Finally, the final chapter. It's been swell, guys but this is where it ends. Thank-you all you reviewers who have kept my spirits up since last chapter: SilverLion77, Linz2, Serkeru, ExMarkSpot, ItsHyperKB, Viggar, RepentorPerish, IT'S NO USE I'M OUTTA USE, and The Chuckinator.
You may have also seen that I put a new cover on this story. I didn't have any Sonic-y images for any of my Sonic stories, so I made that one up quickly specifically for this story. Probably a little late to be caring about such a detail when we're on the last chapter, although... could it be... that perhaps... there could be an extra chapter? I'm currently working on it, have no idea how long it will take. It's an idea that sprang up during my writing of this story but it doesn't fit anywhere within the main story. So look out for this brand new cover illustration in the event that a bonus chapter appears. Until then, thank-you for reading and I hope this ending satisfies.
Chapter 7: Building the Relationship
It was hours later and Amy glared at the glass window of the local jewellery shop that she had been dragged towards and it wasn't like she could just leave. She was boxed in on all sides by not one but four girls and two of them were giggling and sighing like the actresses in the chick flicks she liked to watch. It was a lot more annoying in real life than on screen.
"You should totally urge him to splurge on a big, fancy one," Staci said, pointing to an overdesigned gold ring with a diamond the size of an unshelled walnut. "I mean, surely he makes a ton with all those hero royalties, right?"
"Hero royalties aren't a thing," Amy corrected her. "Sonic only gets occasional rewards from the mayor's office for dealing with violent criminal activity. Other than that he's pretty jobless. And pretty poor."
"Girl, you need a better man in your life." Staci shook her head.
"A man is not a financial plan," Perci said wisely. "I think you should go for something simple that won't interfere with your work. Like that one." The ring she referred to was a classic design with a small, faceted diamond.
"Yeah, keep giving suggestions," Sticks encouraged. "Zooey, you tell Amy what you think seeing as I know nothing about this kind of stuff."
Zooey looked up, somewhat surprised that she had been called upon since she had become distracted with tickling the babies' fingers and toes. Their arms and legs wiggled a bit but she hadn't made them smile yet. They probably didn't know how to at this stage. She glanced at the rings in the window.
"I don't know," she replied. "Aren't things like this really personal? It should be up to Amy and Sonic."
"But we have to influence them to make the best decision by societal norms and conventions," Staci argued.
"We're just helping them find the best method of displaying their love in a way that doesn't compromise their individual uniqueness," Perci added.
Zooey and Sticks cocked their heads to the side, not sure what to make of the conflicting opinions from two people who looked like clones.
"That's enough!" Amy shouted, throwing her arms up. "I'm done with this! Sonic and I aren't even dating, we're not getting married anytime soon! I just want to go home!"
"But think of how many hours we have left to do so many other things," Sticks implored, looking around for another form of distraction. She spotted a villager walking by with her head down staring into her phone. "Hey, Rabbit Girl!"
She looked up briefly. Then she turned her eyes straight back down to update her status: "That weird feral badger chick is talking to me. Ew. - at the jewellery shop, feeling bored :/"
"You should come and see Amy's babies!"
"I already know about them. That news was so last week."
"They were barely even born last week," Sticks muttered, quite put out. Rabbit Girl was about to walk away. Thinking fast, Sticks blurted out: "But nobody's taken a selfie with them yet!"
That made Rabbit Girl stop in her tracks. She turned around quickly. "What, seriously?"
"Babies don't need selfies," Amy said, rolling her eyes.
"Yeah, you're right," Sticks agreed. "Social media is a trap to hypnotise the masses into complacency so that when the robot overlords arrive there will be no resistance to their subjugation. It's a good idea to keep them away from it."
"They have no social media presence whatsoever?" Rabbit Girl gasped. "What kind of mom are you, Amy?"
She bounced over the pram and by the time she got there her phone was already in camera mode. "Move, Zooey! I can't get them all in frame with you standing there."
"Hey!" Zooey protested.
