Metal Sonic had a logical reason behind every thought he had, every action he took, every conclusion he came to. It was his duty to observe, deduce, and conclude based on the very simple and elegant rules of utilitarian logic, as every proper computer should.
The only problem was that Metal was not a very proper computer.
Computers didn't have the burden of such feelings of jealousy, anger, or hatred. Computers felt nothing of the crushing blow of defeat or the compel of the search for compromise. A computer would never feel the swell of pride when devising a clever solution to a problem that brute force would determine impossible.
Metal supposed that was one blessing.
It paled in comparison, however, to the problem he now faced, and because of it, Metal felt he would forever be envious of his nonsentient kin.
A proper computer would never fall in love. A proper computer would never feel the tortuous ache when the conclusion that that love would never be requited was reached.
Reached through only the most logical means, of course.
Metal cursed logic sometimes.
It had started out harmlessly enough. Metal's primary directive was to neutralize Sonic the Hedgehog. Neutralize and terminate, despite being synonyms in some definitions, did not mean the same thing. If he could not destroy Sonic, Metal reasoned, he simply needed to act as a counteragent, and being a member of Eggman's arsenal served that purpose quite nicely.
Once he had determined there was no need to eliminate Sonic, Metal had taken to attempting to reason with the hedgehog. After all, being his compliment didn't mean he needed to be his enemy.
However, Sonic was… less than receptive to the idea. Metal couldn't really blame him and gave him his space while he simply sat back and collected data.
It was through this data, and these attempts, over the span of several months, that Metal had come to the horrible conclusion that he loved Sonic. He loved him in an achingly silent manner, one which he knew would forever remain.
If only that were the end of his problems.
There was said to be a disease, one borne of love such as this, one that was often dismissed as nothing more than myth. When one was consumed by unrequited love, those feelings would be transformed into roots and leaves that filled their victims' lungs with the physical manifestation of all those words left unsaid, feeding upon that desperate love until the day they confessed or the day the burden became too much to bear.
Metal had no time for superstitions and legends, but it was somewhat hard to dismiss something that was sprouting out of the seams in his plating as a mere myth.
Not to say he hadn't tried, of course. With no lungs for the leaves to fill, Metal had nothing to worry about other than the occasional pruning back. The doctor didn't know, of course, but then again he never paid much attention to anything Metal was doing these days.
Nobody knew. And nobody had to know. Because it wasn't a problem. Why would anyone want to know about what wasn't a problem?
If there was one upside to Metal's seemingly endless well of patience, it was that Sonic was finally beginning to warm up to him.
So here he was now, carefully checking to make sure he hadn't got any unsightly leaves caught in any seams or joints. He generally wouldn't've minded so much if he weren't currently at Tails' place of residence, helping the fox make minor repairs and tune-ups to the Tornado.
Carefully, he stepped back into the garage. Tails gave him a wave.
"Hey, Metal, would you mind checking this fuse? I think it might have blown, but I have to turn on the electronics to check for sure."
Metal nodded and took Tails' place at the removed panel of the plane, resting a claw on the suspect fuse while Tails hopped into the cockpit.
"Ready? I'm going to turn on the power… now."
A quiet rumble could be heard from within the engine, and Metal concentrated on the feeling in his hand.
"If it were working correctly, I would be able to feel the flow of the electrons. I believe it has blown."
Tails nodded and turned the plane off again.
Metal gave another nod and was about to reply when he heard the door open.
"Hey, Tails! Hey, Metal! How's the Tornado coming?" came Sonic’s voice. Tails beamed and gave his friend a wave. Metal stayed quiet.
"She's not quite done yet, but we're making a lot of good progress."
"Ah, so she's not flight-ready yet? Shame, I was gonna ask for a race."
Tails chuckled in response.
"You and Metal go ahead, I've got more repairs to make."
Metal caught the quick, uncertain glance Sonic threw him, but his voice betrayed no such feeling.
"Sure thing! I'll catch you later, buddy," Sonic said as he turned to leave, giving Metal a beckoning wave. Metal obediently followed.
