A/N: Merry Christmas everyone!
Pen: It's not Christmas yet.
Sword: Stop being Scrooge! And here's your present!
Pen: It's a... pen...
Sword: It reminds me of a baby you!
Pen: Uh, well then why don't you keep it?
Sword: Really? Thanks! *kisses Pen*
And here's my present for the readers! I don't own any of the characters except Pen and Sword. The rest belong to Sega. As for the song that inspired this story, it is the property of Rufus Wainwright.
"You expect me to believe that?" Knuckles shouted. He stood defensively in front of the Master Emerald, hands raised in a boxer's stance. He growled throatily before he continued. "That you didn't come here for the emerald?" He gave another warning growl to the invading figure.
In front of him stood the invading figure, Rouge, having changed her normal attire of pink and black to black and red for the season. Her boots had also been swapped out for a similar pair where the pink was replaced with green. Due to the cold weather, Rouge had opted to add a blue scarf and jacket to her outfit as well. She had her weight shifted to one leg with a hand on her hip, head tilted and a scowl etched on her face. "Its the truth!" she replied. "Just let me-"
"Don't lie!" Knuckles cut her off. "Just get out of here!"
Rouge gave a "Hmph!" before turning around and taking off. "Fine!" she yelled.
Knuckles watched as she disappeared into the cloudy sky. He sat down next to the Master Emerald shrine and rubbed his forehead. "Ugh," he moaned and threw his head against the cold rock. "Ow. That didn't help."
Down on Earth, in the fields and forests surrounding Station Square, was the alien known as Cosmo. She was busily arranging a small garden she had been growing for the past several months.
"There," she sighed. Standing up and wrapping her scarf around her tighter, Cosmo looked over the garden. There were several varieties of flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors planted there.
Cosmo smiled. "Perfect. This is perfect." It was then she noticed something falling from above. Looking up, she could see dozens of snowflakes falling gently and silently onto the earth.
Cosmo held out her hand, catching some and letting them dissolve in the gloves Amy had given her. She shook the water off and looked at the garden again. Cosmo gasped as she saw the snow covering the flowers.
"Oh no!" she cried. Falling to her knees, she tenderly wiped the crystallized water off the petals. "Oh, no. Please. Not this," she whispered as if talking to the flowers. She quickly looked around for some sort of covering and found some dried leaves left over from autumn. Seeing nothing else, Cosmo gathered them and vainly tried to make a makeshift covering for the flowers.
Elsewhere, near the vicinity of Cosmo and her garden, Tails sat in his workshop, head held in his hands. For the past few hours, he had been designing and going over various ideas for a Christmas present for a special person. But before he could even draw out an idea or think of where he could find such an item as a gift, he would shake his head in despair with a "No, no. Not good enough," and go back to pondering.
Amy sat on a park bench in the middle of Station Square Park. She shivered and pulled her red coat around herself tighter. Rubbing her arms, she glanced around her to find nobody in her view. She didn't expect anyone to be around in this weather anyway. No one except her.
The pink hedgehog sneezed, blowing some of the snow off her head. Amy looked forlornly at the ground and wished she could have been home sooner. She had volunteered to be one of the many elves at the Station Square Mall and had stayed late. Now she was caught up in the silent storm of snow, which didn't seem like it would cease falling anytime soon.
It wasn't the snow that bothered her though. She quite enjoyed it. It was that, shortly after leaving the mall, she had decided to take a stroll through the park on her way home. All throughout her walk, she had seen several couples, all laughing, hugging, kissing, and having an overall good time.
Amy sighed wistfully at those thoughts as she re-imagined those loving scenes she had seen. However, she replaced the couple in her mind with a certain blue hero and herself. She shook her head, lamenting over the fact that Sonic would never do something like that
Amy sneezed again and wiped her nose. She blinked rapidly to stop herself from shedding any tears over the matter. Standing up, the girl made her way through the park. She wandered almost aimlessly on the sidewalk and shivered uncontrollably.
"I should have brought a scarf," she moaned through chattering teeth. She would be glad once she reached her apartment. Yet, she couldn't help feeling depressed at the same time. All of her friends already had other plans for Christmas tomorrow, but they had all planned to get together the day after. So Amy could only look forward to spending Christmas alone. "Merry Christmas Amy," she muttered.
