keem: I've decided to break away from my multi-chapter Sonic fics for a while and do a series of romantic one-shots. This is the first of several, which include, but are not limited to: Sonic, Shadow, and maybe even Tails, if I'm feeling generous. For those of you who have been potentially directed here from Woman, I'll be getting back to finishing that and Sheik up shortly. This is mostly to chart my ability to write these particular pairings, and see people's reactions. Please, as always, review and tell me what you think. Your written response means so much to me! In the meantime, read and enjoy. Thanks!
Amy Rose peered into the darkness of the unlit bedroom, tray clutched securely in gloved hands. She licked her lips and asked sweetly, "Knuckles, are you asleep?"
There was a grunt from beneath the comforters. "Yes."
Amy gave a wan smile. She took his response as an invitation and flicked the light switch with her elbow as she came forward, shutting the door behind her. With this accomplished, she settled his bowl of soup down on his bedside table before sitting down beside the rumpled heap of covers. "How do you feel?"
"Just peachy," came Knuckles' sarcastic, muffled reply. Amy grabbed the hem of the sheets and pulled them back, exposing the echidna's sweaty face. He glared up at her. "How long are you going to treat me like a baby?"
"As long as you keep acting like a baby," Amy said simply, pointedly not looking at him. She gestured to the meal she had prepared for him, steamy hot and inviting. "Now, are you going to actually eat this time, or do we have to call the choo choo train?"
Knuckles looked incredibly disgruntled. "I'll eat," he muttered, getting up onto his elbows as Amy took his pillows and fluffed them lovingly. He thrusted his hand into her face so that she could pass him his spoon. "As long as it isn't anymore of your gruel."
"The doctor said you couldn't have whole foods, remember?" Amy reminded him helpfully. She moved the tray so that it was sitting in his lap, and Knuckles pulled the bowl forward. "In a few more days we will have graduated to some thinly sliced fruits and vegetables, wouldn't that be nice?"
"Just fantastic," Knuckles rumbled as he sloppily scooped spoonfuls of chicken broth into his mouth. Although he would never admit it, he was famished, and had been looking forward to dinner for quite a few hours now. He slurped nosily a few minutes later, finishing up the last of it with a tip of his bowl.
Amy eyed him disapprovingly. "Remember what I said about eating properly? Or do we have to use a bib next time?"
Knuckles grumbled something under his breath that sounded a lot like 'stuff it'. Amy handed him a napkin, followed by a tall glass of grape juice. Knuckles took it and greedily swallowed it a few long gulps and grunted. "Where's my medicine?"
"Crushed up in your juice."
Knuckles made a face. "No wonder it tasted funny." Amy held out her hand and the echidna gave her the glass. She stacked it on the tray along with his bowl and spoon before moving it out of his way. Knuckles watched her as she bent over to set it down on the table, and then followed her as she passed briefly in front of the large vanity mirror that adorned the closet door. She paused to frown thoughtfully at her reflection, as she always did, before returning her attention to him.
"Here, let me feel your head," Amy instructed. Knuckles folded his arms across his broad chest in defiance, but did nothing as she pressed the back of her hand to the space just above his eyebrows. "Still a little warm. But still," she pulled back to get a better look at him. "It's an improvement, right?"
Knuckles nodded and allowed himself to briefly reflect back. Over a week ago he had woken up in Amy's bed, delirious with fever and suffering from a broken foot. He had jerked upright and lashed out so violently that Sonic had to wrestle him back into place and straddle his chest to keep him moving.
"The island!" Knuckles had yelled, thrashing vainly from beneath the bucking hedgehog. "What happened to the island?"
"Don't worry Knuckles," Sonic had said, rather smoothly. "We've taken care of it. C'mon now, I know it freaked you out, but really. This should begoddamn routine by now." And Amy had clocked him good from behind, calling him an insensitive jerk.
