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"What do you guys wanna do? I'm bored," said Blaze from her perch on Amy's desk.

"We could...go pick out some flowers?" Cream suggested, running a hand through her orange hair.

"Get real, Bunny Boo," said Rouge. When the youngest teen of the group gave her the sad puppy dog face, she hastily added, "No offense, hon." The three girls' gaze flickered to the hedgehog-chipmunk duo on the bed, the former hanging upside down and the latter next to her with a bag of hot fries. "What do you think, Pinky?"

"I got nothin'," the sakura hedgehog replied, her hair pooling on the floor.

"Me neither," said Sally, for once not throwing a fit when Rouge dug her hand in the bag.

Amy felt the blood rush to her head, now getting light-headed. But she was stubborn, so she stayed in that position, her thoughts consuming her.

Today marked the now four year anniversary of Sonic's departure. Well, it wasn't a happy occasion really. One day Sonic and the boys went out for a mission, and they hadn't returned since. How else was Amy supposed to act? The love of her life was MIA, or worse!

She couldn't let herself dwell on it too much.

Over time, Amy, Cream, and Rouge banded together. They were sometimes referred to as the new Team Rose. Then Blaze and Sally came along, and the five girls have been inseparable ever since. They may have their differences, but they all had one thing in common, oblivious or not.

They were waiting for their heroes to come home.

Each girl had changed somewhat over time. Amy's quills had grown, stopping at the center of her back; she was kind of the leader now, because the girls normally looked to her for commands and plan making. She still had her trusty Piko Piko Hammer, and discovered new fighting techniques with it.

Cream was always Amy's sidekick/best friend; the two had a big sister-little sister dynamic. And that certainly hasn't changed. The shyest, shortest, and most emotional of the group, Cream the Rabbit was now fourteen and had blossomed with soft curves and fun orange hair.

Rouge the ever so seductive was the one with the least amount of change. Her personality did alter some however; if anyone messed with her girls, it was on. She liked to bicker with Amy over pointless things, but what's new really?

Blaze, a friend from the future, was loyal but also came with a firey temper-pun intended. The girls introduced her to the do's and don't's of today rather than tomorrow. The cat hasn't been in her time frame since Silver left; they never traveled alone.

And then there was Sally Acorn. Now, while everyone thought that she and Amy were love rivals who wanted nothing more than to choke the other, it was quite the opposite actually. They had the rival part right. Oh yeah. Put them in the ring together, and they would level each other out for everything; speed, agility, technique. They had different mindsets, so their personalities did often clash on the occasion. But when it all came down to it, the hedgehog and the chipmunk were close and protected each other with their life.

As for the love part, Sally wasn't pursuing Sonic anymore; she knew how much Amy loved him. Why would she interfere? What kind of friend would she be then? Besides she had her own hidden, confused feelings to figure out.

"We are not going jewel hunting!" Blaze was saying.

"How do you know I was gonna say that?" Rouge demanded, earning several arched eyebrows for that one. "Okay, so maybe I was thinking it..."

Rouge may have been a treasure hunter at heart, but there were only a selected few times when she flew to Angel Island to 'check up' on the Master Emerald. She had her thoughts about stealing it, but then she thought of Knuckles and how important the emerald mattered to him.

So since his departure, Rouge has been secretly guarding the sacred emerald. The first time she went, she had an unexpected reaction from it. She reached the top step and started to put her hand forward, only to be blasted by a great power, knocked back several feet by an invisible force field. And she knew that if she couldn't get passed it, then no one could.

And no one dared to approach it.

"And we already went shopping today," said Sally.

Sally loved shopping as much as the others did. And it wasn't just for clothes, or accessories, but just to browse new weapons that came out, or even just to chill in the food court for a good hour.

"And trained a little," said Cream.

Cream liked training. When she was younger, she relied on her instincts, and she normally turned out okay; but the last thing she wanted to do was hurt someone. That was against her morals. However, she still trained with Amy and Sally, and she still learned sneaky things from Rouge; maybe she'll be able to use those techniques one day.