Amy groaned. At least when it was just Zooey she might have been able to politely tell the fox to leave but now her pram was blocked by a teenager trying to find the best angles for her Instasnap account. She needed to go before it got any worse than this. Of course, just when she had thought that the shop's door bell chimed, signalling someone leaving since they hadn't seen anyone enter. Lady Walrus paused on the doorstep with a shopping bag hanging off her arm with her purse and turned to the gaggle of girls crowded by the window.
"Girls, if you must gather could you do it elsewhere?" she demanded in her usual snooty tone. "I'd prefer not to have the unsightly rabble in view during my shopping trips."
"You're just jealous because you no longer have the monopoly on cute babies in the village!" Sticks growled, shaking her fist at the aristocrat.
"To be honest, Chumley was never that cute," Perci said.
"Besides, what are you even doing in a jewellery shop?" Staci asked. "You'll only ever wear the same accessories you always wear."
"It's almost as if we've been built as static 3D models," Sticks theorised, "animated within a digital world controlled by robots and our real bodies are being held in enormous battery factories that transform the electrical signals running through our bodies into power sources. How did I not see it before? The robot apocalypse has already happened!"
The crowd of women stared at her, speechless from how weirded out they were.
"But highly probable threats to our universe aside," Sticks added, "Lady Walrus, since you actually buy jewellery you don't wear, help us distract Amy for a bit longer with nonsense advice about engagement rings and getting married."
"Why are you trying to distract me?" Amy yelled. "You've been doing it all day!"
Lady Walrus snorted condescendingly. "If you ask me, that should have been the first thing you did before getting into bed with him."
The girls all covered their mouths and let out a low collective gasp of "ooooh", turning to Amy. Rabbit Girl immediately ceased taking selfies and her thumbs tapped rapidly across her phone's keypad. Amy narrowed her eyes, putting one hand on her pram and the other on her hip when she retorted:
"You know, Lady Walrus, come to think of it, I've never seen your husband and-slash-or father of your children."
The scandalised gasps turned into a much louder exclamation as Lady Walrus gaped at her in shock. She haughtily turned her nose up and strutted away.
"Now if the rest of you will excuse me," Amy snapped, "I need to go home."
"But Amy—" Sticks started.
"No, Sticks! All of this activity is bad for my kids. It'll overstimulate them and it's so difficult to deal with triplets in public. Not to mention that I'm currently out of clean diapers."
"Then let's go launder them at Mombot's house."
"On top of all that, I'm also tired. I've missed three naps today because you insisted on dragging me around the village all day!"
"Naps?" Rabbit Girl interrupted. "What are you, five?"
"Just get out of my way," Amy snapped, pushing her pram with no regard for anyone standing in front of it. They would have to move or suffer the consequences. Sticks ran after her in an anxious state. It wasn't even sundown yet. She hoped the boys were done with their project because there was no way she was going to be able to redirect Amy now.
Back at Amy's house, Sonic and Knuckles leaned on their thighs, panting hard. Tails flew out of one of the windows and stood beside them admiring their work, relatively fresh seeing as Sonic's project hadn't required much of his physical abilities.
"Double-check of the construction work is complete," he announced. "The engineering is sound, the building is stable, and it looks great! It's amazing how much you can get done in so little time when the plot demands it."
"Okay," Sonic huffed. He stood up and brushed some of the lingering sawdust off him. "Now we just need to go get Amy."
"WHAT THE HECK?!"
The boys turned around. Turned out they didn't need to get Amy after all because she was standing right behind them with her face and body language torn between jaw-dropping shock and apoplectic rage. Sticks stood a couple of paces behind her twiddling her fingers sheepishly.
"I tried, you guys," she excused.
"It's okay, Sticks," Sonic assured her, "you tried for just long enough."
"MY HOUSE!" Amy shrieked.
"This is Amy's house?" Knuckles asked, turning around to look at it.
