I really should have worn a jacket.

Funny, isn't it? You run all over the place without even a shirt and I almost never hear you complain about being cold, even though you don't even have fur on your stomach, while I'm freezing my tail off just standing out here. I guess it's all the running that keeps you warm?

Tails stands beside me, looking around with weary disinterest, wilting slightly as a few cats come over to him for autographs but smiling at them all the same as he puts pen to paper, sticking close to me as he says a few words to them. Mostly answering questions about you.

I can only imagine if it was you standing here with me. The band wouldn't be able to perform until the whole crowd had seen you, admired you.

Seen me with you.

I look up at the stage, blinking against the lights.

I'm not here with you. I'm here with a friend. An annoying friend who doesn't look even a little cold. Or excited. He looks at those cats the same way he looks at me, tired eyes and hollow smile. Polite disinterest behind his veneer of Tails. They're bothering him, but he stays right there, right next to me, smiling and talking, rubbing the back of his head.

None of them even look at me a second time.

Well, the tom does. Which makes me feel a little better. But nobody's asking for my autograph, nobody's asking me if you're coming today. Your girlfriend.

Or at least, close enough. You're my destiny, after all. Even if you're not here. Even if you barely even look at me. Even if you flirt with any girl that's not me. What else am I if not your girlfriend?

A pair of avians walk over. Tails looks at them too, his ever swirling tails stiffen behind him as he smiles up at them, signing a paper and answering the same questions. He's as recognisable as you are, after all, it's partly why he stays cooped up in his lab so much. Partly why he didn't want to come.

Five rabbits this time. Tails flinches. At least his tails do. His face is locked into a smile as he looks up at everyone, carrying out multiple conversations. Doing his best to be you and doing a terrible job.

You'd have run away by now.

"Come on!" I grab his hand. "We're going to miss the show!"

"Sorry!" He says. I'm not sure if it's to me or his groupies as I drag him into the crowd. A parody of the perfect date I envisioned with you, dodging the adoring fans with you, finding somewhere quiet and cosy to watch the show, just the two of us.

How pitiful am I that I can't even hold the attention of the fox I dragged with me the whole way? I know he hates it. I've watched his tails for years. They're a lot worse at lying than he is. Why did he even let me drag him out here? I could have called Cream. It might have been a little harder to get here on time, but we could have made it, Cream would have had fun. She would have been an excited kid at a concert, not like this timid little weirdo looking around like he expects to have to fight his way out any minute. It's not even that crowded. There just aren't that many mobians left, after all.

"Thanks, Amy." Tails smiles at me, still holding my hand. I can barely hear him over the clamour of people around me. Barely see him in the dark, dwarfed by the crowds around him.

"You're supposed to be escorting me, you know." I let him go, rubbing my numb arms as I look away, straining to look at the stage through the crowd. "You're such a pushover."

"I know."

"You never used to-"

I'm cut off by the announcer, the lights on the stage brightening as a mongoose walks on stage with her band, the crowd roars all around me as she says a few words. Then music blasts through my ears.

Your kind of music. I can see why you like them.

I can see why you like her. The mongoose throws herself across the stage as she sings, wild and free, like she doesn't even see the audience, almost running into her guitarist, lost in the melody.

Would you look at me if I was on that stage? If I could sing, or dance, or throw myself around like an idiot in front of a thousand people?

I'm not jealous.

Tails brushes up against me. I look down to see him straining on tiptoes, trying to see the stage. I roll my eyes. So what if he's a few inches shorter than the people in front? As though he couldn't just zip up overhead at any point and get the best view in the house, he can fly. So why hasn't he?

Tails sees me looking down at him and smiles again, not mentioning his problem, even as he keeps trying to peek between heads to get a view of the stage. Even when someone steps on his tail, he just scootches a little closer to me without a word, making sure he doesn't get swept away by the crowd, following my movements without even glancing my way.

Ugh. Of course he does. He's your sidekick after all. Staying close is what he's best at. Even if he's miserable, even if he's staring at a wall of heads and shoulders, even if I dragged him here, he'll stay right here, next to me, never running away until I'm done with him. Same as he would for anyone.

And I hate that.

I ram my elbow into his ribs and put my arms behind my back, crouching down slightly. He stares at me, murmuring a question too quiet to hear.

"Get on!" I snap, scowling at him. This idiotic genius too dumb to take care of himself.

He hesitates. Of course he does. Like I want to be bent over in a dress with a bunch of people trampling around me, dancing to the mongoose girl that won't stay still.

"Now!"

He does as he's told. Of course he does. How are the two of you so close and so different? So lame. Here I am, dressed to kill, giving an eight year old fox a piggyback.

He's heavier than he looks. I remember he mentioned that once. I was trying to get him to teach me how to swim so I could rescue you when you were drowning and give you the kiss of life. But he said something about mobians being denser than sand or something and it being basically impossible. Like him and Knuckles don't do it themselves all the time.

But even if he's heavier than he looks, he looks like a ball of fuzz, and I have four inches on him and I'm strong enough to lift a mobian cat four times his size and fifteen times his weight. I straighten up again, his weight pressing down on my head and back, his tails wrapping up over my shoulders for purchase as he cranes over my head, watching the band with rapt stillness with maybe a thank you murmured against the noise.