In a bar in the less than savory part of Station Square, sat a jet black hedgehog by the name of Shadow. He had taken a seat in the corner and was staring at a shot glass on the table. Not that he drank. He couldn't stand the stuff ever since he had once been offered it. But it made him look like one of the normal patrons and therefore, kept him out of sight when he so desired. His scarf hung loosely around his neck and his earmuffs sat snugly on his head.
Normally Shadow wouldn't even be here. But with the general happy atmosphere of the holidays, he was reminded of a dear friend of his and how she loved Christmas. Just the thought of how she was gone now and couldn't enjoy the holiday made his blood boil and drove him to want to be alone with his memories. So he had figured the best place for that was a seedy bar. As long as a person didn't cause any trouble, then there was no problem.
"Can I get you anything?" the bartender asked Shadow. Shadow looked up from his thoughts to give the bartender an icy stare. "Sheesh, cheer up. It's Christmas tomorrow after all." He pulled a towel off his shoulder and proceeded to wipe off the bar. "Everyone should be together and happy on Christmas."
Shadow went back to his thoughts and the shot glass, but he silently mouthed the phrase to himself. "Everyone should be together and happy on Christmas?" He had heard it before, long ago. Back when Maria was still alive.
His temper calmed down as more pleasant thoughts of Maria and Christmas entered his mind. Shadow recalled how she would become excited and especially kind around Christmas. Not that she wasn't kind the rest of the year, but Christmas brought out so much joy in her that she spread it to everyone else. Dr. Gerald had told him it was a thing called "Christmas cheer".
Every Christmas, Maria would tell him all sorts of fantasy stories. Everything from an omnipotent lunatic with unearthly powers who would give away presents for free to a story of some special baby being born in an unsanitary stable underneath a star. There was even one tale about a reindeer with a light-up nose, which Shadow always doubted. He knew there were many sorts of odd creations of Gerald's that defied nature and normal biology, but that story seemed to be pushing it in his view.
Still, whether the stories were true or not, what mattered the most to Maria was everyone spending the holiday together. Everyone including Shadow. She always tried to make sure everyone caught her feeling of merriment and had someone to be with on Christmas. Not only that, she also tried to spread this "Christmas cheer" through kind acts. Usually by helping people.
He stood up from the table and headed for the door. "You're right," he told the bartender. He tightened his scarf and adjusted the earmuffs.
"You're heading out into that?" the bartender asked, pointing to the snowfall, which was steadily increasing.
Shadow nodded. "I have something to do. Something for a friend. And I need to do it quickly before midnight."
Shadow was careful not to run too quickly down the sidewalk. The snow had already produced some invisible ice patches here and there and he didn't feel like taking a tumble. As he hurried along, he wondered who and what he could do for someone so late on Christmas Eve.
It wasn't until he was nearing the apartment building of Rouge that he ran into Knuckles, nearly knocking him over. "Hey watch where you're going!" the echidna shouted. But he quickly realized who it was and retracted his outburst. "Oh, it's you."
"Don't you have an emerald to protect?" Shadow questioned him.
"Well it's a long story," Knuckles replied.
Shadow was about to resume his run, but remembered his mission. He sighed mentally as he crossed his arms and closed his eyes, leaning against the building's wall. "Well make it short," he ordered.
Knuckles was taken aback, but told the hedgehog what had happened anyway. "Well, I yelled at Batgirl because I thought she was trying to take the Master Emerald again," Knuckles started. "But now I'm not so sure. She kept telling me she was there for something else, but I didn't believe her."
"How is it you can be gullible one minute when it comes to Eggman and paranoid the next when Rouge shows up?" Shadow asked. Knuckles prepared to retort before Shadow continued. "You should probably get her a present."
"I did," Knuckles replied. He held up a box and opened it for Shadow to see what was inside. "I'm just not sure what to say."
"An apology usually works," Shadow answered. He noticed a nearby clock read ten o'clock. "I have to go." And with that, he took off, leaving Knuckles to contemplate on his advice.
