Sorry for the long break! I know it has been a few weeks! I started school again, so I've been taking time to get a hold of my schedule.
But, I'm writing again! So expect more updates!
Sorry if there are typos in this. I am writing really late at night haha.
Chapter 10: You Don't Know Me
"You cannot seriously expect me to believe all of this," Shadow stated bluntly.
Sonic bit his lip and thumped his foot against the ground, his inner hothead getting the better of him once again. This was the second time today he had to explain his whole Camelot adventure to someone, and it was starting to get redundant for the hero. It didn't help that Shadow was being so difficult by questioning the story's authenticity.
"Well, that's the truth. Believe it or don't, why should I care?" Sonic crossed his arms as he spoke.
"I don't think it's that hard to believe that there is an alternative dimension out there where our counterparts still live in the medieval ages," Tails pipped in. "Compared to some of the other weird adventures we've been through, the concept of a medieval dimension is rather tame."
Now that they had returned to the lab, Tails had repositioned himself at his seat in front of his computer. However, he had turned himself around to face the group as Sonic went through his second explanation of the events. Tails twisted his tails around each other as he spoke to Shadow – that was his tell that his anxiety was getting the better of him. Despite the number of times Shadow had actually helped the group on their adventures, the little kit never was fully comfortable around him. Not that Sonic could blame his little buddy, since the hero himself could still be uncomfortable around Shadow at times. Turns out, Shadow's stand-offish personality wasn't the best for making friends.
"Oh, I do believe that Sonic travelled to an alternative dimension," Shadow responded, though his response took both Sonic and Tails by surprise. "The part I am doubtful of is that these people would have wanted Sonic to be their king."
This comment resulted in Sonic literally hopping in anger. Sonic couldn't tell if Shadow was purposefully teasing him or if he was genuinely doubting Sonic's story, but regardless, something about his rival always brought out his angry side.
"I can assure you that part is true," the calm voice of Lancelot spoke out, cutting Sonic away from his thoughts. The knight had been standing on the opposite side of the room from where Shadow was, and Sonic was certain that this was done on purpose. Whatever beef that existed between the two duplicates was still lingering in the air like a thick fog of tension.
"As Sonic mentioned, he bears an uncanny resemblance to our King Arthur. And, after Sonic assisted in aiding our kingdom, it was proven that the resemblance was more than just appearances," Lancelot continued. "The only difference between the two is that Arthur held a great respect for his title, whereas Sonic was more ungrateful when offered the opportunity to rule Camelot."
"I wasn't ungrateful! I just said no!" Sonic interjected. By this point, he had flattened his ears against his head. What was this? A Sonic-bashing fest? Sonic thought that Lancelot had gotten over the whole refusing-to-be-king thing, but now it seemed like Shadow and Lancelot were just taking turns to knock over the blue one's ego.
Shadow remained silent during this interaction, though his eyes shifted between Lancelot and Sonic. The hero once again wished he could read what was on Shadow's mind, but his face remained so neutral that it was impossible for him to tell. It was almost like Lancelot when he had his visor down on his helmet. Completely unreadable.
"It is hard to imagine Sonic being the king of anything, though," Amy said. She had been leaning on the counter next to Tails for a majority of the conversation, but now stepped forward. "I mean, no offense, Sonic, but you sometimes have a hard time managing yourself. I couldn't imagine you trying to manage a whole country."
Amy giggled at her own comments. Though she clearly didn't mean any harm by them, Sonic still let out a groan. Wasn't she supposed to be on his side?
"It is of no matter," Lancelot waved his hand dismissively as he spoke. "Once the true King Arthur is returned to Camelot, he will take his position as ruler again and peace shall be restored."
Sonic nodded, partially because he agreed with the sentiment and partially because he was happy that the focus was being taken off him once again.
"Then I guess I shall help you find him," Shadow stated. He said his answer so calmly and bluntly that it took Sonic a second to even process what he meant. Once the hero did process it, however, he beamed at the hedgehog and gave him a classic thumbs up.
"Glad to hear it, Shadow!" Tails added. His two tails were still twitching against each other, but their movements had settled down some. "With three super-speed hedgehogs on our team, finding Arthur and the Arcane Emerald should be a piece of cake!"
"Indeed," Shadow said. "I suspect that Sonic's involvement with this alternative dimension is also related to the strange behavior of Eggman lately. If there is a foreign emerald on this planet, I am certain that Eggman would have been looking for it."
Sonic hummed. So, that's why he wanted to help. Not because he wanted to actually save a dying dimension or help out the team, but rather because it would benefit him on his own mission of investigating Eggman. Sonic wasn't surprised by this information, but he would be lying if he said that he wasn't at least a little disappointed.
"I thought of the same thing, Shadow," Tails commented. "I thought it was weird how Eggman was able to locate Lancelot based on some radar he was using."
This earned Sonic's attention.
"Yeah, I thought that was weird too!" Sonic added, though his comment went mostly unnoticed.
