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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, Isabella, and Ash Mongoose © and ™ Karl Bollers, Fiona Fox © and ™ Mike Gallagher

Chapter 2: Show’s Over

Written by Felicia Rondo

Summary: It’s the very next day and, after a brief respite, it’s back to an encore of last night’s fight for Mina. She had performed for crowds of thousands, giving it her all every night, but on that day Mina discovers what it truly feels like when ‘the show’ cannot afford to go on any longer.

Contains: An Abusive Relationship, a Messy Breakup, Hurt/Comfort, Fiona Fox being messy and loving it, and Cookie Crunch - part of a nutritious breakfast.

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Sunlight filtered in through the pastel curtains of Mina’s childhood bedroom, causing it to be illuminated in a daydream pink. It was the first thing she noticed as she awoke after having fallen asleep… a mere three hours prior, she discovered, glancing at her alarm clock.

“Shit…” she muttered groggily, as she buried her face back in her pillow. The scene conjured memories of how things were before, worries of getting enough sleep before school seeming so much closer in that room than they did in the recording booth.

When it became clear she wasn’t getting another wink of sleep, she groaned and rubbed her eyes, focusing more on her surroundings. Her mother really did leave everything as it was from before she moved out to be with Ash.

“Oh my god…” mumbled Mina, as the events of the night before took center stage in her mind. At once, she couldn’t believe she was actually going through with this, yet… looking around in her room, it was as if the other half of her mind were transported to before she ever met him… and she couldn’t believe how long she had stuck with him.

There had been so many last straws, so many times she swallowed her pride because she believed in him… believed in them, together. Now what did she have to show for it?

Against the ever-tempting urge to lay in bed all day, she got up and stepped into her slippers, stretching with the backing track of birds chirping just outside. When she heard the floor creaking in the hallway, she walked over to find her mother carrying a basket of laundry.

“Mom! Good morning, let me get that for you,” Mina greeted and insisted, grabbing the basket and speeding it over to the washing machine, which was promptly filled and turned on to the right settings.

“Oh thank you, honey…” Isabella sighed, rubbing her aching back, “It hasn’t been as easy, not since I’ve been deroboticized…” She walked back over to the kitchen and brought out some cereal boxes for her little girl.

“It’s funny you should come over, actually, since I picked up your favorite box out of habit last time I was at the grocery store,” Mina’s mother giggled.

“Oh come on, mom, I’m not a kid anym—ohh my gosh it’s Cookie Crunch, it’s been forever since I had this, mom you’re the best!” Mina squealed before hugging her mother tightly and giving her a big kiss on the cheek, “… I mean, I could eat whatever, I’m just glad you don’t mind me coming in on such short notice…”

Mind? Why, Mina dear, I’m overjoyed you’re here!” Isabella smiled, patting her silly daughter on the head, “You know I’m proud of what a hit you’ve become, but I hardly get to see you anymore! It’s good to have you home again, at least for a short while…”

“Yeah, I’m… not sure how long this stay is gonna last,” admitted the popstar, “I just—”

Suddenly, someone was knocking on the door. Mina instinctively sped to the hallway, out of sight from anyone who might walk in.

“I’m not home,” Mina mouthed to her mother, who tilted her head curiously at her before seeming to nod.

“Coming, coming,” the Mongoose woman called to the one on the other side of the door, before twisting the knob and opening it, finding… “Ahh… Ash Mongoose, what brings you here?”

“I wanted to see your daughter, Mrs. Mongoose,” Ash smiled, “Is she awake? I brought, uh… flowers,” he spoke, before holding up a discordant bunch of different-colored flowers, paired together with no rhyme or reason. He wasn’t a flowers guy.

Oh,” Isabella replied, looking at the peculiar arrangement quizzically, “well, actually I’m afraid she’s—”

“Just woke up,” Mina finished her mother’s sentence, stepping out of the hallway after having taken a deep breath, “… Hi Ash.”

“Mina!” Ash exclaimed, “You’re here, like you said you’d be!” He held his flower bunch out to her. It looked like it could be the cover to an album about the death of flowers, it was such a clumsy gesture… so unlike Ash, yet here he was making it for her.

It made her think about all the times she had stepped outside her comfort zone for Ash, but none of them had prepared her for what it would feel like to be on the other side of it. She took the bunch and smelled them, thinking for a moment that maybe there was hope for the two of them. Maybe it could work after all. Maybe… Wait.

