Rings Around The Roses (Through the Monitor)

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Sonic and all related copyrighted to Sega. Uses characters from the Through The Monitor' story-verse.

Author: Alex Warlorn

Through The Monitor Chapter 49.5 Prequel of sorts to 'Kingdom's Heart'

Ring Around The Rose

It was a bright and sunny day with scattered clouds. Beautiful pine trees swayed in the cool blowing wind. Flickies tweeted and sang just out of sight.

Through this serene setting marched father and son. Sly The Tanuki leading his twelve year old son Rings The Raccoon onward to a spot he refused to explain. Rings worried that this might a set up for a gag by Tricky, but it wasn't in his father's style. Oy. Rings looked down at himself, his vest and odds and ends had changed size with him, but it actually only made things more surreal. He had been in a life and death fight right after his reawakening, so he hadn't had time to ever reflect on it, and his life had been one roller coaster ride after another since then. This was one of the first few times he had time to think. Rings realized that the oddness of changing species was nothing compared to the reversing of his age ironically. True he would eventually get that age back, but, species just was, age was also in a way a sense of accomplishment. Had those accomplishments been stripped away? Then again, maybe if he went back to school, ugh, he could pass now for a boy genius like Miles. But even all of this came crash down when he thought about his father, whom he had originally come out of-

"OW!" Rings rubbed the back of his head to see his father had lightly hit him on a head with a twenty three hour old french roll he decided did NOT have on him before. "What was that for?"

Sly smirked then looked serious. "I saw that look on your face, you were getting deep, philosophical, and unsure again. And as your father, I refuse to tolerate my boy to be a bellyacher." Sly then burst out laughing, he couldn't hold the straight face anymore. Rings wasn't sure how to handle this. "I'm sorry it's just, you're supposed to be my mom." Sly looked at him closely, then roared with a laugh this time. "Supposed to? Just what is 'supposed to' anyway? Were we 'supposed' to come here? Was I 'supposed' to hit you on the head? Where you 'supposed' to start wondering about your place in the universe just now?"

"Well, I, just-" Rings wasn't sure. Sly patted his child on the back. "Rings, when you get to be my age, you realize that 'should' and 'could' can be easily mistaken for each other. So stop worrying about it already. You're the older, well not as much any more, but you're still the older brother, and Tricky's figured it out a lot sooner than you have. Not to say you aren't bright kiddo, you are. But you ..... heh... " Sly searched for the right words, then hit himself on the head with the french roll that had reappeared.

"What you do that for?" Rings blinked.

"That was for starting to get all 'bold and grand inspiring without a play on words in the whole bunch. Seriously son, it's not always funny to do things non-sequencer, but no joke's gonna be funny unless you lighten up."

Sly spread out his arms and made his best Totoro grin. "Now come on son, I've a biiiig surprise to show you, a biiiig surprise, you won't believe it when you see it, you'll swear it has to be a dream, you'll-" Sly realized he was talking to himself.

"Oh poo, scared'em off." Calmly, Sly tossed the french roll aside and pulled out two dousing rods and they pointed the way he had come. Tossing them aside as well, Sly pantomimed holding a giant horseshoe magnet sticking his tongue out through a gap in his teeth hole and crossed his eyes. A wavy science fiction sound effect filled the air, and Sly saw a small wind blowing right towards him, along with a yelp of surprise. There was a clang as something hit the imaginary horse shoe. A moment later Rings formed back into view.

"How?" He said like a boy whose lie on why he couldn't go to bed had been discovered. "I don't have any metal on me."

"No, but you have some nice tools in your sub space pockets, and this isn't an ordinary imaginary giant electro-magnet, it's a sub space imaginary giant electro-magnet!"

Rings looked down rather upset. "If you can do that, why don't you pantomime a de-robotcizer ray or an Eggman Seeking missile?"

Sly waved a finger stilling holding the magnet. "There's a time for thinking and a time for just going with the flow Rings... besides, that's a cop out, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Use a cheat sheet on a test and you'll get a zero."

"I'm not sure I get it."

Sly shrugged. "It's all right, that dialogue was a little weak." He casually tossed the magnet and his son over his shoulder, the imaginary magnet ceasing to be a moment later. Rings thought, "I want to really forget the last fifteen seconds of my life." Rings looked to see his dad holding the mother of all goofy hammers proudly labeled 'Amnesia Hammer 'Patent Pending.'