"I was thinking of all the different things that Eggman could have been tracing that would have led him straight to Lancelot, and that's when it hit me – What if Eggman was tracing arcane energy? I mean, I can only assume that Lancelot radiates arcane energy the same way you radiate chaos energy, Shadow!" the fox explained.
The entire group sat for a moment, thinking over what Tails was saying. It made sense. Arcane energy was probably the only thing that could have been unique enough about Lancelot that it would have been detectable by Eggman's radar.
"However, why would Eggman be following the signal of arcane energy if he had no idea what it was?" Shadow stated. Though it was a question, he presented it as more of a fact. Which, made sense, as the entire group knew what he was implying.
"Unless, Eggman did know about arcane energy already!" Amy announced, verbalizing the conclusion they were all reaching.
"And, as far as we know, Arthur and the Arcane Emerald are the only other two things in our dimension that are associated with arcane energy. So, for Eggman to have already known about arcane energy, he would have had to interact with either one of them," Tails finished.
"Or both of them," Lancelot added.
The entire team looked back and forth amongst each other. It was good to see that they were all on the same page. Sonic was particularly happy at how quickly this mystery was being solved. Of course Eggman would have stuck his rotten nose into the disappearance of Arthur and the destruction of Camelot! When wasn't the doctor at the heart of every problem Sonic faced?
With everybody reaching the same conclusion, the rest of the conversation took its natural course. They knew they needed to get to Eggman in order to find out what he knew about Arthur and the Arcane Emerald – but how? The Egghead wasn't exactly friends with any of them, and he would rather shoot Sonic and his friends to the moon before helping them save the day.
Tails and Amy talked back and forth about various methods they could take. Amy threw out the idea of just taking Eggman's base by storm now that they knew where he was hiding and then forcing the tyrant to confess his secrets. Sonic was quick to support that plan, but Tails was even quicker to turn it down. Eggman would have been smart enough to move his base by now after Sonic and Shadow destroyed half of it. Plus, Eggman still wouldn't be willing to negotiate even if Sonic pinned him to a wall, Tails explained.
Sonic turned around to catch Shadow's opinion on the plans. Yet, his stare was only met with the vacant space that Shadow once occupied. Sonic looked around, but to no use. Shadow was gone. Left without a trace.
Sonic raised an eyebrow.
"Um, did we say something to scare him off?" Sonic asked.
Lancelot lifted his head. The knight had been observing silently for the last few minutes, but suddenly came to life at the realization that his duplicate was gone.
"Guess he must have gone outside," Tails offered.
Sonic nodded and hopped off the counter he was leaning on. Whatever was up with Shadow, it wasn't helping them at the moment. They should have the whole team together if they are going to brainstorm. Before Sonic could take more than five steps, however, he felt a hand land on his shoulder. He turned around to find Lancelot standing behind him.
"Stay here, I shall go fetch him," was all the knight said.
Sonic pressed his lips together and thought about it for a second. He didn't know if it was a good idea to leave the two darker hedgehogs alone for long. For all he knew, they could break out into another fight any minute. But, on the other hand, he figured that Shadow and Lancelot would probably want to talk to one another at some point. Sonic knew that he sure wanted to meet and talk to this Arthur character in order to judge how alike they really are. Perhaps letting the two red-striped hedgehogs talk to each other would actually help ease up the tensions in the group. Sonic eventually smiled and nodded his head.
"Okay, he's all yours!"
Lancelot made his way outside of the lab. The chaotic street life of the city seemed to be quieter now that there was a darkness coming over the sky. He could still hear those car vehicles zipping along the roads only a short distance away, but there was definitely less life out now than there was earlier this day.
Lancelot liked it better this way. The city seemed more manageable in the evening. He thought he heard a bird or two chirp from somewhere nearby, and it filled the knight with some amount of comfort knowing that at least there were still birds in this dimension. Despite the obvious differences between this place and his home, there were still some traces of familiarity to be found.
He glanced around to see if he could find any sign of his duplicate. It did not appear that this Shadow figure stuck around …
Lancelot did not know what to make of his counterpart. Admittedly, the knight almost had a heart attack when Sonic rushed into the room at Eggman's base with his lookalike. Seeing another version of yourself was … unsettling, to say the least. It was like watching a theater performance where somebody played as you, yet all their actions and words were foreign to you.
There were some similarities that Lancelot could spot between them, he supposed. For starters, this Shadow was clearly a skilled fighter, taking out a swarm of enemies quite quickly and standing his own during their own duel. There also was a sense of assertiveness and seriousness that Lancelot recognized in both himself and his counterpart. However, his counterpart seemed a little more cold – at least in the ways he interacted with the others. The way Shadow interacted with Sonic and the others made it clear that they were not friends – perhaps not even allies. The fox and the pink hedgehog seemed to both distrust Shadow while still admiring him for his abilities, and then there was Sonic …
Lancelot could not tell how Sonic and Shadow felt about each other. Sonic would jest with Shadow sometimes, so their relationship did not seem to be hostile. But, then again, Sonic seemed to jest with everybody, including Lancelot himself from time-to-time. It was also notable that Shadow willingly helped Lancelot and Sonic escape from the base, meaning they were at least on decent terms with each other. Yet, the two seemed to annoy each other, and on more than one occasion, Shadow and Sonic had hinted at some sort of rivalry between them.