"What do you think Amy?" said Sally.

"...Amy?" said Cream.

There's been lots of times when Sonic did something or didn't do something that made me wonder why I ever liked him. But in the end, he always comes through for me. He may do crazy things and he may do stupid things; but he never does dishonest things. That's why I'll always have faith in him...


"Hi!" Sonic put up a hand to wave, smiling at her.

"WELL?!" Amy snapped.

"Huh?" Sonic panicked.

"What took you so long? I was worried!"

She remembered being so angry with him, forcing herself to be strong as she continued to tell him what he had put her through. But her throat ached, and her tears burned down her cheeks, pouring and pouring like an endless waterfall.

"Oh, I'm so glad to have you back, Sonic, it's such a wonderful feeling!" she sobbed, falling to her knees. "I don't think I've ever been as happy as I am right now!" She wailed even harder, covering her eyes and doubling over.

"Don't you ever leave me again, Sonic the Hedgehog!"

Her eyes opened and she saw the most beautiful purple rose she had ever seen in her life; Sonic was holding it out to her, down on one knee, with a reassuring smile on his face.

"Don't you worry, Amy," he promised her with a wink, "I never will."

It took her a moment to gather what he was saying; she was overwhelmed with happiness, and that was good enough for her. She threw herself in his arms, continuing to sob but she never let go of her hero. He patted her back, his movements just as awkward as his smile, his laughter nervous.


"You broke your promise..." she murmured, so low that her friends couldn't hear, but they saw her mouth move. Distantly she heard them talking, trying to catch her attention, but she was long gone in her memories, both good and bad.


"Leave him alone, Sonic!" Amy exclaimed, arms out protectively as the wind blew.

"This doesn't concern you, Amy. Stay outta the way!" said Sonic.

"You can't hurt him! He doesn't mean to be bad," she tried to convince him.

He doesn't look so. "Mmm..."

Her eyes widened with emotion. "He set us free!"

"...Okay, whatever you say," he finally agreed, and she sighed with relief. "A friend of yours is a friend of-"

The fleet shook, the two gasping in surprise.


"'Thanks for saving me, Amy!' 'My pleasure, Sonic!' 'Amy, you're the most beautiful girl in the universe!' 'Oh, Sonic, really?'-" Amy went on in her own little world, oblivious to the fact that her two friends were listening in. -"waiting for so long, Amy, WILL YOU MARRY ME?' 'OH SONIC, OF COURSE I WILL!'-"

"U-uh, excuse me?"

"Is that you, Sonic?"

"No, it's me, Chris!"


Amy knocked the door down, breathing heavily. Her fierce jade eyes settled on the blue hedgehog, who was hanging by a rope, and she smiled with relief and love. "There's my sweetie!"

Sonic panicked and started to swing as the rosy girl ran for him. She jumped, narrowly missing him, and her body fell in the water with a sharp splash. She emerged, now angry.

"You were supposed to catch me!" she whined.

"Oh, sorry," Sonic apologized, then his gaze flickered behind her. "Amy, look out!"

She wrenched her hammer back, knocking the robot that was about to attack her from the back. There was no way anyone was gonna get in the way of her and her love.


"Sonic!" Amy cried, her ship being attacked by the Metarex.

"Hang on, Amy!" Sonic cried back before he performed a speed dash, catching Amy before she could fall; he got her to safety, flipping down on the ground. Their breathing was heavy, synchronized, Amy clinging to his arm.

Her body felt weak, her knees buckling beneath her, and Sonic was there to catch her; but his body was feeling weak as well. The Metarex were now taunting Sonic, and Amy could tell that he was about to leave her side.

"Sonic!" she gripped his arm, trying to convince him to stay with her.

"I'm sorry, but I can't back down without a fight," he said back.

And next thing she knew, she was thrown by the Blue Blur, the sakura hedgehog hearing him faintly shouting, "Just don't hurt Amy!"