Rings sighed, "I spoke out load?"

"Yes."

"Can ya put that away?"

"Yes."

For seven seconds they just stood there.

"Will you put it away?"

"When you ask."

"Dad, please put the SUV sized mallet away."

Sly let it go, leaving a slight indentation in the ground a low thud could be heard for a mile.

Rings shook his head, he couldn't take it anymore. "Dad you're crazy."

"Naw." Sly replied not sounding offended in the least. "I'm just working the kinks out. It's been forever since we had a father son outing. Besides, the guy who plays the fool gets the -real- force of surprise when he does his big stuff."

A light bulb appeared then above Sly's head which he then pocked. "Oh and by the way, thanks for finally calling me dad without lying through your teeth."

Rings started. And stared at his parent. Yep. Sly acted like he was an even bigger jester than Tricky sometimes, but he could see through people's faces and words like glass. This made Rings wonder how much of Tricky's actions were an act.

And he had been right, in all the endless line of surprises, he -had- forgotten to keep adding the gender disclaimer to every thought connected to his dad. It felt... better... calmer somehow... Rings shook his head, he was his father's son too, maybe he really was starting to think with the same loopy logic. What would mom say? She counted on him to be the fellow sane one in their family tree. He meant his real dad.

Sly's words came back to haunt him in an instant. "What is 'supposed to' anyway?"

Then he realized his dad was whispering in his ear and fell on his tail with a painful sting. Sly contained his string of giggles until after he had helped his son up.

"Rings, stop going back on last years pop culture references and start to remember you have plenty of material to work with in the here and now to get a laugh."

Rings didn't bother to ask for a translation, and hung his head in defeat to which his father instantly pushed his chin back up. "Besides, you've already finally decided to save your original stage name for when if you get back to your first hang out right?"

Rings started. "How'd you know?"

Sly pulled out a sheet of stapled together paper and flipped through it. "I Read the script."

"Dad... please... no more..."

"Okay... if it'll make ya happy I'll save it for later." He pocked the script back in. "Besides, ya stopped cringing when people called you by your name and since you weren't frowning all the time I knew you just hadn't gone jaded on us."

Rings changed the direction of the discussion. "So are you going to tell me where we're going yet?"

Sly showed his fingers, toes, tail, eyes, and tongue, and said. "Ah, prudmist, ed ain't ad trich."

Rings blinked. "Come again?"

Sly closed his mouth and started over. "I promise it's not a trick. Just trust me on the rest." After a few seconds of thought Rings said, "Okay, I will."

"Now that's my son." Sly said. "If you can't trust your dad on a father son outing, then something's wrong."

Rings, for just a moment, only a moment, struggled not to giggle at the irony of the comment.

The pair continued to talk through the piny forest in silence for the short remainder of their journey to their mysterious destination. When they finally arrived, Rings just kept on walking. Sly resisted the urge to pull on his son's tail and instead pulled the lad back to him with his extend-do glove that had likely come from the same place as the french roll and returned the same.

Rings turned. "Huh?"

"We're here."

Rings looked around, he didn't see what was so special about the place. Well, okay, maybe he did after a second, the trees were all a quite tall, creating a roof of branches and leaves, and making a myriad of shadows of varying brightness, roots twisted this way and that around the base of many of the trees that likely weren't pines, and bushes formed around in rings around many of them. He also saw the old, incredibly old, barely used, beaten path they were on, it took a double take just to make sure he wasn't imagining it.

"So where are we?"

Rings had never seen his dad so serene in his life. "This is my old neighborhood." Rings hadn't been expecting that. "This is also where I met yer mom."

Rings looked around again with new found awe. "Really?"

"Yep!" Sly's normally self quickly returning. "And boy... I can still remember what I thought when I first saw her from afar in my woods."

Rings whispered. "What.. what was it?"

"Well it was more a visual thing, a mental image." Rings wondered if he wanted to hear this. "A big red target on her with the word 'prank!' " Sly burst out laughing.

+++

Twilight the Raccoon hiked through Stained Glass Forest. Why it had been named that she'd never know, it had neither stains nor was it glass. The teenage raccoon's booklet said this was easily one of the less travelled routs which suited her just fine. She liked being alone when she hiked, gave her time to think, which you had very very little time to do in this culture. As it was, she was jogging in only a set of sneakers and gloves. (Why should only ladies have to wear clothes? It was sexist.) She knew for a fact there were no poisonous unevolved snakes, or similar dangerous beasts she had be wary of so she completely at ease. Or so she thought!

