Disclaimer: If I owned this game, you wouldn't be running on friggin rails – if I had wanted to play 'Spirit Tracks', I'd have bought it. -.-

Review Replies!

Some Random Tosser: D'aw, thanks :D I do like powerful characters a LOT, so I try to make any fight-scenes as impressive as possible :) I always think that it makes a character instantly more sympathetic if you get the feeling they're competent. :p

Skyblaze: Haha, the bane of fanfic everywhere, right? XD But hey, who can blame her, I say...;p

You Can Call Me Nora: Always have, always will ;) This fic will be finished! And yeeeeeeah, as soon as Shads gets his marbles back, he'll probably wish he hadn't...cuz Sonic's not gonna let him off easy, no. As for whether his 'outfit' (and assorted jewellery) will vanish when he turns back - weeeeeeeelll...XDDD As always, thanks for your wonderful review, hope you like this new chapter, too! :D

seantriana: You and Amy both, sister. XD Read on to find out what happens... :P

St. Noof: Oh, he's gonna chase after him alright, no worries ;) My fanfics sort of exist along a 'floating' time line because they take so long to complete. That is, when new games come out while the fic is in progress, the new games will most likely be worked into the characters' past retroactively. Sort of like The Simpsons, where they're always on top of current events, even though the characters themselves don't actually age. As always, thanks for the comment, updates are at least a *bit* more frequent now! ;)

DC111: You know I'm a sucker for any Papa Wolf/Momma Bear scenes. Go on, harm a small and defenceless character while his caretaker is around in my fics, I dare you. :P Thanks for the comment, I hope you enjoy the new update, too!

LadySkarlettofSkaro: Heh, I'll see what I can do. But glad you enjoyed the guest performance of Captain Jack Shadow regardless! XD

jakeroo123: I do use the other system of review replies for my other fics, I just never figured this one would get a lot of reviews! Now it's mainly for consistency, I doubt I will use that format again...as for who can break the sound barrier in my fanfics that usually would be (in no particular order): Sonic, Shadow, Metal Sonic and Blaze. Who were you thinking of?

The Andromeda Rose: Aw, thanks! I hope whatever problem caused the surgery it's now long gone :) And yup, a bit of romance ahead. Though I wouldn't advise Shadow (or anyone...) to take Amy captive, I hear she's got a hammer if you try that sort of thing...;)

nemiah: He'd have an aneurysm...and then shoot me. XD But I actually do envision most scenes I come up with like a cheezy action film, so maybe you're onto something. Thanks for the review! ;)

petite-dreamer: I'd give you a brohoof back, but ffnet doesn't like the formatting in chapters...D: But glad you liked the chapter anyway :) And yeeeeah, why exactly IS Sonic jealous, anyways...? XD Nah, but he'll get his revenge. One way or the other. Thanks a lot for the review, hope you like the new chapter, too!

DgShadowChocolate: Yes, updates. These do happen once in a while here. XD As for whose wrath Shadow will have more trouble to avoid - please read on to find out...;)

IOnlyWriteBigStories: Yup, something like that might very well happen. XD Glad you find it funny, I always aim to entertain. Thanks for your comment!

soniccouplelover: Yeeeah, just takes a while every time. :p More Captain Jack to come! ;)

YumeTakato: Well, it's definitely an update before Christmas, right...? XD

SonicDude87: I sure as hell do! Glad you like, and thanks for the review!

gameloverx: Hah, it's been a while since I had summer vacation! Updates are slow, but I hope at least the chapters are worth waiting for. Thanks for the comment!

red-ysetgo: Heh, keeping characters IC is one of the things most important for me next to the humour. I do base most of their personalities on the fics of JudasFm. :)

Maiyrhya: Aw, thanks! Yeeeah, Shadow will probably try to commit suicide. Probably. XD Maybe he'll jump off that pesky fourth wall...? ;)

Blue Mage Quartet: D'aw, THANKS! Reviews like that are the reason why writing is so much fun, for me it's absolutely wonderful to discuss characters! Like Sonic and Tails, I also based my Knuckles off JudasFm's fics, where I appreciated for the first time how powerful a character he really is - and I do love writing strong characters so much, both physically and mentally. Especially when you don't see them in action all the time, it's always my favourite moment when they finally roll out because someone just had the bad idea to push their berserk button. Just try to commit any unjust act in front of Knuckles, see where it gets you... ;) And as for Amy just having gotten her first kiss stolen - yeeeah, wonder what she thinks about that! XD read on to find out...:p

Kayslay: Oh, will have a look! Thanks!

inujisan: It was a highly entertaining mental image. XD Thanks for commenting, as always! :)

star's dreams: Oh will she ever. :p Hope you enjoy the new chapter, too!

