The Heavy

by Asher Tye

Disclaimer: I own nothing of Sonic, Tails, Robotnik, Station Square, or the rest. Sega does. I'm using their characters without their permission in a story written purely for entertainment purposes. I'm not making any money off of this story whatsoever.

Author's Note: Hi everybody! Yes, I am still alive and I haven't lost my fingers for writing. 83 Well, everyone out there seems to have made a Sonic/Tails brother fic depicting the duo's private life as Sonic stumbles across the roadblocks of being a single parent, so this is my contribution to the idea. However, with all the stories out there dealing with "Tails enters puberty" and "Tails adjusting to Sonic," I thought maybe I should try something a little different. Tailsisreal gets some credit for inspiring me to write this after a particularly interesting conversation with him. I highly recommend you jet over to his profile and read some of his stories, they're very entertaining. I'd also like to thank JudasFM, as her stories, particularly "Rising Star." I don't know how many times I've read that particular story, but I do know it heavily influences this one. I hope JudasFM doesn't get mad at me for that. (I don't believe I used anything particular from her stories but, reading this objectively, it is definitely influenced by her work.)

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Several miles away from Station Square lies the Mystic Ruins, a lush wooded land that is most notable for being dotted with, as its name would imply, ruins of great age and tremendous anthropological interest. It is an idea place to get away from it all, to escape the hub-bub of city-life, the hectic pace of the workplace, and the constant pressure of school. A great open area near the Cliffside of the forest offers an excellent camping site to those seeking to rough it, while the presence of the train station nearby allows for easy return to civilization. So stunningly peaceful is this place that someone even decided to build a house on the hill overlooking the cliff. And, but for the sounds of nature's denizens going about their daily lives, it is a quiet place.

"You get your fuzzy butt moving this moment!"

"I don't wanna!"

At least on other days.

"I swear, if you don't stop being such a pain this is gonna go twice as hard on you, got it!"

"NO!!" Though the open clearing, a fifteen year old hedgehog adorned with brilliant cobalt blue quills struggled angrily with a nine year old fox with golden fur, trying to drag the young kit by the arm towards the sole building erected on the hill. For his part, the kit, a normally cute looking little fellow with not one but TWO fluffy tails jutting out from his posterior struggled equally as hard to escape the grip of the hedgehog, his body thrashing about as he struggled to get away.

"I swear, you're just making this harder on yourself Tails," the angry hedgehog called.

"Let me go Sonic! Lemme go, lemme go, lemmego!" the kit wailed. Sonic gritted his teeth in anger. This whole fiasco was quickly falling into the category of "more trouble than it was worth," but the stubborn hedgehog was not about to give up. He couldn't afford to, having come so far. Tails twisted his namesakes together, attempting take to the air and hopefully use gravity to force Sonic to release his wrist. Unfortunately for him, Tails had already attempted this trick before, with the tenacious Sonic successfully outlasting him, and thus he couldn't find the strength to spin his tails fast enough to gain any altitude. Realizing this, the kit once more quickly dug his feet into the ground, attempting to prevent Sonic from getting him to the one place he didn't want to be right now, their home.

"Come on Sonic, let me go! This isn't funny!"

"Not meant to be keed, you asked for this. I told you what would happen and you didn't want to listen, so now you have to eat the consequences!" Sonic grunted as he yanked on Tails's wrist, successfully pulling the kit forward a few more feet. Though he could have easily snagged his young ward around the waist and bodily carried him towards their destination, but in all honesty the idea of trying to hold onto a squirming ball of fuzz, claws, and teeth that was a little more than three-fourths his size was not something he was interested in attempting. Tails was a biter when he was frightened, and Sonic's skin got enough punctures taking on Robotnik, thank you very much. "I swear Tails if you don't stop trying to whip me with those powder puffs of yours I'm gonna tie 'em both in knots!"

"Then let me go! I don't wanna go with you!" Sonic's eyes rolled. This was why he'd run the boy home himself rather than taking the train, to avoid allowing the kit to make a scene in public. Even so, Sonic could almost feel the lens of some opportunistic paparazzi on them both, grinning as he took a snapshot that was sure to be a page one item. Particularly given how much caterwauling Tails was doing. No doubt someone would think Sonic was carrying the boy off to his death sentence.

