He didn't like water.
Or, better say, he hated it. With every cell of his skin, with every inch of his body - he couldn't even think about touching the liquid surface or, even worse, being immersed in it.
Water was dangerous.
Water was scary.
It made him suffocate. It brought back all the memories he wished to forget: the pain, the darkness, the hopelessness.
Each time he had to, for one reason or another, contact with the water, it filled him with panic. The primal horror, the one that couldn't be explained by the rational part of his brain, was taking over his mind, raising from the very depths, freezing his insides and breaking his usual confidence and courage.
Even such a small thing as a glass of water could cause another panic attack. That's why he never drank from transparent containers. And never the plain water: it should have some taste, some other texture, should be something different.
Coffee was great.
Soda was his second favorite.
Except the green one - green liquids made him shiver.
But the worst was the shower.
Sometimes he wished that he needed as much less shower as he did sleep. Technically, he did, but he couldn't control external factors - the places, where he from time to time found himself in, weren't perfect examples of cleanliness. Especially after his and his team's visits. Machine oil and gunpowder made a horrible mix sinking deep onto his fur, so the choice was either to cut it all out or simply wash it away.
Several times he seriously considered using the first option.
Shower was a small version of rain. And no matter how much he liked any weather this planet could provide, there was no chance he would ever willingly go outside when it rains. The umbrella did help to an extent, but not at his usual travel speed. And of course he couldn't use it in the shower. Ridiculous thought, but it did occasionally occur nevertheless. As much as any other irrational impulses that he had to fight with.
Still, he was good at hiding those.
Only two knew about his fear. But the one, who was aware about the true reason behind it, had been long gone. And the other… she figured it out herself. She was a smart one and he knew she would eventually find out, even though they weren't that close. Her trained eye caught up every single detail and no surprise that she was the first (and the last) who broke through his disguise. But she never showed it, never said a word - just silently followed his strange habits of avoiding water and always took all the tasks involving it on herself.
He was grateful for that. But never said it out loud.
Surprisingly, he knew how to swim. That was one of the many skills he had been taught back then and also one of the few that he still found useful. Several times, when the situation demanded it, the ability to swim already saved his life.
And not only his.
One day, because of some weird coincidence that forced them to team up, he ended up saving his arch-rival from drowning. That fool rushed right into the water, thinking that someone was in danger. It was such an obvious trap that he couldn’t hold back an irritated sigh waiting for the other to finally find it out too.
Half a minute later he suddenly remembered one little fact he once heard.
That idiot couldn't swim.
Half a minute more he spent hoping it was just a rumor.
Because who the hell would seriously jump into the water without knowing how to swim?
He really did it, didn't he?
It took him fourteen seconds to pull them both out of the water. Fourteen dreadful seconds facing his personal liquid hell.
And it was green.
Of course it was green.
He never yelled at anyone louder than at that moment. Shaking from both anger and inner terror he didn't even make an attempt to calm down until he fully expressed everything he thought about the situation. All his aggravation, however, could be summed up in one simple question.
And everything he got in return was a wide smile followed by:
"I might be afraid of water, but the fear of losing a life is much stronger."
He didn't understand that line at first. But then got struck by the irony of those words. He growled and dashed forward to avoid further conversation because it was the last thing he needed right now.
Another reminder of how much alike they actually were.
The amount of similarities began to seriously bother him. As if it wasn't enough already, that last one, that water problem was the final straw that broke the dam of his thoughts. And they flooded him headlong: all the small details, all the insignificant pieces that he used to, preferred to ignore, every encounter, battle, race, strange moments when they worked together, acting almost in unison.
There were just too many of them.
And there also was… a blurry memory, an image that he couldn't recall fully. Something from that day when he fell from the sky.
"I think I've discovered what the Ultimate Lifeform is ...it might be you!"
Did he actually say that?
He couldn't quite remember it.
But it was so easy to believe in it every time he saw with what ease Chaos bended under the hero's will. When the raw power of seven emeralds spread along the blue silhouette, coloring it in a pure, sparkling and shiny gold - it looked like the most natural thing in the world.
He never reached such a level of control himself.
And the most absurd was the fact that the usual insult, that sarcastic nickname they both used to pinch each other's ego now sounded way too accurate. Who would have thought that one spontaneous word would become deeper than a simple mockery?
To the point his own name looked like a reflection of it.
Maybe he indeed was a fake after all.
That was stupid.
An absolute nonsense.
Somehow he still believed in it.