Tucker from Blood Gulch: No worries, I will!

CerberAsta: Love that song! (especially the version from Zebrahead...:P) Thanks for the review!

That-Nerdy-Girl-Who-Writes: Ah, death threats. My daily correspondence. XD No worries, updates around here only take one or two years...

Guest: Yeeeeah, about that...XD

Satora-Wolf: A bit more of that to come, no worries! ;) Glad you like and thanks for commenting!

Zoey Klinkman: Heh, Uhu. I saw a fanart where someone drew Sonic as Uhu, it looked quite cool :) But yeeeah, I'd been waiting to make that Captain Jack joke for ages, so...;)

SerenaTheHedgehog: Well, depending on your definition of 'soon'...XD

strawberrybunny4341: hah, comic writing! I'd love that! Glad you like it, hope you enjoy the new update, too!

Guest: One girl-running Shadow coming up right about...now!

Songbird of the End: Oh, I know, I'm just pretty sure Sonic doesn't...;)

ANgela: No worries, your wish shall be fulfilled. Just read on to find out...

Kogarashi: Oooh, questions! I love those! Mobians in my headcanon usually have a sort of 'preference' for certain foods that mirrors their feral ancestry, though they're not as restricted (i.e., Mobian dogs can have chocolate. Everything else would be just cruel. Of course, just like humans with intolerance to certain substances, there can always be exceptions). As for the pop culture references, the Mobius this is taking place on is a sort of amalgam of our Earth and the world from the games, a sort of huge super-planet. It has most of the countries, like Germany etc, but also the canon Zones and cities, like Green Hill and Westopolis. But yeah, most of the time it's a fairly consistent application of the Rule Of Funny. ;) Does Sonic really come across as incompetent? I admit, I am usually guilty for writing him as too cool (huge fangirl here...) rather than the opposite, really? He does commit some blunders, but usually saves everyone from the trouble he got them into as well, I thought...? Any specific instances you were thinking of? But glad you still like the story and thanks for the great review! :D


Chapter 33: At The End of the Day

An azure cannonball had just hit 'Captain' Jack Shadow right in the back. The black hedgehog went down like a tonne of bricks with mascara.

"You backstabbing buccaneer!"

"OW!" Shadow was currently trying to squirm out from underneath the furious hero on top of him, twisting Sonic's nose in an attempt to get the other off him. "Watch it, you blue-faced bilgerat, or I'll tear you a new bunghole!"

"I swear I'll shove a plank up yours, you Captain Casanova, if you won't instantly drop that ring!" Sonic shouted back, grabbing for the water blue ornament that Shadow was trying to keep out of his reach, and the two brawling hedgehogs were rolling down the beach in a tangle of spines, fists, and sand in terrible places.

"Gimme!"

"Never!"

"I said-!"

And then Sonic noticed something, which was that he suddenly felt a distinct lack of contact with his opponent.

And also, lack of contact with the ground.

"Wha...oh."

And then hero of Mobius was finding himself face to face with Knuckles, who was currently holding both hedgehogs up by their neck fur and wearing an expression that dared them to resume their slapfight. The echidna turned to Shadow, and when he spoke, his tone was a dangerous kind of pleasant.

"Now, what was that you were saying about giving up that ring, 'Captain'...?"

The Ultimate Lifeform held his gaze with about as much grace and poise as you could muster if you were currently the equivalent of a furry wet sock hung up to dry.

"Er. Well, if such a handsome gentlema-...I mean, gentleho...well, whatever you're trying to be, me lad-"

"I'm an echidna." It was said with enough chilliness Sonic was surprised the Guardian's dreadlocks had not just turned into icicles.

Shadow swallowed, squirming just ever so slightly in Knuckles' hold, trying to surreptitiously get at least one foot on the ground. "Noted. Mr Sindbad, sir."