Once they were outside, Metal tilted his head up to feel the warm sun, letting his viewscreen go dark. In his time with Sonic and his friends, he'd gained an appreciation for the natural world that he'd never felt with the doctor. After a quiet moment, Sonic spoke up.
"So, what would you say to… a race up to that monument?” Sonic turned on his heel and pointed up to the peak of one of the mountains that surrounded the small valley.
"And no cheating! I know you can fly, but you've gotta take a path I can follow. Let's say… up to the train station and then onto that ridge?"
Metal traced the path with his eyes, then gave another nod.
“Alright. Three, two, one... go!” Sonic said, keeping his stance perfectly casual up until the very last moment.
Metal really should not have been caught off guard. His processing ability was much greater than that of a mere organic, but with this organic, he often had a hard time keeping his head straight.
His slow start might also be fairly attributed to the leaves that were choking up his turbine. It took a few false starts, but his starter eventually tore through the organic matter and kicked his engine into gear. In the corner of his vision, he could see a momentary spray of green as it was chewed up and spewed out by the blades within, before it was mostly vaporized by his rocket engaging.
He jumped and shot forward like a shot, but still had a fair amount of distance to cover before he had any hope of catching Sonic.
Sonic, meanwhile, hadn’t noticed Metal’s sluggish start and was currently bouncing up the aged wooden platforms of the train station. As Metal made it to the base, Sonic had already leaped onto the train itself and began running, the speed of the train giving him a boost of distance. As he followed, Metal wondered, somewhat spitefully, if Sonic didn’t consider this cheating.
Metal finally had the chance to overtake Sonic as he jumped off the train just before it went into a tunnel, landing on the rocky outcropping above. He made the mistake of turning back to look at the quickly-approaching robot and nearly jumped as Metal sped past, hovering only slightly above the steep incline.
Sonic quickly caught up, and they were neck-and-neck, Sonic dodging any obstacles in his way with ease.
This was only a casual race, and loss had no consequences. Metal kept reminding himself of this but still found himself all too tempted to engage his overdrive, which would win him the race, but at the cost of his engine.
Perhaps, however, could it also reduce the plant inside him to ashes? Though tempting, Metal dismissed the thought as quickly as it had come up. Sure, it could ignite the plant, and anything else inside him that had been carefully shielded from the heat of his engine would go up too.
“Metal, stop! You’re going too fast!” came Sonic’s voice. Metal blinked and realized he’d been so lost in thought he hadn’t realized the race had ended. Carefully, he made movements to miss the monument, and slowly began to reduce his speed over the open ocean. He made a wide circle and eventually came to a gentle landing on the grass next to Sonic.
Sonic gave him a thumbs up before sitting.
“That was pretty close! If it weren’t for that boost panel, you probably would’ve won,” he went for a pat on the back but thought better of it when he saw how the heat from the engine was slightly distorting the air around it.
“How is a boost panel not cheating?” Metal asked.
“You told me to avoid using my flight to give myself an unfair advantage, but you seem content to use things that benefit yourself, but that I cannot utilize.”
Sonic thought for a moment. A few months ago, he might’ve gone for a cheap jab at Metal being a sore loser, but he couldn’t deny he had a point.
“Fair point, I didn’t think about that. Sorry, Mets,” Sonic replied, a hand to his chin in thought, “I’ll remember that for next time. How about we call it a tie, then?”
Metal nodded and sat, engine now cool enough to not risk igniting the grass.
“I have to say, Metal,” Sonic started, gazing out ahead of him at the scenery. At this distance, they could see the entirety of the valley, “I misjudged you.”
“Misjudged me?” repeated Metal. Sonic nodded.
“When you first asked to be friends, I thought it was some kind of ploy that Eggman thought we’d fall for. But so far… you really seem to mean it. I’ve been treating you like an outsider, and I’m sorry.”
Metal blinked. The dull ache in his chest was back, and this time he didn’t think it was the vines weaseling their way into his Chaos Drive.