As Knuckles eventually calmed, Amy took over, being the better diplomat. "We made sure there was no extensive damage to the island, after it fell." She grimaced, but when Knuckles moved to jump back up again she pushed him back down with surprising strength. "It landed a few miles off of the coast of the Mystic Ruins, thankfully. It's fine, Knuckles, really," she had insisted, despite his protests. "You sir, however, are not
And Knuckles had been in her home ever since. Amy Rose had graciously taken the echidna in, insisting that she was to be his sole caretaker. At first Knuckles had thought she was doing it just to torture him, but after a while, he began to realize it was just out of sheer loneliness. The more he talked to the petite hedgehog, the more he understood.
"So," Knuckles said finally. He hated being babied more then anything, but now that it was over, he could be a little more sociable. "What did you do all day?"
"Washed your pillows, made your food, changed your bandages..." She arched one eyebrow at him. "My, how quickly we forget, don't we?"
"Ha, ha," Knuckles said dully. If looks could kill-- "I was there for all that, and that definitely didn't take all day. You went somewhere earlier; I heard the door close. Hunting for supplies?" he finished dryly. Of course he already knew the real reason for her absence, but he wanted to hear it from her. The idea of her infatuation somehow amused him endlessly... and made him a little sad too, too.
"I called Sonic, and had lunch with him," the pink-quilled girl informed him predictably. She wasn't looking at him anymore; instead, her gaze was fixated on the reflected image of her staring unhappily from inside the mirror. What Amy Rose found in Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles would never know. He just knew that she loved him, desperately, and it was a little pathetic to watch.
"How'd it go?"
"The way it always does," Amy replied dismissively, leaving no room for argument. She stood suddenly, Knuckles tilting his head back to watch her as she pulled back the comforter until it was settled snugly against his collar. "I'm going to fix something up for myself, okay? It's been a long day." She gathered up his things and moved to carry them out, throwing a glance over her shoulder as she did. "You should get some rest, Knuckles, it's nearly sundown." The echidna groaned and she frowned, waiting for him to finish. "If you're a good boy and you get some shut-eye, tomorrow we can test out your bad foot, okay? How does that sound?"
"Sounds good," Knuckles said, although he didn't like making bribes. Amy nodded, smiling faintly, and disappeared back into the hallway, shutting the door behind her. Knuckles watched her go, eyebrows furrowed, as the room plunged into darkness once more.
Two days later found Knuckles gingerly making his way about the house, wincing every time he stepped on his hurt foot wrong. Amy watched him limp about, and still refused to feed him anything but mush. He watched her enviously as she indulged in sandwiches and TV dinners and chocolates. Amy had watched him amusedly out of the corner of her eye as she ate, singing "You don't know what you've got, until it's gone." Knuckles hadn't been pleased.
He had been sitting at the windowpane when she approached him, eyes fixated on something in the distance. Outside the world was dark and grey and cold. It had been raining terribly ever since his arrival, Amy had told him earlier, and it showed no signs of letting up.
"You look like a puppy pawing at the door to be let out," she had said gently, settling down beside him.
"This man yearns for freedom," Knuckles had said, pressing his face against the glass. It felt cool and refreshing against his hot, aching head. "I think I'm getting bloody claustrophobia. How long until you set this animal free?"
"As soon as I'm certain he'll be able to handle the world on his own," Amy murmured, and thoughtfully pulled at his dreadlocks. "You know," she said, twisting them together. "You should really make me braid these. I bet they'd look really cute."
Knuckles grunted, shaking his head free from her grasp. "Over my dead body," he grunted, and before Amy could respond, the phone rang.
"Let me get that," Amy said, jumping up abruptly and scurrying away from him. Knuckles turned and heard her faint 'hello?', but he didn't have to wait for a response to know who it was.
Sonic had thrown open the door to Amy's apartment a few days later, completely soaked from the weather and looking incredibly upset. His expression softened at the sight of Knuckles on the couch, honestly surprised. "Err, yo Knux! How's it going?"