Knuckles glared at him. "Ring. Now."

"Spoilsport." Shadow seemed to actually pout, but still held out the water blue ornament without another attempt at flight. Knuckles unceremoniously dropped Sonic from his right hand and used it to take the ring out of the Captain's unresisting fingers, before releasing the black hedgehog as well.

"Whatever," Knuckles grunted. "The last thing I need is to have two jokers in this little party from hell." He turned away from the hedgehogs getting back to their feet and strode over to where Tails and Amy still stood staring, handing the water blue ring to Shahra. He jabbed a thumb at the Captain. "Can you turn him back now, genie?"

"With the ring, yes, certainly, Guardian," the spirit girl replied, taking the ring with a look of reverence. "Shall I do so now...?" she asked, shooting a questioning glance at Sonic, who knew she still somewhere considered him his Master, even if he wished she wouldn't.

The blue hedgehog gave her a long look, seeming to weigh the possibilities in his mind for a moment, right until Amy piped up, only blushing a little bit,

"Er, actually, if it's alright with you guys I wouldn't mind if he, uh, stayed as the Captain just for a little while long-"

"Shahra, turn him back. This instant." Sonic very pointedly tried to look as if he wasn't sounding flustered at all.

"Wait, what now?" Shadow asked, definitely confused, but now also wary.

"You aren't who you think you are," Sonic said laconically. "We're gonna change you back to your real self. It's easy. Just let Shahra do her thing."

"Wait, wait, wait." Shadow was taking a few steps backwards now, holding up both his hands in a defensive gesture. "I'm not sure I'm on board with this, matey."

"Well, tough," Knuckles retorted. "But fact is, you'll be a lot more use to us in your usual state, and not as a Disney reject. Genie-!"

"Woah, now, now, not that hasty, gentlemen! I mean," Shadow said, briefly giving a flourish with his hat as he saw he had their attention, "if I indeed am not who I think I am but who you, whoever you are think I should be who's to say that who you think I am is who I would rather be than who I am even if I am not."

There was a collective, blinking silence. Shadow took to it like a university lecturer to a free buffet, at the same time very casually reaching down a hand to properly adjust his slipped boots again,

"For you see, if we could suppose for a moment, that you might not even be who you think you are while thinking that I am not who I am, would it be indeed unthinkable that-"

...and then there was a very definite thud! as a piece of shipwreck plank wielded by Knuckles connected with the backside of Shadow's head and the ultimate Captain sank with a very faint 'Well, it was worth a shot...' to the floor.

"Ouch. And it was such a good run, too," Sonic winced, the hedgehog, as a fellow connoisseur of the art of babbling yourself into an escape opportunity, now feeling a sting of sympathy.

xxx

Shadow woke up. He had a searingly pounding headache, not the foggiest idea where he was or how he had gotten there, and...- he briefly looked down his body where he lay – he was apparently dressed in a drenched pirate outfit.

It were those subtle clues that told you you wouldn't be in for one of your better mornings.

Groaning, the Ultimate Lifeform forced himself to sit up, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. He looked around, and saw that it was nighttime, he had been lying in a landscape of sandy dunes, and that not two metres from his resting place, there were the familiar figures of Knuckles, Amy, Tails, and of course, Sonic the Hedgehog.

Shadow now groaned slightly louder than he had before.

"Oh no..."

"Wow, nice to see you, too," Sonic was the first to reply, and was now giving Shadow a dry smile over his shoulder. The others had looked up as well, all of them sitting around a campfire, Sonic with his back to him.

"Excuse me for not being overjoyed to see you, Faker," Shadow grumbled, picking himself up from the ground and walking over towards them, brushing at the sand clinging to his damp fur and wet clothes in annoyance. "It's just that when waking up and finding myself -" he looked around for a second, gesturing at the sand dunes around them - "-for some reason on a beach probably located at Bumfuk, Egypt, with..." and then it was a testament to his composure when he only paused a little as he beheld Shahra,"...a floating harem girl then the appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog is not an indicator that this situation is about to make any more sense any time soon." Shadow sat down as he finished, and seemed to want to add some acerbic remark, but then red eyes widened as soon as he saw Sonic from the front. A black-furred hand pointed at the brightly burning flame that should not have sat where it did.