Rouge heard three sharp raps on her door. Her ears perked up and she quickly blew her nose into a tissue. She couldn't let anyone see her like this. Checking herself in the mirror, she wiped away any visible tears and make-up stains.
Again, three knocks were heard on her door. Rouge ran to the door and opened it, only to immediately slam it again on the red echidna. "Wait Rouge!" he yelled through the door.
"Save it echidna!" she told him. She went back to her couch and turned on her tv.
"I came to say I'm sorry!" Knuckles insisted.
"You expect me ta believe that?" Rouge imitated his voice from earlier. "That you came here to say you're sorry?" She held the volume button down on the remote until the television boomed throughout the room.
"I brought you a present!" Knuckles yelled. He coughed from the strain of telling her that over the television's sound.
Rouge flipped off the tv and walked back to the door. She opened it and leaned against the frame, arms crossed with a raised eyebrow. "A present?" she questioned skeptically.
"Yeah," Knuckles replied in a raspy voice.
He rolled his eyes. "Do you see anyone else around Batgirl?" He gritted his teeth and thrust the box toward her. Rouge eyed the package, noticing the quick and poorly done wrapping on it. The green ribbon clashed with the polka dotted wrapping paper and there were several rips and tears in it. Obvious signs that Knuckles' was very clumsy with his gloves if he wasn't using them for fighting.
Yet despite its appearance, Rouge took the present and was seemingly moved by it. "Thanks," she answered, still looking at it.
"Maybe you should open it before thanking me."
Rouge pulled at the ribbon, letting it fall apart effortlessly. It seemed like it was also holding together most of the paper as the present seemed to come apart as if invisible hands were unwrapping it. With one pull, Rouge had completely pulled off the wrapping paper and now held the white box in her hand.
Rouge complied and gasped at what she saw inside. In the box was a sparkling white jewel. But not just any ordinary jewel. It was the white Chaos Emerald. Rouge reached inside and pulled it out, admiring it. She could scarcely believe she was actually holding it at this very moment.
"Merry Christmas," Knuckles said.
Rouge turned to him, surprised. She had nearly forgotten he was even standing there. "Why would you-?" she began to ask, but Knuckles seemed to already know her question.
"Well I wanted to say I'm sorry. And I couldn't think of a better way," he shrugged, trying to play it off as if that was the only reason. Rouge didn't buy it and kept staring until Knuckles sighed and added, "And I knew you would like it."
Rouge turned the emerald over between her fingers. "You actually trust me with this?"
Knuckles slowly nodded. "Besides, if Eggman or anyone were to come for it, who else would fight to the death for it?"
"Thanks," Rouge replied sarcastically. She placed it back in the box and closed the lid. "I really like it." She glanced behind her and held up a finger to Knuckles. "Hang on." She quickly shut the door, leaving Knuckles to stand outside for a few minutes before she came back with a present of her own. "Here."
Knuckles examined the long, red package and shook it to try and guess what was inside. "It's what I was trying to give you earlier," Rouge told him.
Knuckles gulped and looked down. "Oh. I see," he muttered. He unwrapped it to find several scrolls inside. "Huh? What's this?" He opened them up to see ancient writing and pictures of echidnas on them.
"I found them on one of my hunts," Rouge explained. "I went to get them appraised and my contact said they told the history about your tribe. Or something like that anyway."
"But why give them to me?" Knuckles questioned. "I would think these are worth a lot."
"They are," Rouge confirmed. "And no paltry sum either. But I know they're worth a lot more ta you." She smirked and winked.
"Wow, never thought I'd see the day you would think of someone else first," Knuckles laughed.
"Well if you'd like, I could take them right back and sell them," Rouge mocked threatened before laughing as well.
Knuckles read over the scrolls again. "Rouge, this is-"
Rouge waved him off. "No need ta thank me Knuckie. You already did." She pointed to her present sitting on a table inside the apartment. She stood to one side and gestured to him. "You wanna come in? It's cold outside with no scarf or anything," she smiled flirtatiously. Knuckles nodded and entered, while Rouge shut the door.
"What a waste of time that was," Shadow mumbled as he sped on the outskirts of Station Square. "Stupid echidna." He scanned his surroundings, seeing nothing but empty snow-covered hills and trees. "Maybe someone needs a tree still. I could knock one down."
