Well, this is just a little fluffy thing to tide me over for a while. I mixed in a little comedy, too, and questioned a few inconsistencies with the Sonic storyline. All in all, not bad for- what? An hour or two's work? This'll have two or three chapters, and be continued when and as I feel like it. I'm not claiming it's my greatest work, but hey ho. You're not paying me, and you get pretty much what you pay for.

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Chapter One: Birthday Boy

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"Okay. I call this meeting to order. Everyone, be quiet." Vanilla rapped with military precision, banging her fists on the table. It didn't have much effect. Knuckles and Sonic were engaged in a nugie contest, Shadow was groaning as Rouge explained all her best robberies, Amy was chattering away to no one in particular, and Big the cat wasn't invited, but had still turned up for some odd reason he never cared to explain.

"Quit it!" This time, it was Shadow speaking, and his voice held a lot more sway than Vanilla's. The noise gradually simmered down into a light stew of whispers and jibes. Vanilla sighed, and decided it was probably good enough.

"Now. Do we all know why we're here?" She asked, her eyebrow arched. Everyone shook their heads vigorously.

"Well, as we all should know, it's Tails' birthday tomorrow. And, we're all getting him presents." Vanilla explained.

"Tails has a birthday?" Big asked in that dumb-as-muck voice of his.

"Yes, Big. Tails has a birthday. Everyone does." Vanilla groaned.

"Amy, when's your birthday?" Big asked, turning to the pink time-bomb.

"…You know, I really don't know. That's scary. When IS my birthday?" Amy mused.

A gentle mutter went around the table. Vanilla gently pressed her palm to her face, feeling a migraine coming on.

"I don't know when my birthday is! What if my birthday's already gone, and I missed it? What if I missed it the last time as well? Sooooonic! What if I'm too old for you? What if I'm too young? I'm scared!" Amy wailed.

"Calm down, Amy. I think your birthday was on a Monday." Knuckles pitched in.

"Do we even have Mondays? The one time I ever saw the date, it was 'Day X', and Eggman blew a great big hole in the moon." Sonic pondered.

"Oh, yeah. Did we ever get around to fixing that?" Rouge asked, wondering how much moon rocks were worth.

"Probably. If the moon was all busted up, it would have screwed up that whole werehog thing, wouldn't it?" Sonic reasoned.

"Duuuuuh…I like the moon." Big chimed in, like a great big grandfather clock.

"Everybody, shut up!" Vanilla shouted. For a moment, everyone stood in shocked silence. Then, they carried on talking as if nothing had happened. Eventually, Shadow got a gun (out of where, we don't know) and fired it for silence.

"You're paying for that hole in the ceiling, you know." Vanilla frowned.

"Get the hell on with it. I have stuff to do." Shadow shrugged.

"Anyway. Tails' birthday is tomorrow, and I want you all to get him a present. He's always holed up alone in that workshop of his. We need to make him feel included."

"…Hmm. What kind of present do you buy someone like Tails?" Sonic mused.

"I don't know. He's a nerd. I'll buy him a nerd present." Knuckles shrugged.

"…Do you even have money?" Amy asked.

"…I have no idea. I probably have an American Express card somewhere. How else could I afford the glue for putting that damn Master Emerald back together all the time?" Knuckles said, shooting a glare at Rouge.

"I'm going to be arranging a party for him at his workshop. Once you've got his present, Sonic, can you keep him out of his workshop until six in the evening?" Vanilla asked, speaking to Sonic as if he was a small child.

"Yes'm. Will there be cake?" the blue hero asked.

"The cake is a lie." Shadow muttered.

"What?"

"Nothing."

"Meeting adjourned." Vanilla sighed. Whatever happened tomorrow, she could feel in her bones that it would be a disaster.

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Tails awoke early, and all but fell out of bed. The sun was shining wistfully against his curtains, and birds were holding a virtuoso concert just outside his window. The fox boy groaned. He went downstairs, almost falling twice, and began to make himself breakfast. Two eggs, two slices of toast, and two rashers of bacon, all washed down with five cups of coffee, made hot, black and bitter. After his morning rituals, he immediately checked his schedule for the day. First, he had to wash and maintain the Tornado, then he had to work on his volkan cannon upgrade. He sighed. These days, life was just work, day in, day out. He was starting to lose his passion for it, but he had to do it, otherwise he'd be defenceless the next time Eggman attacked.

Groaning, he threw out a hand, and it landed instinctively on a screwdriver. He threw out the other, and it landed on a wrench. Although his workshop seemed like a total disaster zone as far as organisation went, Tails knew exactly where everything was. Whenever Cream came around, she always dismissed it as 'a guy thing' and tried to tidy up. It screwed him up for days afterwards.