"How-?" Shadow began.

"A genie did it."

"Yes, but how?"

"We're in the middle of the Arabian nights, and a genie did it," Sonic repeated, now crossing his arms over his chest in a gesture that obviously declared the topic closed.

"Hmph." On Shadow's face, the clear distaste for magical explanations was visible that came with being raised by a bunch of scientists, but the black hedgehog seemed at least to grudgingly accept the answer.

"So this is, what?" he asked instead. "An alternate dimension? And how did I get here, dressed like this?" Shadow looked at his clothes and back at them. "The only thing I remember is going to the fox kid's house and then it's just a blank..." he stopped himself. And when he glanced at Sonic again, for the first time the blue hedgehog could remember there was actually a hint of uncertainty in those red eyes.

"I'm...not having amnesia again, am I?" Shadow asked, his voice sounding suddenly carefully controlled, but almost as if its owner now had to keep it from trembling.

"...no. Not in the way you think, anyway," Sonic replied, his tone somewhat softer than what he usually used when speaking with his rival. "You should be okay now. You had...somewhat of a bad dream, I'd say?" he said, glancing at the floating girl next to him for approval for that explanation. She nodded, leaning forward a little and catching Shadow's glance with her dark purple eyes.

"Yes," she said, "You might say that. I'm Shahra, by the way, a genie of the ring and bound to the blue hedgehog of prophecy!"

"Why am I not suprised."

"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Shahra was blinking at Shadow with some confusion, while Knuckles had only snorted at the black hedgehog's deadpan. Shadow waved her off.

"Nevermind. You said you had an explanation for why I am here as well?"

"Well..."

It took a while for Shahra, Knuckles, Tails, Amy and Sonic to relay their past adventures and current objective, and outline the way magic worked in their present surroundings. Some more time was spent reconstructing how Shadow had probably come to be in the book as well, and by the time they were finished, Sonic had already had to leave twice to gather more firewood.

"...okay. So I likely got sucked into that book when I found it at the fox kid's place," Shadow said slowly afterwards. "I think I remember discovering it outside on the balcony as I was looking for him. It was soaked, so I took it in."

"Where I discovered it later in the dining room," Knuckles gave a bit of a sigh as he remembered his own trip to Tails place, also looking for the two-tail, who had been the first to vanish into the storybook world, having borrowed the book from Sonic.

"Thank you for taking the book in from the rain. Even if I'm sorry you got sucked into the story against your will, saving that book from the water was very kind of you," Shahra said at that point, seeming to slightly surprise Shadow, who looked up at her, black eye ridges raising a little.

"That's...fine. I didn't think much about it at the time."

"No, I'm glad to meet such a thoughtful person! Do you like fairy tales, then?" Shahra smiled at him brightly, and by now Sonic and the others were already exchanging glances between each other that didn't seem to know whether they should be amused or intrigued. The black hedgehog appeared to be more than uncomfortable by the open friendliness and admiration the genie had a habit of treating Sonic's friends with. By now Shadow was actually all but scooting backwards on the sand.

"I, uh...my sister read them to me. When I was younger," the black hedgehog managed. "She liked Fantasy a lot - okay, what is it?" Shadow interrupted himself, giving the assembled Mobians staring at him with wide eyes an irritated glance. "Did I grow a second set of quills?"

"No..." Amy was the first to reply, shaking her head slightly. "It's just..." she seemed to look for words. "You never, er, talk much. About your time aboard the ARK. Or anything, really. "

Shadow gave her a look.

"It's...a long story. Very long, believe me," the black hedgehog repeated with emphasis when the genie appeared to be getting dangerously enthusiastic. "Would probably take years to tell, don't get your hopes up."

"Aw."

"Yeah, maybe we can exchange life stories later once we're out of the godforsaken medieval dimension the blue faker managed to land us in this time," Shadow said laconically, giving Sonic a pointed stare which the blue hedgehog cheerfully ignored, "You said we need to use that water blue ring to fight against some sort of golem, right?" he asked.

"Yeah. It's a monster that draws its energy from heat, so to defeat it, we need to weaken it with a rain storm that this ring will be able to summon," Tails explained, the fox kit picking up easily on the fact that the black hedgehog obviously wanted to change the topic. "Once we've done that, Sonic can destroy it and we'll be able to collect the fifth ring from its remains. Then hopefully Robotnik has found out in the palace library where the other rings are, so we can go get that and then go on to kick Erazor's sorry butt!" the two-tail said, appendages wagging just a bit too excitedly at that last bit.