Knuckles inclined his head, observing the hedgehog with curious indifference. "Okay, I guess." He had been relatively tame the past few days, but the sight of Sonic made him feel mildly irritated. "What're you doing, barging in here like that?"
Sonic looked embarrassed. "I'm looking for Amy," he admitted, but he didn't dare look around. "Have you seen her?"
"Sure," Knuckles said, and as if on cue, the pink hedgehog came in from the kitchen. She was wearing yellow rubber gloves soaked in suds, evidently in the middle of cleaning. Knuckles tried to ignore the fact that her eyes were rimmed with red.
"Uhh, hey Amy," Sonic said, almost apologetically. He turned to Knuckles again, fleetingly. "Before I forget, redhead, I got your Emerald back from Robotnik. We're keeping the island grounded until you get back on your feet, though."
"Alright." The echidna refused to give his thanks, instead watching the two intently. Sonic seemed especially hesitant, as if he didn't want to speak with an audience. The idea of what prompted Sonic's arrival made the echidna considerably upset. He had heard the conversation from the kitchen.
"Amy," Sonic said, not looking at Knuckles, but not quite looking at the smaller hedgehog either. "Can we get a little privacy?"
"Sure." She passed by Knuckles without a word, disappearing into the hallway. Sonic followed behind her, and Knuckles heard the faint click of a door being closed and locked. He waited there patiently, and when he heard the angry clash of words escalate in volume, he walked calmly over to the front door and opened it. He didn't look back as he crossed over into the wet and uncomfortable world beyond.
"Knuckles!" Sonic yelled, watching as the echidna slowly but determinedly walked further down the streets of Station Square. The echidna simply ignored him, pressing forward, and hear the hedgehog issue a long string of curses, followed by an explosion of footsteps. They were soft and light, and Knuckles braced himself for impact.
"Knuckles, what're you doing?" Amy demanded, yanking backwards on his arm so that he whirled around to face her. She was crying freely now, tears streaming down her face. He had never seen her quite so unhappy - or mad. "You need to get inside right this instant or--"
"--Or what?" Knuckles snapped, pulling away from her vice-like grip. He stumbled a little on his injured foot, and bit his tongue to keep from swearing. "Listen Amy, I can't listen to one more second of your guys' argument or I'm going to bloody explode--"
"You heard?" Either Amy was an incredibly convincing actress or she really was clueless. "Knuckles, I--"
"C'mon, it's pretty damn obvious!" Knuckles said, whipping back around to continue walking. "It's like you've gotten him written all over your face. You call him, you SEE him every day - and it never ends well... Jesus Christ Amy, what do you take me for, an idiot? Even someone who was bloody blind couldn't miss THAT train wreck."
"Knuckles, you don't understand--"
"I think I understand perfectly well," he said scathingly, and turned around to look her in the eye. "And I don't like what I'm seeing. You don't think I notice you always frowning in at your reflection in the mirror or whatever, or how you come home or get off the phone all unhappy? What, you don't think you're good enough or something?" When she opened her mouth to plead with him, he snorted. "Please, save me the heartbreak. I understand that you love him and all that, but I can't be here one more minute, cooped up inside to watch you spiral deeper and deeper into bloody depression, okay? Do you understand, Amy?" Her mouth moved to speak, but she made no intelligent sound. "Nod if you understand, Amy."
She nodded feebly. "Good, then we understand each other," Knuckles said, and he limped away. "And now, you understand why I've got to get the heck out of this house..."
"Knuckles, please come back inside!" Amy burst, "I'll stop, please! I'll-- I'll tell him to go home, okay? I won't make you listen anymore! Just please,please come back inside!" She suddenly seized him around the waist, burying her head against his chest. "Please, Knuckles... what am I going to do if you die?"
Knuckles blinked. He hadn't really considered the state of his health; just that he needed to escape. "Oh Amy," his words startled a laugh out of him, hollow and confused and a little warm. "You don't think honestly a little cold is going tokill me, do you?"
