The explosion blew him away, and though he surprisingly landed on his feet, Sonic could feel his legs tremble beneath him as they gave way; the pavement rushed

eagerly to meet him. He didn't notice as the concrete barrier slammed into his form, nor did he notice the blood trickling from his forehead, pooling a short ways away

from his crippled form. He heard not the ringing within his ears, nor did he feel the coldness of the surface upon which he now lay on his side. He noticed none of these

superficial distractions. The pool, shallow and murky held his gaze, though it was not what he saw within his eyes, not what was important enough to warrant his

attentions. No, he saw none of these things, and felt no pain. His mind, his attentions, were focused on one aspect, as his eyes, glazing over as tears crept towards

their edges, prepared to leap out onto the worlds stage declaring his weakness. He only saw her. Through his eyes, soaked with tears and blood, he only saw her.

Apparitions flitted in and out of his vision every so often, phantoms from another place and time, beings which did not exist to him now. Nothing existed to him now,

nothing except her. As he lay, observing her within his solitude, an apparition appeared before him. His vision veered from side to side, and then more violently, as the

thing that did not exist attempted to awaken him. Yet it could not sway the demands of his mind, the lusts of his conscious mind. He could still see her completely

clearly, even if he could not, in actuality, accomplish this feat. Eventually his vision returned to normal, and it focused yet again without distraction. The picture blurred

over a bit, as some outside interference blazed a trail across his cornea, yet he could still see, all that he needed to see. He saw her hair, pink with darkened crimson

highlights splashed around in good measure. He noticed that her bow, which had been a gift from her mother, had fled from its residence, and instead now waited in

solitude mere feet away from its loving domicile, as if frightened.

Suddenly, her eyes turned to look at his, and he noticed this as well, his pupils widened in response. Even through the blurry haze, he could notice the thin veil that

had drawn itself over her eyes, cruelly converting what had been green and bright into something grey and dim. These orbs followed his gaze, and as if in some kind of

telepathy he could reach her; If only through a shared gaze, though that was all he could ever hope for. He tried to muster the strength to say something, anything,

but his body refused to budge, his only outlet to the world outside remaining within his eyes with their single-minded relentless purpose. As if in mimicry, he could tell

she was making the same efforts he was, as her throat wearily struggled to make some sound, though to no avail, Sonic's hearing all but nonexistent in his time of

need. Her mouth opened, blood began to dribble from within its confines, as it had been held back by the dam. His left eye twitched, the only stimulus he could muster

at the sight. His tears had dried by this point, leaving him lying head sideways on a light bed of murky red water. She was trying to say something, of that he was

sure, as both jaws met with one another and then parted. She had some dying testament, some final wish. Suddenly, the ghosts returned, as they crowded her body

with their non existence. Crowding everything but the thing his eyes did not want to see, and what his brain could not realistically interpret, as it was far too absurd.

As his gaze was forced to the only thing he could no longer ignore, the blood that was seeping rapidly from the gaping hole in her chest. His eyes twitched, then they

twitched again, he couldn't hold the twins back, as for a third and fourth time they jolted in unison. He felt the solid earth beneath him shake in an epileptic frenzy.

Suddenly, he was falling, the ground had opened up beneath him, and he scrambled left and right for something to hold onto. His efforts were to no avail, as his

weight pulled himself down from the rocky outcroppings he had attempted to grasp onto. He could see nothing except for the light above him from the hole, the world

beneath him dark and despondent. He struggled in vain to see something, anything within the light from which he fell, and to his shock a head began to emerge into

view. It was little more than a shadow, but the style of hair and placement of the bow confirmed her identity. He reached out for her futilely, summoning his last bit of

strength. She reached for him as well, though by now it was far too late, as he fell into the abyss below, hand still outstretched in hopes of a miracle that would never

come. He heard her voice, as it pleaded for him. It echoed within his ears, as they had suddenly regained their functions. "Sonic", the voice implored. Again, "Sonic",

her voice soothed him as he fell. "Please, please wake up..." He didn't understand, and then he felt something on his back, something warm, as he gazed below into

the light. "Please..." the voice implored again, far louder than before. He could feel the warmth of the light, as it bathed his face in its radiance. He heard the call yet

again, and he felt himself shifting, as if he were moving somewhere else.