Finally though, Sonic made it to the house where, one hand still maintaining a strenuous grip on his nominally named "best friend," he managed to unlock and open the front door and begin to drag Tails inside. Sensing that the hardwood floors inside the house would drastically reduce his ability to impede Sonic's progress, Tails shot out his free hand at the doorframe, gripping the wood for dear life for as long as he could.

"Oh for the love of…" With a hard yank, Sonic managed to extricate the fox from the wood, pulling him finally inside and closing the door behind them both. "Now march your butt up those stairs and into the bathroom this minute young man," Sonic commanded, trying to sound as authoritative as possible, no easy feat for someone as easygoing as himself.

"No Sonic! Please, I don't wanna!" Tails bawled, tears falling down his face now as he yanked again and again on his own arm. In the end Sonic's tired fingers finally gave way to the cub's tugs and he found himself falling to the ground with a pained "Oof." With reflexes that would have done Sonic proud had he been in the mood, the fox quickly began to scramble away, hoping to hide from his angry big brother. Though fast, Tails was still no match for Sonic as the hedgehog pounced on him, wrapping his arms around furry hips as he began to once again drag Tails along with him.

"If you want to behave like a baby I'll treat you like a baby Miles," Sonic proclaimed, his use of the vulpine's true name a sign of just how put out he was with Tails's antics. Openly crying now, Tails tried to grab onto something, anything to prevent Sonic from taking him to the upstairs bathroom, but it was to no avail. The washroom door opened and, just as with the front door of the house, Tails found himself being pulled inside. With a click, the door was locked and Tails found himself released to be plopped down on the toilet seat as Sonic walked over to the sink.

"Please Sonic, don't. I'm sorry, I promise," Tails pleaded. His pleas fell on deaf ears as Sonic glared back at him from the sink.

"You promised last time, remember? And I warned you what would happen if you broke your promise," Sonic barked back as he turned on the faucet in the sink and grabbed something. "Now get over here and stick your tongue out."

"Nuh-uh!" Tails yelped as he shook his head, pressing himself back against the tank of the toilet as he tried to keep as far away from the object Sonic was now holding in his hand as he could. He cast a furtive glance at the bathroom door, wondering if he could make it through that portal and escape the horrible fate Sonic planned for him. In the end he decided against it. Even if he could take his hero by surprise, the time it would take for him to unlock the door would give Sonic more than enough time to snatch him again.

"I'm going to ask you one last time, Miles. Get over here and stick out your tongue so I can wash it out!" Sonic barked; his patience at its end with his young ward. At this Tails's muzzle clamped shut and his hands moved to cover it as he shook his head wildly. "Fine, we'll go ahead and do this the hard way," the hedgehog growled as he marched forward, the wet bar of soap in his hand. Eyes widening in fright, Tails did the only thing he could think to do, he bolted. Like lightning hedgehog tackled fox, using his superior strength to wrestle the younger Mobian to his back. His legs pinning the boy's arms to his sides as he sat on Tails's chest, Sonic used his free hand to grab the fox's muzzle as he thrashed about trying to get away.

"No please Sonic don't do…" Tails began to yell, a big mistake as making this plea opened his mouth. Seeing his chance Sonic shoved the bar of soap into the open orifice. "Yuc, brak, blah," the fox began to spit and sputter as the foul taste of soap touched his sensitive tongue. Sonic was merciless as he angled the bar around in the kit's mouth, making very sure to coat every inch of the pink muscle as he did so. Though the treatment seemed to last forever to the crying, distressed kit, in reality it took less than a minute to satisfy Sonic that he'd successfully washed his little brother's mouth out completely. His task finished, the hedgehog got off Tails and stood up, standing over the prone kit as he sputtered and spit out bubbles and soapy saliva.

"You can go rinse your mouth out in the sink," Sonic said. Fearing that what was simply a suggestion was another command, Tails scrambled to his feet to get to the sink, turning the faucet back on and gratefully lapping up the water and spitting it out again. Anything to get the horrible taste out of his mouth. After a few minutes of this, Tails finally stopped drinking and spitting, the bitter taste finally diminishing enough that he could tolerate it. It was at that point that he felt a familiar presence behind him, causing him to turn around with a start.

"Get away from me Sonic," Tails demanded, tears of perceived betrayal streaming down the white fur of his cheeks. Sonic had never done anything like this to him, and honestly the fox had thought he never would. Memories of other, less friendly creatures forcing him into similar circumstances danced through his head as stared at the hedgehog.

