Chapter 10


Tails wasn't quite sure how he got stuck with tissue duty, but one thing was for certain: Sonic was a pain in the neck when he was sick. The blue blur didn't often come down with anything. For the most part, his immune system was pretty flawless. With a body as active and healthy as his, the common cold and seasonal flus weren't overly abundant in his neck of the woods. Of course, Sonic didn't often dance in the rain, either, and certainly not slow danced. The kitsune fidgeted.

"Gah, thanks bud," the hedgehog groaned, nose dripping as he grabbed the tissue that was offered to him. "Do you need one too? You look like you're constipated or something."

Tails deadpanned. Usually he was all for the fun and games of Sonic's personality, as he was always up for brotherly laughs, but something about the reason behind Sonic's sickness had him miffed. He'd never gotten sick for him. "You have such a way with words."

"Whoa," Sonic yelped, pausing only to blow his nose and toss the crumpled tissue to the waste basket ("Swish!" he'd muttered proudly.) "What's wrong? And don't cop out and say nothing, because your nose twitches when you lie."

The mere mention of his guilty trait only made the kit's nose twitch more. He was caught red handed, and the boy took a moment to survey his options. There was always the option of complaining about being cooped up with the sick hog all day (which was partially plausible; when he was sick, Sonic was notoriously a complainer and unhappy. He couldn't do out and run with the flu after all!), but the guilty part of him - the part was was tugging and squeezing at his heart, rubbing his nose - wanted to come clean. It was best to come clean and just get everything out on the table.

"..." like a deer caught in headlights, Miles Prower had no idea how to begin. The beginning was always awkward. Even the night before he couldn't bring himself to give Cream the full truth to herself and relied on her inferring her way through the problem. Sonic wasn't exactly as sharp as the likes of her; had he been formally educated at all?

However, his big brother did seem to sense his discomfort. For all his faults, Sonic was rather observant. Of course, it was only after losing himself into another tissue and groaning like the undead did he rest a hand on the smaller man's shoulder and give a supportive squeeze. He was white washed with nostalgia for a moment, reminded of their past - there'd been many times when Sonic would comfort him on things, some as trivial as not winning that round of bingo against Ray or Cream to something as deep as his infamous parents. For the first time in what seemed like months, Sonic was exactly who Tails remembered him to be; the Sonic of his past, the easy going guy with a heart of gold, not the distracted drifter whose feelings towards a certain rosy rascal challenged the attention of his own adopted family.

Who was he to bring it up?

"...I just miss you," he confessed meekly, shoulders folding in. It was usually easy to talk to Sonic... Tails just didn't like to let him down. Being needy and clingy like he was - hadn't he grown out of that supposedly? Weren't the whiney arm tugs reserved for Amy?

It took Sonic a moment to put together the pieces. Miss me...?

Tails leaned forward more, tightening his body into a self conscious coil. He felt eight again, vulnerable and weak, fresh after Cosmo's death... that was the first time Sonic couldn't help him. He'd always viewed that moment as a catalyst, as the beginning of the descent of their tight weave brotherhood. Up until then, he'd always needed Sonic. Sonic had always been readily available, because back then Sonic would have dropped everything on a dime for him. Back before there were girls in his life, before Amy had begun to grow up... before any of them had begun to grow up.

Another squeeze adorned the punctuation of Sonic's breath. "Aw, bro..." the hand that had been supporting his kin reached back to scratch the back of his quills awkwardly, a nervous reaction that Tails'd seen him exhibit far too many times around a certain shehog for his liking. "'M sorry, I've been busy...!"

The fox couldn't help himself. "You're not too busy for Amy," still slipped out much too easily, despite how hard he bit his lip and despite how much self control the kid had pooled in the past few years. The statement cut through the tight air between them like a meat cleaver, chopping what was left of his dignity into fine slices, hovering between them.

Sonic seemed to be thrown off his mark. That was the first clue that something was different. In the past, Sonic could've thrown that one off easily. In the past, Sonic had no problem blowing Amy off for Tails' sake... but something had changed, morphed, grown and flourished into something that was a bit more than just his fleet footedness towards his number one fan. A blush - a blush!- frosted itself across the ridge of his nose, glowing across his muzzle and he was a pastry, so sickening sweet and moonstruck over her that it'd impaired his better judgement. Something was different.