His eyes shot open, and he heard a collection of gasps. His vision, blurry at first, regained focus as he adjusted to his surroundings. He noticed what appeared to be a

plant of some kind on a table to his left, it had a note on it which he could not see, nor really cared to at this point. He turned to his right, hoping to find something

more interesting to grasp his attentions. It was then that he noticed the machine hooked up into his arm. His mind, still rousing itself from its slumber, noticed the

intruder. In an instant he ripped the flimsy I.V. from his arm, a small spurt of blood erupting from the violent removal. He heard another collection of gasps. Suddenly,

something began to shake him, and with a speed that only nervous instinct can attempt, he had grasped the arm of the second intruder. The two-tailed fox within his

mercy yelped in surprise, as he felt the sudden pressure upon his limb. The two tailed fox… the twin tailed fox…

"T-Tails?"

"You're awake… we… we were waiting…." his best friend replied with some meekness. Sonic realized that his death grip on his friend had not ended, and with a sharp

cry of alarm Sonic gave the fox some much needed relief. With this task completed, Sonic tried to adjust his vision to his new environment, the cobwebs dispersing from

his mind. He was in a hospital, of that he was sure, as he pulled himself up from the bed on which he had rested. The walls were gray, as were the people before him,

whom in a split second he recognized. Cream and Shadow stood on the opposite end of the hospital room, cream averted her eyes as he stared at her. He then

shifted his attentions to Tails, whom he had also turned to, also averted direct contact with him, instead preferring to stare at his shoes with a sheepish look

plastered upon his face. Shadow was the only one who dared to look him straight in the eye. Sonic was about to ask what had happened, why they were avoiding him

so, when he remembered. Yet, that was not possible, as the dark thought passed from his mind. No, that couldn't be possible, not with him around to protect her. His

mind was already constructing a logical reason for her absence, as it blatantly ignored the events of the past few hours. She was off shopping; of course she was,

shopping for a new pair of shoes or some new dress. She had to be, it was the only logical conclusion. He asked before he even realized he had moved his mouth.

"Where's Amy?"

Nobody said a word to him, a terse silence filling the air. Cream however couldn't hide her feelings any longer, and was starting to choke up, and humorously enough

Shadow was ineptly trying to soothe her. Something Sonic thought he would never see, yet he didn't have time to wallow in this thought, as another thought took its

place. His vision blurred again, as a lie took root within his head, a lie that couldn't possibly be true. Angered, angered that they would play with him so, he turned yet

again to Tails, whose face was white as chalk.

"Why won't you answer me?"

Sonic's eyes were on him now, and he could feel their gaze upon him hot as irons. He knew this would happen, he knew that he would react this way. He dared a

sidelong glance towards the others, though he already knew it would be him to break the news. Shadow was still trying to help Cream, as she tried to fight off her

depression, though her considerable efforts weren't too much success as she was starting to hyperventilate to stave off her emotions. Not too much success. He could

feel a pain within himself, as he had tried his best to keep Cream out of this room. Yet she had insisted on being here, as he knew she would, and in the end he

relented, knowing full well that she would only further harm her psyche. Shadow, as he suspected, was relatively nonchalant about the whole ordeal, no big surprise

there. Tails could not even begin to fathom why he of all people had decided to show, yet there he was the same as ever. The same emotionless creature he had

always been. Tails realized to late that his glance had been too long. Suddenly he felt a tremendous pressure, and he was suddenly slammed into the wall. His eyes

had closed as an instinct, though he could already guess what had happened, as vision seeped slowly back as his eyes opened. He could see Sonic, and he could feel

a pain in his throat, as he realized where Sonic's hands were grasping. Like wrought iron bending into his neck, he began to struggle for breath as Sonic strangled him,

a look of madness in his eyes.

"Answer…. Me… now…" Tails could faintly hear him speak, though if he expected the fox to say anything he was rather mad given his current state. Yet, somehow he

managed to speak, even as his friend's claws dug into his skin.

