Epilogue

Wave lay on her belly, looking silently through the crosshairs.

She was in a church, resting in the shadow of the bells and eaves. Despite her gimp foot, she had climbed up the good old fashioned way, her slim sniper's rifle attached to her back.

The swallow was glad for the job Dust-on-Wind had fetched her, glad that the mystic had plenty of friends in all the right places.

The target this time was a youth, the sovereign of a nation threatening her own. The file had said the girl was being controlled, but that was uncertain. There was the strange little creature hovering around the little princess a lot of the time, though-some sort of cross between dog and fairy. If she could get that creature, it would mean a bonus.

Not like that was why Wave took the job.

She had earned the nickname 'Fairytail Sniper' among her colleagues, and she knew why. All of the jobs she took willingly were exotic and mythological in nature, and were generally the most difficult. That was what Wave wanted though. What she needed.

Jet had been there, Wave knew it. He had been with her during her hellish surgery to fix up her foot, with her when she was in basic, when she went through her most dangerous missions.

He had always kept her safe.

The hard line of Wave's mouth twitched at the corners as she thought about him.

If Silver had been there first, she probably would have fallen for him. Or if Jet were truly gone. The kid had a lot of heart, and, whether he realized it or not, a lot of balls.

Jet was there first, though. And he was still around.

The swallow checked the atomic watch on her wrist. It was 2:56 pm, and the speaking wouldn't start until 3. Not like it mattered, since Wave had been hunkered down inside the bell tower since the day before and passed her time with thinking.

What if Jet had lived? What if it were Storm, and not Jet? What if Espio hadn't had that last encounter? Or Silver hadn't saved her? How would she have let herself go if he hadn't? What if the shrapnel had hit her hand-or something more serious?

Getting the experience out of her head was impossible. It haunted the backs of her eyes when she slept, and dogged her conscious mind when awake. Not that she'd regret it, though. The swallow had swore to herself on that cramped little boat as it sailed for Angel Island that she wouldn't regret, and she wouldn't forget.

The bells behind her tolled, and down below the princess had stepped up to the podium. Wave put her eye back to her crosshairs for a better view. The creature was hovering at her side, a blank look on its face.

The mission specifically called for the girl's demise, but something told her the little monster beside her would be the best to destroy. If it really was the one in charge, then she'd be easy enough to take out. If she were the one in charge, she didn't quite seem like it. Fifty-fifty chance of killing the right one-Wave hated those odds.

"Damn, I wish I had back up," the swallow muttered to herself. It wasn't going to happen though-if she were caught, she'd be dead: there was no way they'd've given her back up.

Wind played through the bell tower, a gentle breeze ruffling Wave's feathers. The woman smiled in relief.

"Guide my bullet then, love," Wave said, aiming for the objective target.

It was a sitting target, an easy shot. The problem was getting away without notice afterwords. Wave poised herself, keeping her body as ridged as possible. This sniper's rifle was the best quality and didn't buck anywhere near as much as Emelia did, but it seemed so much more soulless than her shotgun. If the swallow thought she could get away with it, she'd rather have been sniping with the shotgun.

"Wish me luck, Jet," Wave whispered to the wind, letting out all her breath.

As she drew her breath in slowly, she teased the trigger back until it fired. One of the figures down below dropped, and Wave smiled in satisfaction as she withdrew her gun and prepared it for the trip down. It was going to be a long night.

"I hope I'm back in time for the wedding," Wave commented to herself.

Silver slammed his locker shut, smiling up at Tikal.

"Where are we going out for lunch today?" he asked, putting an arm around her waist.

"I don't know," she giggled, "The taco joint?"

"Sure," Silver said, leading the way, "We going Dutch today or no?"

"I'm broke, hon."

"So no?"

Tikal giggled again.

The young couple strode out the doors of their high school, privileged as all the seniors attending to go out to lunch. There was a Taco Bell across the street, so cheep and convenient that it was a shock that it got so little business. Silver and Tikal blamed their lack of business on the snobbish bastards that filled the school.