Just don't hurt Amy...


"Do you really mean that, Sonic?"

"Oh sure I mean it, Amy," Sonic purred, his eyes dazzling her as he towered over her, one hand by her head. He had her right where he wanted her, and for the moment, Amy didn't care. "I think you're just the cutest thing I've ever seen. The way you swing that hammer of yours around...my heart beats a million times a minute!"

Amy stared at him dumbly, her hands clasped shyly over her chest, over her own racing organ.

"I know," he continued, looking down and she eyed him curiously, "you could never go for someone like me. I guess that's just the way it has to be."

He turned around, dramatically throwing his hands out, "Perhaps I could go on!" He lay a hand over his face, clenching his fist, "If you would only swing that hammer once more...-"

"You want it? You got it!" Amy said eagerly, her hammer already out as she swung it around feverishly.

She quickly figured out he was lying, and she did not hesitate when she showed him how mad she was at him. Amy was mad at him for a good five minutes.

But then he saved her from drowning, knowing very well that he hated water and couldn't even swim, and she forgave him instantaneously.

It wasn't the last time he saved her from drowning. Him facing his fear head-on just to save the damsel in distress only made it more special.


Amy slowly turned her head, her gaze falling on her desk. Sitting atop it by her lamp was a clear tube, similarly shaped to the container that held the rose in Beauty and the Beast. Inside it was the exact rose Sonic had given her that day. It stayed just as beautiful, standing erect and healthy, and gave a bright purple glow around the inside. Tails made it for her so she could keep it for years to come. She's been taking care of it like a newborn baby ever since.

The rose was a daily reminder of him. Of them. All the adventures, the day-to-day beating around the Bush between the two hedgehogs. A dose of hope that he was still out there, safe, and will come home in one piece.

Amy was long used to not seeing him for extended periods of time. He was a hero! She understood that. He loved to travel, to see the world. She understood that too.

But being away from him for more than a year without a trace, without a call, text, or e-mail? She couldn't do it. She couldn't even bare the thought of what would have happened to her if Cream, Rouge, Sally, and Blaze weren't there.


The pink hedgehog jumped, whirling her head around-which wasn't a good idea since she was still upside down-to face the concerned, flipped faces of her friends.

"You're thinking about him again, aren't you?" Cream asked gently, her cinnamon orbs shining with unshed tears.

Amy never dated around or got in relationships. What was the point of feigning feelings to a complete stranger? Her heart belonged to Sonic, and Sonic alone.

The girls didn't either. Mention Tails, and Cream would burst into tears. Knuckles, and Rouge's eyes would narrow before she would deny and say she didn't care bitterly; but Amy knew better. Silver, and Blaze would shoot a blast of fire at your head.

Sally was a different story. Sometimes it was hard to read her face. Knowing Sally back then, she would not hesitate to any hot guy that pursued her. But the new Sally wasn't so willing. She turned down anyone and everyone. Amy wondered why, and some nights it bothered her. But she never questioned her friend, or pressed her on the subject. The five females wanted to be single, and for good reason. To each her own.

"Sorry," she said, making sure she sat up slowly, running her hand through her quills. Waiting for a moment, she made sure the world stopped spinning so fast before meeting their gaze with a steady one of her own. "I guess I'm just a little out of it."

"A little?" Rouge repeated, and Blaze elbowed her in the ribs.

"No, she's right." Amy shook her head, laying back down. "I'm waaaay out of it."

"All the blood is gonna rush to your head," Sally stated matter-of-factly.

"Sally, does it look like I care."

"You wanna do something fun?" Blaze said randomly after a beat, gasping. "Do you wanna go to Taco Bell?"

"She is on an all-carb diet," Rouge played along.

"God, Blaze, you are so stupid!" Cream giggled behind her hands, and Sally laughed.

"All of you are stupid," Amy snorted, and her room was filled with light, cheerful giggles.

