Four: Sonic X Oneshot

"Sylvie! Sylvie, come here girl!" a young voice cried out.

Sonic screeched to a halt, his shoes sending a cloud of dust into the air. Surveying the area he had stopped in, he spied a young girl calling out. She was standing at the front gate to a small, cosy looking house. There were many different coloured roses lining the inside of the fence and most of them were in full bloom. It resembled the kind of house - a cottage, mostly - you would find on a postcard. It was a fair way from the last town he had passed and there were only a scant handful of houses around.

The girl had short dark brown hair and appeared to be a couple of years younger than Chris. A bright red leash dangled from one of her hands. Cupping both of them around her mouth, the girl called out again. "Sylvie, where are you?"

His curiosity getting the better of him, Sonic walked over to the girl. "Hey there, is something wrong?"

The girl jumped like a startled rabbit and whipped around. She was not prepared to see a three-foot-tall talking blue hedgehog however. She opened and closed her mouth several times before a sound managed to make its way past her lips. "What - but…oh! You're…Sonic, right?" she asked nervously.

"Yeah, that's me. What's your name?" he politely asked.

"Uh…it's Sarah."

"Well, Sarah, is there a reason you're shouting?"

Sarah shuffled her feet, hesitant to look Sonic in the eye. "Yeah, there is. See, we had an electrician here about an hour ago. He didn't close the gate when he left and our dog, Sylvie, got out. I only noticed the gate open ten minutes ago when I went to fetch her for a bath. I've been calling her, but she hasn't come back," she said sadly.

Sonic could detect and undertone of guilt in her voice and his heart went out to her. "Hey, it isn't your fault she hasn't returned. Maybe she just wandered too far away to hear you. If you tell me what she looks like, I'll go and look for her if you like," he offered, smiling gently.

"You will? Really?" she asked desperately. Reassured when he nodded, she gave him a grateful smile. "Sylvie is a light brown and creamy white miniature collie. She's wearing a purple collar with a silver heart-shaped nametag. She's about this high," Sarah explained, holding her hand roughly level with Sonic's stomach.

"Thanks!" Sonic flashed her a grin and sped off back the way he had come. He intended to check the town first in case someone had seen the dog.

Coming to a sudden halt at the edge of town, he jogged around until he found someone. Waving to catch their attention, he jogged up to them. He was outside a small pub. Two men were sitting on one of the tables out the front. "Hi, sorry to bother you, but have you seen a small dog? Miniature collie with a purple collar?"

Blinking off the odd appearance of the anthropomorphic hedgehog, the two men shook their heads. "Nope, sorry. Haven't seen any critters wandering 'round here," one of them answered.

"Thanks anyway," he replied, enthusiasm not dented in the slightest. Making up his mind, Sonic decided to forego asking the local folk. He dashed off, rocketing around the relatively small community. He searched systematically, starting at one end of the town and running through every street and alley as he worked his way towards the other side.

Unfortunately, his search yielded no results. Still not put off, he ran towards Sarah's house. He went straight past it. As soon as it was out of sight, Sonic starting calling for the dog. "Sylvie! Come here, girl! Sylvie!"

He jumped a fence and entered the third paddock since passing Sarah's place. About two-thirds of the way across the field, Sonic saw a small, furry form with its head halfway in a hole it had dug. Putting on the brakes, he cautiously approached the form as he didn't want to accidentally frighten it away.

It was a dog that seemed to match Sarah's description. "Sylvie!" Sonic called out, hoping it was the right dog.

The dog stopped its digging and raised its dirt-smeared head to stare at the azure hedgehog. It cocked its head to one side, as though it was waiting for a signal of some sort.

"Come here, Sylvie!" Sonic tried, praying the dog obeyed. He knew he could easily catch it if it bolted, but he'd rather do this the friendly way.

The little dog happily bounded over but stopped just shy of Sonic. He knelt down on one knee and held out a gloved hand in an inviting gesture. The dog accepted and sauntered over. After taking a moment to sniff his outstretched hand, the canine gave a happy bark and nuzzled into his chest fur.

Patting the dog affectionately, he took the chance to study it. It had medium-length light brown and creamy white fur. Scratching it under the chin, it lifted its head obligingly to give Sonic better access to its favourite rub spots. He glanced down and saw a lavender-purple collar with a nametag swinging from it. Flashing his hand out, he caught the nametag and looked over the little words engraved upon it. "Sylvie," he read aloud. "Yep, you're the runaway for sure. It's time you went home, girl."

Gently, he picked Sylvie up. He carried her back towards Sarah's in a medium jog, which was about thirty to forty miles per hour.