"Uh-uh, we're not done yet," Sonic said as the hand with the soap rose again. Tails cringed at the thought of another coat of soap going over his tongue, only to watch as the tan-furred arm placed the hated object back in its dish on the counter. "I told you I'd go harder on you if you didn't cooperate kid, so now you gotta do the time."

"Don't wanna." At this outburst, Sonic's hand reached back to grab the fox by the scruff of his neck, lifting him a little so that the heels of his feet were off the ground.

"Right now I really don't care what you want keed, you thought you were old enough to break the rules, so now you gotta pay the price."

"You break the rules all the time, you never pay!" Tails accused, and Sonic bristled a little at the comment.

"Oh you are just asking for this, aren't you?" Sonic said as he forced Tails forward, directing him towards his own room as quickly as possible. "All right, this is what's gonna happen fox-boy, you're stuck here for the time being. I want you thinking about what you did wrong."

"But I didn't…" The look on Sonic's face told the fox this particular avenue of escape was very much closed off to him. Lifting up on Tails, Sonic plopped the youngster down on his bed.

"You just got further restricted to this bed… I want you to stay here."

"But Sonic…"

"Don't 'but Sonic' me bud, I'm not listening. You stay put until I call you for dinner, got it? If I even hear a thump up here that I think is you, you get to go to bed without supper."

"Rrrrraaaaaahhhhh!" Tails screamed at the hedgehog's retreating form before falling to his mattress and burying his face in his pillow. Loud sobs of began to erupt from the kit's shaking form as Sonic closed the door to Tails's room. Finally closed off from the one he'd spent the last half hour tormenting, Sonic released a sigh of relief. He hated this so much. Every fiber of his being just wanted to rush into that room, scoop the kid up in his arms and say how sorry he was he'd had to do that. But, no matter how often his heart ruled him, there were times even the great Sonic the Hedgehog let his brain give him commands.

If he succumbed to Tails's tears and rushed in to comfort the fox, he'd never be able to effectively discipline the cub again. All he'd need to do would be to turn on the waterworks and he'd be able to wiggle his way out of anything, and that wouldn't help anyone in the long run. Still, given the cub's history, particularly in the six years prior meeting the hedgehog, Sonic couldn't help but wonder if maybe he'd gone too far. Though he'd worked hard to earn Tails's trust, he had to wonder how much of that trust had been destroyed by forcing young orphan to taste soap.

'Tails is a smart kid. He'll understand eventually, right?' Sonic asked himself, wishing he was surer than he was. As the sound of louder sobbing reached his ears, Sonic moved away from the door and headed downstairs where he couldn't hear. It was three o'clock now, and the duo usually ate their dinners at seven, which gave the kit about four hours to work all this anger out of his system, and Sonic the same amount of time to cope with the guilt he was feeling. As well as anything else that might crop up as a result of this day.

They'd decided to spend a few weeks here in Mystic Ruins, a sort of vacation away from the hustle and bustle of travel. Tails had been thrilled of course, he loved Mystic Ruins. And so, to celebrate the two had gone into Station Square to grab the supplies they needed for a chili-dog feast, complete with a desert of the mint candies Tails loved so much. They'd nearly finished their shopping when, without warning, Sonic's mortal enemy, the outlaw scientist Dr. Robotnik, had decided to attack the city in his latest toy; the Egg-Chameleon. A massive, four legged monster, the mechanical lizard was equipped with a cloak that made it invisible, as well as a deadly extendable tongue and snapping tail as its armaments. It was also surprisingly nimble for such a large machine, quite capable of jumping from building to building with lightning fast movements and sticking to the walls indefinitely, easily making up for its lack of ballistic weapons. Of course, like all of Robotnik's grandiose inventions, this one had some important flaws to it. The first one had been the fact that, while its cloak made it effectively invisible, it was still roughly ten tons of metal slamming into concrete buildings when it moved. This meant that, while the prehensile tongue and tail couldn't be seen, Sonic could both see and hear where they were coming from. Thus had the young hero managed to keep from getting clobbered for a while, until he could work out a strategy to beat Robotnik's weapon.