The pink hedgehog's cell phone buzzed in her pocket, laughter dying down as she sat up once more. Pulling it out of her jacket, she checked out the caller ID.

It was an unknown number.

"What's wrong?" Cream asked, her smile wiped off her face. "Who is it?"

Amy lifted a shoulder, sliding her thumb over to answer with hesitancy, lifting the phone to her ear.


"I hate it-" a slightly deeper but familiar cocky voice said from the other line, causing her heart to skip beats, her green eyes widening-"when a guy has to break a promise to a girl just to chase someone who can't even run without looking like a retarded hippo."

"This can't be happening...," she whispered.

"Not to mention that the fatso has the guy and his buddies run circles around the world for four frickin' years. How bogus is that? Does he not realize that the guy would much rather eat a chilly dog and hang with his favorite girl? She might need saving, ya know. Whether she gets kidnapped by a robot or just needs someone to hold her shopping bags. Dude gets desperate."

Amy's breathing rate increased, her eyes watering and her tummy in knots. It was dead silent in her bedroom, each girl having shock and disbelief written all over their faces.

"This guy didn't mean to be gone for so long..." The voice softened like silk, and she hung onto his every word. "He's really sorry for breaking her promise. That was the last thing he wanted to do. But he's selfish for once again putting the world before her for, like, the thousandth time."

The sakura hedgehog was stunned silent.

"...Is there a chance for him to ever be forgiven?"

The girls looked at Amy with pointed, eager looks.

Amy cleared her throat, voice shaky. "Yes."

A lingered, relieved sigh.

She licked her lips, asking in a small voice, "S-Sonic? Is that you?"


The girls gasped, and a lone tear trickled down Amy's cheek.

"It's really me, Ames," he said. "Well, the voice is still something I'm gettin' used to. You shoulda seen the look on Tails' face when his voice dropped. Poor guy was croaking like a frog for weeks."

Amy could imagine, the image bringing a weak laugh to fall from her lips.

"God, I missed you Amy," he told her in earnest, and Amy wanted to burst into tears right then.

"Oh Sonic, I missed you too," she gushed. "You have no idea how much I-"

"I know. Same here."

"What...how..." She couldn't process her thoughts into words as she scrambled clumsily out of her bed to go downstairs. Once in the kitchen, she turned the light on.

The Blue Blur chuckled awkwardly. "I thought you'd be mad at me."

"Of course I'm mad at you, you idiot!" Amy snapped, then she sheepishly lowered her voice. "You left me and never bothered to call!"

"Am I gonna get a face fulla Piko when I see you?"

"Most likely!-...wait. W-What?"

"I've thought ahead of time, just in case you didn't forgive me or you were still mad..." He spoke after a beat. "Amy...I got you a present."


"Yeah. But I'm not sure whether you'll like it or not. It can't exactly be returned to the store."

"Where is it?"

"...Turn around."

Amy slowly made a 120 degree spin on her heels, catching a glimpse of something before she gasped, wrenching the door open.

Amy screamed breathlessly, dropping her phone.

Sonic lowered his phone, his eyes drinking her in as her own eyes raked over him just as hungrily. He stood a good ten feet away from her, a smile twitching his mouth. Amy could see the physical changes, the little things that her sharp eyes never missed. Like the additional three inches he grew, the white gauze around his left hand and his black fingerless glove on his right, the lean new muscle he gained. His new look consisted of a leather green sports jacket, a white wife beater underneath, rich denim jeans, and upgraded running shoes.

"Hi," he said, waiting for her to speak.

"WELL?!" she hissed, making him jump; he relaxed, seeing the watery smile now. "What took you so long? I was worried."

Sonic smiled at the memory and opened his arms just as she slammed into him. He let her squeeze him to death, returning her embrace just as fiercely, lifting her off the ground.

Their embrace lingered until Sonic pulled back.

And Amy took this opportunity to punch him square in the chest.

The speedster groaned, smiling through the pain, rubbing his throbbing chest. "Guess I deserved that, huh?"


