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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 and Ash Mongoose © and ™ Karl Bollers, Bernadette the Hedgehog © and ™ Ken Penders, The Knothole Knuts © and ™ Romy Chacon, and Fiona Fox © and ™ Mike Gallagher.

Chapter 4: Opening Night

Written by Felicia Rondo

Summary: This is it - it’s the first time Mina’s performed since she called it quits with her former manager Ash. She’s got some people rooting for her, some rooting against her, friends in the crowd and her dependable band backing her up… but the only way Mina’s going to make it through this concert is if she can find the strength to in herself.

Contains: Pre-Show Jitters, Breakup Song, Getting Over Your Shitty Ex Just in Time, and Fiona Fox being messy and loving it!

Previous Chapter | | The Lyrics

There was just something in the air, that night.

No one really knew what to expect when, after rumors of the Knothole Knuts losing their manager spread around, a concert was suddenly announced. Everyone knew Mina & Ash were dating, so what would this concert even look like without him?

Gossip filled the forest with whispers of what might’ve happened, and remarks rolling off the tongues of the cynical about what a fake Mina was - to make a career off singing corny love songs when she can’t make it work in the real-world.

And yet, one could not deny the palpably-electric feeling felt by the many who came to attend that night. If there was ever a question of whether anyone wanted to know what this next chapter of the Knothole Knuts would look like, the answer seemed to be a resounding yes.

“Mom, could you please not ask me that while I’m with my girlfriend?” asked Sonic, embarrassed and really wishing Fiona weren’t so clearly relishing in it as they looked for good seats at the show.

“Honestly, honey, I’m your mother! I’m only asking because I care, sweetheart!” Bernadette told her son, who was being very silly, giving him a kiss on his cheek to reassure him—which just made Sonic’s face turn redder.

“I think it’s cute,” Fiona giggled, trying not to grin too hard as she watched her boyfriend squirm, “maybe not as cute as taking me to a show from your ex-girlfriend’s band as a date, but pretty cute!”

“We weren’t even dating, she just kissed me one time! Who even told you about that?” Sonic asked, incredulously, before spotting Sally waving them over to where she was sitting, “… Of course, my actual ex-girlfriend.”

“Here, I’ll sit a seat away from her so you can be right between us, lover boy,” Fiona teased, fluttering her eyelashes and giggling all the more as he facepalmed.

“You are just… so cruel,” he sighed, smiling in spite of himself, before turning to his expectant mother and finally answering, “yeah, mom, I’ve been brushing my teeth after every meal. I also blew up one of Eggman’s factories earlier today, but I guess I’ll always be your li’l boy, won’t I?”

With love, Bernadette nodded and gave his cheek a little pinch before joining Fiona as they went over to get their seats. Sonic sighed, looking up at the stage as the crowd waited for the curtains to lift and reveal the one they’d been waiting for all night,

“Hope you’re doin’ okay, Mina…”

How many thoughts could swirl around in a girl’s head before it had to explode? That night, it felt like Mina was about to find out.

A lot being on her mind was nothing Mina wasn’t used to, as that was the primary headspace she found herself in when writing the music that the crowd on the other side of the curtain was waiting expectantly to hear. No matter how much she went over it in her head, Mina knew there was no going back to the old sound.

Negative associations the songs had inadvertently gained aside, the events of the past days had changed her. She even sang differently during rehearsals, or what little rehearsing they had time for anyway, without even meaning to. She had the same vocal chords as before, it just came out differently.

Would they like her? Could she be liked again? Questions consumed Mina’s mind, whether they were about the concert or her worth as a person seemed to blend and shift at a given moment.

“We’re on in five!” a stagehand hollered, reminding Mina of the urgency of the moment. It was going to be fine, she told herself, she’d done a million concerts before. This was nothing new, so there was nothing to worry about.

“What if Ash is there?” came the worst possible thought at the absolute worst moment.

Her mind had awful timing. Like the sourest note ever blown out of the shrillest flute, it seemed to ruin everything else happening around it.

Shutting her eyes, Mina tried to grasp that clarity she had briefly found when Tails took her flying. She knew it had to be there, that she hadn’t just imagined it, but knowing and feeling can be two very different things.

Ash wasn’t going to drop off the face of the Earth, no matter how many times she wished he would in her darker moments, and he didn’t need to. Whether he showed up in the crowd or not, it really didn’t matter. What mattered was that she was going to be up there on stage and she was going to be heard.

“Ready, boys?” she asked her bandmates, who all enthusiastically nodded as the curtains were moments away from parting to reveal them on stage.

I can do this,” she told herself.

Mina stepped to her position and, in a flash, the curtains flew open and the crowd erupted. Cameras flashed, fans screamed, and none had any idea just what was in store for them all that night. Not even the girl who was gonna give it to them.

Giving the mic a twirl from its cord, she slung it in the air and caught it as she spun on her heel. She brought it to her lips, staring out into the audience, and asked,

“Knothole! Are you ready to have some fun, tonight?!”