Perhaps that was actually understandable to Lancelot, though. He too had a complicated relationship with the blue hedgehog. Sonic was – to put it simply – annoying. Sonic could be arrogant and childish and sometimes completely uncaring towards any form of structure or responsibility. That sort of free-thinking drove Lancelot wild, and he could only assume it would drive his duplicate insane as well if the two of them were truly as alike as Lancelot believed. But, though Lancelot hated to admit it, there were some qualities that were irresistibly likable about the cobalt hero. Sonic was optimistic and carried a strong sense of justice. His determination to help people in need was admirable to Lancelot, even though the knight could hardly understand why Sonic was so sympathetic to certain individuals.
Many of the traits Lancelot saw in Sonic were ones he saw in Arthur. The more he thought about it, the more sense it made that Arthur and Sonic were counterparts.
But, that made Shadow and Sonic's relationship all the more foreign to Lancelot. Arthur was a great and well-respected king, and Lancelot would be the first to follow Arthur anywhere. Beyond that, Arthur was undoubtably the most important person in Lancelot's life … though, there was a lot that could be said about their relationship.
Shadow and Sonic clearly did not have this kind of bond, though. Lancelot would have happily laid down his life for Arthur, and he even came close to doing so on more than one occasion. Yet Shadow seemed to detest the idea of assisting Sonic with anything that did not directly benefit himself.
It was odd.
"I am still trying to figure you out, Lancelot," a voice from above rang out.
Lancelot whipped around and looked up towards the voice. On the roof of Tails' laboratory stood the very hedgehog Lancelot had been looking for. The knight mentally scolded himself for not thinking to look up upon coming out here. He wondered how long Shadow had sat there simply watching him stand outside.
Shadow jumped off the side of the building and landed neatly a few feet away from Lancelot. He crossed his arms and took a defensive stance where only his side was visible to the counterpart.
"You claim that your dimension is in trouble because this Arcane Emerald was removed from its home world and relocated here," Shadow continued. Though he stated this sentence as fact, there was clearly some level of uncertainty in what he was saying.
Lancelot hummed out in confirmation. Shadow continued.
"So, Sonic was returned to this world in order to find the emerald and return it back to the dimension where it belongs. In doing so, he will most likely also find his counterpart who has supposedly been stranded here as well – this Arthur the Hedgehog."
"Yes, that is correct," Lancelot responded.
"Then, why are you here?" Shadow asked, he moved his eyes so they were piercing directly into Lancelot's now. "Wouldn't you being here put your planet more in danger? If the problem is that there are elements of your dimension in our dimension where they do not belong, then moving yourself here would only exacerbate the problem."
Lancelot tried to restrain a snort. These were the very same concerns that Sonic had when he had discovered that Lancelot followed him through the portal. Funny how the two hedgehogs of this dimension thought so much alike.
"I am here because Arthur is here," Lancelot answered plainly. "My duty was to always protect the king, and I take that responsibility quite seriously."
Shadow narrowed his brows, but let the silence linger for several seconds.
"Why are you lying to me?"
This question surprised Lancelot to the point where he could have sworn he misheard the other.
"You cannot fool me so easily," Shadow started. "If you and I are anything alike, then I know that a sense of duty would not be enough to carry you across a dimension unless there was something else motivating you."
Shadow now had turned himself so he was looking directly at the other, his eyes were filled with some level of determination – though Lancelot could not place what for. Shadow continued to speak.
"I was once given a mission to complete, but I willingly abandoned it when I realized a greater purpose of mine given to me by someone I cared about deeply," Shadow stated bluntly.
Shadow pressed his eyes closed and turned his face downwards as he spoke. His tone seemed … softer, if not only for a brief second. Lancelot perked his ears up, confused by the nature of this response. However, Lancelot could not help but feel a certain level of understanding. From what it sounds like, these two had similar pasts. Or, at least, comparable situations.
"So what I am asking is," Shadow continued, opening his eyes towards Lancelot again. "What was your true motivation for coming to this dimension?"
Lancelot stood quietly for a moment, debating on how he should answer. He knew so little of this hedgehog, and yet he also knew almost everything about him. They were certainly the same person in many respects, though also individuals in equally as many respects. It was a tough line to walk, and Lancelot did not know where he fell. However, if there were anyone in this world who could actually understand Lancelot's past, then it would have to be Shadow. There did not seem to be a point in lying to his own self.
"I told you the truth, it was because Arthur is here."
Shadow cocked his head to the side. "What—"
Lancelot did not let Shadow interject, but rather kept speaking over him. "You said that you were once on a mission, but had a change of heart because of someone you cared about. Though you kept your description vague, I can only assume it is similar to my own story."
Shadow pressed his mouth closed, clearly intrigued by this remark. His face remained rather neutral, though Lancelot saw a crack of curiosity. Lancelot continued on.