Sonic met his gaze, then seemed to notice something. He reached out and plucked a leaf from Metal’s shoulder joint.
“When’d you take a tumble through an ivy patch, Mets?” he asked. Metal hesitated for a moment too long as he fumbled for an acceptable excuse.
“I don’t know where that came from.”
Sonic seemed to buy it, at least, and flicked the leaf away.
Metal had made some observations when this condition had first begun. He knew that in the presence of the one who he had affections for, the plant growth would worsen, but he had spent nearly an hour with his plating off that morning, trimming back the tendrils. Would they really grow back that fast? Was he simply staving off the inevitable by keeping it a secret?
Sonic stood again, lifting his arms above his head and interlocking his fingers in a full-body stretch. Metal did his best to respectfully avert his eyes.
“Wanna head back down?”
Metal looked up at Sonic, who gave him a friendly smile in return.
“Already?” Metal asked. Sonic paused a moment, then shrugged.
“Don’t have to if you don’t want to. It’s nice up here, I just thought you’d be itching to get back down.”
“I’ve come to appreciate the outdoors. Onboard the Egg Carrier and in all of the doctor’s various bases, everything is made of polished chrome and steel. When I am deployed, it is to cause destruction. I rarely get to simply be in nature.”
He turned his head to look at Sonic, wearing a soft, almost awestruck, smile.
“I just… didn’t expect you to say something like that.”
“I’ve come to understand a lot of things,” Metal replied, carefully picking up the discarded ivy leaf and examining it closely, “Things about this world, about the people here… but most of all, things about myself.”
He traced a claw over the leaf’s delicate veins, examining the cellulose structure. Sonic watched him with idle interest. Despite how out-of-place he looked sitting in the grass, the sunlight reflecting off Metal’s head gave him a vibrant, lively color.
For some reason, Sonic couldn’t help but smile. He really had softened up to Metal. He’d had his doubts, sure, nobody would fault him for that, but Metal had managed to… change so much over the course of their meetings, it was like he was an entirely different being now.
Could it all be for naught? Sure, Eggman was clever enough to think of taking advantage of Sonic’s forgiving nature. But he so rarely played the long con, and Metal had already been cutting ties with Eggman, that Sonic decided, in that moment, to discard his worries.
Metal’s attention was drawn back up to Sonic when the latter cleared his throat. When he looked up for some kind of further explanation, Sonic simply waved him off.
“Sorry, just had a tickle in my throat.”
Metal nodded, then stood.
“I think I have spent a sufficient amount of time here. If you do not mind, I’d like to head back.” he requested. Sonic smiled and flashed a thumbs-up.
“No problem. Race you back down?”
As Metal continued to tug ivy from his casing, he mulled over his thoughts. These very vines were proof that he was in far over his head.
Sonic had always suspected him of being a traitor or double agent. Even if he was now coming around to Metal’s intentions, he knew that somewhere in there would be that spark of hesitation, that subconscious desire to catch Metal in some kind of act, wherein it would be proven that his suspicions were right all along.
In addition, and perhaps the more selfish reason for Metal’s conundrum, was the physical state Metal had locked himself in. Whenever Metal felt his processor spin when Sonic offered him a smile, he also felt the roots and vines that had made their home in his casing tighten that much more. Metal’s maintenance periods were becoming longer and more frequent, with him having to delve deeper and deeper into himself to seek out and eliminate roots that were threatening to burst through any sensitive boards, could entangle themselves in his fans, or were snaking their way between the looser gaps in his plating.
Even just staying with them was an act of selfishness. It was torturous to be away from the one he cherished so dearly, but he was only damaging himself further by staying. And for what? A desperate hope that Sonic would reciprocate the feelings that Metal knew he couldn’t bring himself to confess?
Staying was not only unfair to him, but also to Sonic, to put those silent expectations on him…
Hanahaki was not lethal for a robot in the same way it was for an organic. Metal would simply have to learn to adapt to scooping leaves and trimming vines from his interior. It wasn’t Sonic’s fault he was like this.