Sarah, meanwhile, had continued calling out. She felt like it was least she could do as she didn't want to simply stand there while Sonic did all the work. Wondering what was keeping her daughter; her mother had joined her at the gate. Sarah explained what had happened. Her mother had hugged her, assuring her that it was not her fault and that Sylvie would be found sooner or later.

The last word had barely been spoken when Sonic came into view. Slowing to a stop in front of the two, he happily held out the miniature collie. "I think she belongs to you," he said, chuckling inwardly at their expressions.

"Sylvie!" Sarah cried in childish glee, eagerly taking the dog and hugging her close. "Oh, Sonic, thank you!"

"Yes, thank you so much for finding and returning her to us," her mother added, smiling gratefully at the hero.

Sonic just shrugged. "No thanks needed, just happy to help out."

"Are you sure you don't want something as thanks? A drink or a bite to eat?" she prodded, wanting to reward him somehow.

"Thanks for the offer, but I'm cool," he smoothly replied. "Besides, weren't you going to give Sylvie a bath?"

"Oh, yes! She's in need of a flea bath, I'm afraid. Are you absolutely sure you don't want anything?" she inquired once more in a last-ditch attempt to sway him.

"I'm sure. Well, I'm headin' off. Take care, okay?" he said with a farewell wave. He sped off, barely catching their calls of goodbye before the wind could snatch them away.

'I am actually feeling a bit peckish. Time to head back and grab some lunch,' he thought, altering his course until he was headed in the right direction.

"Do you think he'll like it, Ella?" Amy anxiously asked her cooking partner.

"I'm sure he will," Ella answered automatically. Amy asked her this question every time the young, pink hedgehog made something for Sonic. "You made it perfectly, I'm sure it's positively delicious!"

"Yeah, you're right!" Amy declared, bolstered by Ella's words. "Now I just have to wait until he comes home. It's lunchtime, so he should be back any minute!" Carefully carrying her delicacy, Amy made her way out of the Thorndyke's kitchen while Ella held the door open for her. Glowing with pride, Amy sat her latest culinary masterpiece on the coffee table in the living room.

"Oh, Amy, it looks wonderful!" Cream squealed as Cheese chirped his agreement. "Did you make it for Sonic?"

"Yes, and I just know he'll love every bite!" Amy gushed, giggling at the end.

All four of them heard the front door open and close accompanied by the unmistakable sound of a supersonic hedgehog. Barely a second had passed when all noise came to a halt.

Sonic had run to the kitchen to ask Ella what lunch was for today, but did not find her in there. So, he checked the next best place: the living room. Sure enough, there she was along with Cream, Cheese and Amy. A tantalising smell wafted into his nose and he found his stomach growling softly in response. "Hey everyone, what smells good?"

This simple question immediately sent Amy into action. "Oh, Sonic, I made you a cherry pie! It's fresh from the oven, so eat it while it's still warm!" she announced proudly, stepping aside to give Sonic full view of her work.

Sonic had to force his ears not to fold back at her loud pitch. Looking at her happy, hopeful expression, Sonic couldn't bring himself to refuse. It smelled wonderful, so he figured that it must taste nice, too. "Uh, thanks, Amy. I'll just go grab a plate and fork -"

"No need, I've got them for you right here!" Amy butted in, handing them over to the bemused hedgehog after she had cut a generous slice of pie and put it on the plate for him. "Well, are you gonna try it?" she prompted.

With a quick glance at her pleading face, Sonic cut off the tip of the slice with the fork. Stabbing the fork into the morsel before the insides could ooze everywhere; he stuck it in his mouth. He tried not to yelp as it burnt his tongue. '"Still warm" she said…what an understatement!'

The pink hedgehog watched him anxiously. It would break her heart if he said it was bad. Amy was fiercely suppressing the urge to fidget. Despite her efforts, she found her hands playing with the hem of her dress behind her back. She saw him swallow out of the corner of her eye and held her breath, waiting for his verdict.

Sonic licked his lips appreciatively. "You're one awesome cook, Amy," he pronounced. "I'm gonna take this with me, but save me another slice will ya? I'll be back for it later," he said, zipping off to his favourite resting spot on the roof.

He was lucky he did, as the squeal of joy Amy let loose would have deafened him for sure. It certainly hurt the eardrums of the three still in the room with the ecstatic girl. As it was, he still heard it clearly on the roof.