"Ever since I was old enough to wield a sword, I was trained to be the Ultimate Knight – unbeatable and endlessly loyal to my kingdom. Until one day, the very people who sought to train me began to fear my abilities and the chaos I would be capable of causing. They took everything from me as a result of their own fears and insecurities, including taking the life of somebody quite dear to me …"
Lancelot's voice dwindled into silence at this mention. He knew his eyes were probably revealing his inner sadness, an emotion he typically hid from the world. But, he did not mind. For he could tell his story was hitting a chord with his duplicate. Shadow was fixated on the hedgehog across from him, and though he did not say anything, Lancelot could see a bit of sympathy in his eyes.
"I was left with nothing. Nothing but my own anger. I wanted the people to pay for the crimes they committed against me and my fallen friend. If they choose to fear my powers, then I would show them just how frightening I could be."
Lancelot's voice raised as he spoke, almost as if his old anger was reemerging from somewhere deep within him. But, Lancelot knew he was only doing this for show. His past angers have long since subsided. He still felt the pain in his chest as he thought about his friend and all the memories he shared with her, and all the memories he will never share with her. But, he was no longer angry. He was just sad.
"I made a plan to destroy the kingdom – not only my home kingdom, but all monarchies and civilizations. With the help of all seven Arcane Emeralds, it would have been an easy feat. But, then …" Lancelot pressed his eyes closed once again, taking a deep breath. "Then, Arthur came for me."
Shadow stood there silently, but Lancelot could feel the atmosphere change. The tension seemed to dissipate in the air as Shadow seemed more … understanding? Compassionate? Lancelot did not know what word to use to describe it, but for a brief moment, he felt as if the two of them were truly together. It was challenging for Lancelot to speak of these things. Goodness knows that the knight was the type to keep his emotions and his past hidden behind layers of masks. Yet, Lancelot did not regret opening up to Shadow. If anything, Shadow was the only one who could actually understand him.
"So he was more than just your universe's Sonic?" Shadow asked, cocking his eyebrow.
Lancelot paused for a moment, examining the area in front of him rather than making eye contact with his duplicate.
"I suppose that is one way of putting it," Lancelot answered. His relationship with Arthur was definitely different than Shadow's relationship with Sonic. Lancelot could tell that right away from how his duplicate acted around the blue hero.
Lancelot could feel Shadow drilling holes into the side of Lancelot's head with his eyes. As much as Lancelot felt the sympathy Shadow had for him, there was still a voice in Lancelot's head scolding the knight for opening up. It was awkward and uncomfortable for Lancelot to be this vulnerable. It was at times like this where Lancelot would normally take shelter behind his armor, but unfortunately he was naked. His chest plate, his visor, his helmet – all of it was left behind at Eggman's base. And Lancelot hated it.
Shadow shook his head.
"But, what I don't understand is why are you serving this king as a knight? Chasing him around like a lost puppy? Sure, he convinced you to change your course, but you don't owe Camelot anything. You decided to move on from your past on your own. Why are you going around acting like a tool for somebody else when you finally have the chance to carve your own destiny?" With each question, Shadow's voice only increased in aggression. Whatever peace existed between the two fell under the weight of these new accusatory demands.
Lancelot folded his ears back, the warm feelings he had for his duplicate subsiding to new feelings of rage. Just as he thought Shadow and him were beginning to understand each other, the other had to ruin it. Clearly, Shadow must have related to some of Lancelot's story. There would be no need for Shadow to be so invested in Lancelot's business unless the other feared that Lancelot's behavior was some reflection of his own.
"So, I take it you have the same past as I?" Lancelot asked. It was the only explanation that made sense for Shadow's response to hearing Lancelot's tale. Clearly, whatever Lancelot went through on Camelot, Shadow had a similar experience here on Mobius. Why else would Lancelot's feelings and actions matter so much to Shadow?
"Well," Lancelot continued. "To answer your remarks, I did carve out my own destiny. I just could not foresee a destiny without him."
"Sonic?" Shadow's voice was almost disgusted, though mostly intrigued.
"Arthur, in my case," Lancelot corrected. Though, he did mentally note how quick Shadow was to use Sonic's name.
"You shouldn't be a sucker for somebody else. You should stand for yourself," Shadow retorted.
"Perhaps you should learn how to give yourself up to somebody else instead of hiding behind this façade of loneliness and indifference," Lancelot responded. The knight was trying hard to keep his calm demeanor, but it was becoming increasingly challenging the longer he spoke to this rather rude duplicate of his. He bit his lip to hold his tongue.
"Yes, façade," Lancelot repeated, putting a strong foot forward. Shadow did not intimidate him. Lancelot had faced rivals far more frightening than this counterpart. "I saw the way you protected Sonic yesterday, how you did not want him to fight."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"You were the one who choose to help Sonic with his mission when you had no need to, and you were the one who suggested we run from Eggman when he came to attack, and the one who defeated the enemies chasing our plane even though Sonic could have easily done the same. You did not want Sonic to fight yesterday. Now, why is that, may I ask?"