The blue blur tried to play it off, seizing a tissue and smothering it over the better part of his face. "I...!" he sneezed, groaning again, ears folded flat over. "...She's just a friend," he attempted lamely, defeated. It didn't even sound convincing to himself, like he'd already given up the fight long ago.

"A friend you slow dance with," Tails added. His brother shuffled and scowled, flopping back down into the mass of sheets and blankets. "...Do you like Amy? Is this going to become a thing?"

A long, awkward silence lingered between them. Cramped and fidgety, the blue hog couldn't seem to vocalize anything that he should've. Tails deserved an answer just as much as Amy did - just as much as anyone did! He'd been running from the question forever; for as long as anybody could remember, in fact. The answer burned on his tongue, singeing its way through and dropping right down to the bottom of his mouth, tucked away where nobody could find it. Did he like Amy?

He was brought back to the night before, to holding her by her slim waist, to twirling her, to her smiling eyes and abundant giggles and he knew there was no use denying it anymore. Whether he liked it or not, there was something there that hadn't been before. Somewhere along the lines of running from her and messing around with other women while she grew up, he'd fallen for the eight year old girl in a tutu and oversized trainers from the Little Planet. The realization was smoldering.

Veins burning and pulsing with binding comprehension, Sonic the Hedgehog sat up and just like that, the answer buzzed from his lips. The single "yes" dropped between the two brothers like an egg in a boiling pot of water. Tension droned between their locked gazes - tension Sonic wasn't even aware was there. He cleared his throat. "Ah... is that a bad thing? I would've thought you'd be happy to hear me finally say it. No more lies."

Tails felt covetous, sitting before his brother and not showing one ounce pride or support. His big brother had a breakthrough and he was seething with envy, his lonesome little two-tailed heart tightening inside his chest.

After rubbing his nose on his arm, Sonic cleared his throat once more. Attention fell back on him. "I said no more lies... seriously, bro, what's up? You're not yourself. You should be all sorts of excited for your little date with Cream."

The kitsune's fists clenched. "I said that I missed you."

Sonic's expression was blissfully blank. Scratching a quill behind his head, he laughed awkwardly and tried to act casual. In all honesty, he had no idea what Tails' problem was. "...Yeah, and? We're hanging out right now, aren't we?"

"...You're missing the point!" he finally exclaimed, earning himself a severely confused look from his big bro. Tails stood up completely, and for the first time in his life he felt powerful over Sonic. Looking down at him was a different experience completely; it was empowering, and it was nothing like the childish head pats he'd gotten from Sonic in the past. "You spend all your time with her! I mean... when was the last time you and I went out for a run together? When was the last time you spent serious time with me?" he exploded, shaking, fists clenching. "She's all you ever talk about anymore - probably all you think about, too!"

"Tails, c'mon-" he was interrupted by a swat of his hand. Sonic retreated, his hand limply returning back to the blankets that pooled around him. Tails stood before him, expression vulnerable, tiny. The power that'd soared through him before must've travelled with his rant, because the look in his eye was distinctly familiar, pleading.

The fox was at a loss of words; his wrist tingled, a reminder of his actions. He'd never hit Sonic before, even if it was a measly swatting away. Something between them had changed. I'm turning into a monster. I'm letting this get me.

His brother's eyes were sore with remorse. Tails couldn't bear to look back at him; his eyes slid down to his lap, where his hands wrung each other tighter and tighter, back and forth. He was a bucket of nerves; guilty about snapping at Sonic in such a way and guilty about feeling the need to snap at all. How'd their friendship even sink so far? He squirmed, uncomfortable in the very surroundings that'd brought him such solace so often in his past. Inverted conditions.

He could feel the green eyed monster roaring in his chest just begging to be released. Even as guilty as he felt, he still wanted to let him have it; verbally, however, he was sure it'd never happen. Any remnants of his voice had long since fleeted with his pride.

"...I'm sorry," Sonic admitted simply. "I didn't plan on crushing on Amy either, you know. Hell, I'd always thought she'd be the last person I'd fall for."

Tails was tense. "I've known for a while that something was up..." a heavy sigh racked through him. Emotionally, he was drained and it was beginning to wear on him physically. First Cream and now Sonic... who else was going to find out he was like a needy schoolgirl? "Are you going to ask her out?"

