darn it, she had to believe in herself too.

You got this, girl,” she told herself, before picking the phone up and dialing the number to Ash’s place. It wouldn’t ring long before the other line would pick up.

“You’ve reached the residence of mister nobody, can I help you?” Ash spoke into the phone, clearly still agitated from her sudden leave earlier that night.

“Ash…! Don’t say that about…” she sighed, having known full well he was going to make this difficult but still feeling the sting, “I’m sorry I flew off like I did, really, I just… I was tired and I didn’t know how to tell you what was on my mind right then…”

“Well don’t go telling me anything about what’s going on all at once, kid,” he replied, rolling his eyes so hard she could hear it over the phone.

“For the love of—okay, look, I’m… I’m calling to let you know I’m gonna stay at my mom’s place for the night,” Mina stated, only to be met with radio silence. “… I know this might sound sudden, but—”

Might?” Ash interrupted, “Babe, I thought you said I was better, I thought we were gonna work through any problems that came up!”

“I know what I said, and I’ve been working, but—”

“Am I just never gonna be good enough for you? Is there nothing I can do to make you like me as much as—”

Ash, I swear, if you bring him up one more time I am ending this call here and now,” Mina told her boyfriend, sternly, “I’m really sorry I left without talking, but I’m trying to tell you now that we have problems I don’t think I can write a love song to fix. Now, I need some time and space to think, can you give me that?”

Not a sound. Only static.

“Ash… You know I want us to work… I just need this right now, okay?… Ash?”

“Whatever,” Ash responded, before abruptly hanging up.

Mina stood there, phone in hand, completely still. So many thoughts raced through her head, yet somehow she felt so empty at the same time. When Bernadette stood from her chair, that snapped her out of it enough to lay the phone back down.

“Mina, honey?” Bernie spoke, with concern.

“I could scream,” Mina said, through gritted teeth, trembling, “… but it’s late and I shouldn’t wake anyone who might be sleeping right now.”

“You said what you had to say, and now we’re going to make sure you get some rest,” the mother replied, before planting a tender kiss on the mongoose’s forehead. “I’m going to call your mother now to let her know I’m sending Jules to escort you over, okay honey?”

“Okay…” Mina responded, before weakly taking back her seat and burying her face in her crossed arms. Jules would put his hand on her shoulder when he was awoken and ready to take her out, and she would make it back home quietly and safely. As they made their way over, and even as she lied in bed later that night, she couldn’t help but notice… the music stopped, inside her, the moment he hung up.

And a part of her wondered if it would ever start again.

To Be Continued

Author’s Notes: Thanks are in order for my beloved Cluster, who helped edit this story as I wrote it, and to Karl Bollers for creating fan-favorite stories and characters that endure to this day.

The title of the story is taken from a very good song put out by Evanescence that you should check out.

Originally-published on April 2, 2021

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