Chapter 9

A Little More Happiness

Amy Rose opened her eyes as the first glint of sunlight peeked through the curtains of her living room window. She yawned and tried to get up, but something heavy was wrapped around her waist, holding her down. She looked to her side and almost collided with Sonic's head. She started to freak out at first, thinking that she was dreaming when suddenly she remembered what had happened the previous night. She smiled and curled up against Sonic's chest. He mumbled something incoherent and shifted in his sleep.

Amy kissed him on the cheek and unwrapped herself from his embrace. She slid off the couch and sleepily trudged to her room. She threw on a crimson sweater with dark green jeans and a ribbon hair band to match.

She stepped into the kitchen and started making breakfast, thinking to herself As much as I want to sleep in with Sonic, I promised the girls to meet the next day, bright and early. I think I'll leave a note for Sonic so he'll know where I went.

Before she left, she made sure to slip on her engagement ring.


Rouge rubbed her forehead and groaned. "Who decided to meet at eleven in the morning? The bags under my eyes haven't even disappeared yet?" She swallowed some portable Tylenol and switched to massaging her temples. Looking at herself, she sighed, "I'm surprised I dressed myself so nice today." She wore a long sleeved velvet dress with a thin black coat over it. Her haggard appearance and stylish clothes seemed to balance out, though her headache seemed to be the cause of the permanent scowl on her face.

"Oh, calm down," Mina cooed. "It's not our fault you went out drinking with Knuckles." Mina seemed comfortable enough in her green pea coat and long gray skirt; her legs were protected by the cold with black leggings and she had three gold hoop earrings in each ear. Her hair was loose and waved down her back.

"Hey, he was paying for the drinks – how could I resist?" Rouge laughed, feeling a little better.

"Well, I got a lot of sleep and I'm ready to go!" Cream cheered. She wore khaki pants with a red and green crocheted reindeer sweater; on her head was a floppy, ear-protector hat.

Mina raised her eyebrows. "Where's Cheese?"

"Oh, he is at home with my mother," Cream grinned. "I think he's still sleeping."

"Lucky," Rouge muttered.

"I was about to sleep in too," called a cheerful voice, "but I had a better reason for stay in than mere fatigue!"

The three girls turned their heads down the snowy path and saw the pink hedgehog coming up the path. Amy waved with her free hand while the other was tucked inside her jeans pocket. When she met the girls, they each took turns giving her an hug and wishing her a 'Merry Christmas'.

"I'm curious," Rouge announced, smirking. "What reason do you have?"

Amy glowed. "I'll give you one hint 'cause that's all you'll need!" she smiled.

The girls nodded.

"He's blue."

Mina blushed pink and blurted, "No way! He slept with you all night?"

"Way to go!" Cream chimed, not sure she grasped the full meaning behind Mina's words.

"I didn't know you had it in you," Rouge smiled, impressed.

It was Amy's turn to redden. "Oh no, it's nothing like that! We didn't DO anything." She shook her head and calmed down, enough to let a curious smile light her features. "But, I am sure we will soon." Amy lifted her hand out of her pocket and dangled it out in front on the girls.

A collective gasp erupted from the group and each girl took turns shifting Amy's ring finger and examining the sparkling jewel.

"An engagement ring?" Mina squeaked, "I can't believe Sonic gave it to you!"

"Ditto. I could never imagine him doing something like that," Rouge remarked. "Not that carefree hog. I thought he couldn't stand still long enough."

"It's so shiny…" Cream murmured, watching the diamond shine.

Amy laughed at the comments. "I'll tell you how it happened, but first let's go somewhere," she declared. "I don't think standing in the snow is doing us very good."

"Let's go to the mall. It's not far from here," Cream suggested. "We could get something to eat there too."

"Good idea," Rouge concurred. "And we can tell our stories along the way."


Ring, Ring, Ring

"Stupid phone," Sonic grumbled, putting a pillow over his head to try and drown out the sound. After a few rings it stopped, but then started again. "Alright, I'm coming!" he yelled, falling out of bed. He scratched his back and shuffled to the phone, muttering "I'm not a morning hog." He picked it up and held the phone to her ear.

"Hi, Sonic. Is that you?" sounded Tails' chipper voice through the phone. "I knew I would find you here. I already tried your home."

"Yeah, what's up, little buddy?" Sonic yawned, looking around the room. Amy must have left somewhere.

"I called Shadow and Knux and we decided to go out somewhere to eat lunch. Knuckles suggested the mall since they have all kinds of foods there. It's because we couldn't decide on one place to go. "Are you in?"

"Sure," Sonic replied. "I could use the food. I didn't have breakfast because I slept through it." He walked into the kitchen and spotted some pancakes on the table with a note next to it. "Hey, I just found a note that Amy left me. She said she went to meet the girls."

"You think they went to the mall too?"

"There's a good chance. Maybe we'll see them there."

"Okay then, Sonic. See you soon."


"So, you kissed Shadow?" Rouge exclaimed, clearly surprised. The other two girls believed it, but Rouge just couldn't believe a shy mongoose like Mina could do such a thing.