Dust-on-Wind had had great connections. She had gotten a job for both Knuckles and Rouge, and had housing for all of the survivors prepared almost instantly. Silver had even been offered a car and his own apartment, but he had refused.

That didn't stop the hedgehog from crashing with Knuckles, Rouge, and Tikal, however.

Silver was determined to become an engineer, a programmer, something he was good at. He took all the advanced courses he could, despite his lack of extra-curricular activities. Tikal was the opposite, in all remedial classes with more time spent at the school than most students and teachers-which naturally meant Silver spent as much time at school.

Most people couldn't puzzle it out-what single string attached the two of them together.

No one would guess they were from a city that had been wiped off the map.

Then again, theirs was the type of high school where students would follow a GPS off a cliff without a second thought.

Silver held the door open for Tikal and the two of them walked to the counter together.

"Hey kids, the usual?" the woman asked, flashing them a bright smile.

"Yes, please," Silver said with a return smile.

"That'll be five-fifty-six then."

Silver pulled out a ten and set it down, scooping the change and his cup up. Tikal retrieved her own cup and they sat down together in a booth while they waited for their food.

Lunch arrived shortly, and the two of them chatted about everything and then some as they ate. Tikal rattled on about different spells she was learning while Silver explained different rendering techniques he learned in C++.

They finished their food quickly and headed back to school as soon as they had done so.

"I'm so excited for Saturday," Tikal said as she bounced back to school beside Silver. The young hedgehog smile at her energy.

"Yeah, I think we all are."

"Did you hear Wave's gonna be in town for it?"

"She'd better be," Silver replied, "She's the Maid of Honor."

"True."

"What color are your dresses, anyway?"

"Green and purple," Tikal said, "For... y'know..."

Silver nodded, the smile gone from his face.

"I'm sure they'd appreciate the thought."

"Probably."

"So I'll see you after school then, Silver?"

The hedgehog nodded.

"Yeah. I'll come by your locker," he said.

"Okay then," Tikal let out a little giggle.

"See you then."

Silver gave her a light little kiss on the lips before heading to class.

"Hey love."

Knuckles' head and dreadlocks blocked out the light of the reading lamp as he kissed Rouge.

"Mmm. Hey love. Rough day again?"

"Not as rough as it could be," the echidna replied, slipping into bed next to his wife, "Frankly, I'd rather still be on the streets."

Rouge chuckled.

"You'd still be stuck with shitty customers."

"Mm."

The bat snapped the slim book she was reading closed as she rolled over and put an arm around Knuckles.

"What's wrong?" she asked, a worried look on her face as her fingers played along his chest. The echidna sighed.

"It's the kids," he said.

"Silver and Tikal?"

Knuckles shook his head.

"Blaze and Shadow."

Rouge's head tilted to one side.

"You don't think they'll work?"

"No, that's not it. I think it's a good idea, to be honest. But..."

"But what?"

"I don't know. Something's off."

"Espio?"

Knuckles' face twitched as though he had been hit, and his eyes drifted away from Rouge's. The bat used a wingtip and gently turned his face back to hers.

"I'm sure he'll be watching," she said with a kind smile.

"I don't know..."

Rouge thought a second before saying, "Y'know, Blaze had a good idea that I agree with." She whispered lightly in Knuckles ear. He blinked at her in surprise.

"Really? Who came up with that?"

"Tikal did, actually."

"And she didn't tell me?"

"I think she wanted to surprise you."

"So you told me?" Knuckles gave Rouge a sly smile.

Rouge shrugged. "Act surprised, then."

Knuckles gave a little laugh. "You know my acting can suck."

"Not when you don't want it to." She gave him a kiss on the mouth.

"Are you trying to say something?" Knuckles asked, giving Rouge a wry look.

"Maybe."

"Are you going to tell me?"

"Maybe."

Knuckles slipped his hands around Rouge's shoulders and slid them down her back, resting them on her hips.

"Am I going to have to entice an answer out of you?"