“Like I said I’d be?” Mina repeated back at Ash, curiously, lowering the flowers from her face, “Ash, I said I’d be here, where else would I be?”

“… You don’t like it when I mention him,” Ash muttered through his teeth, breaking his gaze away from her eyes and to the floor to the left of them.

Of course.

“Mom,” Mina sighed, “Ash and I are gonna step out to get some air.”

“We are?” Ash asked, only to receive a very tired look from Mina, “I mean, okay, I guess. Later, Mrs. Mongoose.”

“Make sure to be back before your Cookie Crunch gets soggy, dear,” Isabella advised her daughter, causing Ash’s head to briefly dart from her mother back to her in confusion. They left her childhood home shortly.

Cookie Crunch?” asked Ash, incredulously.

“It was my favorite cereal when I was a kid, mom got it on accident,” Mina replied, just wishing her mother hadn’t mentioned it at that point.

“If you say so, kid,” he remarked, grinning and seeing through her effort to downplay the importance of the sugary so-called ‘breakfast.’

“Ash, oh my god,” were the frustrated words that came tumbling inadvertently from Mina’s lips, before she could stop herself, causing the grin to disappear from Ash’s now-concerned expression.

“Mina… I know I haven’t always been the greatest to you, but you’ve gotta help me out here - I have no idea what I did wrong this time,” Ash said to her as she looked away from him.

“Please, just,” Mina sighed, “never call me ‘kid’ again. It makes me uncomfortable.”

“Wha—that?!” reacted Ash, “I call you ‘kid’ all the time, Mina, and now you’re saying you never saw fit to tell me you were uncomfortable with it ‘til right now when I’m trying my best for us?! But I’m supposedly the bad guy here, okay.” A strange, foul mixture of guilt and rage built up in Mina with each new word Ash spoke.

“Ash…!” Mina spoke through gritted teeth, nearly losing it before catching herself, “We… aren’t gonna get anywhere if we fly off the handle like this.” To her expectant boyfriend, she began to explain, “I never said you were the bad guy, first of all.”

“You didn’t have to, I got the message loud and clear on my end,” Ash shot back at her… before sighing and saying, “But… you’re right… I really shouldn’t be losing my temper right now. I’m sorry, babe.”

“It’s… fine…” Mina assured him, “The reason I never told you until now was because I just never had the energy to deal with the discussion we’d have to have if I ever did.”

“And you do now?” Ash asked.

No,” she answered, frankly, “I reached my limit on hearing you call me that before I could find the energy to have a calm discussion about this, and now we’re here fighting outside my mom’s house.

“So now it’s supposed to be my fault because I wanted to check on you?” sniped Ash.

Ash.” She felt like pulling her hair out. “For the love of god. Stop. Trying. To. WIN!” she shouted, her anger getting almost impossible to contain. She needed to get them out of this, needed to end the fight so they could talk again.

“That is so messed up, Mina!” Ash yelled, “You’ve got your feelings hurt and now I gotta lose every argument or else I’m a bad guy?”

“No one’s said you’re a bad guy but you, Ash, as usual!” Mina retorted, finally snapping, “Let it never be said that Ash Mongoose can’t find a way to make any situation about whether or not he’s completely worthless! No one’s asking, and no one’s gonna ask so long as you’re gonna keep deciding for us to be what you think you are!” By the time she finished, Ash looked… destroyed.

“… You do hate me…” Ash said, in a small voice.

And like that, Mina’s rage withered away and left only the guilt of having snapped at him with her.

“Oh god, Ash,” she started to say, but… it was just so hard to find the words. It was easy to forget, from how often he acted put out, how Ash reacted when he was actually being ‘attacked.’

“I don’t hate you, Ash, I love you… I’m so sorry I said that, but I just… I don’t think being together is good for us anymore,” she said to him, softly.

“But Mina…” he replied, pleadingly, on the verge of tears, “I want to be better. I swear, no matter how many tries it takes, I swear I can get better for you.”

“You can be better, Ash, and you’re gonna be better,” she assured him, seeing his spirit lift slightly upon hearing that only made it harder to say what she had to say next, “… But I’ve been trying. I’ve been trying all along, and… I can’t do another month, another week… I don’t even think I can do another day.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

“I’m saying,” Mina took a deep breath and let the words come to her, just as she always did whenever she wrote her best lyrics, feeling for a moment like they were finally hearing one another, “I think it’s time we—”

“Babe, please,” Ash interjected, causing her train of thought to derail, “I can lose every once in a while, honest! If that’s what I need to do to get you back, I’ll lose a million times!”

