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Screaming. A heatwave. She couldn't breathe.

For me to live, you must die.

Die. Die! DIE!


(Y/n) startled awake, sweating despite the cold air from Omega's fans. She scooted closer to the former Badnik, bracing her hands behind her. Rouge grunted and stretched her arms up.

"What time is it?" she mumbled groggily.

"Six thirty-seven a.m," Omega responded instantly. Rouge groaned loudly and turned onto her stomach to bury her face in the pillow.

"How are you feeling, hon?"

"I'm fine." It came out strangled. Rouge pushed herself up, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

"What?" the bat asked, moving to sit against the headboard. "(Y/n), if you're planning on seeing Shadow today, maybe you shouldn't."

"I have to." She didn't want to. But she didn't have time to waste on herself. She had to connect with Shadow. But she didn't know if she could with the tangle of emotions building inside her.

"You'll be no help to anyone if you can't figure yourself out, first." (Y/n) groaned and pressed her hands to her face, raking them through her messy hair.

"I led him on. I must have," she said. "I-I still need to connect with him, somehow, and-"

"Slow down," Rouge said. "It's too early to be panicking. Let's think rationally. Shadow: possessed. You: logical. Or you should be, but you're, well, panicking." (Y/n) dropped her hands only to glare at the spy. "There we go. Alright. To connect with Shadow, you need to...?"

"Connect on a spiritual level. I think." She shrugged helplessly. "I need Tikal. She'd know."

"Let's not wish for things we don't have. What resources do we have? Think critically, (Y/n)."

"I've never been kissed, Rouge."

"Is that really important right now?"

"It's important to me!" The bat lifted a brow, then started laughing. "It's not really funny!"

"Think about it, hon. It is. If we survive this, imagine you look back on your life and remember your first kiss was with an overheated, possessed, very dead hedgehog."

"Rouge..." The bat sighed, throwing an arm over the (a/t)'s shoulders and drawing her into her side.

"I know. You don't need this right now." A pause. "You need it after you save the world." (Y/n) groaned, elbowing Rouge, though the spy merely laughed. "Alright, alright. Back to the important matters. How do you remember connecting to Sonic?"

"Well, it was when he met with Tails...we were all hugging?"

"You don't sound entirely certain. Is that all that happened?"

"Um...our faces were close? Touching, I guess. It was a tender moment for everyone."

"Sounds lovely. I feel convinced all over again that you're in love with Sonic, and he's in love with you." (Y/n) blew out a breath, rubbing her hand over her muzzle. "Perhaps I'm no expert, but it would seem you need to be emotionally and perhaps physically connected. Comfortable with each other. Trusting."

"I thought I was," the (a/t) whispered. "What am I doing wrong?"

"Expecting too much of you both. You want to force yourself to feel the same for Shadow, but that's not how those emotions work. And he's...well, he's never had a relationship, nevermind trying to untangle his emotions while fighting a ghost." Rouge pushed (Y/n) back and gripped the (a/t)'s shoulders. "How about we take a breather today. I'll take Omega and tell Shadow you got a little heat stroke and are taking the day off. Then you, Blaze, and I can all have a girls' day while Omega keeps us cool."

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