Mina shoved her hands into her pockets and burned bright red. "Y-Yeah, I did," Mina stumbled. "It wasn't as easy as it sounds, really."

"And I can't believe you kissed Tails!" Amy said, patting Cream affectionately on the back.

"It was spur of the moment. Now that I look back on it, I still can't believe I did it myself," Cream whispered, blushing.

Amy, Mina, Cream and Rouge were at the Food Court of the Acorn Mall. The mall was small, and the clumps of shoppers left almost no room to move from one end of the building to the other; obviously, there were many people who wanted to take advantage of Christmas Day sales. Everyone wore a smile and children carried their toys proudly as they tramped around.

"I'll grab a table," Amy offered, looking around for an empty place. "It's so crowded that there wouldn't be a place to sit if we got the food first."

"What do you want?" Rouge asked.

Amy tapped her finger on her lip. "Ah, I think a hamburger and soda would work for me."

"I'm going to the Hamburger Hut so I'll get it," Cream cheered.

"Thanks Cream," Amy smiled. She looked and saw a large table open near the bathrooms. "I'd better secure that table. See you guys in a bit."


Mina stood a few feet away from the sandwich booth, trying to sort out what kind of sandwich she wanted. The line was hideously long, and she really should have gotten in it, but she couldn't see the menu over everyone's heads. "Hm, what do I get?" she mumbled, squinting. "Tuna, chicken, meatball sub?"

As she stood there, her thoughts drifted to the night before. She tried to be humble in her telling, and in doing so, she felt nervous about the whole situation. She wasn't sure how to act now; should she have called Shadow this morning? Did they need to plan a date? And what was he expecting? Mina tried to fight back the butterflies in her stomach and waspish thoughts that flew around in her head. Getting nervous wouldn't help her, but gosh, she felt like she was a teenager again. Young, confused, and inexperienced.

Over the general noise of the food court, Mina did not hear someone approach her from behind. She twitched went she felt a hand on her shoulder, and turned around to see Shadow smiling down at her, slightly amused. "Good morning," he said, in his calm voice.

Her smile spread slowly as she looked into his eyes, still feeling disbelief that he was there. She started to shake in excited nervousness, slightly disappointed in herself for still feeling jittery around him. "Morning," she replied. "Fancy meeting you here."

"I came with Sonic, Tails and Knuckles," he informed her. "They're somewhere around here, I think."

"Are you getting something to eat?" She asked.

He raised his eyebrows. "Are you?"

Mina laughed. "I'm still trying to decide what to order."

Shadow stood next to her and they both examined the menu together. She could feel the warmth radiating off the skin as they stood close, through his black leather jacket. His tuff of white hair peeked out the top of his jacket. He wore black sweat pants, but not hat to protect his ears from the cold – he didn't have long hair like Mina to help with that. Without thinking, Mina reached up and touched his ear; it was ice cold, as she suspected.

"What's wrong?" he asked, smiling.

"You have no hat," Mina pointed out.

Shadow laughed. "Yes, you're right."

Mina pouted. "But you're cold."

He shrugged, "it's warm in here." In his smooth, effortless way, Shadow leaned down and whispered in her ear, his breath sending tingles up and down Mina's spine. "And I guess your ears are warm?" he asked, a smirk in his voice.

She gulped. "Y-Yes."

"Good then," he replied, and leaned back.

Shadow went back to looking at the menu as if nothing happened, but Mina knew that it was only for her benefit; he knew how quickly she would get embarrassed. She felt her cheeks, and they were certainly warm with a blush, but otherwise, her nervous butterflies had seemed to settle. In the spirit of her lately discovered courage, Mina decided to pay Shadow back for his consideration. Grabbing him by the collar of his jacket for balance, Mina pressed a quick kiss to his lips.

Shadow's eyes widened and he blinked in surprise.

Mina grinned and declared, "Yes, I think I'll have tuna!"


Amy sat at the table with her elbows on the table, watching the lines and shifting crowds. She was facing the opposite side of the table so she could see people coming in and out of the stores. She was content waiting for her burger and simply people watching.

A figure briskly stepped through the crowd and made a perilous journey from the shops over the where she was sitting. When the figure came close enough, Amy recognized him as Elias, the new King. He seemed to have shirked his duties for the special day; he waved at her as he approached and took a seat. "Amy," he greeted, taking a seat across from her. "I'm glad I saw you."

"My fur is like a beacon," Amy commented, laughing. "So what's up, Elias?"

"My wife just stepped into that perfume store," he said, indicating over his shoulder. "I knew she wouldn't miss me for a few minutes." His smiling face turned serious, and he took Amy's hands in his. "Listen, I wanted to apologize for what happened to you and Sonic last night."

"It's not your fault," Amy started.

"No, it's not," he agreed. "But I thought you deserved to hear something about it; this is nothing a light matter – I understand Sonic got hurt badly last night."

"He's probably alright now," Amy said soundly.