The proposal, in past years, would've come off as chaff and playful. However, given the circumstances... Sonic squirmed and slumped deeper into the bed. He wanted to burrow away and hide from the question completely. Even though he'd finally struck mental gold in the revelation that he had feelings for Amy Rose, the thought of actually being her boyfriend still made his skin crawl. Amy was a beautiful, sweet and passionate girl - and she was so willing to wait behind if it meant he'd come running back. He'd spent more than half of his life running from the girl; what would it be like to fess up to wanting to kiss her again?

"...No," he coughed out, grasping for another tissue to tear his mind away from the subject at hand. Thinking too hard about matters of the heart often left him more confused than when he started.

"You're kidding me, right?"

Sonic winked an eye open. "I thought you'd be happy about that. You'll get more of me, ya know?"

"...But not at that expense, Sonic!" The kit sighed and leaned forward, expression clearly apologetic. The younger boy was shamefaced; the guilt had finally torn at him. Let him have a chance to be happy,he mused to himself. His namesakes twined together anxiously. "You just said that you like her-"

"I think that I like her," Sonic interrupted, sitting up and not looking as sick as he'd been acting for the past few awkward minutes. Those green eyes still held the same alert ardor that they'd had for years, through sickness and in health. "Confessing to Amy is like selling your soul to the devil! You can't ever go back on it."

"...But why would you want to go back on it if you like her?" Tails asked. Didn't people in love have that whole red string of fate going on? A tether - they'd always be pulled back together, no matter how fierce the strain? Tails was reminded of Cream, of setting up the beach with her and helping her hold the poles straight, of ringing the lights around the perimeter, of holding her waist nervously to the tune of a familiar ballad...

He was drawn out of his evocative daze by Sonic's noisy chortling. Red faced, he folded his arms and fell back into his chair like a scolded child.

"What?" he asked. His heart buckled in crippling suspicion. Just what had Sonic assumed? Sonic the Hedgehog was notorious for being a jokester. In fact, the only thing more famous than his attitude and personality was his well worn speed. Odds were he'd assumed something, and a quick flashback to the night before had him nervous that Sonic'd noticed all the right things.

Sonic's grin was sly. "Why're you drilling me with questions when you're crushing on Cream so bad, huh? Are you going to ask herout?"

The blush remained poignant. Damn, tables have turned!"Nuh - I don't like Cream like that!" he yelped, hoping if he scooted back far enough in his chair that he'd disappear. He'd said that he wanted Sonic to spend more time with him like he used to, and he sure was getting it. "I... no, no, she... hey, that's not fair! You know Amy's head over heels for you!"

"Oh, puh-lease," Sonic grinned wider. "She told me she likes you. Go for it! Dating her ensures dozens of pans of fresh baked brownies a day, and you've got a sick brother that you should be nursing back to life!"

So maybe she had no excuses for the way she'd been acting.

Did she always need a reason to be angry? Rouge blamed her biology; as a woman, she was prone to chronic mood swings and an irrational need to always be the center of attention. It was in her DNA, her genetic coding. That's what she told herself anyways and she was sticking to it. Of course, that didn't help the bubbling shame that blistered at her ankles. She was literally drowning in self pity and disrespect.

Okay, so maybe the way she'd acted was a little unpredictable and inappropriate. Maybe the timing wasn't ideal. Maybe the location was impolite, too, considering it'd been another girl's seventeenth birthday and she was pretty sure she'd interrupted a confession or two...

Perhaps that was the reason she felt so inclined to stand outside Shadow's door, hovering on the doorstep like a lost puppy or a girl scout after a long day of zero sales. And how the mighty had fallen; Rouge was off her rocker with guilt. She hadn't even pulled high heels on in the morning. All she could do was stare at the door with such an intensity that surely Shadow hadto open the door. The energy to knock on the door was zilch.

The doorbell was a sufficient replacement.

What exactly was she so angry about anyways? It wasn't like she'd been completely innocent herself, flirting around with Knuckles even though she was with someone else. Fooling aroundwith Knuckles... what was it that Shadow found so sexually unappealing about her? Never before had she met a man who didn't want to roll around in the sheets with her. Was she insecure?

No, no, she couldn't be; Rouge wasn't impulsively an insecure and demure girl. She was sure of herself and she was bold, she made business deals and ran her own nightclub without the help of any man. Just because one guy didn't want to sleep with her didn't mean she was imperfect. Not in the slightest.