"Yes," she whispered into the wet fur of his side. "You're still sick, please." A little softer, she said, "And you really don't understand, how hard it is to give up something--"
"Of course I do," Knuckles snapped irritably. "You made me give up my bloody island for a month." When she found no words to properly reply he softened, taking her under his arm and limping back towards her apartment. When they both came inside, soaking wet and tired, Sonic was gone.
Much to Knuckles' astonishment, Amy was true to her word. Not once had Sonic made an appearance, or phoned in, or even came up in conversation, even briefly, which was a relief. Furthermore, Amy seemed an overall happier individual, which was a delightful change of pace. As the days wore on and Knuckles grew stronger, she grew more cheerful.
One day, she surprised him with a root beer float. The glass was slightly sticky as he took it in his large clumsy hands and slurped it from the straw, looking up at her in utter adoration. "Amy," he said, in-between mouthfuls. "I think Ilove you."
"I know," Amy said slyly, and took a delicate sip of her own. "I love you too."
"You're evicting me?" Knuckles had asked in mock-surprise as she prepared his bedding on the couch. "But I'm sick! I need this kind of comfort in order to get better, remember?"
"I'm sure you're positively distressed," Amy said dryly. Feeling accomplished, she gestured to the couch, which didn't look particularly inviting. "Regardless, being the lady of the house, I call the shots. And frankly, I'm a little tired of being hospitable," she grinned at him, just to show that she was joking. "Really though, I've missed the comforts of my own bed, and you're nearly well enough to go home soon." Unnecessarily, she added, "please?"
Knuckles sighed dramatically. "Well, I don't have much of a choice, do I?" He sat himself down on the bed, testing it. The springs seemed a little abused, but otherwise, it was relatively comfortable. He fell back against it entirely, kicking up his feed and spreading out, staring up at the ceiling - and Amy's beaming face.
"Do you approve?"
"I guess it'll have to do," Knuckles made a show of shrugging his shoulders. "I mean, if you absolutely insist..."
"I absolutely insist," she confirmed, and turned to the lamp on the table beside him. There were two clicks before the room dimmed considerably. "I also insist," she murmured to the darkness of the room, and Knuckles could almost feel her smile. She had been a lot more enjoy able lately, in Sonic's absence. "That you get some beauty rest."
Knuckles grunted half-heartedly. "Men don't need beauty sleep."
"You're hardly a man, Knuckles." She artfully dodged the pillow he chucked at her, laughing at him as she danced out of the living room.
The night before his departure, Knuckles found himself half-sitting in Amy Rose's lap, wincing with every practiced tug of his scalp.
"I can't believe I agreed to this," he muttered miserably as Amy continued to braid his enormous multitude of dreadlocks. He twitched as she pulled particularly hard, yelping. "Ow! Watch it!"
"Oh hush, you big baby," Amy chastised fondly, hands continuing to weave. They were sitting in the middle of her bed, the windows black with nightfall. He had been forced to endure her torture for at least an hour now, grumbling throughout the entire duration. She had been pleased with the many different hairstyles she could produce lovingly with a twist of his spines.
"Turn your head," she ordered, and he obliged. She leaned to the side so she could get a good look at the front of his face, and then gave a slow, wobbly smile. "You look positively..." the edges of that smile teetered threateningly, and then she laughed. "...hideous. Oh gods, I'm sorry." And she unraveled the weave and started all over again.
They fell blissfully into silence as she began to work from scratch. Knuckles felt strangely wistful, knowing full well that it was his last night in Amy's company before returning his island. Although he longed for his natural habitat - and his emerald, which he had been very antsy without - he had been rather enjoying Amy's company, especially as of late. He wouldn't be opposed to visiting her in the future, he realized with mild surprise.