Lancelot asked, this time coming at Shadow with his own supply of weaponized remarks.
"You are insane." Shadow was defensive now, bending his arms over his chest. He scowled at the other, though Lancelot knew he struck a nerve. As much as Shadow tried to deny it, Lancelot knew the truth. Shadow could not even hide it. He cared about Sonic more than he put on. Lancelot just did not know why.
"Dang, what did I walk in on?" a third voice bounced from the doorway of Tails' lab. Both of the lookalikes jerked around, equally surprised.
"Oh, Sonic!" Lancelot exclaimed. He felt his face heat up, but he did not know why. He had no reason to be nervous around the blue hedgehog. Perhaps it was because he was so open to Shadow about his own past? He only hoped the blue hedgehog had not been around long enough to hear that. It was hard enough to Lancelot to be open with Shadow, the last thing he needed was to share his feelings with Sonic as well.
"Sorry for interrupting the moment, but I figured if you guys spent too much time out here, one of you might start trying to kill the other!" Sonic laughed as he stepped out of the doorway and towards the duo.
Shadow looked towards the ground, quite obviously avoiding the gaze of the intruder to the conversation. Lancelot wondered if his words had sunk in with his duplicate, or perhaps Shadow was always like this. Lancelot had not known the other long enough to tell. He was still caught between understanding just how alike they were. At one moment, Lancelot could have sworn that Shadow and he were almost identical, but then the next moment, Shadow seemed to act in a way completely foreign to the knight.
Sonic seemed to pick up on this awkwardness, however, as he cocked an eyebrow at Shadow before looking over towards Lancelot. His face said it all – 'what's up with him?' Lancelot shrugged in response.
"I will help your friends make a plan," Shadow stated bluntly, disrupting the silence. Sonic perked his ears up in surprise.
"Oh, perfect!" the blue hero clapped his hands as he spoke, though he looked a little uncertain.
"Though, I must make myself clear that I am only helping so that your friend can go home faster," Shadow forced out, straining the word 'friend'. Shadow walked pass Sonic with complete determination. He roughly hit his shoulder against the other, causing Sonic to take a step back in defense. The speedy hero looked even more baffled now than before.
As soon as Shadow disappeared into the laboratory, Sonic turned to Lancelot.
"That was … weird."
"Indeed," Lancelot responded.
Sonic shrugged his shoulders, dismissing the negativity of the other. "Oh well, who can tell with Shadow? I actually came out here to talk to you, Lance."
"Me? What for?"
"I heard you complaining earlier about losing your armor—" This was an understatement. Lancelot complained the entire flight away from Eggman's base about how much he wanted his armor and how he was furious Eggman took it from him.
"—And I figured this could be an opportunity to show you more of the city. So, let's go on a shopping trip!"
Lancelot figured there was more to this story than Sonic was letting on, but felt too intrigued in order to call him out. What was a shopping trip? Lancelot was not one to get distracted from his main objective, but he knew it would take the others more time to come up with a concrete plan. In the meantime, learning about this world could be advantageous to figuring out where Arthur is. Lancelot remembered the run he took through the rolling fields when he first landed in Mobius before they approached the city. This planet interested him. Plus, he would be lying if he said that he was not looking for an excuse to avoid being around Shadow, which seemed to be his alternative if he declined Sonic's offer.
"Fine, then let us go. Though first –" Lancelot hesitated for a second. "What is a shopping trip?"
Sonic snorted loudly. "It means that we are going to get you some new clothes – to replace the armor you lost. Only this time, you are wearing something that actually fits the time period you're in!"
Lancelot folded his ears back. He did not like the sound of this. Sonic only laughed at the other's uncertainty.
"Most shopping centers are closed by this time," Sonic added, looking up at the sky as the darkness continued to settle in. "But, I know a few spots that are probably still open. This is probably a good time to go anyway, because less people will be out. That means they'll be less chances for you to make a fool of yourself in public." Sonic grinned deviously at the other as he added this last remark. Lancelot huffed, unamused.
Without any more fuss, the two hedgehogs strolled into the downtown area. It was a short enough of a distance away that the two, surprisingly, did not run there. Lancelot was mentally grateful for this fact, as he still had clear memories of the embarrassment he faced after trying to run through the city earlier. Lancelot enjoyed this casual pace that allowed him to take in the gentle breeze that hustled down the street. Several people stopped to stare at the hedgehog duo as they walked, but nobody approached them, to Lancelot's relief. Lancelot looked up at the towers lingering over them, amazed at the spectacle of lights that streamed from every window, illuminating the dark evening.
Lancelot took this opportunity to learn even more about the city. Every few feet, he would direct his attention to a new object and inquire Sonic about its function. The blue hero seemed happy enough to explain everything. To Lancelot's delightful surprise, Sonic actually was willing to answer all of his questions without a trace of mockery or condescension, which the knight had expected from the other. Sonic actually came across as being … patient. Which was an adjective Lancelot never anticipated using for the rebellious speedster.