"S-S-Stop… A-Amy I-I-I-I…"

"She's dead Sonic." Shadow stepped forward, as Tails collapsed to the ground, panting and gasping like a fish out of element. He felt someone scurry besides him, and

noticed as Cream administered to Tails, who was finally free of the madman's clutches. However, Sonic, upon hearing these words turned slowly, as if in a daze

towards Shadow. Shadow stood his ground, knowing full well that a fight may start, Sonic so far incapable of being able to comprehend the harsh realities of life,

realities that he knew only too well. However, to his surprise, Sonic simply stared at him. Shadow eased himself, recognizing this symptom of loss, the same realization

he too had to face all those years ago. The emotion he felt when he realized that Maria would never return. The most hideous of emotions, the emotion that makes

one fear all others. The pain was there, Shadow could feel it, the sorrow of course. Shadow recognized that Sonic was coming to grips with the last emotion that

Shadow had ever truly felt. The endless, never-ending sense of guilt, which even now pervaded his every day, his every night, and which had then robbed him off all

earthly pleasures. Now, truly they were equals now.

Sonic could feel himself choking, though on what he couldn't tell, as Shadows direct answer shattered all the inventions he had created to appease his psyche. She

was dead, and as if in mocking, the final image he would ever see of her alive flashed into his mind's eye. He tried to get it out; he tried to pull the image from his

head. The image stuck, becoming more and more twisted as it lingered. He could feel himself, as his legs moved entirely on their own, desperate in their attempts to rid

the mind of its pain. He needed to get out, he needed to escape. Like a bullet, he was suddenly gone, and Shadow heard the various gasps and screams of the nurses

and doctors foolish enough to get in his way.

"Why didn't you go after him Shadow" Cream asked, thinking perhaps that Shadow might have been able to somehow prevent Sonic's escape. She shuddered to think

what he might do when faced with the knowledge that Amy was now dead. He was very protective of all of his friends, even Amy whom he seemed constantly at odds

with. Shadow responded quickly, not even taking a glance back in

her direction. "This is not my place to interfere; he has to deal with his demons on his own, as I did." He took steps to leave, approaching the doorway, somehow he

felt compelled to give them fair warning.

"Sonic has never experienced what life is truly like, he has always imagined that his sheer force of will and determination could prevent unthinkable tragedy. Now that

he has faced the truth, it will consume him, and he will lust for vengeance against the monster who stole that peace of mind from him. Every action has an inevitable

consequence, and you are all going to have to face the consequences that Amy's death will bring." With these parting words, Shadow started to leave the hospital

without fanfare, leaving his "friends" to suffer through this tragedy without him. He glided through the crowded hallways like a ghost, lost in his thoughts. He clenched

a fist, his right one to be exact, as he gritted his teeth in anger. He could hear Maria's voice, echoing within his skull. She had wanted him to save the planet, to give

others a chance to be happy. However he had misunderstood her final request, his amnesia keeping him from remembering the crucial details of his request. Aboard

the Ark, when he was ready to allow the ARK to plummet into earth, Amy had helped him realize what Maria had desired of him. Her words reminded him of his ultimate

destiny, and he was able to fulfill Maria's dying wish. Now Amy was dead, he could not let that go; he would not let it rest. Amy was dead now, as Maria had died

before her, and he promised them both, that he would avenge them. He would save the planet from the cruelty of Eggman or be destroyed in the process. He then

calmly and collectedly wandered towards his home, ready to plot his course of action.