"Amy," Elias warned.

She sighed. "But yes, when I saw him hurt last night… it scared the living daylights out of me."

He nodded. "I don't want to feed you an excuse, but I wanted you to know that ever since Sonic left… well, Sally hasn't been the same."

Amy remembered when everyone thought that Sonic had died when he protected the alien force from destroying the world. He was gone so long that Sally fell into despair. "I thought that she was fine when we found out that Sonic lived?"

"Yes, well, we all thought that too," Elias said. "She certainly put on the act – probably didn't want to worry us. Yet, his supposed death had really done something terrible to her; even if Sonic had wanted to pick their relationship up, I don't think she would have been able to handle it. She needs time to truly recover."

"I didn't know," Amy said, worried. She remembered how hard she hit Sally, in her rage, last night.

Elias shook her head. "Don't worry, she's fine. But we'll be watching out for her." He stood up and pushed his seat in. He gave her a smile only a king could make and said, "Hopefully, she'll return to the princess we all know and love. Have a Merry Christmas, Amy Rose." With the sweep of his long coat, Elias battled the crowds to get back to the store. His wife was waiting patiently for him.

Amy sighed heavily. She felt relieved to learn about Sally; at least, a small amount of pity as starting to form in her mind. Elias had been kind to tell her about it. She turned in her seat and looked at the Food Court. She could see to her surprise that Shadow and Mina were on line together. She looked over at the Italian booth and saw Knuckles and Rouge in line as well; even from where she was, she could tell that Rouge's sour spirits seemed to have lifted – she found someone to share her headache with. "I don't think I should tell them now," Amy murmured to herself, "not when everyone's happy." Not that it would make anyone sad either, but it was information that would surely sober the Christmas cheer. It could wait.

"Amy, I've got our food," Cream called, carrying a tray. Amy helped her unload the food onto the table and Cream sat down next to her. Amy thanked her and the two of them waited patiently for the rest of the group to arrive with their food.

Mina and Shadow came with their trays first, and anticipating the extra group members, dragged over another table and chairs. Rouge and Knuckles came next; Knux was sporting bags under his eyes but he cheerfully greeted the group.

"Hey guys!" Tails called, placing his tray across from Cream.

"Where's Sonic?" Amy asked.

His tails swished when he answered, "Oh, I think he's just getting a milkshake. He told me he was full from eating your pancakes."

Amy beamed.

"I can't believe you guys are here too," Cream exclaimed.

"Well," Knux chuckled, "I guess we all felt like getting out today – and where else is there to go but the mall?"

"Everywhere else is closed," Shadow shrugged.

"I guess the mall likes to get started on all the returns," Amy laughed.

As the others started to eat, Sonic appeared in a blue blur, causing a strong gust to disturb the shoppers. He held a dripping milkshake and looked winded. He plopped down into his seat and offered Amy a small smile. To her, he looked nervous; he seemed to be fidgeting in his seat and wasn't sure where he should focus on her face.

Maybe he's expecting me to suffocate him in one of my signature hugs, Amy thought, resting her fist on her cheek. Or could it be… he doesn't know how to act, now that things have changed? I have to show him that everything is alright.

"Good morning," Sonic smiled, and then flustered, "oh wait, it's afternoon now."

Amy giggled and asked, "Did you like the pancakes?"

"Yeah, thanks for thinking of me," he replied, scratching his nose.

Amy noticed that he was wearing the bracelet she made him; the different colored beads that represented his friends looked snug and secure on the string. When he placed his hand on the table, she reached across and placed her hand on his. The diamond sparkled on her finger and she caught Sonic looking at it proudly. "It's okay," she murmured, trying to ease his nerves.

He flashed her a grateful smile.

As the group ate, Amy took her time surveying them. Christmas music blasted from the speakers, and when a certain song – "Merry Christmas Darling" – came on, both Shadow and Mina burst into laughter; it was the same song Shadow sang to Mina for her present. Shadow wrapped his arm around her for a hug and she snuggled close. Rouge and Knuckles spilt a large cookie; Knux teased Rouge by claiming that that cookie was better than the ones she had made – she gave him a playful smack on the shoulder and stole his piece. Cream and Tails talked animatedly with each other over their planes for the new design of Tails' plane; they seemed normal, though their smiles they shared were infinitely brighter.

Before now, the four girls had never had a Christmas to compete with this one. For the girls who had pined even years for the men they loved, today was the first of many for their budding relationships.


Kimmie's Corner:

And here it is, years in the making – the final chapter of Homemade Vs. Storebought Gifts.

It's been a busy couple of years for me, as for everyone else I'm sure. And just in time for Christmas, I have finally pulled it together and finished this fanfic.

What really stopped me, above all else, is that I felt that with Amy's chapter, I didn't really need Chapter 9. Seemed like there was enough closure. However, I guess I was wrong.

This chapter is written exactly as I planned it years ago. Thank you to all my fans of this work that stuck with it and continued reading. I hope you all enjoy this chapter and have a Merry Christmas.