From the outside it barely looked like her house any more. The original pink walls were still standing but were overshadowed by the extended veranda. Over the veranda and house an entire second storey had been built, still in its natural wood colour and extra thatching had been added to make up for the larger area the roof had to cover.
"I can't believe you redesigned my house without consulting me," Amy shouted at them.
"It was supposed to be a pleasant surprise," Tails told her.
"How was this supposed to be pleasant? Coming home and finding a completely different house where my house was is totally unpleasant! What about ensuring fit-for-purpose design? What about the fittings and joinery considerations? What about the feng shui? This is my house and you guys just came here and reworked everything without even asking me!"
"Amy's 100% more mad than we thought she would be," Knuckles remarked.
"Your mathematics is surprisingly correct," Tails muttered.
"Whoa, Ames," Sonic said nervously, "why don't you have a look inside before you decide you don't like it?"
"It's not about not liking it, it's about the principle," Amy seethed. "What gave you the gall to do something stupid like this?"
"It's not like—"
"Then what is it like?"
"You didn't let me finish!"
"Because I don't care what it's not like! What's your excuse, huh?"
"It's hard to say..."
"Too challenging for you?"
Sonic glared at her for that accusation. She folded her arms, equally defiant. Trust Amy to get angry and make things difficult when he was only trying to do right by her. He was about to voice that thought when the argument was suddenly interrupted by cries from the pram. Baby Skye had a demand of some sort and Amy quickly abandoned the standoff to find out what it was. Sonic's anger and frustration left him like a balloon deflating.
"I did it for them," he admitted.
Amy turned around with Skye in her arms, staring at him critically.
"I felt bad about being a terrible father and yesterday I noticed that your house isn't really big enough for all of you, so... I wanted to make it up to you by renovating your house so that there's... er, you know..."
"Room to raise a family," Amy finished for him with some gooey tenderness in her voice. Her sharp gaze softened to putty and she put a hand on her own cheek romantically. Not having a say in how her house was redeveloped suddenly didn't matter because Sonic had thought about her and the babies and their needs.
Sonic's cheeks and ears went red. "I-I guess you could say that. Here, just have a look inside. And if you still hate it then you can... I dunno, hit me with your hammer or something."
Amy smiled and nodded. She had to put Skye back in the pram to wheel it into the new house, which he didn't appreciate without his need being met first and let them know very vocally. Sonic opened the door for her and left it open for their friends but was too preoccupied with helping Amy get the babies out of their pram to notice that they hadn't followed them in.
"Looks like our work here is done," Tails declared, smiling proudly.
"We should let them have some privacy," Sticks suggested with the same smile.
"Aw, but I wanted to see Amy's new house," Knuckles complained.
"Some other time," Tails assured him dismissively.
"Yeah, we need to skedaddle so they can have a romantic, non-public courting ritual," Sticks told them. "I learned today that everything I knew about reproduction was for birds."
"You don't say," Tails muttered dryly.
Inside the house, Amy parked the pram just inside the front door. She handed fussy Skye over to Sonic, who tried not to fumble the squirming baby, while she picked up Sonia and Scarlett. She surveyed the room. The downstairs part looked almost the same as it had before but without the baby things cluttering it up. The new, flat ceiling had an oculus in it to retain the natural light from the clerestory roof but the edges were still shadowed by the floor above, necessitating the sconce lights that Tails had installed at regular intervals around the wall. In the place where her bed used to be there was now a spiral staircase going up to the second storey.
The second floor was plain for the time being but Amy was already thinking of ideas to spruce up the featureless wooden walls, doors, and floor. The balcony around the oculus had five rooms branching off it plus a bathroom. She went around the balcony, peering into the open doors. There were two empty rooms. Full of potential, she thought. The next room after them had Amy's bed and nightstand and she could see through the window that she had a level view with her garden. At the next room she paused and gasped excitedly. All of her baby things had been moved to this room: the bassinets, the tub, the change table, the bouncers. And there was room for a bit more.
"I have a nursery!" she squealed, bouncing on her feet. Her jostled daughters began to wail. She hurried into the room to place them in their bassinets where they calmed down now that they were in a stable location.