And yet, even after practicing his goodbye over and over in his head,
“I… I’m sorry, Sonic, I must… I cannot stay here,” even though he couldn’t take in air, it felt like he was choking as he spoke.
“So it really was all a ploy?” Sonic asked, hurt evident in his voice. Metal shook his head.
“No… The doctor doesn’t know about… this. But even if you don’t believe me, I have genuinely enjoyed being your friend, Sonic. I’m sorry,” Metal was curling in on himself, a nervous habit he’d picked up from Sonic himself.
“Wait, Metal, are you okay?” Sonic reached out. As his hand touched Metal’s shoulder, the ivy strangling his internal mechanisms tightened, causing Metal to recoil sharply.
“I… I cannot explain,” Metal averted his eyes, unable to look Sonic in the face.
“What’s wrong?” Sonic placed a hand on Metal’s cheek and gently tilted his head to look at him, concern laden in his face.
The contact was too much. Consciously Metal knew it meant nothing, Sonic was just a contact-heavy person who demonstrated his affection for his friends in a tactile way.
Because of this, it quickly became too much to bear. He pulled away, giving Sonic a hard shove as he did. For a moment, he could see the betrayed expression on Sonic’s face before activating his turbine and rocketing out the door into the open air. He was so quick to leave that he didn’t notice a few ivy leaves, both charred and whole, settle on the floor.
“Metal, wait!” Sonic bolted to the doorway and watched Metal as he became nothing more than a small speck in the sky, leaving only a smoky contrail.
Sonic stepped back inside with a heavy sigh, then coughed into the crook of his elbow. It was a dry cough, but had been a persistent one. Sonic had to wonder if he was catching a cold on top of everything else.
"And he just left, just like that?" Tails asked, peering around his computer monitor.
"Yeah, it was super weird," Sonic said with a shrug. The tickle in his throat was back, but he swallowed it with some effort.
"What do you think about it? Do you think there's a reason to be concerned?"
"That was my first thought, but I dunno. He denied it something fierce."
"Eggman's pulled stuff like this before."
"Well, I-- wait, sorry-" Sonic cut himself off as he brought a hand to his mouth and coughed. It started out sounding like he had just caught some dust in his throat, but as he continued, it started to sound like something was seriously wrong. Tails made his way over to pat him on the back.
"Are you okay, Sonic?" Tails asked as the fit finally subsided. Sonic straightened again and nodded.
"Yeah, just some kind of cold. It's been going on for a bit," Sonic winced internally at the raw sound of his own voice.
"I don't know, you sound pretty rough. Maybe you should see someone about it," Tails asked a concerned twinge to his voice. Sonic again waved him off.
"I wouldn't wanna waste their time. I promise I'll get it checked out if it gets worse, though."
Seemingly satisfied, Tails went back to work, leaving Sonic to make his way to the bathroom to wash his hands.
When he was inside, he finally thought to open the hand he'd coughed into, and was shocked by what he saw.
A few flecks of blood now stained the white fabric of his glove, but even more surprising was some kind of… petal. It was a solid, healthy red, matching and potentially disguising the blood it accompanied.
Acting quickly for fear of staining the fabric permanently, Sonic slipped his hands out of the gloves and began to wash the fabric, easing out the red marks. He set the petal by the sink, and couldn’t help but keep looking at it. Had he somehow swallowed a flower in his sleep? Was that why his throat felt so strange?
Still, he attempted to play it cool as he re-entered the main room.
"As I was saying, I dunno. That was my first thought, but…" he paused for a moment, "now that I'm thinking about it again, I trust him. He wouldn't just run out like this without a good reason."
"Want me to find him?"
"Not sure. I think right now it might be best to leave him alone, he seemed really upset for some reason. I don't wanna make things harder on him," He said with a shrug. Tails returned it before Sonic continued, "he'll probably come back on his own in time."
"Let's hope so," added Tails.
"Anyway, not to make like Metal, but I've gotta bounce. Catch you on the flipside, Tails!" he said with a short wave.