"Are you getting bored?" Amy asked, suddenly apologetic. She moved behind him, grabbing hold of a remote and pushing a few buttons. Suddenly the silence around them dissolved into music, slow and melodious and intoxicating. "How's that?"
"It's.. pretty," Knuckles said. He listened intently to the gentle roll of piano keys, and violins skirling notes out into the space around him. It was a haunting but lovely sound, sending an uncomfortable chill down his spine. He suddenly wondered how often Amy had lied on this bed, painfully longing for Sonic as she let the music take hold of her completely.
"Amy," he said, abruptly concerned. "How.. how are you?"
"I'm fine," she answered simply, and he knew that she understood what he meant. She leaned in close, breathing in the scent of him. "I've never been better, actually." And she kissed the back of his head, in the space between his dreadlocks. This soothed Knuckles, who, feeling mellow, let himself fall backwards into the comforting feel of her hands beneath him. She cooed something to him, loving and unintelligible, as he curled in her lap and let the music completely wash over him.
The next morning found Knuckles sitting on the steps of her damp porch, slightly hunched over as he tied his shoes. The ground was still wet with the recent rainfall, but it appeared as though the storm was passing.
As he moved to stand, he heard Amy move out onto the steps beside him. He turned to face her and she smiled, handing him a water bottle.
"For the trip," she said simply, when he arched his eyebrows. "It's a long plane ride to the island."
"It's not my thirst I'm worried about," Knuckles admitted. "It's Sonic's bitching."
Gratifying, no shadow crossed Amy's face. Instead she smiled brightly - and it was a real smile, not a put-on one. Knuckles felt inwardly relieved. "Well, either way, thanks." He shrugged, unsure of what to say. He was never good with goodbyes. "Walk me to the train station?"
"Sure." She followed him down the steps and into the street. It was an early, misty morning, and the morning traffic was light. They walked leisurely, oblivious to the cold.
"Listen," Knuckles said finally as the train station came into sight. He turned to address the petite hedgehog, who was waiting patiently. "I just wanted to say... thank you." The words tumbled off a little awkwardly and he grinned in a show of helplessness. "I know I complained a lot, and I may have seemed like a little ungrateful twerp, but really - I... I really appreciate it."
"You're welcome," Amy said, smiling. As they continued up the steps, they heard a whistle, indicating the departure to the Mystic Ruins in fifteen minutes.
"Well... so, goodbye, I guess...?" Knuckles made a face at himself. "I really suck at these sorts of things. Every time Sonic and I go our different ways, I usually just say, 'until next time, fathead.' Somehow, I don't think that's entirely appropriate here."
Amy giggled into the flat of her hand. "That's cute," she said, and then a little tentatively, added, "You'll visit sometime, right?"
"You betcha. I owe you one," Knuckles grinned. "Besides, I'm sure this isn't the last time something stupid like this happens. I'm sure you guys will be rushing to my aid again sometime in the near future..." he frowned at the sky thoughtfully. "Though whether that's a good thing or not, I'm not exactly sure..."
"Well, at least the help is there when you need it, right?" Amy asked, and Knuckles nodded. Finally, with no words left to say, he moved to get on the train.
Knuckles turned back, one last time. He started to say something but suddenly she had him by the arm, her lips pressed against his own. They were wet and warm and tender, taking him completely by surprise. When he pulled back in surprise, Amy was slightly pinker then usual.
"Bye," she said, looking slightly breathless. A little more mischievously, she added, "I love you."
Knuckles was feeling a little winded himself, and found himself at a complete loss of words. He eventually managed to pluck some articulate response out of the air and leaned in, a little disapprovingly. "You only say that," he half-whispered, "because you can't have Sonic."
"No. I say it because," Amy was bright and alive in the misty swirl of a Monday morning, cheeks slightly flushed in embarrassment. She was the most gorgeous thing his violet eyes had ever seen. "Imean it."
And this time it was Knuckles who leaned in and kissed her, cinnamon shocked and beautiful.