"You like it?" Sonic asked hopefully, coming in behind her.
"I love it! Sonic, this is the best thing you've ever done for me!" She clasped her hands and did a giddy spin on one foot.
"That's great, Ames. Since we're here, do you mind taking him now?" Sonic said, holding out Skye. "I think his diaper's wet and I still don't know how to change these origami diapers you have."
"Well, now's the time to learn," Amy insisted, looping her arms around one of his and guiding him over to the change table.
Sonic stared at the change table in dread. He tried gently resisting but he couldn't do much with Skye's safety hanging in the balance. "You know, I was thinking that since I worked really hard today I could take a break for now."
"I thought you felt bad about being a terrible father," Amy said. It immediately shut him up. "This is your first lesson about parenting: there are no breaks. Your babies need you 24/7. Now put him down on the cover and listen carefully to my every instruction."
Sonic did as he was told. Amy had him cornered and she was going to get a lot of mileage out of the 'terrible father' barb. Rightly so, in all fairness but changing a diaper was still gross. This eco-diaper just made it all the grosser by forcing him to deal with all the individual bits even after it was removed.
Skye let out what sounded like a squeaky sigh now that he had a freshly cleaned and powdered bottom. While Amy sent Sonic to the bathroom to flush the liner and clean himself up, she quickly redid the folds. Sonic's amateur wrapping wasn't quite good enough but at least he was learning this time instead of avoiding his responsibility. It made her smile as she set her son down in his bassinet. He was already going back to sleep, as the babies usually did whenever they didn't need anything. She took a moment admiring them, all safe, snug, and content in their bassinets while blissfully ignorant of the drama they'd brought.
She decided to give them some peace and left the nursery room. She could hear the water running in the bathroom where Sonic was apparently still cleaning himself. Figured he'd get all precious about his son peeing on him during a change. Once he got the hang of doing the folding, Amy would tell him about the sideways changing trick for baby boys (unless he learned it from the internet before she got to tell him but she hoped he wouldn't, seeing his face when it happened was hilarious). There was one last room that she hadn't looked at. Amy believed it was probably as empty as the first two she stepped into and built identically (as all the rooms had been) but the artist in her head needed to take a look inside anyway. The vista through the window was a crucial factor to take into consideration when doing interior design, after all.
The door was partially open and only needed a little push just like all the others had but once inside Amy froze. It wasn't empty at all. Sonic had brought his hammock in here, as well as the few things he kept in his shack—his baskets, his dartboard, his table, and his rugs, which were rolled up and leaning against a wall. She stared at it all, wide-eyed in surprise and wondering what Sonic was thinking in bringing it all here.
Sonic coughed awkwardly behind her. She turned around, giving him a questioning look. He rubbed his elbow and looked away from her in embarrassment. They stood in silence for a while, both waiting for the other to speak first. In the end, Amy's burning question couldn't stay in any longer.
"Sonic, why does it look like you're going to be living here?"
"Well, uh, funny story," Sonic replied, running his fingers through his spines awkwardly. "I kinda demolished my shack so that we'd have enough materials to build all of this."
"You did what?!" Amy exclaimed. "You didn't have to do that."
"I kinda did seeing as Tails' Build-it Box isn't actually unlimited. I mean, sure it makes anything but you've gotta put a bunch of stuff in it first. I think. Its powers and abilities vary depending on the writer."
"Oh," Amy moaned sympathetically. "Your poor dilapidated shack on that beautiful beach paradise..."
"Don't worry about it, it'll probably return inexplicably to avoid adherence to continuity. I mean, I do miss it and tearing it down did kinda hurt but you and the kids are more important right now," he finished sadly.
Amy had her fingers pressed over her lips but he could see her beaming from cheek to cheek even as tears rolled down her face. Sonic couldn't keep looking at that face. He tried to find something else to look at but the hall was bare and while he was turned away Amy nearly bowled him over in a crushing hug the likes of which only a woman with biceps of steel from wielding a hammer against robots every day could pull off.