He turned sharply and ran on top of the snow. Every once in a while he would sink in it and have to trudge through the white powder before he could hop on top of it and start running again. All in all, it was annoying him since he was being slowed down. He cursed the wintry frost as a bane to his mission.
When he was sure he had already passed through the middle of the forest, Shadow decided to slow down and once again see if anyone was around. Before he could stop, a figure jumped in front of him screaming. Shadow fell to the ground, sliding like a runner would into a base, and knocked the figure over.
They both stopped just shy of a patch of ground where dozens of leaves were scattered. Shadow stood up and brushed any snow off of him before turning his attention to the person who had stopped him. "What sort of person-! Oh it's you."
Cosmo sat in the snow, rubbing her leg as it were sore. "I apologize for that," she said sadly. "I just did not want the flowers to be ruined." She indicated the leaves as she stood up shakily and walked over to them. Shadow could see a bright blue flower peeking out from underneath one of the dried leaves.
Cosmo checked to see if anything had happened to them, an action Shadow could tell had become a perseverating one since the snow storm. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw they were still healthy and, to her, happy. "If they do not receive any heat soon, they will die," she lamented.
Shadow wanted to run off with a "Well that's too bad", but something kept him rooted. Again, Maria's words echoed in his mind. He sighed mentally and looked around. He was sure Tails' workshop was in the general area. Maybe the little fox would have something for the flowers.
"Stay here. I'll be right back," he ordered Cosmo.
Shadow eventually found Tails' house. He knocked on the door and waited impatiently, swearing under his breath. Midnight was fast approaching and he didn't have much time left.
The door opened and Tails poked his head out. When he saw it was Shadow, he opened it fully. "Shadow? Wh-"
"I don't have time for your questions," Shadow snapped. "I need something. Do you have anything that can keep some flowers alive out here?"
Tails tilted his head. "Uh, I think I do. But isn't it kind of late to plant a garden?"
Shadow growled. "Cosmo needs it. She's out in the forest, trying to keep some flowers alive."
Tails' eyes widened. Both at the mention of Cosmo's name and Shadow's temper. "Ok, I'll be right back." He ran at such a speed that Sonic would have proud. In less than a minute, he was back, wearing a white scarf and holding some device that could only be described as a self-made lamp. "I was wondering what I should get her for Christmas! This will b-"
"Enough!" Shadow grabbed the fox's wrist and dragged him back to the site of Cosmo's garden as quickly as possible.
They reached Cosmo in no time and Shadow let Tails set up the lamp. The fox positioned it above the flowers, pressed a few buttons, and the lamp bathed the whole garden in a warm glow After making sure that the lamp was working and Cosmo was satisfied, Shadow ran off, leaving the other two behind.
"What's he in a hurry for?" Tails asked Cosmo.
Cosmo shook her head. "I do not know." She pushed away the leaves, letting Tails' lamp warm them. "Thank you Tails."
"Oh, it was no problem," Tails blushed, rubbing his neck. "I was actually trying to think of a present to get you for tomorrow. You can have this if you'd like."
Cosmo hugged Tails and kissed his cheek. "Thank you. It means a lot to me."
"You're welcome," Tails replied, blushing even harder. He twiddled his thumbs as he tried to make small talk with her. "So, um, why are you out here anyway? It seems like an odd place for a garden."
Cosmo moved the lamp slightly and sat back, watching the flowers sway in the slight breeze. "Well, I made this garden for someone." She shivered and Tails wrapped an arms around her.
"Who's the lucky person?"
Cosmo giggled and looked up at him. "You."
Tails was taken aback. He did a double take at her and the garden. "Really? For me?"
Cosmo nodded. "I made for you. As a way to remember me by." She kissed his cheek again. "Merry Christmas Tails."
"Like I would ever forget you," the fox smiled. "Merry Christmas Cosmo. And I'll take good care of it," he told her.
Cosmo nodded and leaned her head on his shoulder. They both admired the small garden as if in reverent silence while enjoying each other's company. "I know you will Tails." She closed her eyes. "I know you will."
"I don't have much time," Shadow said to no one in particular as his eyes caught sight of a bank's sign in Station Square. It currently read eleven thirty-seven and compelled Shadow to run even faster, ice or no.