Her first hint was the totally innocent looking flower in the middle of the hiking trial. She didn't think the slightest thing of it. Next was a perfectly functional soda machine next to a tree, in the middle of the forest. This, she glanced at, and continued on her rout on the twisting path. Had it been this twisted on the map? Twilight was fairly certain either someone was having a junk sale in the middle of nowhere, or was insulting her intelligence at what came next. Sitting passively besides the road, was a nice, comfy couch with neither leaf nor dust on it. She took one look at the blue cushions, and made her way along. Next came the mandatory gazebo. The kind adventurers with a vocabulary of twenty words always attacked on sight.

She always hated it when strange things happened around her, because the first thing anyone would do was look at her and say 'We must be in your zone.' That got annoying after the twelfth time she heard it. Today however, the weirdness seemed to finding her!

"All right, come on out, I know you're there." Silence of course. She sat down, folded her legs Indian style, and made it clear she wasn't moving an inch. "I don't know why you're playing this game, but I'm not about to play it with you!"

With a poof of blue smoke around her, the trial suddenly straightened out from the spaghetti like path it was a moment ago, to a much more straight dirt road. Twilight also saw from her own shoe prints she had been walking in circles for an hour at least.

"Better, now come on out! ..." There was a light hearted giggle from the left, then the right, in front of her, above her, near and far. She listened carefully, picking from the sounds of the innocent laughter where the unseen person or persons was most logical to appear: then took her left shoe off, and tossed it in the opposite direction.

"Ow!" Said a blue puff of smoke that had a tanuki inside it. "Hey! I didn't hurt you." He was wearing even less than she was. He was however, wearing a couple bracelets made of leaves.

Twilight stood up and faced her stalker. "No, but you were going to."

"No I wasn't!" The Tanuki seemed honestly insulted by the implication. "I was just having some fun! It's a sunny day, so I figured you could use a cool off! From a squirting flower, or maybe from a squirting soda machine, or a water balloon couch, or a water squirting gazebo!"

"Why not just say hi?"

"Where's the fun in that?!" In a puff of blue smoke he was dress like a circus clown, hand standing on a ball, swishing a noise maker with his other hand, and balancing a set of spinning plates with his hind-paws. "Life's too short to go through it without a few surprises! I'm one of them!"

The suddenness and absurdity of the sight made Twilight laugh.

Another puff of blue smoke and he was back to normal. "Ya see?" The Tanuki said having precisely proven his point.

"All right, all right, but let me guess, you're why this rout isn't used much?"

"Meh. Some people have no sense of humor, and love spreading gossip. Heck, there was this set of purple lizards coming through here one day. The kid laughed at my jokes and got glared at by his dad. The next day they sent a three chameleon ninja death squad to talk to me about making children laugh in front of their parents."

"What happened to them?" Twilight's eyes went wide.

"They became the world's second ever set of ninja clowns! They kinda left me alone after that... though it didn't help much when I got attacked by those ugly robots. Apparently they thought my illusions could somehow REALLY change things and wanted me to change people into coffee makers or something. I don't think they cared I just turned them into robot clowns! They just kept shooting! I ended up getting my rear saved by a fox who knew more magic trick than me! I didn't do a thing to him before hand! I swear it!" The Tanuki made a 'scout's honor' gesture.

"Do I even want to know what happened to the robots?"

"I think they all got new jobs at theme parks. So anywhose, I decided after that to do my jokes out of sight, if there were too many ninja clowns in the world after all, they'd stop being special."

"I suppose you made any clown cops did you?"

"Naw! I just told them it was in article three, sub section eight five, page fifty five, volume four, edition 3.2, article one, of equal furries convention, that it's a Tanuki's Chaos given right to bring laughter into the world as long as they won't cause permanent damage to life or limb."

"... You made up."

The Tanuki grinned and laughed, "Well DUH! But the huskies weren't about to admit that they didn't know something that official sounding. I just needed to make it fancy sounding enough that they were worried I just might not be making it up."

"Clever."

"Thank you."

"I didn't catch your name by the way."

The Tanuki winded up, spinning his arm wildly fast, Twilight took a step back. The Tanuki then politely bowed and said, "I'm Sly The Tanuki. Animal trickster, birthday clown, and frozen desert."