"Alright, I'll see you later, Sonic!" Tails called before Sonic turned and left, jogging out to the station. The trains wouldn't be running for another hour or so, which gave him plenty of time to run through to Station square and check up on Amy.
Though he'd pushed it to the back of his mind, he couldn't help but wonder about the petal he'd hacked up. Tails certainly wouldn't know what was up, having barely enough medical knowledge to get through a cold. Amy might, but she could be a bit… much at times. He was still mulling over whether or not he'd mention it.
Ordinarily, the trek from the Mystic Ruins to Station Square was nothing more than a simple jog. But this time, however, he had a strange amount of trouble catching his breath when he reached the second train station, which quickly devolved into another coughing fit.
This time, no petals, and even no blood. Maybe he really had swallowed a flower. He was beginning to feel more confident he had made the right choice in not mentioning it to Tails.
Once he had regained his breath, he made his way off the platform and tried to ignore the looks from the various humans milling about.
After at least a week of dealing with the ever-worsening symptoms, Sonic concluded that ignoring it was totally fine and would completely work. It barely even affected him, except when he had to stop early in his runs just to gasp down precious air. But that was fine, he would just have to pace himself better. The frequent coughing fits were rough but manageable, and even though Tails and Amy would give him strange looks whenever he had one, he still managed to weasel his way out of explaining anything.
And he always took care to hide the… results.
Initially, he’d been curious about what flowers he’d been choking on. Most of the time it was a single petal or two, but one day after a particularly rough fit he’d spat out an entire flower. Nowadays, though, he just focused on covertly disposing of them.
It was hard to not realize something was wrong. In addition to being incredibly cagey, he just wasn’t as vibrant anymore, he didn’t have the energy for it. He started to miss his usual wake-up time, sleeping one to two hours longer than he meant to. Even when his lungs felt clear enough to run, or even just jog, he’d be quickly worn out again.
He had searched for a cause, sure, but his penchant for not absorbing read information made it hard to focus long enough on research to find any leads. Not that the Station Square Library seemed to have anything on plants in its medical section outside of their medicinal uses. At least, so far as he could tell. He'd considered making the jaunt to Spagonia University for its library, but then he'd have to tell Tails exactly why he needed to go. And without anything to go on, he doubted he'd find much more info there anyway.
He sighed and leaned back in the aged wooden chair, looking up at the ceiling. For not the first time within that hour, his thoughts drifted back to Metal.
It wasn’t sufficient to say that he just missed him. Between the time he had started to warm up to him and now, Sonic’s feelings had grown into… something. His sudden, unexplained departure had hurt, and he wasn’t entirely sure why. Plus, despite that pain, he couldn’t bring himself to be angry, just… morose.
Metal might know what was going on, too.
He felt a tickle in his throat and headed to the bathroom, not wanting to bother anyone else.
This was getting tiring.
Sonic could feel his legs shaking slightly as he gazed down at the mixture of blood, saliva, and plant matter in the porcelain sink. He looked up to the mirror and saw himself, really seeing for perhaps the first time just how tired he looked. His blue fur had lost some of its vibrancy and his peach fur was looking an almost sickly gray-yellow. He rubbed his eyes with a sigh.
He needed to find Metal. Both for his potential knowledge of the affliction and because he wanted to know that he was at least safe.
Metal tore a sprig of ivy from his arm and threw it to the floor. He’d been neglecting his usual trimming, and now leafy cords of ivy entangled his outside just as much as inside.
He supposed, at least, that they were an easy outlet for his frustration.
Even if Sonic, by some miracle, had liked him in that way, those feelings were almost certainly dashed by his sudden departure, which was approaching a week ago now. He’d initially gone to the Egg Carrier, but when the leaves of ivy became too obvious, he had left and carved out a small living in Eggman’s abandoned jungle base near the Mystic Ruins. It was a bit too close to Sonic for comfort, but it was a place of relative safety.