As it turned out, this was unnecessary thanks in no small part to flaw number two; which was the egg-shaped scientist himself. Though years of experience had allowed Sonic, and even Tails, to become used to bouncing around like a manic pinball without succumbing to any sort of motion sickness, Dr. Robotnik was another story entirely. Trapped inside his cockpit, the doctor had been unable to cope with the constant and sudden changes in orientation and, after a few bounces, had actually vomited all over the Chameleon's controls. Of course, the sudden introduction of this viscous liquid had succeeded not only in shorting out the controls for the giant mech, but the invisibility cloak and the magnetic clamps that allowed it to stay stuck to walls. Thus, bereft of its defenses, had Egg-Chameleon been transformed the Sitting-Duck as far as Sonic was concerned. A few quick strikes with his quills and he'd successfully disabled the weapon, much to the cheers of the crowd of citizens and even the news crews that had assembled to watch the fight between the nation's hero and his arch nemesis.

Thus defeated, and in no mood to continue the fight if the green tinge his skin held was any indication, Robotnik had entered the commands to detach his trademark hovercraft in order to make his escape. Not that this was a huge surprise to Sonic; the blue hedgehog was quite convinced a nuclear blast wouldn't be able to total that particular vehicle. As he prepared to leave, Robotnik's hovercraft turned around; no doubt so the would-be dictator could deliver something in the way of a final diatribe towards his hated enemy. Sonic's body tensed a bit. Though it was rare, it was possible for the Eggman to take this opportunity to do one last attack as well, and Sonic needed to be ready for this. What neither was ready for was what happened next.

"That's right M*****f*****, Sonic kicked your a** again!" Whatever Robotnik had been going to say had died on his lips as his jaw suddenly dropped and his eyes expanded well beyond the borders of his dark round sunglasses. For his part, Sonic very nearly fell over in shock, a sentiment that was shared by almost everyone present and watching the fight. Above the blue hedgehog, the source of the profanity laden sentence hovered happily, proud of himself for actually preempting Robotnik's usual litany and getting the egomaniac to shut up. So pleased was Tails with himself, that he failed to notice the sudden cross look come over his adopted big brother's face as Sonic got to his feet and grabbed hold of the kit's leg, yanking him out of the sky. Robotnik too quickly recovered, once more turning his hovercraft as he took his leave, a sneering look on his face as he did so.

"Some parent you're turning out to be hedgehog, can't even keep your little urchin's mouth clean," the human said as he sped away, leaving his completely embarrassed enemy behind.

Of course Sonic, Tails in hand, had made a quick escape, grabbing his shopping bag as he'd raced away from the scene before any news reporters could corner him for an interview. For his part Tails had been quite confused. His big brother lived for attention and, to the fox's knowledge, never missed a chance to give out interviews or sign autographs. What Robotnik had said must have really riled the hedgehog up. It had taken a little more than half the hectic trip home for the kit to realize the angry looks the hedgehog was shooting back were not because of Robotnik, but were being directed at him. The revelation that Sonic was indeed angry at him and was racing home with the express purpose of shoving a bar of soap into his young ward's mouth had directly led to miniature war that had occurred when they'd reached Mystic Ruins.

Now as he thought about the punishment he'd leveled, he wondered if he'd gone too far. His own late and much lamented mother had made a similar threat to Sonic when he'd been caught swearing but, as Sonic had been unwilling to push her on such an act before she died, he had no way of knowing if this had been a threat or merely a bluff.

Finally making it downstairs, Sonic plopped himself down on the couch and turned on the television. Immediately the familiar image of today's events filled the screen. Unfortunately, the clip the networks were choosing to run all contained footage of Tails's bout of verbal diarrhea.

"Nothin' like celebrity gossip to get people's minds off the fact that they were attacked by a crazy scientist with an egg themed robot army," Sonic muttered to himself as he watched a perfectly framed picture of Tails smiling after his little faux pas. This was all they needed. It had been difficult enough to convince those in charge that he was a suitable guardian for Tails. Despite the fact that he was a popular public figure and a national hero, the fact remained that he was still underage, a fact most of the people who'd opposed Sonic taking custody of what was at the time a six year old cub had been quite quick to throw in his face.

Sonic remembered that meeting well. Child Protective Services had tried their best to convince Sonic he wasn't capable of raising a cub on his own, they weren't even completely convinced that, at twelve years old himself, it was a good idea to leave HIM to his own devices. One person had even pointed out that if Tails ended up requiring "special" care due to his obvious birth defects, it was unlikely Sonic would be able to provide it. Sonic had been equally quick to point out that the CPS had had a little more than two years to do something with the fox, and they'd done nothing to prevent him inevitably ending up abandoned on the street. In the end, after pulling a few strings and calling in a few favors, Sonic had managed to carry the day, gaining custody of his very own bouncing ball of six year old fluff. Tails had been ecstatic to say the least.