As he ambled towards the garage where the Tornado was kept, he heard an insistent knock on the door. He opened it, and Sonic was standing there, wearing his trademark grin. Tails considered slamming the door on him- he wasn't really in the mood for Sonic's shenanigans today- but Sonic had already barged his way into the house. Adeptly dodging splashes of oil on the floor, he picked his way through the scattered parts and to the refrigerator. Tails followed, preparing his best 'I'm not impressed' expression. Closing the fridge door, Sonic turned around the shrivelled under the intensity of Tails' not impressed-ness.

"Hey, buddy. What's up?" Sonic asked, lightly punching Tails on the arm.

"Are you stealing my food again?" Tails asked, one eyebrow arched.

"Sure, why not. Anyway, we have to get going."

"We?"

"You. Me. We. Learn to English, Tails."

"What? I never agreed to go anywhere."

"Then consider this a kidnapping."

Sonic grabbed Tails' arm and dragged him from the kitchen, leading him out of the house and breaking into a run across Mystic Ruins, all before the fox could protest. As the two shapes bolted towards the train, Vanilla slipped into the house and closed the door behind her.

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The day was fraught with, in Tails' eyes, completely pointless things. First, Sonic took him to Twinkle Park, and got annoyed when Tails tried to take apart one of the bumper carts. Then, they went to the casino, where Tails spent a happy hour using Sonic as a pinball, occasionally pinging him into the trash. After winning three hundred rings, he then spent them on a pair of furry novelty dice. Then, without a moment's break, they headed to the beach. Tails buried Sonic, and Sonic sprayed sand all over the place and ogled girls in bikinis. Then, it was off to the chao garden, where Sonic's favourite chao suddenly became pure evil and started beating up all the other chao, and eventually Sonic himself.

At the end of a long, exhausting, and pointless day, Tails couldn't help feeling happy, even though he hadn't gotten any work done at all. He'd had a good time with Sonic, his adopted big brother. The clock chimed six as they boarded the train back to Mystic Ruins. When they got there, Sonic immediately grabbed Tails' arm and dragged him back to the workshop.

"Sonic, what is WITH you today? You're being weird." Tails accused,

"Hey, you're the weird one. I'm just cool." Sonic grinned, his egomania in full swing.

"Whatever. What's going on?"

"You'll see."

"AHA! So there is something going on! What have you done? Have you put a cherry bomb in my toilet again?"

"Maybe." Sonic said thoughtfully, as if trying to remember if he had or not.

"Oh, great. You know how much money a new toilet costs? And how much time and energy I have to put into rerouting the plumbing?" Tails lectured.

"Oh, shut up and get indoors." Sonic sighed, yanking the door open.

Immediately, a wave of noise burst from the door. Vanilla, Shadow, Knuckles, Big, Rouge and Amy all surged forwards and engrossed Tails in what was perhaps the most violent group hug in history. Tails was shocked.

"What are you all doing here?" he asked, one ear lowered like a dog.

"We're celebrating your birthday! Happy birthday, Tails!" Amy all but screamed, lunging forwards for another hug. Luckily, Shadow pulled her backwards, and swiftly restored order to proceedings.

As Tails was frogmarched into his kitchen, he noticed with dismay that his whole lab had been cleaned. Birthday banners and streamers had been hung everywhere, and it appeared that Knuckles and Shadow had been firing party poppers at each other. The entire place smelt of citrus fruits and gunpowder.

"Happy birthday, Tails. We've all brought you gifts." Vanilla said sweetly, gently pressing the fox down into a chair, and presenting him with a small box wrapped in purple wrapping paper. Doubtfully, Tails opened it. Inside was a pair of knobbly woollen socks, obviously knitted by Vanilla.

"Uh…Thanks, Ms. Vanilla. I'm sure they'll…uh…Keep my toes warm on winter days."

Or feed my moth collection, the fox thought. Vanilla smiled indulgently, as if he were her favourite nephew.

"Open mine next, Tails." Knuckles grinned, thrusting an even smaller box that had been roughly decorated with red tape into the fox's hands.

Tails opened it slowly, with no small amount of curiosity. Inside was a small, rocky…rock.

"That's my pet rock, Winston. He's yours now." Knuckles said proudly.

"…A pet rock?" Tails asked, one eyebrow shooting skywards.

"Yeah. They're awesome. You can talk to them, and cuddle them, and…uh…throw them…" Knuckles stuttered, feeling everyone glaring at him. "Hey, I get bored on that island, you know. What else is there to do?"

"I thought you were getting him a nerd present?" Sonic asked angrily.

"…Ehehe. It turns out that I don't have an American Express card after all." Knuckles grinned.

"Okay, Tails. Here's my gift." Amy said. She passed him a box, which had been wrapped very nicely in yellow paper.

"Thank you, Amy." Tails smiled, ripping open the box. When he opened it, he took a moment or two to register what it was. Gingerly, he picked a neon pink wrench out of the box.

"That way, you'll always know who gave it to you!" Amy smiled. Tails facepalmed.

"Here's my gift." Shadow motioned. He threw yet another box over to Tails. The fox caught it, and shook it, but heard nothing. Curiously, he opened it. Then, he turned it upside down and tapped on it. Nothing came out.