He had decided that it would be more fruitful to make another pass through the city in case he had missed something. "All this running around and I keep getting delayed," he groaned. "Next thing I know, I'll run into Faker and Amy."
Shadow halted when he heard someone crying nearby. He realized he was in the city's park and that the person was nearby. He began to start running again, in the opposite direction of the sobbing, but after a few seconds, he shook his fists angrily and turned around. "This had better be worth my time."
He found the source of the crying to be none other than Amy, walking through the park all on her own. Shadow hid behind a tree, rubbing his temple and sighing. "I suppose I spoke too soon." He considered going over to try and console her, but then decided that wouldn't do much good. There was only one thing, or person, who would make Amy feel better. So Shadow took off to look for him.
"I think Faker may have had a hand in this to begin with," Shadow muttered. "It wouldn't surprise me."
It took Shadow quite a while, but he eventually found Sonic window shopping. The azure hedgehog didn't seem to be looking for anything in particular as he sucked a candy cane, playing with it with his tongue. Shadow would have been perplexed by the blue hero's browsing through closed stores, but he was running out of time. He quickly grabbed Sonic's wrist without a word.
"Hey! What's the- Shadow?" Sonic cried, dropping his candy cane, before Shadow pulled out his green emerald and used Chaos Control to warp them to the park.
When they arrived, Sonic instantly yanked his arm out of Shadow's grasp. "What's the big idea?" He pulled off his green scarf and wrapped it around himself again. "If ya wanted ta race, ya coulda just asked!"
"Shut up Faker," Shadow threatened. "I don't have time for your stupidity. You need to make up whatever you did to Amy." He pointed through some trees to the crying pink hedgehog, who was walking much slower than before.
"What I did? I haven't seen her all day!" Sonic protested.
"I don't care! Just make her feel better!" Shadow answered, his voice growing more hostile.
"Just be yourself," Shadow answered. "She seems to love that. For whatever reason." He ran off as Sonic scratched his head.
"What's gotten into him?"
Amy couldn't stand the cold for much longer. It seemed like she had been walking much too long and should have reached her apartment by now. She knew she kept walking in somewhat of a daze, but she didn't think it was this bad.
"It must be the cold," she told herself.
"Yeah," a voice agreed. Amy whirled around to find Sonic walking toward her. He took off his scarf and wrapped it around her. "You should dress warmer. It is December after all."
Amy shook her head, shaking off the numbness from the cold. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
"I..." and Sonic paused to think of an answer. He didn't want to lie, but he didn't want to tell her that Shadow had brought him here. "I felt like I needed ta come here." He knew she would accept that answer.
And she did. Nodding as though satisfied, she turned around and walked alongside him.
"I was planning ta come see ya anyway," Sonic added. "I needed ta give ya your gift."
"Aw, you didn't have to get me anything." Amy kissed his cheek, making Sonic blush and rub it. "I'm just happy to be with you."
Sonic nodded. "So what are ya doin' tomorrow?"
Amy looked away. "Nothing much," she replied, thinking of her lonely apartment, with a sad Christmas tree, devoid of any presents and herself lounging on the couch alone.
"Well how about we spend the day together? Just us," Sonic suggested.
"Really?" Amy nearly squealed. Her eyes lit up more than a Christmas tree and she had a large grin plastered on her face. The whole sight made Sonic feel happier, just to see her like this. It felt better than when an entire town would thank him for saving them from whatever disaster he had prevented. Not only that, but the thought of being with just her tomorrow felt right to him. He couldn't put his finger on why that was, but he was looking forward to it.
"Yeah," Sonic smirked. "So what do ya say?"
Amy hugged him. But not one of her choking hugs like she normally did when she finally caught Sonic after a chase. This was an honest hug that two close people give each other. She kissed Sonic's cheek again. "I'd love too."
Shadow kicked some snow of his sneakers as he headed for an exit to the park. Off in the distance, he heard a lone crier yelling "Merry Christmas!" to the sleeping city.
"So it's Christmas," Shadow mused. He contemplated how tonight had gone and growled. "I've failed. I didn't have a chance to do anything," he fumed. He struck a tree nearby, breaking off some of its frail bark. "All because of that echidna!" He kicked the poor tree. "And that plant girl!" He turned away and went back to the sidewalk path he had been on. "And Faker and his girlfriend."