Shadow raised an eye ridge.

"Your plan is to defeat Erazor...after showing up with those seven magic rings that he's making you look for in the first place?" he asked. "So when you're at his place, your plan is, what? To just...not give the rings to him?"

Sonic shrugged. "Yeah, well, obviously our strategy still has some kinks to work out. But can we count on your help?" the blue hedgehog asked, now looking a bit more serious than he had until now. Shadow gazed at him flatly.

"Do I have a choice?"

The question had been asked in a resigned tone, but before anyone could reply, the edges of the Ultimate Lifeform's in something that could almost have been a wry smile.

"Never mind. I'll come with you," Shadow said, before his lips then split into an actual dark smirk and there was a flame of green Chaos fire burning in his hand when he added:

"After all, someone needs to teach that pathetic djinn that trying to imprison me is not the best strategy for survival..."

And while Tails looked at the flame with wide eyes, Sonic cheered and Knuckles gave a basic grunt of approval, Amy leaned over to Shahra just a little bit more. "Exactly what this story needed," the pink hedgehog hissed to the genie, "More friggin testosterone."

"What was that?" Shadow asked, looking a bit annoyed at the giggling that was now coming from both of the girls. .

"Nothing," Amy replied innocently while Shahra seemed to still have trouble to get her face back under control, "Thanks for helping us out, Shadow."

"It's...fine," the black hedgehog, now definitely flustered, determinedly turned back toward the fire. "So what's there for food, anyway?"

"Ah...yeah. That might be a bit of a problem," Sonic admitted with a wince. "In this storm we can't go fishing, and so far we've only found one barrel of hard tack and only some of that was still edible." And Knuckles and me left most of that to Amy and Tails, was the silent addendum that Shadow didn't need to hear to work out. It was no secret how protective the hero of Mobius was of his younger companions, no matter what it meant for himself.

"If you're hungry, there's always crabs around. And insects," the echidna commented, popping a pillbug into his mouth as if for demonstration. The Ultimate Lifeform for a moment looked as if he was trying very hard not to pull a face like a four-year-old faced for the first time with spinach, but fortunately for his dignity it was Tails who had reacted even faster.

"Ew! Knuckles, that's gross!" The two-tail had screwed up his snout and poked his tongue out in the universal language of all underage picky eaters.

"Nah, they're not too bad, really," Sonic replied, at the same time also digging up a bug and letting it drop into his mouth. "If you've evolved from rodents, at any rate." He grinned at Tails.

"What? Species has nothing to do with it," Amy protested. "Eating bugs is disgusting, period!"

"Yeah, I agree that it doesn't have anything to do with your species," Knuckles replied with a smirk. "You two are just spoilt brats."

In a way, Sonic thought, not capturing the twin expressions of utter indignation from both Tails and Amy on film right now was a crying shame.

"That's not true!"

"Sonic! Make him take that back!"

"I dunno, guys, maybe it is true. I mean, Tails does like his triple frosted chocolate cake..." the hero poked his tongue out at his younger brother, but before the fox could retort anything, had already turned to Shadow.

"What about you, Captain? You a spoilt brat, too?" he asked innocently, while at the same time knowing that the black hedgehog, who basically had spent all his childhood aboard the space colony ARK and therefore had very little experience with camping in general, had to be a little bit freaked out.

The Ultimate Lifeform sniffed at him. "I don't need food, hedgehog. And after seeing you eat that stuff, I sure don't want it, either."

Sonic shrugged. "Suit yourself, Shads. But hey, at least try one," he said, holding out a squirming, many-legged thing at the black hedgehog. "It's valuable protein. And we don't like it, we love it!"

"If you utter even another word of the Hakuna Matata song, faker, I am going to push you off a cliff."

xxx

It was a little while later that the atmosphere had quieted down a bit, the day taking its toll and the tiredness overcoming the earlier hilarity. They sat closer to the fire now that the cold was coming in and starting its fight against the warmth from the flames to seep into their bones. Their talk had mostly turned toward the new day and how to defeat the Ifrit that was waiting.