"That's my gift to you. Now you're older and wiser, you shouldn't be so stupid as to think that I was actually going to get you a gift." Shadow smirked. And then, he disappeared- just before Vanilla would have clonked him on the head with Tails' frying pan.

"Duh…Here's my gift." Big said. With a certain gravity, he presented Tails with a live fish.

"Uh…Do I eat it or make it a pet?" Tails asked in an offhand manner. Big didn't answer.

"Well, Sonic. Yours is the only gift left." Vanilla smiled. "Where is it?"

"Yeah…How did you have time to get me a gift? You were with me all day." Tails mused.

"Your gift is in the fridge. I put it there for safekeeping." Sonic smiled.

"Wait. You put food IN the fridge? Are you feeling okay?" Tails joked.

The fox got up and ambled over to the fridge, yanking the door open.

"Where is it, Sonic?"

"Third shelf down, to the left."

"…All that's there is a submarine sandwich." Tails groaned.

"Yeah. It's great, isn't it?" Sonic grinned.

"Why would you get me a submarine sandwich for a birthday present?"

"Well, I thought to myself, 'If it were my birthday, what would I want?'"

Tails groaned. The others got the message. They hadn't really done a very good job of making his birthday special. Silently, they all filed out of the house, leaving the fox alone in his kitchen.

"Sigh…How did they actually manage to disappoint me when I wasn't even expecting anything?" Tails wondered, absent-mindedly taking a bite out of the submarine sandwich. What a waste of a day.

As he sat alone, he became aware of someone else's presence in the room. He assumed it was Sonic or Knuckles, trying to cheer him up. But when he looked up, it was Cream.

"Oh…Hey, Cream. What are you doing here?" Tails asked, as politely as he could.

"Well, last night, I heard the others talking about getting you birthday presents. So, I decided to try and get you one myself." Cream said sweetly. She smelt of baked bread, not citrus and gunpowder.

"Oh…Well, you don't need to. The others already tried. I have to give them credit for that." Tails said sadly. If Cream noticed, she ignored it.

"Don't be too hard on them, Tails. You're a hard person to get things for. You're a dynamic person. If you want something, you get it. If you need something, you build it. You have the brains to get any present you want, and all without our help." Cream said, sidling up to Tails and patting him on the shoulder.

"I know, but a pet rock?" Tails muttered under his breath.

"Anyway. Even I couldn't think of anything to get you." Cream said, embarrassed. Tails scrutinised her face. Was she embarrassed, or excited?

"Oh, really? Well, I'm sure you tried."

Cream smiled, and looked into the fox's cerulean eyes. She saw a lonely boy on the cusp of adolescence, who, by the benefit of being a hero, had been excluded from normal life. She couldn't give him his normal life back. She couldn't give him those carefree days. She couldn't give him the ability to relax without looking over his shoulder for Eggman. She couldn't even give him a normal birthday.

"Well, I didn't try. Not yet." Cream said sweetly.

"What do you mean?" Tails asked. He noticed an all-too-faint tinge of red in the rabbit's cheeks.

"My gift to you, Tails…Is me." Cream blushed.

Tails blinked.

"I mean…You must be lonely in this workshop of yours. I've got it all worked out. You can be the handsome scientist, and I'll be the glamorous assistant."

"Handsome? As if." Tails laughed.

"I think you're handsome." the rabbit smiled. Tails blushed.

"So…You want to be my assistant?" he asked.

"Yep. I'll turn up bright and early, and I'll be wearing my prettiest lab-coat." Cream winked.

Without warning, she reached over to the fox and hugged him- not a brief squeeze, but a real, deep embrace. She rested her head against his chest, and almost without thinking, Tails started to stroke her silky ears. They stayed like that for a few moments, then broke apart, conscious of the fact that neither of them really wanted to.

"Well…I'll be here tomorrow, bright and early. Make sure you have something interesting lined up!" Cream laughed. Tails laughed too.

"Well, that depends. Are you interested in planes?"

"Not really, but I'm interested in you, so it won't matter." the rabbit winked.

"Well, in that case, I'll see you tomorrow." Tails smiled.

Cream looked at him, and then at the door, and then back at him. Moving faster than Tails had thought her capable of, she brushed her lips against his cheek. Then, laughing as he turned red, she made her escape.

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Three hours later, after having done the work he had meant to do in the morning, Tails flopped down into bed. Gently, he placed his hand against the spot where Cream had kissed him. He felt a strange longing, as if he were missing something and he needed it back. All in all, he thought, it hadn't been a bad day. Not, he smiled, considering his birthday was actually next week.

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Yeah, yeah. I know. It wasn't that good. I'm not used to writing romance in any capacity, and this is what counts as practice, okay? Sides, as I said. You get what you pay for. Either way, I'll pick this up when I want to, but really it's just to channel a desire for cuteness that I was possessed of recently. So, yeah. Hope you come back next chapter.