But it wasn't just anymore, Rouge realized as her significant other opened his door, because it was Shadow. Shadow, who she had a history with. Shadow, who'd been with her through some of the hardest and most strenuous times but never left. Shadow, who wanted to wait to make the first night of passion that much more special. Standing before him, the bat realized how morally juxtaposed the two of them were - Shadow and his oddly conservative and old school nature and Rouge and her feminist toughness and sexually mature outlook.

"...Shadow," she choked out. It was only then that she grasped the crippling fact that she didn't know what to say to him. She never was good at apologizing.

The hedgehog leaned against the doorway, fur ruffled from his slumber and eyes drooping with fatigue. With an ungloved hand over his mouth he yawned, looking more like an aged man than she remembered him. The definition in his face, the shape of his mouth; he wasn't still a little childish looking like Sonic.

"Rouge," he said, voice still murky with hints of sleep, words slurring just enough for her to notice. "You look well."

She knew he was being civil. She didn't look anything like she normally did; jeans, a tank top and sneakers were not her normal choice of apparel. Rouge the Bat took great pride in being a trendsetter, an icon on top of the fashion world and she looked frumpy. A hint of red burned across her muzzle. "Thanks," she mumbled, running a hand through her hair (it was tied back, however, and she didn't get very far). "I... Well, I wanted to apologize for what happened last night. It was wrong of me to explode at you like that."

He seemed to be observing her, deciding just how honest she was being with him. With good reason, of course, because she was infamous for her sticky fingers and way with words. The girl was sly and he wasn't an idiot; putting two and two together lead one to assume he was being extra careful with matters concerning her. She could've taken offense from it if she wasn't already ashamed enough to be standing on his doorstep. This was what girls like Amy and Cream did, not her!

"...Forgiven," he stated simply. "I'm going back to sleep."

Something told her he was only trying to settle her mind; especially when he was closing the door on her. Why was he so hard to read? Shadow was a closed box; mysterious and difficult but wonderful once the contents were revealed. He'd been making such progress recently, as he'd been opening up more and more to her. Conversations had gotten past the lukewarm awkward phase long ago, and after dating Amy he was much more open to conversation. She ought to be more jealous than she was. She was certainly jealous enough at the party.

Maybe it was because she knew Blaze would understand him. The bat had met the lavender feline only once, and even then it was easy to tell that she was different than the average girl. She was much quieter and soft spoken than she. Blaze was deeper, of course, than the average girl, much like Shadow was to his own respective gender. Even their personalities were similar; surely she'd understand a guy like Shadow better than she ever could... the bat girl clenched her hands together. Maybe that was why she was so defensive over it.

And then there was Amy, with her young little butt and big pretty green eyes. She was sweet and sassy, half of what Rouge was not, and it appeared that it was the sweet part that Shadow seemed to like the most about her. Amy was still very naive to the world, as she believed in fairy tales and myths that most girls her age had long given up on. Amy was still chasing that happy ending, that happily forever after that Rouge had given up when she was ten years old. Shadow looked at her with warm, parental eyes, a certain glow of admiration that was absent in his gazes towards her. So what, because Amy was more emotionally insecure than her, she deserved more attention? And why was he still so intent on staring at her? They broke up! Amy wasn't any more interesting than she was. Amy certainly wasn't any more enticing or exuberant than she was, either. Nor did they have the history that she and Shadow had; there was a certain fondness that came from working together on missions so often.

No matter the reason, however, she needed to straighten herself out. Rouge needed to pull herself together before she messed up another function... or broke another heart. Something in her psyche was off, throwing her through hoops and misjudging situations entirely. Conventionally, she wasn't a jealous woman; she was Rouge the Bat, sensual and demanding of attention, sure, but she wasn't jealous. In normal situations, she had no reason to be. The anchor that'd been tugging away at her chest dropped lower, dragging on the dirt beside her as she strode. Hadn't she already grown up enough?

"Did you ask him out?!"

With pink cheeks, the little bunny girl sincerely regretted letting her big sister in on any of her romantic drama. Amy squealed and scooted closer to Cream, bunching up the quilted blankets under her willowy pink knees. The sundress that she'd picked for the day rode up her thighs, not one inch of that pink skin darker or lighter than the rest. The bunny huffed and blushed magnificently; she knew Amy's intentions were only meant to be helpful, but the pushiness and instigating never seemed to cease fire.

She meant well, she reminded herself hazily.

"I... well," Cream stumbled over her words, the pinkness of her cheeks almost parallel to Amy's fur. "I... I might've...?"