The resulting cheers were all the answer she needed.

“It’s so good to see you all!” Mina exclaimed, waving at multiple random members of the crowd and happening upon a few familiar faces as she did, “I know you probably have some songs you’d like to hear from us, and we’ll get to them—trust me, we’re gonna get to them,” she promised.

“But first,” she announced, “we’re gonna go out on a limb and start tonight off with our newest song!” The screams began to die down as the audience went to listen more closely, hanging on her every word as Mina continued,

“You can’t always go through life just doing what you’ve been doing - sometimes you’ve gotta take a leap, even before you know you’ve got a net to catch you if you fall, and that’s what we’re doing tonight!”

They cheered like they always did, still not knowing what would come next. Maybe it wouldn’t be what they expected, maybe some of them wouldn’t even like it, but Mina had a song to sing - and if it was the song even one audience member had needed to hear that night, it’d all be worth it for her.

“Okay, boys,” she smiled, feeling the song building up within her, “hit it!”

Mallets clicked, guitar strings strummed, and the song roared to life in moments. The lead guitar rode on top while the bass carried each lick, with each beat of the drums supporting it all the way. It didn’t matter how many times she performed with them all, the Knothole Knuts were magic on-stage even without her. But the intro was fading, with the lead guitar softening, and it was time for Mina to start.

“At the end of the day I’m by myself

I wish my life belong to somebody else

What good am I alone?”

“You always put me in your place

Throw everything back in my face

You’re afraid your heart will show…”

“But how could I know…?”

Then came the chorus. Even with all the adrenaline of the stage pushing her to go all out, it still felt as though she needed to wrench every line from out of her heart with a rusty crowbar. But still she sang, still she performed, not letting a single moment of it all go to waste.

“Speed it up, guys!” she called out, signaling the other three to up the tempo, which they did without missing a beat. The only way she was gonna be able to get through this was to push through the hard parts with all the strength she had left in her. She continued on to the second verse,

“Don’t know what to do with me

I’m not used to being free

Home was living in your cage…”

“It was not supposed to be

I love you but you hate me

But now I know…”

With another sway of her hips, she sang out the chorus another time. The bass made every low note deeper, the lead guitar punctuating every high one. Her heart was opening back up, she could feel it, and it let the lyrics finally come out more naturally.

Every word came swift out of her lips, too fast to catch in her throat. No one was gonna walk on her lines, no one could tell her to stop before she was done, the night belonged to Mina. When the bridge arrived, she crossed it without a second thought, singing,

“I can’t wrap up all your blues

I can’t step inside your shoes

And do all the walking for you!”

The guitar wailed, like the nights she spent crying out loud. None of her words felt like they mattered on those nights - no matter what she reached for, nothing made a difference once things went south. Tonight would be different, she told herself, as she belted out the final lines of the bridge,

“So don’t you try to find a way

To keep me here and make me stay

You and I were over yesterday!”

As Mina sang the third verse, the thought of Ash being in the crowd returned. What he might’ve thought, hearing what she was singing about him. It would probably hurt his feelings, but she knew a thing or two about having her feelings hurt. That she learned so much of it from him hurting her, over and over, definitely made her less interested in giving a shit about that anymore. If he wanted to avoid this pain, he had plenty of chances.

She was back on stage, without him, and she felt so free. When she finished the concert, she’d get to go home without having to babysit anyone’s emotions. It was going to take a while for it to fully sink in, but she looked forward to when her heart finally caught up to her head. Finally, she sang the last chorus,

“I’m better, so much better, without you

And you can figure out how to be better without me too

Just do it where I won’t be

Someplace that I can’t see

‘Cause I gotta focus on me!”

The sound of the Knothole Knuts’ instruments faded as the last line was sung, replaced with the music of the cheering audience’s applause. Mina had won their love a thousand times before, but doing it on her own felt that much sweeter. The Knothole Knuts lived on without their former manager, and so would Mina.

“Thank you! Thank you all so much!!!” Mina exclaimed, tears almost welling up in her eyes, “I hope you’re all ready for more, ‘cause we’re just getting started!”

So often when Mina performed, she’d tell herself to sing every song like it would be her last. That night, however, she was beginning to feel differently. It wasn’t that she took any one of them for granted, tomorrow was just looking a lot brighter than it used to.

She was at opening night for the rest of her life, and there was no way she was gonna let it go by without putting on a show the whole world would remember.

Because she’s Mina Mongoose.

The End

Author’s Notes: So! It’s been two years since I posted chapter two, the breakup chapter, of this story.

That’s pretty wild!

So it’s taken me some time to finish this story up. Some of it’s been the ADHD, some of it’s been the fact I’ve used this story to sorta try and help myself process a breakup I had with my horrendously-abusive former long-term partner. It just feels really good to finally have it done.

Thank you all for your patience, and I hope the ending was worth the wait.

Originally-published on June 5, 2023

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