Amy shifted a bit, trying to rub some circulation back into her upper arms.

"I just hope I can summon another hammer when I'll need it," she said. "I don't know why, but I've been having trouble calling them up, lately."

Shadow, for the first time contributing to the conversation, snorted. "Yeah, I'm not surprised about that. That what you're calling your 'piko-piko hammer' is a manifestation of pure Chaos energy. No wonder you have trouble summoning it here."

"What?" Amy blinked. "You're saying my hammer is...made of Chaos? The same stuff you make those lightning lances with?"

The black hedgehog shrugged. "Basically, yeah." As if for demonstration, he snapped his fingers, a small flame flickering to life on top of his index finger. "My creator taught me that some Sapients, and hedgehogs in particular, have an affinity for Chaos energy. I have learnt to bend Chaos to my will for a variety of things, but you pretty much seem to only use it to manifest it as your weapon of choice. I noticed that when we fought in Frog Forest."

"Ah. Yeah, I remember," Amy said, giving a bit of an embarrassed blush at the black hedgehog's dry tone – mostly because Shadow was probably referring to the time when she had thought he had stolen Froggy, and had hit him with said hammer straight in the face.

"Yes. That time," Shadow said pointedly, but fortunately seemed to harbour no particular further ill-will at this moment. Amy tried to look as non-threatening as possible. The Ultimate Lifeform waved a hand.

"Anyway, what I meant to say was that it's no surprise your technique isn't working as it should in this...pocket dimension. Ambient chaos energy exists here, but not as much as in our world. It's enough to enable me to use the odd Chaos Spear, but I'll have to limit myself with those. A Chaos Blast is probably not possible," he added, sounding a bit resentful.

"So because Amy needs Chaos energy to summon new hammers when she's thrown away old ones, she can't endlessly create them here like she could back home," Tails summed it up, blue eyes blinking. "That's fascinating!"

"One way of putting it," Shadow grumbled, poking the fire with a stick a bit too roughly. "So far I don't even have a clue why I'm in this chaos-deprived world in the first place, especially dressed like this," he said, indicating clothes with an irritated swipe. "Are there even any stories with pirates in the Arabian Nights?" he asked, looking at Shahra and sounding highly sceptical. "Because I sure as hell don't remember anything featuring a 'Captain Jack'."

"Uh...well, not exactly, no..." the genie was fumbling a bit as she tried to manage a reply, looking a bit helpless. "As far as I could tell, you seemed to have brought your own story with you." She blinked at Shadow. "Are you by any chance the kind of person that usually attracts dramatic background stories and fateful decisions?"

"Believe me, you have no idea," Sonic replied before Shadow could, "In most cases, he'll even have brought ten possible stories with him, and the endings of nine of them won't make sense."

And it was at this point that one of the soaked Captain's guns inflicted its first damage because it was flung straight at Sonic's head.

"Ow! Hey!"

"Keep your smart remarks to yourself, faker."

"Whatever. I hope your next game is a spin-off ice skating adventure," the hero of Mobius was grumbling and rubbing his head. Shadow grunted, but at least didn't seem to grace that with another reply. The black hedgehog instead just settled closer to the fire and began to finally undo the laces of his pants and shirt, apparently deciding to rid himself of his outfit now, ignoring both Shahra and Tails now fussing over Sonic and the new bump on his skull, as well as Knuckles, who hadn't bothered with any of their squabbling but was more interested on roasting more insects over the fire.

What did catch Shadow's attention was something else entirely.

Namely, the long, insisted stare one particular member of the group had been giving him all evening. Shadow slipped out of his shirt and turned his gaze.

"Anything the matter, Amy?"

"What! I mean, no! Nothing!"

The words had been a squeak. Shadow raised an eye ridge.

"You do keep staring at me in a...somewhat unusual way," he pointed out while also taking off his belt.

"Arghl," Amy replied coherently.

"What is it? Do I have a spot on my fur? Is there a wound bleeding?" Shadow asked, now gaining a definitely irritated tone, and the hedgehog girl shook her head quickly.

"No, no, everything's fine. I'm, uh, sorry for staring," she said, and Shadow wondered whether she for some reason now looked just a shade pinker than usual, "I just, just thought...youlookedkindagoodinthatpirateoutfit." This was followed by a kind of a strangled noise and Amy briefly looking as if she was considering jumping into the sea.

