A dream: There’s a hall, long and airy and impersonal, air crisp and ticklish against Sonic’s skin. He hides away, farther down, where the open air and night sky can’t reach him. He’s there for a meeting. The ghost haunting his nightmares is within arm’s reach, and they speak softly. Their breath hardly carries over the wind.
“You remind me of someone,” Infinite says.
“A little wolf child, eyes like stars and a heart larger than the sky. They looked into the eyes of others and felt nothing but compassion. Earnesty. Acceptance. All of this for strangers that owed them nothing and no one.”
Sonic stands back, and he stares. No comment.
“They trusted. They forgave. My dear, they knew nothing of despair.”
Infinite glances around the pillar, mask flashing into view for a second much as a knife gleams against moonlight before it strikes, that millisecond of anticipation, a lull in breath. Their red sclera is a torch in the sleepy hall. Their eye, green, pricks at his sides and lungs and heart, straight into his soul.
Then they slip back behind the pillar, behind the barrier between their perch and Sonic, between night sky and his silent, judging gaze.
“An untarnished soul, that child, long after they matured and the world lost its luster. A dangerous optimism. They acted as though they were indestructible.”
He hears a fwip, the tap of two shoes against stone that bounces up, off, around the walls until the sound grows cold and distant. Barely audible, as Infinite is and always will be a creature of silence. It amazes Sonic how someone can leave so little impact on the world around them.
Now, Infinite, the creature of fake and nothing, appears once more around the pillar, their good eye looking straight into his. No silhouette; the moon pours through their body and onto the concrete, just as cold and piercing as their gaze.
“Unfortunately, they were as mortal as they came. And so are you.”
They step forward. One. Two. Stop. “Do you understand what I’m trying to say? This life is unsustainable. Why live a lie? Why not save yourself?”
“Soundin’ kinda soft there, Finny.”
A breeze, a draft, passes through, brushing against his cheek, ruffling their hair.
“I don’t want to see the same tragedy happen twice.”
“Now, that’s funny,” he says, and he’s tilting his head just a bit. “You tried to kill me, like, five times in the past three days.”
Sonic’s not stupid. He sees the twitching of their fingers, anxious, itching for movement and action and influence. He hears the breath, that strange, useless in and out and he knows they don’t need it, not anymore. The silence. The moonlight shining in and through them.
A mirage. An illusion.
“You were nothing more than a target.”
An excellent audience.
“Oh? And what’s different now? Got something in my teeth?”
Someone Sonic wished he’d never met.
Infinite feigns a reply, feet a rhythm, tap, tap, as they resume their stride, slow, deliberate. It reminds Sonic of rain against a roof. The pattering, the softness, the irregular and yet well defined beat that soothes a troubled heart. They’re only a few feet away now, long passing the pooling moonlight’s edge and into the realm of dark wrapped around them like blankets. Everything’s quiet. It’s a fragile silence Sonic is reluctant to break.
Then the steps are gone, feet still.
“What’s changed,” Infinite says, eye impossibly bright and burning from this close, “Is that I’ve stopped and observed. And you, you’re awfully familiar.”
Something Sonic never noticed about this dream: Their hand rests on his shoulder at this point.
“I have a question for you.” The hand’s grip tightens, as much a tug back to reality as it is a distraction. (Grounding because of the pressure; distracting because of, well, the pressure.)
There’s a lump in his throat, thick and sticky, that Sonic can’t swallow. “Yeah?”
“Who’s the wolf child?”
Again, Sonic’s not stupid, and as they stare at him, into the very core of his being, the answer stares him right back in the face.