Cream, Rouge, Blaze, and Sally had made it outside, not believing their eyes.

"Hey, girls!" Sonic waved while Amy looked back with teary eyes and a watery smile. He then turned around, cupping his hands around his mouth and yelled, "Hey, guys! You can come out now!"

One by one the rest of the gang appeared. Tails and Knuckles leaped down from their perches in the trees, the former hopping down and the latter digging his knuckles in the bark on the way down to slow his momentum. A portal opened, and Shadow stepped out of it, and Silver flew in using his telekinetic powers.

"Are you sure we're not getting hit next?" Tails said with a sheepish smile, and the girls did a double take at the sound of his deepened voice. He was an inch taller than Amy and wore flying gear, including his goggles.

"You just had to jinx it, didn't you?" said Knuckles with a huff. He wore hunting gear, and was the most hard-muscled out of the five of them. His dreads were currently pulled back in a ponytail, his ripped sleeveless jacket having handmade weapons inside and ready to use if necessary.

"Aww, did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?" Silver teased, his gold eyes alive and witty. His clothing had a futuristic feel to it, the palms of his white fingerless gloves matching the glowing tattoos he was born with.

"I will choke you."

"Idiots," Shadow muttered with a shake of his head. He blended in with the darkness of the trees, leaning against one casually with a foot propped up. From his leather jacket all the way down to his combat boots, he was the living and breathing definition of Tall, Dark, and Handsome.

Cream's eyesight blurred with tears. "M-Miles?"

Tails sobered up at the sound of her voice, blue eyes meeting brown. "Hiya."

Cream ran for the two-tailed fox, he meeting the rabbit in the middle. She jumped in his awaiting arms, wrapping her small limbs around his neck and waist, clinging to him for dear life, heavy sobs shaking her body. He held his friend tight, burying his face in her shoulder.

"Hey, Blaze!" Silver greeted as she approached him. "Ya miss me?"


"Ooh..." Sonic and Amy winced.

Silver's cheek stung, looking though unsurprising before he looked back at his fuming best friend.

"Leave me again and you'll wish you had never met me," Blaze snapped. But her voice cracked, tears ready to spring free, and Silver pulled her in by the back of her head to embrace her.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he apologized profusely in her ear.

"Oh, Knuckiiee!"

"Well, well, well," said Knuckles, crossing his arms. "If it isn't Rouge the Rat."

Rouge's face fell. "Ouch, sweetie. Sounds like someone didn't miss me."

"Me? Miss you? Are you kidding me?! Why would I wanna miss you?"

"Because I'm fun and frustrating." She winked at him. "I mean, c'mon. Look at me."

Knuckles blushed.

"Now, are we gonna argue, or are you gonna give me a little kiss?" She purred, walking her fingers up his chest, flirtatiously leaning in with a smirk on her face.

Knuckles flashed her a sultry smile, running the back of his hand underneath her chin. He closed the space beneath them, leaning down to her awaiting lips, parting with want, need, and expectation. His mouth barely brushed hers as he whispered, his hand coming up to grip her chin, "Nice try."

Rouge's mouth dropped, a surprised groan emitting from her as he pushed her away from him, her chest heaving.

Did...did he just...?

Shadow heard footsteps approach him, feeling a set of slender arms slide through the gaps between his and hugging him. Bewildered, he looked down and saw a sea of auburn waves.

"I know you think no one missed you, but you're wrong," Sally murmured in his shoulder blade.

Shadow's arms were at an awkward angle, not sure whether to hug her back or stay still.

He chose the former, gradually wrapping his arms around her body, and received a gentle squeeze from the chipmunk in response. It felt nice.

After everyone from both parties hugged everybody, Amy was the one who asked the burning question, hugging her arms.

"What did take you guys so long?"

Sonic exchanged glances with the guys before he met Amy's gaze, jerking his head. "Let's get you inside. You might wanna sit down for this."