Of course there had been some conditions to the less-than-legal adoption, first and foremost amongst them being Sonic was now answerable to a case worker assigned to making sure Tails WAS being properly cared for. Not that that was a problem health-wise. No longer forced to scavenge for his food or subjected to constant exposure to the elements, Tails's health had taken an upturn for the better. Youthful energy and a naturally strong constitution had helped the kit fill out very well, and doctor's examination proved him to be in excellent health for a boy his age. His physical health thus taken care of, Sonic had basically been told the case worker, a simian named Ms. Price, would be keeping tabs on him, ensuring Tails was being raised appropriately and safely. Though the hedgehog couldn't say he perfectly satisfied the woman's expectations, the trip to the Floating Island had only been excused because it hadn't been Sonic's idea in the least and there'd been no safe place to take Tails, Sonic did manage to stay out of trouble enough to convince the simian he was a good role model for his cub.

'So of course kid decides to throw our good record in the trash heap by swearing on national television,' Sonic thought ruefully. The sudden sound out a loud thump and crash, followed by a softer thump, came to hedgehog's ears and, thinking Tails might have done something stupid, Sonic shot up the stairs in a blue blur, opening the door to the kit's room. Inside, Tails still lay on his bed, crying loudly into his pillow and only looking up when Sonic barged in. It took the hedgehog less than a moment to realize what had made the sounds earlier had been Tails's digital alarm clock and its plug striking the wall and then the floor. The hole in the plaster confirmed it.

"Hey, what's the deal bro?" Sonic asked, more than a little annoyed as Tails glared at him.

"What?! I didn't leave the bed you… you big, blue… BULLY!" Tails yelled back at him, a condemnation that actually hurt Sonic.

'Calm down blue, can't let him rattle you,' Sonic thought to himself.

"Not what I meant and you know it kid, and you are seriously tempting fate by behaving like a spoiled brat."

"I am not a BRAT!!"

"You're acting like it and it's about to get you sent to bed without dinner."

"You wouldn't dare," Tails hissed, his eyes narrowing at his currently disliked hero.

"Yeah, just like I wouldn't dare to stick soap in your mouth, right?" At this Tails's fierce attitude evaporated as he ducked his head back down, his ears lying flat against his head as one of his tails swished up to hide his face. "Thought so. Now I don't wanna have to come up here again before dinner, or you don't get to eat tonight, got it?"

"RRRRR!!" Tails again cried as he bit into his tail, or more accurately into the fur at the tip of the tail. Unwilling to play this game any longer, Sonic closed the door again and returned to the downstairs area. Tired of the news, and its somewhat slanted portrayal of the events that occurred in the city, Sonic changed the channel. It was perhaps kismet that the next channel did nothing to alleviate the hedgehog's mood.

He recognized the program, it was a showcase for stand-up comedians, promoted by being "edgy" and "in-your-face" with plenty of topical jokes. It was also known for its performers using coarse and foul language, hence its rather high television rating. Personally Sonic found it hilarious. Or at least he had until he'd caught Tails watching the same program about a month ago, and then heard him repeat some of the jokes at dinner. Scratch that, he'd still found it funny, actually spitting up the soda he'd been drinking, much to the fox's glee. Though Sonic had tried to explain that that kind of language wasn't at all something Tails needed to be using, the gagging laughs that had been coming out of the hedgehog's mouth had quite obviously diluted the message he was trying to send. It had almost been inevitable that Tails would use profane language again, this time in public and using them in a new context. The only difference between then and today had been that then there hadn't been any news cameras around. Again Sonic had lectured him, this time invoking the infamous threat of soap if he heard the words again.

Maybe it was his fault. He was the one who held the cable subscription, the only way that show got into this house, and he certainly could have blocked it had he chose. He just didn't think it was necessary. The jokes were funny, the people were funny, the whole NETWORK was funny; he'd actually looked forward getting to see these shows that so many real adults loved to see. It had never even crossed his mind that Tails would be watching it too. So who was really to blame, the one who used the foul language or the guy who let him learn about it?