Twilight giggled, "Twilight Raccoon." She figured there was no true harm in asking her next question, "You've clearly lived her a while, so I was wondering you have any idea why this place is called Stained Glass Forest?"

Sly took both her hands, "Madam! I most certainly do!" Both quickly vanished in a puff of blue smoke.

++++++++++

"So anything ominous ever happen because she asked that question?" Rings asked.

"Sure did! She fell in love with me!" Sly giggled.

Ring made a nervous laugh, "Right dad. Still, if that was your flash back, why was it from mom's point of view?" Rings gasped and covered his mouth at he realized what he just said. How had he even known it was a flash back, and even -was- from his mom's point of view?! Was he becoming like his father?!

"Well, yeah, technically it should have been from my POV, but serious son." Sly spoke in a clearly mock-dramatic voice. "There are dark places within a Tanuki's mind that no mortal should see!"

"Ah... okay."

"Uh-oh." Sly said looking up. His son wasn't going to fall for that old trick.

"Uh-oh what?" Rings said fully expecting his dad to simply insist his son look upwards.

"Ya know how the narrative opened up with it saying how it was a bright and sunny day?"

"No." Rings said, ever since coming to this world, his dad said some strange things. Worse yet was he was beginning to make -sense- to his son!

"Well it's not so sunny or bright anymore." Sly just kept looking up and now pointed. At that same time, Rings felt the first few drops of rain come down. Then the next few dozen, then the full force of the squall.

Creating a giant umbrella from sticks and leafs, the two blue furred made their way under a tree.

"Well, this is convenient." Sly said.

"What do you mean?" Rings actually -had- to hear this one.

"When it came with your mom, I had to make some bogus rain on the spot."

"Huh?" Rings said, his face the picture of incomprehension.

"No time for that now!" Sly said suddenly serious, whispering close to his son's ear. "Looks like we have a stalker! It might be one of GUN's stealth robots! Or maybe Eggman stole their technology, or maybe one of those chameleon ninjas is back for revenge... either way, I think we should let them now we know, right son?"

Rings didn't believe his dad at first, until he saw the outline of a figure in the ran, quickly racing under cover of another close tree at which point it became unseeable.

Sly handed Rings a shoe. A sneaker in fact... colored twilight purple.

Sly somehow managed to keep his voice low, "What the-?"

Sly whispered. "Trust me, if the target is invisible, then this shoe never misses it's mark."

Rings had learned not to argue with his dad since his crazy plans, unlike Tricky's, always had at least two layers underneath the first one. So being things as it may, he threw the shoe were he had last seen the outline.

"OW!" Said a female voice.

The outline, became a pink hedgehog in a red dress. "Dangit." Amy cursed.

Sly laughed. "Ha! I thought so! Nice to finally meet you Miss Rose!"

Sly had known it was Amy, all along?

"Amy..." Rings stared. "How... how can do you do that?!"

"I don't know," Amy put a glove finger to her lip, "I just somehow, could just, do it, after I had that weird dream of loving a Silver Hedgehog after helping him get over his dead girlfriend. A hedgehog who -wasn't- Sonic, but we all know that's impossible right?"

Oh yeah, Rings, like most people, forgot Amy could do that in Sonic 2006.

"So why were you invisible like that right now in the first place? We were friends last time I checked." Indeed, regardless of anything else, Rings admitted, they were that.

"I'm practicing for the concert that's a few days. With Princess Sally still gone, I know I can win Sonic! I'm gonna vanish, then reappear right on stage next to Sonic and we'll take that entire audience by storm!" Amy said proudly.

Sly just looked at her. "That's a little even out of my league, a bit. Were any of your ancestors trickster animals?"

Amy glared at him, "They didn't live long enough for me to ask them and I've never asked Rob about it."

"Sorry." Sly amazingly said.

Rings too stared, "I, I didn't know, and I'm sure my dad didn't either."

"No many people do. I don't want people to think my Sonic loves me out of pity after all." Amy spoke confidently.

Rings asked, "So, you were raised by your cousin Rob'O Hedge?"

It was still amazing for the two of them now to be on even height terms. Before Rings had been easily taller than her, now, he was a fraction of a inch shorter than her. Looking her in the face reminded him of this.

"I didn't get so good at the bow and arrow by chatting on the phone, that's for sure." Amy replied.