It had been a few hours since Tails had escorted her from the hospital. Within her roomy domicile, the T.V. was on, blaring loudly as Cream sat on the recently

purchased couch in her living room. It had been her desire to show it off, as she had been eying it for some time, though in her current state she merely shoved away

the thought. Yet, no matter how high the volume of the insipid mechanical instrument, Cream couldn't shake her mind of depressing thoughts. Cream was scared, the

effects of Sonic's outburst lingering within her head. She never would have imagined that Sonic would ever attempt to hurt one of his friends, least of all Tails, his best

friend. She picked up the remote, and in the dimly lit room raised the volume of the black box as high as it would go. She didn't really care if the neighbors filed

complaints; she just wanted to get her mind off the tragic events of the previous few days. This was to no avail, as her mind kept interfering with her attempts to

relax. She could barely hear the television, the weight of her thoughts drowning out the noise spewing forth from the abomination. She reflected on the day's events,

unwillingly of course. She had tried to dissuade Tails, given the way Sonic had attacked him, yet he wouldn't hear of it. Instead he went off to try and find his friend,

leaving Cream alone to weather the harsh realities of the world herself. She couldn't help but worry, in his current state who knew what Sonic would do to Tails, or if

the blue blur could even be reasoned with. Though these thoughts plagued her, she knew, though she hated to admit it, that perhaps Tails was needed elsewhere.

Though she couldn't stop the selfish part of herself from pining for his presence, a part of herself that she had attempted many times before to bury. Even now, her

mind left to its own concoctions, her guilt was becoming unbearable. This tragedy was her fault, of that she knew, and she would die with that knowledge, that her

best friend had died to protect her. She remembered that day barely a week before, how a girls night out had been interrupted by Eggman. The claw had gone for her,

but it had scooped up Amy instead. He had done something to Amy, something he would have done to Cream if her friend had not been so courageous. The guilt that

she burdened ate away at her, as she struggled to follow her boy-friends advice and try to forget it all, if only for a few hours. Yet she had little control over her mind in

the face of the darkened knowledge it retained.

The knowledge that she if she hadn't been such a coward her friend might still be alive. She felt faint, as her vision blurred. Her vision returned after what seemed like

hours, yet she was no longer in her room. Suddenly she was back when it had happened, when all of her naïve sentiments about the goodness of the world shattered

like a boulder striking glass. She tried to scream, she tried to escape from her hallucination brought on by grief and guilt; to no avail. She relived the horrific events of

that day yet again in her mind. For what seemed an eternity she was trapped in the monstrous world of fantasy her mind had concocted to torment her. Yet eventually

the malefic vision ended, as she fell to the floor exhausted. She used her last bit of strength to curl into a ball, all the while praying someone or something would save

her from the visions that plagued her. The television, its blaring frequencies seeming to mock her as she somehow fell asleep, where undoubtedly nightmares would

follow.

Somehow, Tails knew he would find him here. The pale moonlight reflected brilliantly on the waters surface, as if in some way trying to comfort the man who stood with

legs outstretched on the sandy beach, watching the waves pull sand into the ocean, leaving only memories of what they had taken behind. Tails approached with

caution, being careful not to disturb his friend. He tried to size him up, to gauge what reaction he would have at the addition of company. Sonic appeared at first glance

to be at peace, nothing about him seemed out of place or bizarre. He appeared as if he was merely enjoying the breeze in the midnight air. Tails knew this to mean he

was in deep thought, and as he inched closer.

"Tails, I somehow knew you would come…" Sonic stated, Tails didn't know how to take this, as their was no emotion lining his words to gauge. He tried his luck.

"Do you not wish me here?" He asked with solemnity, taking care not to overextend himself too far into Sonic's personal space lest he be angered at his appearance,

He was answered quickly enough.

"I didn't mean to hurt you earlier Tails…" With this remark, Sonic faced the sand at his feet, as the water lapped greedily for the sand between his toes. He was

ashamed of that Tails was sure, and the sooner he rectified this fear, the sooner he could attempt to discuss the death of Amy, which must have been taking Sonic a

considerable amount of willpower to hide. A trait of his that Tails had feared might lead to an occurrence of this sort, though he had kept such dark thoughts to himself.