"Tails," the depressed hedgehog asked of the air that surrounded him, "what am I gonna do with you…"

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With a grunt, Sonic set down the big pot on the fireproof potholder he'd placed on the dinner table, taking a pleased sniff of the cooked food as he did so. Thanks to Robotnik's earlier attack interrupting their shopping before they could get any sausages, and the impromptu race away from the city thanks to Tails, Sonic had ended up making Chili Con-Carne for dinner. Not an entirely unwelcome dinner, though Sonic's taste buds still bristled at not getting the promised chili-dogs. They would have really hit the spot, especially after having to deal with the inevitable phone call from Ms. Price. The woman had clearly not been overly thrilled with Tails's appearance on the news and, much like the reporter Sonic had heard earlier, had asked if maybe the impressionable fox wouldn't do better in a more controlled environment. Sonic had been quick to assure Ms. Price that the matter was being dealt with and would soon be concluded. Though it had probably been meant to encourage him, the simian social worker's approval of Sonic actually washing out the boy's mouth with soap left the hedgehog feeling just a little more guilty, particularly when she'd advised that boys with "young Mr. Prower's upbringing often required a far stricter hand than the normal ones." Honestly Sonic wondered how she'd gotten her job.

With that bit of unpleasantness done, and dinner now sitting on the table, it was time for the hardest part of this whole affair, confronting Tails and making sure the cub understood what he'd done wrong. He cast a glance at the ceiling. There hadn't been anymore odd sounds coming from the fox, and Sonic had surreptitiously checked up on him before starting to cook dinner. The hedgehog had been so relieved to know that his little brother had not simply abandoned him to return to the streets. Still he had to do this.

"Tails! Dinner's ready, you can come down now!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, assured no one would hear him and be disturbed. Their only really neighbor was some giant, purple cat who liked living out in the woods on his own. For a few minutes nothing happened. Then, a soft thump was heard as a small body landed on the floor. The sound of soft feet padding forward was followed by the creaking sound of a door opening. Quickly Sonic got into his chair as more shuffling was heard and a pair of red and white running shoes appeared at the top of the stairs. One step at a time Tails descended slowly as Sonic watched him, seemingly unsure of whether the hedgehog was playing him, or being straight. Not that the hedgehog could blame him. How many times in the past had someone feigned kindness to the kit only to get him to drop his guard for them to hurt.

As he made it to the bottom of the stairs, Tails cast a furtive look at the door, his twin tails coming up before him to be grabbed and held in his arms for extra protection. Sonic made no move to block the kitsune, trusting in the idea that the three years they'd spent together meant that Miles Prower trusted him enough to know he wouldn't hurt him. If Tails tried to bolt well, Sonic would catch him of course, and hopefully calm him down again and then… no relationship could survive without trust. If the hedgehog's brash actions had cost him the fox's trust…

"Dinner's getting cold," Sonic pointed out, gesturing towards the seat Tails traditionally sat in for dinner, and the plate that sat before it. Once again casting a glance at the door, Tails began to inch towards the table, much to Sonic's relief. As the kit got closer, Sonic noticed a marked change in the boy's usual appearance. The fur around his head and face was matted and flat, no doubt thanks to being laid on and covered in salty tears. His gentle blue eyes were red with irritation from crying, and his lower lip was quivering a bit even as his jaw was clenched. His ears were laid back, and even the fur on his chest seemed to droop just a little bit. Finally he made it to the chair, releasing his tails in order to pull the piece of furniture out and climb quietly into it. For a few moments, all was silent as Tails and Sonic began their meal together, each taking a serving of the chili con-carne and eating it quietly. Finally Sonic decided the silence had lasted long enough.

"Tails, I'm sorry." At those words Tails's triangular ears perked up a bit and he regarded Sonic warily. "I'm sorry I had to do that to you, but you didn't really leave me much choice." Not quite the apology the kit might have been hoping for, but the four hours Tails had had to think about why he'd gotten punished had also given Sonic time to figure out what to say.

"Everybody says that," Tails mumbled bitterly, no doubt imagining just where this conversation was heading and already coming to the conclusion that he'd spent his last night in doors for a while.

"Not the same lil' bro, and you know it." The sudden wince from Tails told Sonic he did indeed know it. "I told you twice before you weren't supposed to use that language, and I even warned you what would happen if you did a third time."

"Didn't think you were serious," Tails countered, though the shamed look on his face said even he could see how flimsy such an excuse was.