This was a somewhat different side to Sonic. Seeing him, walking slow, explaining the various elements of the world, occasionally shooting a smile or two at Lancelot – it was definitely a side of Sonic that Lancelot never saw back in Camelot. Perhaps Sonic felt more at peace here in his home world, and thus had let his guard down? Or maybe this is simply how Sonic acted around people he was comfortable around?
Was Sonic comfortable around Lancelot?
For some reason, that question bothered Lancelot more than he thought it would.
First it was the fire hydrant, then it was the department store building, then it was the light post, and the recycling bin, and the bicycle, and who knows what else. By the end of it, Sonic was confident that he had probably explained every item in the entire city to his medieval friend.
And Lancelot still had more questions.
Sonic didn't mind answering the questions – in fact, he would much prefer to talk about bicycles and fire hydrants instead of whatever awkward conversation had occurred between Shadow and Lancelot.
Sonic didn't hear a lot of their conversation. He wasn't trying to eavesdrop, and he normally wasn't the nosy type anyway. However, he approached them at apparently the wrong time.
'You did not want Sonic to fight yesterday. Now, why is that, may I ask?'
Shadow hardly gave an answer, but there was just something about the question itself. Why would Lancelot even ask that? What were the two of them talking about before that triggered this question? It made Sonic feel uneasy, in a way.
Sonic usually never really cared what people said about him behind his back. He knew he was great. He had the confidence to shake off other people's criticisms. However, Sonic had a feeling that there was something different about this conversation between the two duplicates. Neither Lancelot nor Shadow showed any hesitation in insulting Sonic directly to his face, so what would they possibly say to each other without Sonic around? It didn't seem like they were speaking poorly about Sonic. In fact, the way Lancelot asked that question, it almost implied that he thought Shadow was protective over Sonic.
That made Sonic feel weird. He could never understand that. Shadow had never been protective over him. In fact, the ebony hedgehog would probably gladly throw Sonic into harm's way if Shadow thought it was convenient to do so. Heck, there have been situations where Shadow was the danger! Sonic couldn't even count the number of times the two of them fought or the times Shadow sided with Eggman over the hedgehog! To say that Shadow was in any way protective over Sonic was laughable to the hero.
But then, why did Lancelot ask that question?
Either way, the thought bothered him and Sonic didn't want to think about it anymore. It was time for him to get his mind off things and focus on the present. He smiled over at Lancelot, who was closely examining the various objects that appeared in the store windows.
The two hedgehogs had walked into the shopping district of the downtown. There seemed to be a never-ending row of shops and storefronts, all selling a whole variety of different items. There were a few people bustling in and out of stores, though for the most part, the streets were quiet. Lancelot seemed perplexed by most of what he saw and Sonic was only waiting for him to ask the next question about what something was.
"Pick any shop you like, Lance!" Sonic stated. Lancelot twisted his head, giving the blue hero a bewildering expression. He was overwhelmed, Sonic could tell.
"Or, you could just describe to me what types of clothes you like and I could help you find a store that works?" Sonic asked.
"Are there blacksmiths in your world? I would like a new set of armor," Lancelot answered, his voice as monotoned as ever.
"Sorry, the blacksmith market never really took off in the city. Turns out, armor isn't that hip here." Sonic cocked his head playfully as the other hedgehog grumbled in annoyance.
"I would like something practical. Something that is wearable, yet effective in combat. It must be presentable and dignified, though not extravagant. It must add to my defense in battle while not impairing my speed and agility." Lancelot stared at Sonic intently as he spoke. "Is that an adequate description?"
Sonic stared at Lancelot blankly for a moment, looking at the hedgehog up-and-down. After only a brief pause, the blue hero burst out laughing. Lancelot huffed.
"Look, you might need to lower your expectations!" Sonic hollered as his laughter fizzled out. "New plan – I'll see if I spot anything that screams 'Lancelot' and you let me know if you like it."
Lancelot seemed less-than-impressed by this new plan as a scowl crossed his face, though he oddly did nothing to object. Sonic eyed through the various windows they walked pass. As they moved along, Sonic became increasingly aware of the light breeze traveling down the street. Sonic let out a soft 'brrrr' as his fur began to stand up. Instinctually, Sonic began to inch closer to his companion, his body searching for any source of body heat to fight the cold. Sonic was hardly aware that he was doing this until he felt his arm brush against Lancelot's side. Instantly, Sonic moved several steps away from Lancelot, his face becoming heated at the encounter. He hoped Lancelot wouldn't make a comment about it. Thankfully, it seemed like the knight hardly noticed.
Sonic refocused his attention to the windows. A smirk shot across Sonic's face as his eye caught sight of something through the storefront glass.
"Ah, now this SCREAMS 'Lancelot'!"
Sonic jabbed his finger in the direction of the shop window, causing Lancelot to stop in his tracks just to avoid being hit in the face with Sonic's arm. The knight perked his ears up and looked eagerly towards the potential outfit.