I wonder if he likes this music? Or does he just like the mongoose?

But I'm not mad.

I'm finally warming up, after all. Another parody of what I planned. I had my back spike removed so you could carry me, after all, not this. Anything but having a twin-tailed backpack drooling over some floozy.

Well, she's not a bad singer, I suppose. You'd have been happy at least. And that would have made me happy. And maybe you could have said you liked my dress. And maybe you'd finally realise that you love me and we'd have our first kiss and you'd stop running away all the time and…

And I'm here with him instead, his chin on my head as he ogles the girl on stage. Well that's fine, I guess. About time he started taking an interest in girls. Maybe he could teach you a thing or two?

The song ends, the crowd roars its praise as the mongoose traipses her way back to the middle of the stage, all skinny and gorgeous, talking about how much she loves the atmosphere here in Water Palace. Gag. There's no way she's not cold in what she's wearing. Not me though, I have a fluffy hat.

I nudge Tails with my head, taking advantage of the comparative quiet to get a good tease in.

"Hey, loverboy, roll your tongue back in. My spines are getting wet."

He doesn't reply. Doesn't even twitch as the next song blasts out. Ugh. Boys.

Well I did tell him to have a good time, I suppose. I sigh. He's lucky to have a sweetheart like me for a friend. He'd probably be sat at his desk otherwise, drinking bad tea and eating bad candy. I bet you'd be staring too. Or insist on joining her on stage. My perfect date can't even be perfect in my head.

I look away as best I can with Tails slumped over me, glancing through the crowd, people dancing and having a good time. Girls with boyfriends, family, friends. And here's me, my boyfriend is probably two thousand miles away and doesn't even look at me, my family is on the other side of the sun, and my dorky friend is literally drooling on my head over the lead singer.

"Hey!" I shake him. A gloved hand drifts down off my shoulder. "Oh you had better not be-"

Wait.

Shifting to carry him one handed, I fish a pocket mirror out and stare into it, angling the surface until…

Yep. So much for looking at the show or the mongoose. He's fast asleep, not even facing the stage, oblivious to the guitar solo blasting our eardrums at this very moment, cheek wet against my head.

I'm not that mad. Just thinking about where to drop him off.

Maybe a cliff? Straight into the water? He can swim, that would be fine, right?

And then I see you. There in the corner of the mirror, a silhouette I know so well.

I turn around, the only person in the whole crowd not facing the band as I stare up at the top of a metal scaffold, where you sit beside a spotlight, staring down at the stage.

You've been here this whole time.

Is that someone with you? Or are you alone? Are you here for her?

I can't tell. I'm blinded by the spotlight. And anger. So, so much anger.

And my hammer is in my free hand, the mirror forgotten. I walk through the crowd, pushing them aside as I march up to the scaffolding, squeezing the handle tight so I don't fly away.

If I hit it hard enough the people here won't be in danger. Just into the next zone. Just until my hammer breaks. Just until you finally get tired of running and let me hit you until my arms don't work anymore.

Pyrotechnics erupt from the stage and Tails stirs, fidgeting in my one handed grip, tails squeezing my shoulders as he whimpers out slurred words.

Perfect. I'll put him up there too and whack both of you. All three of you. I don't even know anymore. Why didn't you just look at me?

The wind blows, icy and cold against my wet cheeks.

And my hammer is gone, my hand behind my back, supporting Tails' shifted weight as I walk towards the exit, kicking the metal scaffold as I leave hard enough to make it at least wobble a little.

Do you even notice? Do you get that panicked expression you get when you see me? Do you like my dress?

Are you jealous? Even a little?

I hope so, but I don't know. Because for once I don't look at you. For once I'm running away. I know you could catch me if you wanted to.

But you don't. And so I keep on walking until I can't hear the music anymore. The open fields of the zone stretch before me as I walk, my cheeks cold and wet and prickling every time the wind picks up.

But only my cheeks.

Finally Tails stirs, momentarily tightening his arms around me like I wish you would before jerking upright, tails outstretched. He almost falls off my back as he looks around in a panic.

"Wh-what happened? Where's the concert?"

"Left. It was too noisy there."

"Oh… I…" His dangling arm withdraws from my chest, probably rubbing the back of his head. "I'm sorry. I've been working on a new project for the last few days. Guess I've been tired."

He laughs nervously. Like he thinks I'm going to hit him. Again. Like I didn't drag him there.

I sigh, staring out across the dimly lit grass of the zone.

"You were a lousy date."

He flinches, starting to stammer out an apology.

"You'd better take me someplace nice next time to make up for it."

"Huh?"

I can just picture his ears. It makes me smile to myself through my wet cheeks.

"And you'd better get lots of sleep the night before! And… and… help me figure out where Sonic would like to go. No letting him run out the window next time!"

"…Okay. Sure thing. I'll see what I can come up with."

"Now get back on my shoulders properly. I'm cold and it's a long walk back to your place."

"I could-"

"Tails."

So he did.

And I don't know if Tails fell back to sleep on the walk back.

But I do know he never let go.

The End.


Author's Notes:

Ever finish a one shot and then have your muse force you to write a second chapter?

No? Me neither.

I hope you enjoyed reading this bonus chapter that nobody asked for, least of all me.

~ Pan