'Throw the kid a bone Sonic, you know you were thinking the exact same thing.'

"Next time I'll try not to send mixed messages. But you have to learn to do what I say, when I say." At this Tails surged forward to defend himself, looking plaintively at his hedgehog brother.

"I do Sonic, honest I do. Every time you tell me to get out of the way of Robotnik's attacks, I leave and…"

"It's not just when we're fighting Robotnik bro, it's for everything," Sonic interrupted. "Tails, when I took you in… You know there were people who didn't want it to happen, right?"

"Yeah," Tails said quietly, his ears once again falling as he looked away. "Are… are you gonna make me leave?"

"No!" Sonic blurted out. He wanted that to be as absolutely clear as possible, so clear Tails would never have cause to think it again. "I promised you before, and I'll promise again kid. You're my little brother now, and my home is always your home." Tails nodded at this. "But trust is a two way street Tails. Just like you want to trust me, I have to trust you, especially to do what I say."

"But I said…"

"And I said it's more than just when we're fighting the egg-belly. People are watching us, watching you, watching me, looking for some reason you shouldn't get to live with me." Such news was not entirely surprising to Tails, who was quite used to others trying to wreck the things he liked. What made the situation difficult was that, all too often, he'd simply give up and let them. "It's not like that Tails, not this time. These are just people who are afraid I can't do a good enough job of taking care of you."

"But you're Sonic, the best, you can take care of anyone," the fox protested.

"But they won't see that if the kid I'm takin' care of is swearing up a storm on national television," Sonic pointed out and, after thinking on this for about a second, Tails fell back into his ashamed stance, hiding his face behind the con-carne pot.

"I'm sorry. I didn't think…"

"I know kid, I know. But it's more than that," Sonic explained. "You're a smart cub, you're creative and you're clever… You shouldn't have to resort to language like that to talk."

"But you thought it was funny."

"I'm stupid, whaddya want," Sonic pointed out, much to Tails's amusement. "I laugh at anything, even stuff that's too stupid to be funny. Doesn't make it good. But you… You should be refining your tastes, polishing your verbage. You got too much class to let trash language come outta your mouth like that."

"You… you think so?"

"Wouldn't say it if I didn't," Sonic pointed out. "That's why I was so upset Tails, swearing like that, it should be beneath you."

"I… I guess so."

"That said, I think it's time I told you what your punishment was going to be for this."

"But I thought… you said the soap was…"

"I also said you'd get more if you fought me, remember?" Sonic said, this time sure to give the fox a no-nonsense stare. Eliminating mixed messages. Tails immediately snapped his mouth shut. "Since I know you picked up those words from TV, I think not watching it for a while would probably be a good first step, don't you? Say, for a week?"

"A week!" the distressed kit suddenly yelped. "Ah but Sonic…"

"Two weeks you say?" Immediately Tails fell silent. "If it helps, I'm not gonna watch TV either for as long as you do, since I was partly to blame for your little episode." Tails nodded a little. "Second, you're grounded for weekend, got it? That means no leaving your room and no tinkering with your toys."

"No TV and no tinkering! What am I supposed to do for a whole weekend?"

"Like I said; a creative and clever cub. I'm sure you'll find a way to amuse yourself for two days."

"But you said you'd take me to see that new park they had!"

"Well we'll just have to wait until next weekend I guess," Sonic said as he finished his dinner and got up from the table, crossing over to Tails's side and giving the kit a sideways hug. "Look kid, ya know I love ya, right? I wouldn't do this if I didn't."

"How do you figure that?"

"Well, if I didn't love ya, I wouldn't bother trying to teach ya how to act right in public. I'd just let you run wild and then you'd get into all sorts of trouble until eventually you'd land in prison or something. I'd let you do dangerous stuff and get yourself hurt. But I do love ya, I love ya a lot, so I head you off before ya can go too far. I look out for my little bro," Sonic said as he laid his head on the fox's own. Tails's face took on a rather confused expression as Sonic did this.

"Uh, Sonic, why are you getting so mushy?" Tails asked.

"Two reasons. First, I think the situation calls for it," Sonic answered as he released his younger brother from his grip. "Second; you're going to bed immediately after dinner as the last part of your punishment, and I don't think you're going to be in the mood for hugs when you find this part out."

"Ahhhh…" Tails groaned as a smiling Sonic moved away to clear the dishes from the table…

The End