It was a bright pink tutu draped over a miniature mannequin. It was so sparkly with so many layers of thin, frilly fabric that the legs of the figure were practically covered underneath.
Lancelot glared at Sonic, any form of amusement drained from his face. Sonic only snorted in response.
"Come on, don't you ever laugh at yourself!" Sonic prodded as he poked Lancelot's arm.
Lancelot pressed his lips together and turned his head away from Sonic.
"Oh, look," the knight added, pointing his finger towards the same window. "And here is an outfit that would be perfect for you, Sonic."
Sonic looked over to where Lancelot was pointing to find a taller mannequin dressed completely in a jester get-up, complete with a jingly hat with bells attached and rainbow-colored pantaloons.
Lancelot smirked at his response and took several steps forward, leaving Sonic behind.
"Oh, hey, hey! So, you have jokes now, huh?" Sonic called out, quickly catching up with Lancelot. "Hold up, I think I have some more clothes to show you! I promise they are perfect for you!"
Sonic grabbed onto Lancelot's arm as he spoke, not wasting a moment before yanking the other hedgehog back towards the costume shop and leading the two inside.
Once they were inside, the minutes quickly faded away. Sonic had expected Lancelot to throw a fit or complain about how they were wasting time, though, surprisingly, he did neither of those things. Instead, as Sonic proceeded to show the other increasingly ridiculous costumes, Lancelot did little more than grumble or occasionally groan. At one point, Sonic could have sworn that he saw the crack of a smile on Lancelot's muzzle. Regardless if it was really there or if was just wishful thinking, Sonic felt like he was finally getting the medieval hedgehog to loosen up, and he wasn't going to let Lancelot get away that easily. Soon enough, there were piles upon piles of costumes, crazy hats, and glittery wigs on the floor as the two hedgehogs proceeded to present each other with increasingly comical outfits.
"Hey, hey, Lance!" Sonic hollered, hopping out from behind a clothing rack. "How do I look?"
As soon as Lancelot turned around, Sonic struck a pose, showing off the oversized cowboy hat sitting up his quills. Lancelot let out a long sigh.
"You look absolutely moronic," he stated. Though, even behind his blunt response, Sonic detected a bit of amusement. Maybe even a light chuckle, if the hedgehog was being generous. Sonic beamed.
Lancelot gave his own devilish grin to Sonic. His first full smile of the evening. Sonic almost wanted to pinch himself.
"If I may ask, do you believe I look better with—" Lancelot started, holding up a small mustache to his muzzle "—or without the long facial fur?" Lancelot raised a inquisitive eye at Sonic, though a corner of his smile could still be seen from under the fake facial hair.
Sonic could not control the delight on his face. It was hard to imagine that just days ago, this knight was one of the biggest thorns in his side. He was always so stoic and serious – just like a certain other hedgehog Sonic knew. To see Lancelot being playful and cracking jokes, it was completely unexpected to Sonic. But, he enjoyed it. It brought out something new in Lancelot, something that Sonic wasn't sure was actually there. For one of the first times, Sonic could actually understand why Lancelot and his counterpart Arthur were so close.
"I must say, I'm a sucker for long facial fur," Sonic added, letting his voice linger before continuing. "But, I think I'd miss the original, clean-shaven face of Lance that I've grown to love."
Though his voice was dripping in sarcasm and snidely undertones, Lancelot still hesitated at what Sonic said. The knight quickly turned his back to the hedgehog, aimlessly searching through a pile of costumes. Sonic let his ears fall slightly, though forced them back up before Lancelot noticed. Perhaps that last comment was a bit too much? Sonic knew if sounded flirty, but he was being sarcastic. He was just poking fun at the other. Certainly, Lancelot knew that, right? I mean, obviously. Why would Sonic have ever seriously said something like that? It was a joke.
"Hm, this looks like something that your lady might wear," Lancelot stated, breaking the awkward silence.
Sonic perked up and looked over, seeing Lancelot presenting a longer pink dress with various flowers shaped out of plastic beads sown into it. However, the dress was not what struck Sonic as odd.
"My lady?" the blue hero questioned, scrunching his face in the process.
"I mean to refer to Amy, the one who is a counterpart to the Lady of the Lake," Lancelot explained, sounding unexpectantly serious. "I am unsure of what terminology people use in your world, but I assume that she is someone you are currently courting?"
Sonic's face turned red and he instinctually began to brush his hand through his quills.
"Wow, wow, hold up! You mean, like, dating?" Sonic let out a nervous laugh. "Amy and I are friends, that's it. Only friends."
Lancelot looked genuinely surprised by this. He let his head fall to the side.
"You mean to say that you are not pursuing her?"
"Not in that way, no," Sonic added, embarrassment still evident in his voice. He wasn't sure what it was, but the topic of crushes and dating always brought a pit to Sonic's stomach. It was weird for him to talk about this type of stuff, and he certainly didn't want to talk about it here with Lancelot, where there were all these other shoppers around who were watching their every move.
"I like Amy as a friend," Sonic said. "But there's nothing more to it than that."