"Listen, were all stressed now, don't beat yourself up over it." To emphasize this sentiment he placed an arm on Sonic's shoulder and smiled as his friend turned in

reaction. It was a fake smile, but it would have to do for now. Sonic smirked in reply, yet another lie. This reprise however false, was short lived however, as he turned

back to face the sea. Lacking any further guidance, Tails took this as an invitation to listen, as he sat alongside his friend; gazing absentmindedly towards the

lonely sea. There was a silence, as Tails figured there might be. This gave Tails time to collect his thoughts on how

best to resolve things with Cream. As he feared, she was taking Amy's death horribly, and as of yet he didn't feel as if his meager words could do much to quench the

suffering in her soul. She somehow felt responsible for her death, and it had taken him a considerable effort to calm her down even slightly. He felt bad leaving her, but

he knew that Sonic needed him more, as he suspected he might be the only person who had glimpsed past his brash facade. This aspect alone made him invaluable to

his friend, whom he knew was hurting in ways he could scarcely imagine.

"It's funny… Nearly every chance she got, she would show me some sign of affection, and every chance she got I would try my best to escape from it. She must have

thought that I hated her, yet she kept trying, she kept believing that one day I would pour out my feelings to her." Sonic paused, as he closed his eyes. He couldn't

help it, the feeling was too great. He had tried many times before, and succeeded, in masking his emotions. Yet now, he felt the mental barriers creak and crack. For

what seemed like hours he was silent, as his self imposed barriers struggled to hold back the tide. However, the conviction to hold them in place had dissipated, and at

last, they crumbled under the weight of his emotions. He revealed himself in absolute truth. He began to stutter, as Tails looked on with a mixture of concern and pity.

Sonic tried desperately to voice something that he had been waiting years to declare.

Tails had never seen his friend like this before. Sonic was openly hyperventilating before him as he struggled to speak. Tails could also not fail to notice the tears that

began to stream down Sonic's normally stony countenance. He realized then that this was far more than

what he had thought it at first to be. Tails had assumed, as Shadow had, that Sonic would feel incredible guilt over his inability to prevent the death of a close friend.

Tails had noticed for years that Sonic was increasingly putting himself into a position of extreme vulnerability emotionally speaking. He had worried before on the

possible consequences if one day Sonic was a second too late to save a friend, because then Tails knew he would feel not only the personal loss of that friend but he

would also feel tremendous guilt over his inability to protect his friend. Tails had no reason to think otherwise, he had never been informed to the contrary. He had

figured that Amy was simply stubborn and saw things that didn't exist. He had also thought that Sonic was sincere in his many attempts to discourage Amy from trying

to date him. These notions were thrown out the window, as Tails realized he had figured his friend completely wrong. As finally, Sonic's best friend learned the truth

that even he had never known.

"She…. She was right…. T-T-Tails" Sonic turned to his friend, his pain and misery in full view, as he somehow managed to complete his sentence, as each word pierced

his heart. It took him a considerable amount of time to say; as he couldn't stop choking on tears which may have been backed up from years of disuse, as finally his

emotions flooded over the many barriers he had created to stave their assault.

"… I-I-I lo-loved her…" Tails reacted swiftly, as his friend collapsed before him, sunken in the depths of despair. The moon hid its face behind grey and bloated clouds,

no longer wanting to view the tragic breakdown of Station Square's mightiest hero. The water line seemed to recede, as if giving the hero relief from their onslaught.

Tails may have noticed these odd coincidences if he had not been so pre-occupied trying to reason Sonic out of his tear stricken stupor. He didn't think he would have

to be the emotional crutch he had been for Cream, but he tossed aside such unwelcome thoughts for now, eager to help his friend in his time of greatest weakness.

Albeit, he had no idea what he could do.

Sonic could tell that Tails was saying something. He was at least that aware of where he was; however, his mind was somewhere else as he remembered the day he

had been so close to achieving happiness. The day everything had changed. Sonic could remember, it was a brisk autumn day, and he remembered how the leaves

had just begun to change to an auburn tint in Station Square Park. He had decided to simply try and relax that day, and ease himself of the tremendous strain he

usually burdened. However, things are always not that simple, as he laid back his head against the familiar wooden touch of one of the parks many benches, gazing

towards the fountain as mischievous children tried to grab coins from within the clear sparkling depths. He had almost managed to lull himself into a blissful state. With

nothing but the refreshing breeze on his back, and the peaceful nature of the day, his peace seemed assured. Yes, Sonic could remember that day as if…