And still, despite everything, he couldn’t get Sonic out of his mind. He yanked at a vine that had snaked its way out of his central intake vent.
Was this the way he was going to go? Unable to die from this disease, would he simply continue to exist only to suffer in his self-imposed isolation?
Metal didn’t have much time to brood, though, as he soon heard something near the entrance.
Tearing a couple more ivy vines, Metal carefully made his way to the entranceway, peering around one corner. In the entranceway, leaning against one door, was…
He gave a tired peace sign before breaking into a coughing fit. He looked like he was about to fall. Slicing through some of the longer vines, Metal jogged forward to catch him, carefully lowering Sonic and himself to the ground, keeping an arm around his shoulders protectively.
“Are you okay?” Metal asked. Sonic seemed in an almost dazed trance, gently lifting a sprig of ivy and inspecting it with a squint.
“You’ve got it too?” Sonic gave a small smile. His voice was rough and weak.
“Sonic..?” Metal near-whispered. He noticed Sonic’s hand was clenched around something, and carefully took his wrist to try and see.
“How did you find me?” he asked as Sonic relented, allowing Metal to retrieve and inspect a few of the petals.
“Tails’s… got a lock on your energy signature. Helps us know when you’re coming. Doesn’t have a great range, but it said you were close by, so… here I am,” With effort, Sonic pushed himself up into a sitting position, facing Metal.
Metal met his eyes for a moment but glanced away before Sonic could read his expression.
“I came because I thought you might know what this… means.”
“Hippeastrum Reginae. Commonly known as Amaryllis. In flower language, it most often symbolizes strength, determination, and… love,” he paused for a moment, “they’re not native here, Sonic. Where did you find this?”
Sonic leaned back on one arm with a smile.
“Ah, I’ve been hacking ‘em up for the past two weeks. As you do.” As he spoke, Metal carefully picked off a darker red spot on one petal. It appeared to be dried blood.
“You’ve been… You’ve been coughing these up?? For two weeks?? How are you still on your feet?”
“You’re doing alright, and you look like you’ve had it longer.”
“I do not have lungs. The consequences of the disease are… different for me,” he’d learned, by this point, to ignore the continual internal discomfort provided by the plants which now certainly were smothering his insides. Not that he’d let Sonic know.
Especially not now, when he had it for someone else.
“Why did you come to ask me?” Metal inquired. This time it was Sonic’s turn to curl in on himself, and he brought up an arm to scratch the back of his head embarrassedly.
“Tails and Amy, they… they’re worried enough already, and I think telling them would just make them worry more. And I… well, y'know, I missed you.” Metal began to slice through the ivy again, self-conscious about his overgrown appearance and needing something to occupy his hands.
“I assume it is Amy, then?”
“Hanahaki is the disease of unconfessed or… unrequited love,” Metal didn’t look up as he spoke, “the feelings grow so strong that they begin to physically manifest as plants, most typically flowers. As the feelings grow, so too do the plants, leeching off of the energy required to survive and filling the victim’s lungs with their flowers- ergo, the ejection of petals and plant matter is most common when they irritate the throat. My Chaos Drive generates more than enough energy to sustain me and this… parasite, and I do not possess the need to breathe.”
He lifted his arm, from which a few vines wrapped and curled around, hanging off of him like fabric.
“However, it can easily prove fatal to organic beings without treatment.”
“Mets, are you okay?”
Metal blinked in surprise.
“Me? I can continue to exist,” even as he said it, he felt the vines in his central processor tighten. If they somehow managed to snap it…
“You’re the one who is at risk here, Sonic,” Metal warned. In response, Sonic scooted closer, taking one of Metal’s hands.
“I’ve still got time. You’ve been hurting for longer, Metal.”
“You could die from this!”
“It wouldn’t… matter if I told them anyway. They’re a great friend, but I know they just don’t feel it for me,” He had somewhat of a sad smile that made Metal’s processor ache, and he was decently sure it wasn’t from the vines this time.
“Who is it?” Metal asked, placing a hand on Sonic’s arm. Gradually, his smile faded, and he now refused to meet Metal’s eye.