Lancelot nodded slowly, though he did not seem fully convinced. Sonic pressed his lips together.
This wasn't the first time somebody thought Amy and Sonic were a couple. It happened all the time in gossip magazines and by his fans. Sonic couldn't even count the number of times women have approached him asking how 'serious' he and Amy were, or how many times paparazzi have taken photographs of Amy and him hanging out and claimed that they were caught on a 'date'. It made Sonic uncomfortable, to say the least. Though, talking about relationships made him nervous enough that he would rather just avoid the topic altogether rather than publicly challenge any of these rumors. It had gotten to the point where even Amy was fed up with the attention. Even with all of her own beliefs about how Sonic and her were soulmates, she still had her limits to how much she could tolerate other people sticking their noses into her personal life.
However, something about Lancelot being the one to believe that he and Amy were a couple rubbed Sonic the wrong way. He couldn't label what it was or why he felt that way, but it was there in the pit of his stomach.
Lancelot appeared to be rather unfazed, even if a little confused.
"I noticed you gave her the necklace that Nimue presented you, and when I first met Amy, she mentioned that you had missed an engagement with her," Lancelot stated plainly. "That is why I thought you two may have been involved with one another. I did not mean to offend you."
Sonic blinked a few times. He had completely forgotten about the necklace Nimue gave him once again. He mentally cursed his poor memory, though quickly shook the thought out of his head. So, that explains where Lancelot's suspicions came from.
"It isn't like that," Sonic answered. "Amy has a sort of thing for me, I guess, but we're only friends."
Lancelot hummed in response, though his face remained mostly unreadable. He turned back to the dress he was still holding and tossed it to the side. Sonic watched Lancelot closely as he moved. This is probably the longest he has been around Lancelot where the other didn't mention something about Arthur or lecture Sonic for leaving Camelot. It was nice being able to have a peaceful interaction with the knight. He liked it. But, there was something new nagging at his mind.
"Did Arthur have a girlfriend? Or, a lady, or whatever you medieval people call a woman you like?"
Lancelot flinched at the question, though Sonic couldn't imagine why. Sonic flattened his ears. It was an odd question, Sonic knew that, but he felt like he had to ask. Arthur was basically him. If Arthur was seeing somebody, then that was comparable to Sonic seeing that person. It was weird for Sonic to think about, but he had to know.
"I mean, him and Nimue weren't dating or anything, were they?" Sonic continued.
"No, no, The Lady of the Lake and him were not involved with each other," Lancelot responded quickly. His voice sounded somewhat assertive, very factual about the matter. Sonic almost felt bad for asking.
But, he didn't feel too bad. Afterall, Sonic felt like he had sort of a right to know. It was his own life, just a different person was living it.
"As a king, he would have only been involved with someone who could potentially fill the role of queen," Lancelot added, his voice still quite serious.
Sonic hummed. He guessed that meant that Arthur was single then? Lancelot didn't really give a straight-forward answer, but Sonic didn't know how else to interpret his response. If Arthur only dated someone who could be a queen, then that really only left Percival, Merlina, and Nimue as his only options. Lancelot said that there was nothing going on between Nimue and Arthur, and Sonic felt like Percival or Merlina would have told him if either of them were involved with Arthur. There didn't seem to be any other women who were particularly close to the king.
In a way, it was relieving to know that Arthur was single. It took some pressure off of Sonic. Imagining Arthur with somebody would force Sonic to imagine himself with that same somebody. It would be like admitting that there was some part of himself that could fall in love with that same person.
"Huh," Sonic finally added. "And I thought dating over in this world was stressful."
"You have no idea," Lancelot added.
With that, Lancelot abruptly stood up and walked pass Sonic, leaving the piles of clothes on the ground. Sonic followed with his eyes as Lancelot walked on.
"Let us go," Lancelot stated. "We wasted enough time here and I believe your friends will be wondering where we were."
Well, sounded like the party was over. The old, no-fun-allowed Lancelot was back and whatever fun Sonic was having was over. Sonic sighed loudly and pouted, though Lancelot didn't seem to notice. Lancelot continued to walk out of the store and Sonic had to hurry just to catch up with him.
"Wait, wait, before you head out!" Sonic called out. "We haven't even found your new outfit yet! I think I saw something you might like – seriously, this time!"
"Sonic, I don't have time for –"
"I'm being serious," Sonic interrupted. "I think you will actually like this one."
Sonic looked directly into Lancelot's eyes. The two hedgehogs stood there for a moment, closely examining the other's gaze. There was a second of silence.
"Fine. One more outfit."
Ahhhhhh, it took forever to get this done! But, it's finally here!
I actually am really happy with how this came out. I am so glad we are finally getting some fluff in this story ...
FINALLY these two dorks are spending time alone together and flirting! But, it looks like Shadow is going to stick around to cause drama.
Special thank you to anybody who favorited/followed/reviewed! It means a lot!
Also, I am always open to new ideas for this story! If you have any suggestions for what you want to happen next or anything at all then let me know! I promise I read every PM and comment about this story!