Her big sister squealed and squished her into a tight, eager hug. "Aw, Creamsicle!" she cheered and rocked her back and forth like her favorite childhood dolly. The rabbit was squashed and sandwiched between the rosette's slim arms, her surprising strength never failing to crush the breath out of her.

She sat between her sister's grip in patient pain, hoping that her squeaks would shake the rosette out of her patented death squeeze. Amy was beautiful looked delicate on camera, but one thing was for sure: she didn't know her own strength. The bunny had bruises on her ribs to prove it.

"Breath, breath!" she finally called once realizing that her surrogate sister was in much too good a mood to notice the little things, like Cream's desperate need for oxygen or the way her cheeks were turning a magnificent shade of purple. The grip relinquished finally as the fawn shaded bun relished in prize; a big gulp of sweet, sweet air. She turned to face Amy again, quietly laughing at her apologetic smile. "You're stronger than most of the guys I know, jeesh."

With a wave of her slender hand, the pathetic attempt at changing the subject off of Cream's own love life was vanquished. "Shhh," the rascal grinned. "I still need details. When're you going out with him? What are you going to wear? How'd it go? What did you SAY?" another squeal embellished her babbling as she grabbed the rabbit's hands and hopped about where she sat. "This is big news! I'm so PROUD of you."

The rabbit was bound to follow in Amy's footsteps eventually, after all. Years of watching her role model profess her love on a daily basis had been a fairly hypnotising experience; maybe some of Amy's spitfire confidence had finally rubbed off on the preteen. Finding it in her to finally come clean about her feelings had certainly come from tailing after Amy for the better part of her life. Arguably, it was both the worst and best thing she could've inherited from her time with the female Rose.

Amy sat there, grinning like a fool and patting Cream's right hand like a proud mother who'd just witnessed her only son receive his diploma. Needless to say, the heat that was so abundant upon her cheeks hadn't let up any; especially since all of the focus in that moment was aimed at her and her love life.

And for the first time ever, it seemed, Cream had the leg up on Amy. While Cream had an honest to goodness date with a boy she was really crazy about, Amy was sitting and listening, smiling and waiting and nodding and none of the things she'd ever expected. The Amy of their youth would be pouting and complaining, the Amy of their youth would be storming down to demand Sonic's hand in marriage... they were both glad the Amy of their youth had matured.

"...And he said yes," the rabbit finished, the silliest smile smeared across her pink face like face paint.

"You're so lucky," Amy sighed and leaned forward - albeit dramatically, in that very Amy Rose way that nobody expected her to outgrow - and sighed. Cream questioned her previous observation about her sister's supportiveness. "Tails seems so sweet over the entire thing. You've really got yourself a keeper, and he's your first boyfriend!"

The rabbit could almost feel the jealousy radiating off of the hedgehog like a space heater. She gulped. What was that about Amy growing up again?

"I started pursuing guys a little later in life than you did..." she blushed softly and squirmed where she sat. She could tell Amy was trying hard not to make a big deal out of it (which was a big deal in itself, because her big sister was a big mouth).

"A year!" she waved her hand again and leaned back, an oddly serene smile gracing her famous features. "Oh, I guess I shouldn't complain too much. I got a slow dance with Sonic. In the rain. That's a huge deal, considering the fact that the guy's practically hydrophobic!"

"He bathes, you know..."

Amy threw her hands up and sighed again, flopping back against her couch. It was clear that the rascal was out for the count; and that Cream was safe from more pestering about her intentions with going out with Tails. If there was one thing that Cream could always count on, it was that as soon as the topic of her long term flame came into the conversation, Amy would lose herself in her fantasies. Maybe her big sister wasn't so mature and glamorous after all.

Excusing herself from somebody that was no longer paying attention, she scurried over to the kitchen to fetch herself something to drink. The buzzing feeling in her chest hadn't gone away yet. It'd been fluttering around since she'd woken up that morning, since she'd finally let it sink in that she had a date. She, Cream, with the thin hips and the awkwardly long legs and the flat chest, had a date with a boy, and her model best friend didn't.

It was empowering, to say the least.


It's been a long and wild summer. I've been busy trying to get my muse back and trying to focus on a fanfiction, but my mind's been everywhere. I've gotten into a lot of fights and lost a lot of friends this summer. I'm a little more closed off than I used to be.

But hey, you all care more about the fic than my backstory, and I'm totally okay with that.

I need to finish plotting the in between chapters of this fic, holy crap. This chapter is short. Sorry. :