“Sonic, please!” he cried, desperation evident in his voice. Sonic was about to respond, but launched into another coughing fit instead. Metal backed off to give him room and rested a hand on his back.
Metal watched as Sonic hacked and gagged as an entire bloom and several petals fell to the floor, along with a small pool of saliva and blood, several strings of which still hung from his mouth. It took him a few moments of panting for his breathing to even back out. Slowly and shakingly, he eased back upright, lazily wiping his hand across his mouth and leaving a pale red smear.
“Your body can’t take much more of this.”
“There’s a lot I’ve been able to take before,” Sonic replied, still with as cocky, if tired, grin as ever.
Metal made a frustrated noise and pulled him into a hug, causing him to cough out of surprise, which he barely avoided escalating into a full-blown fit. Metal rested his claws in between Sonic’s back spines.
“Please, just tell me. You still have time. Don’t just give your life up.”
“If I told you, you’d just… feel guilty,” he let out a few weak coughs, all the fight seeming to leave him. He learned on Metal entirely, “can’t fault you for trying to help, but you can’t save me this time, Mets.”
“Sonic, I…” Metal, unable to find the words, buried his face in Sonic’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry I never told you, I didn’t want to be selfish, but…”
Sonic was quiet. Metal feared the worst, but forced his fears down and continued.
“It was you, Sonic. I love you.”
His voice was barely audible. He wasn’t sure if Sonic was even still around to hear it.
There was another thing a proper computer could not do. It was neither capable of it nor had any reason to do so, being fundamentally unable to experience what would generally lead to such ends. A proper computer, for all of its many competencies, was unable to cry.
But Metal was not a very proper computer.
Tearless sobs echoed through the polished metallic hallways as Metal was overwhelmed by grief, muffled only slightly by Sonic’s fur. He still held the hedgehog close, almost as if he feared that letting him go would cause him to vanish entirely.
It was in this state of mourning that Metal failed to realize that Sonic’s chest still rose and fell, however shallowly. A tactile sensation, however, soon interrupted Metal’s anguish. He felt something rest on the casing of his turbine. Then, a few gentle coughs. Metal daren’t move.
“No need for all these waterworks, buddy…” came a soft, but still rough and ragged, voice, “I love you too.” Metal was stunned utterly silent as he attempted to find a response. He didn’t get the chance to as Sonic began to shift.
“I…” his words sounded somewhat choked, as if there was something caught in his throat (which, Metal supposed a tick later, there was ), “h-hang on.”
He made an attempt to shift so he was facing the floor, with Metal supporting him as best he could.
Metal made sure to keep him stable as Sonic hacked up… something. It came up in pieces, but before long it was entirely out, as indicated by Sonic’s deep inhale once it was over.
“Oh, man, It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve taken a breath like that,” Sonic panted, bringing a hand up to his throat before looking back down at the ground.
“... I guess that’s… all of it, huh? Sorry you had to see that, Mets,” Sonic croaked, though his voice already sounded better, “though I guess it’s not the worst that’s come outta me. You should see some of the one-liners Tails has had to put with,” Sonic gave Metal a sympathetic expression, but Metal only stared at him for a moment before pulling him into another tight hug. He barely even noticed his own tendrils of ivy drying and dropping to the ground.
“You let yourself nearly die, you refuse to tell me that it’s me causing this, and now you’re cracking wise?” he asked, tone much more genuinely bewildered than upset. Sonic replied by pressing a kiss to Metal’s forehead.
Carefully, Metal helped Sonic to his feet. Despite being cured, the plant had still taken a lot of energy to maintain, but it was comforting to know that the worst was over.
“Of course,” Metal finally found his normal tone again, “You know that this will all have been pointless because Tails and Amy will kill you for making them worry about you.”
Sonic let out a laugh as Metal helped him out of the base.
“At least I won’t be facing them alone, right?” he joked. Metal replied by nuzzling his face into the crook of Sonic’s shoulder.