“A-Ash,” Mina stammered, feeling her grasp on the situation rapidly loosen, “It’s not about winning or losi—”

“Honey, you two have been out here for a while, is everything okay?” Isabella spoke, coming outside to check on her daughter, before realizing what she had walked in on, “Oh, dear…”

“But you brought up how I need to stop winning, earlier! How can I fix us if you’re not gonna give it to me straight the first time, Mina?!” Ash argued, his frustration returning and taking the place of the vulnerability. He was so caught up, he hadn’t heard a word Isabella had said.

“M-mom, Ash…!” said Mina, tears welling in her eyes as the situation had gone far beyond her limits as it overwhelmed and overstimulated her, “I… I…! I need to go!”

And in an instant, she went from a crumbling standstill to a desperate sprint that left her mother and what was essentially now her ex-boyfriend in the dust. Everything was getting to her, her head was filled with so much static noise and panic, she needed to escape or else… Well, if she were in her right mind she would realize she wouldn’t literally explode, but… Mina wasn’t in it.

“You better have been paying attention during the briefing today, I swear,” Sally sighed, rubbing her temples as she continued to mentally go over every last detail of the latest mission in case there could possibly have been an angle she hadn’t considered. She took her Freedom Fighter responsibilities very seriously.

“Nooo way, Sal—or, yeah way? Which is it…” he replied, scratching his forehead as Sally facepalmed, “and hey, even if I forget any tiny insignificant details, I can have Fiona jog my memory~” He looked over to his girlfriend, who rolled her eyes so hard it could be heard from the Floating Island.

“Oh I am not bailing you out if you can’t take this seriously,” Fiona stated firmly, “maybe Tails will let you copy his homework, but that won’t work on me.”

“Okay okay, I got it, I’m just goofin’ is all!” he insisted, raising his hands defensively with a playful grin, “There’s no way I’d forget exactly how we’re stickin’ it to the ol’ doc - not even for a zillion chilidogs!”

“‘Zillion’ isn’t even a number, S—oh forget it,” Sally shook her head, smiling in spite of herself at the hedgehog’s antics. Suffering his immature sense of humor was one thing, but it was a small comfort to know that she could still rely on him. On the field, if nowhere else…

Then, from a distance, what sounded like a stampede seemed to approach the three.

“Do either of you… hear something?” Fiona asked, looking side-to-side to check for any imminent danger approaching.

“Yeah,” the other two said in unison, making eye contact with one another then breaking it right after.

But what sounded like many was but one lone girl running as fast as her legs could carry her, teary eyes shut with no thought to where she was headed, until she came to an abrupt halt at the bluest speed bump she never saw - crashing right into the blue hedgehog and falling backward as a result.

Yow!” cried the hedgehog, “What’s the deal, Mina - ‘you running late for a concert?” When he looked at the girl on the floor, however, any indignation for the collision evaporated into the sharpest concern.

“Yo, Mina,” he asked, “‘you okay?”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Mina sobbed, “No I’m not okay, I’ve never been more not okay in my life, do I look okay to you?!” She opened her teary eyes toward the voice that had spoken to her, her misty vision slowly clearing along with her mind as the figure finally came into focus. It was him. It was really him this time.

“… Sonic?

To Be Continued

Author’s Notes: So that came out… like that.

Apologies if that was as uncomfortable for y’all to read as it was for me to write, but… I hope you understand, I've had years of needing to let all these feelings out about the abuse I suffered and sometimes you just need to let it all out no matter how messy it gets.

I did my best to portray Ash as fairly as I could without turning him into a cinnamon bun or a cartoonish devil. He’s rough around the edges, he’s Punk, but he can be vulnerable… in ways he’s not always great at showing. I’m sure this fan-fic isn’t the easiest for fans of his to read, but know that I spent the entire time making damn sure I wasn't just turning him into some two-dimensional boogeyman. As a survivor of abuse, I know my abusive ex wasn't like that either, and I have too much respect for the work of Karl Bollers to not try my best to do the characters justice - even the characters I don't like.

Also, the Google doc for this chapter was titled “Betterer Without You” because I have no respect for the seriousness of even my vent fics, apparently.

Originally-published on June 5, 2021

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