Tails hoped it was all a big misunderstanding when he saw the three-man army emerge.
He berated himself for reacting so coldly – distrusting; but couldn't help the wary feeling that filled him from his feet to the tips of his tails. After tearing through the Eggman-seized city of Grand Metropolis the sight of an allied team should have cheered him up.
If it had been any other group, it probably would have.
He held nothing against the rather slow, but good natured cat Big. He had been a great help to them once, and his silent determination did impress the young fox.
Similarly, one could hardly utter a word that would question the virtue of Cream the Rabbit without feeling guilty. Her innocence and good manners could shake even those evil to the core of their beings. Personally, he harbored a great affection for her as a friend, one whom he could leave in the workshop for more than a few seconds without fearing for her safety.
With always impatient Sonic, since-I'm-already-here-I-might-as-well-push-the-red-button Knuckles and overly energetic Charmy, piece of mind was a thing he had learned to cherish.
Tails guessed that the first-rate cookies after some of the more tiring days had something to do with it, too.
So he couldn't hold anything against those two. On the contrary, the picture they formed together could make him chuckle.
What worried him was the third and last member of the group – none other than Amy Rose. The pink hedgehog had been visiting him for a while now, mainly because of her never-ending quest for Sonic's attention, and he had gotten to know her quite well. She was a nice person, really. The talks he had had with her, when she was not in a Sonic-stupor, were rather refreshing. He didn't dislike Amy.
He just thought it severely hazardous to have the easily-believing cat and enthusiastic rabbit led by her. Because, without a shadow of doubt, Amy was-
"There is no way out of marrying me, Sonic!"
-obsessive. And clearly unafraid to show it in public.
"Like that would happen!" Sonic answered coolly; then stumbled back nervously at the sight of a familiar pink hammer appearing in the air. Real smooth of him.
Tails turned the situation over in his mind. Surely, there was a way to avoid harm on both sides. The main problem was; Amy wouldn't leave them without Sonic by her side; while Sonic wouldn't keep still for as long as Amy stayed within hearing range. But he knew how the two hedgehogs thought. If they could form a temporary truce; with the groups moving at a moderate distance-
"You playing with that girl's heart again, Sonic?" Muttered Knuckles, giving the blue hedgehog a satisfied smirk. But the echidna didn't wait for a response – he stepped forward, eagerly cracking his namesakes and glaring challengingly at Big, a more demanding target than the bots they trashed on their way there.
Tails knew when a situation was getting out of hand. He reached out for Knuckles, meaning to talk a little sense into him, but it was not meant to be.
"Froggy!" Yelled Big, as if roaring a battle cry, before rushing onwards, swinging his deadly fishing pole left and right.
The young fox opened his mouth to speak, but shut it shortly after. He recognized the cause as lost – for those two, all the words in the world would be in vain.
He turned to Sonic, hoping that his friend would understand the gravity of the situation and agree to a swift retreat. All that greeted his eyes, however, was the sight of Amy's hammer plowing into the steel where the blue blur had stood just a few seconds earlier. He realized he hadn't even seen her cross the distance between the two groups, but didn't have much time to dwindle on the fact as the shockwave swept him off his feet. He managed to steady himself with his tails, evading a rather embarrassing fall on his butt. At least he could save his dignity, if nothing else.
Because the state of things had already become hopeless. In the middle of the vantage point-turned-arena the red echidna and purple cat laid on the ground in what could be called an embrace, but was in fact a result of them wrestling each other. Blue and pink streaks appeared and disappeared from his peripheral vision with baffling rapidity; Sonic as fast as always, but with a restless Amy constantly on his heels. Tails found it easier to follow them by the seemingly randomly appearing craters – a sign of a giant mallet bashing the ground.
The young genius didn't need much time to calculate that nothing could be done to stop the madness before at least one of the small groups stopped fighting. He thought it wise to find shelter until proper action could be taken. But all coherent thoughts fled from his mind when, amidst the chaos, he heard something that made his blood run cold.
"Cheese! Get him!"
He leapt sideways more out of instinct then conscious intent. A small breeze ruffled his fur. Still sensing danger, he hugged the ground tightly Less than a second later he felt the deadly projectile nicking his skin on its way back. And then he was on his feet and assessing the situation.
He was prepared the second time around. He sprinted leftwards. The cannonball-like chao missed him by a few centimeters. That was good enough – but far from comfort. He twisted himself and landed on a wooden crate. He listened. The beating of the chao's small wings reverberated in his ears. He pushed himself off the crate at the last moment. Cheese whizzed past him – then demolished the crate as if it was made from paper. Tails shielded his eyes from the splinters coming his way.
It was dangerous, but well worth the risk. He could now asses that the rabbit and the chao were not really serious (he had seen them plow through metal when the need arose), which meant he would only be seriously hurt, and not dead, if hit.
It was time for him to join the fray.
His tails whirred rapidly and, with a jolt, he was propelled forward. He shoved Knuckles, Big and the two hedgehogs out of his mind. There was only he and his target. Objectives. Dangers. Timing. And the seemingly harmless creature landed on Cream's ear, ready for another charge. Distance. Attack patterns. Tails wasn't a fighter by nature, but he was a tinkerer. He found problems and he found solutions.
The chao came at him once more, this time flying in a spiral pattern – preventing him from escaping left or right. Clever, but foreseen. He slammed his tails into the ground and allowed his momentum to throw him upwards. He didn't bother slowing down his descent. Cheese, going too fast to make a sharp turn mid-air, began a huge loop.
Tails fell to the ground, scrapping his knees and elbows before curling into a ball and rolling to the stack of crates nearest Cream. He only needed seconds. His tails latched onto the wooden containers and, with barely a glance behind him, he began throwing them into the air, where the chao was trying to zero in on him.
In the blink of an eye, he was already in front of the doe. And then; then he froze. He hadn't thought forward far enough. What was he to do now that he had gotten so close? Attack the innocent rabbit, who was smiling as if she was playing the funniest game ever? He wouldn't find it in himself in a million years.
His mind went into overdrive as he desperately sought the appropriate course of action. He felt his hands sweat and heard his heart pounding – the adrenaline coursing through his veins yelling at him to move and do something. Standing in the same place was the worst option – but he couldn't perform any other conscious action. He heard the beating of wings a little bit behind him, though slow and unthreatening, and his nervousness reached its peak.
When the rabbit before him raised her hand and opened her mouth to speak – issue a command to Cheese, he realized his time was up. He acted. He closed the distance between them without registering it. He grabbed the smaller female by the shoulders and pulled her towards himself. As her eyes widened slightly in surprise, he occupied her slightly parted lips with his own.
He felt with no small satisfaction that both his tense muscles and troubled mind began to relax. The sudden action quenched his desire to move, and with the most urgent problem taken care off his processing skills returned to maximum efficiency. Already a plan to stop Amy and Sonic formed in his head – he smiled inwardly at how simple it was. Then, thanks to his now-regained clarity, he grasped just what he was doing.
The fox recoiled as if burnt, retreating the hands he had unknowingly wrapped around the doe's tiny frame. Overcoming an internal struggle, he managed not to utter a sound, whether a yelp, groan or stutter. He was not as successful at preventing the embarrassed blush that spread beneath his fur. He looked everywhere but at the stunned rabbit still rather close to him.
One thing was certain. He had solved the problem. Now he only had to face another.
And he did not hear Cheese wolf-whistling behind his back.