"What?" Shadow blinked.

"Or out of it. Er. I mean. Oh gods. I think I need to go to the bathroom now!"

"Uh..." Shadow looked after the rapidly retreating back of Amy's form after the girl had jumped up and fled into the darkness of the dunes, then turned his head to behold the staring faces of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, the first one of which was glaring and the latter two of which at the moment seemed to be trying hard not to break out into hysterics.

Shadow sighed.

The drawback of being an immortal lifeform was that you could never simply die when you wanted to.

xxx

Shahra found Amy a little while later with her head in her hands. She looked a bit like she would have rather tried to stick it into the sand instead.

"Uh...Amy?" the genie tried, cautiously floating closer.

"Oh gods, Shahra, how could I say that?" The words of the hedgehog sounded more like a little wail. "I mean I just thought Shadow looked..." she bit her lip. "Well, a bit hot to be honest. But I didn't mean to make it sound like that!" she sounded a bit desperate. "Now they're probably laughing, aren't they?" she asked, staring at her shoes resentfully.

"Ah...well..." Shahra looked a bit helpless." The Guardian and Tails are, but Sonic...did not seem to like it."

"What?" Amy raised her head from her hands, suddenly sounding hopeful.

"No, he seemed...frustrated, a bit and-"

"Yes!" the pink girl jumped up, punching the air and smiling widely at Shahra. "That means he cares!"

"It does?" Shahra looked somewhat doubtful, as if the dating rituals of 21st century hedgehogs were, truthfully, a bit beyond her.

"Oh, definitely!" Amy grinned. "Okay, don't worry, I won't make him unhappy again," she said, before standing up and brushing herself off. "Actually, I even had something special planned for him instead, with all the big ships here..." the pink hedgehog turned to the genie abruptly. "Will you help me? Please?"

"If I can, certainly, but what do you need?" Shahra asked, now more confused than ever.

Amy gave her a smile that looked just slightly devious. "Well, there is a kind of story that I always wanted to sort of re-enact with Sonic..."

"Oh? A story?" the genie now suddenly looked a lot more enthusiastic.

"Yup," Amy nodded. "That's right, you love stories, don't you? In that case, you need to let me tell you about this one, because where I come from, this is one of the most famous and well-known love stories of all time..."

xxx

It was the following morning, so it was the light of dawn and not of sunset, but for this particular re-enactment, it didn't make much difference. Even Sonic had to admit, Shahra had outdone herself. One of the decrepit ships was now lying straight in the water. The storm had ended. The sea was flat and beautiful.

And he was holding up Amy on the railing of the stern and kept getting her elbow rammed into his side.

"Say it!" she hissed.

"Urgh. Seriously?"

"Yes. And if you don't want Shadow to be your stand-in, you better," Amy said primly and Sonic rolled his eyes.

"Alright, alright, fine."

"Awesome!" Amy grinned. And spread her arms. She cleared her throat.

"I'm flying, Jack!"

"I'm king of this world. And Stuff."

"More enthusiasm, dammit!"

"Okay, okay! I'm king of this world! Whooo! And stuff."

"This was a serious romantic tragedy! Take it more seriously!" Amy complained, but couldn't help but grin at the blue hedgehog at the same time. They both knew they only had five minutes before Shahra would let the ship revert to its old, broken shape, and they would have to return to the shore to resume their adventure, but it had been the combined, squealing enthusiasm of the two girls that had made this interlude possible after breakfast.

And so, as the hero of Mobius was holding onto Amy Rose at the prow of a slightly anachronistic cruise ship in the middle of the Arabian Nights, the background noise filled with the most accurate version of 'My heart will go on' that Shahra could manage, Sonic couldn't help but think that if this didn't strike terror in the heart of any enemy they should encounter, he didn't know what would.

To be continued...


Hi! Er...anyone still reading? Anyone...at all? XD Yeeeah, not the fastest update I've ever managed. :P Part of the reason is the new (broken record) Supernatural and Good Omens fanfic I'm also putting up at the moment if anyone of you likes one of those fandoms ;) Otherwise, action will resume next chapter and hope to see you all there! If you read, please review!