"So you decided to practice by following us?" Rings asked.

"No. My Tarot said that I was gonna meet someone nice, friendly, like me, and blue here!" Amy stomped her foot, "I must have gotten it wrong, because Sonic's not here."

Sly snickered and jabbed Rings ever so slightly in the ribs. Rings just internally moaned.

"So did you hear the entire story?" Sly asked Amy.

"About you and your wife? Yes." Amy said, not sure where this was going.

"Goodie. Then I can tell you both now the climax."

"Dad... I'm sure I wanna hear about-"

Sly hit him on the head with a pink plastic flamingo. "Not that kind of climax dummy! Get your head out of the gutter!"

"I wasn't thinking it." Amy said with total honesty.

"Good girl." Sly said politely, "Now as I was saying, "

+++++

"Where are we?" Twilight asked as soon as the smoke cleared.

"The best place to see just why this is called Stained Glass Forest." Sly said rather proud of himself.

They were at a look out that overlooked the entire forest, she could even see the beach line from here! They looked like a bunch of little model trees.

Normally she'd be worried about having been teleported away by a eccentric male stranger she had met two minutes ago, but she figured that if he wanted to hurt her, he'd have already done so.

But, "I still can't tell just why it's called Stain Glass Forest."

"You will in a minute!" Sly took off both his leaf bracelets, curled them up into a single ball, dropped it, then soccer kicked it straight into the sky! Upon reaching the predestined altitude, the ball exploded, becoming a white cloud, that grew into a dark cloud, then a black cloud, and expanded, and expanded, the nimbus process taking place in seconds!

Twilight just stared, wondering what it was this animal trickster couldn't do. In under a minute, a full fledge rainstorm with a cloud spread the area of a suburban house was dumping water on top of them.

Sly, always the courteous gentleman offered her a pink umbrella scaled to the size of a Flicky. Needless to say in a minutes both were sopping wet, and Twilight was even more glade she hadn't wore anything that would be ruined right now.

A moment after this thought however, the rain stopped.

++++++

"And what happened next?" Amy asked, always a sucker for romance stories.

"This." Said with a smile, not a grin, not a snicker, a smile. His vision was fixed on behind them.

The two age altered had been so distracted by Sly's story that either had noticed the rain was now slowing to a trickle.

Amy trusting, and Rings cautious, both looked over their shoulders, and were both dazzled.

It wasn't just a rainbow. And to say it was many rainbows wouldn't do it justice. It was like they had stepped inside the green chaos emerald, and now, not only was the light being fragmented by the rain flew raindrops, but by the plants as well. Rings hadn't given the plants around here one iota of thought. But these trees, they were pines, or redwoods, any other mundane he had seen but at the same time weren't prehistoric or alien or otherwise threatening flora either.

After the rainfall, he saw the leafs opening up larger than they had before, he couldn't understand any biological logic behind this, opening up leaves further wasted energy which plants had little of, prevented the water from getting near the roots. The only reason Rings could think of that made even slight sense was that the leaves spread out further after rainfall for a short time... for whatever reason that these plants had for having evolved this way.

Then Rings smack himself for thinking too hard. That wasn't the point of this. Him figuring it out wasn't the point right now. He felt like he was a art student trying to figure out the weight, substance, and material of the marble, rather than thinking of the sculpture's artistic expression. He let himself go for one moment, just a moment, a let himself just enjoy things for how they were, and put the questions aside for just the next moment.

The rainbow mixed with the endless shades of green and other natural colors the leaves produced as the sun shinned through them. It was like the effect of sunlight through crystal, these trees produced it almost perfectly, with just enough defusion to create a blending of colors. It truly was a Stained Glass Forest.

Sly leaned back, knowing the show would neither last forever, nor much longer. He remembered the look of awe and appreciation Twilight had when she saw these forest northern lights. He was seeing that same expression on the two age altered, well, maybe Amy's expression was closer.

The two kids simply sat there in awe, actually enjoying themselves like typical kids, rather than thinking about the world of adults that never had a right to intrude on them yet but had all the same. The show itself didn't last four minutes, but it felt like eternity to those who saw it.

It was so beautiful, but it would only last so long, and if you missed your chance, while there might be others, that one would never come again.

Amy Spoke, still not taking his eyes off the show, "So Rings... about that concert... would you... like to go there with me?"

"Let me... let me sleep on it."

~Fin