Shadow gazed into the starry heavens and groaned. "Maria." He shook his head slowly, thinking of how he had failed her. "I guess I couldn't do it."
"I wouldn't say that."
Shadow moved his earmuffs aside and pricked his ears, trying to determine where that voice had come from. Or if he was just hearing things.
"I think you were splendid."
Now he was sure that he heard it. He swirled around to find, sitting on a bench underneath a lamp post, was Maria. She was dressed in the same blue attire that Shadow remembered, and was smiling brightly at him. She waved him over to her.
Shadow walked toward her carefully. Due to the light, her entire body was faint and translucent. He could see the bench right through her and therefore eyed her apparition warily. "Maria?" he asked tentatively. "Is that really you?"
She smiled and patted the bench for Shadow to take a seat. He complied and they faced each other. "You did very well tonight Shadow. You showed what it means to have Christmas cheer. I'm proud of you." She never moved her mouth, yet her voice seemed to come from everywhere around Shadow.
"But I didn't do anything," Shadow argued. "I haven't been able to help anyone like you used to do."
"Oh?" Maria responded surprised. "You have done more than you know." She waved her hand in front of them, forming a long, glowing white rectangle. It hovered just above their legs as Maria went on. "You were able to help your partner Rouge."
She waved her hand once more and a vision of Rouge's apartment appeared. Inside, Shadow could see the living room he knew well. Sitting on the couch, laughing at some show on the television, were Rouge and Knuckles. Both of them were quite close and, from Shadow's view, seemed to be holding one another.
"Without your advice to Knuckles, he might have stayed outside and never visited Rouge," Maria pointed out.
Shadow shook his head. "He would have eventually worked up the courage. The echidna is stubborn and his nerves wouldn't deter him from going to her anyway."
"Maybe," Maria replied. "But what about the alien known as Cosmo?" Another sweep of her arm and the screen changed to show Tails and Cosmo sitting next to the garden. They too held each other, pointing at the sky and the flowers as if naming them. Apparently, the lamp was not only warm enough for the flowers, but for them as well.
"That was an accident," Shadow protested. "I ran into her."
"And yet you helped her by bringing the fox. If you had not, the flowers might have withered and died," Maria answered. Shadow still looked unconvinced, so Maria waved her arm one last time to reveal the park. It zoomed in on a different section from them to reveal Sonic and Amy. Both looked pleasantly content holding hands. Sonic nudged Amy and she nudged back. They both laughed and Sonic nudged harder, and Amy retaliated, knocking both of them into the snow. Sonic hugged her and Amy giggled.
"Faker," Shadow muttered.
"You helped your rival and this girl. You actually dragged him to the park which, while excessive, did end up cheering her up. And possibly start something as well," Maria hinted at cryptically. The screen before them disappeared. "Now do you believe me Shadow?"
He nodded solemnly. "Yeah I do."
Maria stood up and spread out her arms as she slowly lifted off the ground. Shadow quickly jumped to his feet and reached for her. "Wait! Don't leave!"
Maria glanced down and giggled. It's sound calmed and soothed him, as if he knew that everything was going to be fine. "Silly Shadow. I'll never leave. I'll always be here when you need me." With that, she floated higher into the sky. Before she finally disappeared, Shadow heard her call down to him. "Merry Christmas."
There was a brilliant flash in the sky like a firework and then darkness. Shadow watched the stars for a few minutes before deciding that nothing was going to happen. He crossed his arms and went over in his mind what had just happened.
"Was that real?" he wondered aloud. Once again, he glanced up and saw the stars twinkling at him like a celestial eye winking. He gave a small smile. "Merry Christmas Maria."
A/N: And Merry Christmas to all of you. Hope you enjoyed it.
Sword: We have to go Pen!
Where are you guys going?
Pen: To some Christmas party.
Um, bye...I wish I was invited to a Christmas party... Now I'm just all alone. Well at least the audience will...Hello? Anyone there? Hey! At least leave a critique, comment, or something before leaving!...All by myself. Don't wanna be all by myself anymore.