Rouge gave a sly smile as she moved her hands so that they cupped Knuckles' skull. She pulled herself so that she was face-to-face with him.

"Maybe."

She kissed him on mouth again.

"Then I guess I've got some work to do," Knuckles replied, his fingers already getting to work along her spine.

There was nothing but bustle, people dashing to and fro like bees from a hive.

Alike to a queen bee, Blaze was hidden in a catacomb of back rooms with Rouge, Tikal, and Wave. The swallow and the echidna wore matching dresses-long, strapless dresses of purple with emerald trim and long, green gloves. The cat's dress was traditional white and matched her figure perfectly.

"Nervous?" Tikal asked with a giggle. Blaze shook her head.

"No, I'm actually not."

Wave gave a chuckle.

"Once you've dealt with the undead, everything else is nothing, huh?"

"Yeah."

Rouge produced an anklet from her bag and looked to Blaze, whose eyes brightened.

"I almost forgot you asked for this," she said with an embarrassed laugh, "Please, I'd like you to wear this."

Blaze took the anklet gingerly and sat down on the couch, where Tikal put it on.

"Knuckles said that's Alexandrite-a rare gemstone."

"He would know, wouldn't he?" the young echidna commented as she rose to her feet.

"Of course," Wave said, sitting down herself and rubbing her foot, "He wouldn't be an ex-thief if he didn't."

A knock sounded on the door, and Knuckles' voice could be heard. "Ladies, it's almost show time. Are you ready?"

"Yes," Blaze said, rising to her feet with Tikal and Rouge's help. Wave slipped her shoe back on and rose, ignoring her slight limp as she hustled after the others.

The bat swept into the sanctuary while the other ladies waited outside.

"I'm glad for you," Wave said as they waited outside the sanctuary and listened to the priestess through the door.

"Thank you," Blaze said, her arm around Knuckles', "I'm sorry I can't ever do this for you." The swallow gave her a bitter smile.

"It's not your fault," she said, "It's not really anyone's. If there was anyone to blame, I'd rather not look for him."

"You'd have to kill him?"

"Horribly."

"Is this really the thing to talk about on your wedding day?" Tikal asked. The two older women laughed.

"I'm sorry, Tikal," Wave said, "It's been a long time."

"Same," Blaze said, before putting her free hand on Wave's shoulder. "Thank you for being my sister."

The swallow grinned.

"Sisters for life, huh? Sounded like a good deal at the time."

"The perks were worth it."

"I've got a messed up family, don't I?" Tikal asked Knuckles. The elder echidna laughed.

"It was one born of adrenaline, blood, and tears-I like it, personally. It suits all of us just a little bit more."

Tikal gave a little smile. "I guess you learn who's best to have by you when you're in a pinch."

"Life-and-death situations will do that," Wave said, "I'd know."

"Wouldn't it be better for it to not come to that?" Tikal asked. Wave shrugged.

"You'd think so."

"Tikal, I chose Shadow because I know he's dependable. Not just in life-or-death situations, but in general. We just met because of that...hellish...couple of days."

"I guess so," Tikal said.

"Time to go," Knuckles said, nudging Blaze a little. The young echidna and swallow strode with measured steps through the door, promptly followed by Blaze and Knuckles.

There was some sort of elegance to their walk, a woman with no family being given away by a man that had nothing but beautiful ladies in his life anymore. Dust-on-Wind presided over the marriage, dressed up in feathers and beads.

Rouge looked up from the nearly empty front row, her eyes meandering from the emerald feathers sticking out of Wave's feathers, to the ruby choker around Blaze's neck, and at the two hedgehog brothers standing in their sharp outfits. Cheese stood at Shadow's feet, the small creature light brown and rabbit-like, adorned in flowers and holding a small pillow with two rings on it.

In each of the chairs next to the bat was a large coin engraved with a name on one side...

And the words 'A beloved family member unwillingly left in a city that doesn't exist' on the other.


AN: So now it's done. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

~Lady Spritzy