"Oh, Sonic, that's so romantic! And so... so... responsible!"
"Air!" Sonic wheezed. "And intact ribs!"
She let him go and he nearly collapsed, gulping in air like there was a shortage.
"I'm sorry, Sonic," she said, so out of the blue that he had to look at her and ask her to repeat it to make sure he'd heard right. "For how angry I got at you earlier. You did the right thing and I'm really proud of you but I feel so bad about you having to move out of your home over all of this. I should have done something more to prevent it going this far - if I had just been more aware of my health and realised I was pregnant—"
"No one's at fault for this," Sonic cut her off. "Well, except Eggman because of his stupid plot and next time I see him I'm gonna rearrange his face courtesy of my now non-existent house." He took a deep breath, remembering that he had to seem like he wasn't too cut about losing his shack. "It's not like we can change anything at this point even though beating up Eggman is gonna be so satisfying. We've gone about it all backwards but before we go forwards there's just one more piece of blame that I need to own up to."
"No, I've gotta wear this one, there's no room for argument about that. I thought about it a lot and you need to hear it. Amy, I'm sorry that things got this messy. Probably none of this nonsense would have happened if I hadn't been so stubborn and just had the guts to admit to myself and to you that I... I..." Sonic swallowed hard, trying to push down the lump that was blocking his words. "I l-l-lo-like you..." he choked, "more than any other girl."
"You do?" she whispered. She couldn't work out why she wasn't able to say it any louder. Her heart thumped hard and her stomach squirmed with a whirlwind of butterflies and she suddenly felt lightheaded. She must have floated off the face of the Earth and gone to heaven.
"Yes. Full disclosure moment, right here. And I noticed all of your hints but was too chicken to take them. If I had just told you the truth when I first knew it instead of hiding it then we probably wouldn't be here right now. Or maybe we would have been, but it would have been great instead of horrifying because we would be together and all the pregnancy signs would have made sense and we could have dealt with it properly instead of getting thrust into it unexpectedly. You know what I mean, right?"
Amy nodded automatically as though she was in a trance. The glazed eyes unnerved Sonic a bit but at least she was reacting positively with an expression that suggested that all of her dreams were coming true right now. He took each of her hands in his, which shook her from the daze and allowed her to look him in the eye properly.
"So, Amy... do you wanna... be my girlfriend?"
"Of course," she breathed without skipping a beat.
Sonic smiled. His heart and shoulders felt like they'd just shed the ton of weight pressing down on them during this entire talk. He was so relieved that the difficulty ended at the confession and didn't have to continue down the sad path of rejection where it very well could have gone after how he'd behaved towards Amy lately.
"Thanks, Ames, you have no idea ho—mmph!"
Amy shushed him with her lips on his. She pulled her hands free of his to wrap her arms around his neck, holding their bodies flush against each other. Sonic froze with his hands hovering uselessly by their sides but piece by piece the initial shock wore off and he lowered his hands to rest on her waist. Just as he was ready to go deeper, Amy pulled away. She chuckled at his expression, eyes closed and leaning closer so his lips could try to catch her before she got away. He opened his eyes disappointedly.
"Come on, Ames, don't leave me hanging."
"Okay," she cooed, bringing her hands up to cradle his head, "but just so that we have full disclosure across the board, I love you too. I have for a long time."
"Hearing that is so much better than just inferring it."
They closed their eyes and leaned forward again. They were so close that nothing should have been able to stop them but a sudden cry from the nursery hit the pause button when they were only a breath away. They groaned but took a step back.
"I guess we're gonna have to wait," Sonic sighed.
"They're a handful," Amy said apologetically, "but I feel a lot better now that you're here and you're not running away."
"You can bet I'm never running away from you again."
As they pulled apart Amy's hand slid down his arm and settled on his palm. Sonic weaved his fingers between hers and held firmly while the two of them returned to the nursery together. It was going to be hard but Amy was determined and Sonic... well, he never backed down from a challenge.