Making sure to blow on a piece to cool it down before he put it anywhere near his mouth, he steadily made his way through the generous piece of pie Amy had bestowed upon him. After he had licked the plate clean, he set it aside and laid back. 'It's a wonder none of them commented on the dirt smudges that dog left on me,' he thought in amusement. 'I mean, they kind of stand out since they're on my pale fur. Oh well, just my good luck I guess. I'll have to remember to wash them off before I run into someone though, or they're bound to ask me what happened. Despite the media coverage, I DO have a private life.' His mind now full of disgruntling thoughts concerning human media, he gave an annoyed huff. Banishing the thoughts, he got comfortable, put his hands behind his head, and closed his eyes, letting the soft breeze blow gently through his fur and quills.

A few wispy clouds lazily strolled across their vast domain. They adhered to no one, simply going wherever the fancy, or the wind, took them. The clouds never seemed to tire on their trek and many earthbound beings envied their seemingly carefree lives.

Far below the puffs of white in the sky, Sonic slowly opened his eyes. Yawning, he stretched out, working out a couple of tiny kinks in his neck and back. That done, he slipped through a bathroom window after making sure the room was empty. Grabbing the nearest bit of fabric - a hand towel - he held it under a running tap for a few seconds. He wrung it out until it was only damp and proceeded to scrub away the smears of dirt. With his fur now smudge-free, he dropped the hand towel in the dirty clothes basket on his way out the door.

Sonic wandered through the mansion until he came upon on a clock. Glancing at it, he figured he'd been napping for a couple of hours. Turning away from the clock, Sonic felt an itch on his chest. Scratching it, he noted that it was right where his fur was still damp. 'Hmm, maybe it was something in the water that's irritating my skin?' he absently thought, his mind already pushing the unimportant matter aside.

Now that he was awake, he found himself with nothing to do. Wracking his brain for solutions, he came up short. 'It won't be long until Chris gets out of school,' he thought, recalling the time. 'Since I've got nothing better to do, I'll go pick him up. His dad asked me to escort him home every couple of days anyway. Why though? I guess he's worried something might happen to the kid,' he mused. Shrugging his shoulders, he zipped through the mansion and angled his course for Chris's school.

As he was running through the bit of green scenery before the city limits, he smiled. Sonic loved the feeling of the wind passing him by and he loved battling against the magnificent force of nature whenever he was about to break the sound barrier. Sonic respected a lot of things, but it was the wind he respected most of all.

The air in Station Square did not flow as freely because of all the buildings. They hindered its passage and it left some of the air a little stale in places. It gave Sonic great satisfaction to run through these places and disperse the stale air with his slipstream. It always pulled in fresh air behind him and made him feel as though he was cleansing the places in some small way.

Sonic cast a wary glance around when the school came into his sights. He doubted that anyone would make a move against the youngest Thorndyke, but it was better to be safe than sorry. He slammed on the brakes and came to an immediate stop. Wanting a good vantage point, he hopped onto the school's roof. Crossing his arms, he stood there tapping one foot for lack of anything better to do. A few seconds later, he felt an itch in the same spot as before. Uncrossing his arms, he sat down. Using his fingers to part his fur, he examined the skin beneath. It looked normal, from what little bit he could see, so he ruled out a rash. He couldn't find any spots either, but he already knew he hadn't run through any plants that caused itchy spots to break out.

With a massive effort, he resisted the urge to scratch the offending site and waited for the bell to ring with increasing fervour. He wanted nothing more than to get back, find a secluded location, and figure out what was causing the itch.

"Glad the bell rang when it did, I didn't know how much more math I could take!" Danny said with a relieved face.

"We wrote so many equations that my hand hurts!" Francis whined.

Helen offered everyone an appeasing smile. "At least we have the whole weekend ahead of us to recover, right?"

"Right!" Francis agreed enthusiastically. "Hey, why don't we have a sleepover?"

"That sounds like a great idea," Danny said. "But…whose house will we be staying at?"

Helen ducked her head in embarrassment. "My house isn't big enough for us all…"

"Mine isn't either," Francis added, sounding deflated. "Danny?"

"Nope, sorry." He shrugged helplessly. "How about your place?" he asked, turning to Chris.

Francis perked up at this. "Yeah, that's perfect! Your house is huge; we'll all fit no problem! What do you say, Chris? Please?" Spying his reluctant look, she added, "Come on, we haven't properly hung out in ages!"

Chris caved in with a sigh. "I'll have to ask Grandpa, but I'm sure he'll say yes."

"Great! Call us after you ask, okay?" Francis asked excitedly.

Chris agreed, slightly unnerved by the girl's sudden bubbly attitude. Danny, Francis and Helen departed at the school gate, waving goodbye to Chris.

With a look of resignation written all over his face, Chris directed his eyes upwards, as if searching for answers to some deep problem. He softly gasped in surprise when he met the inquisitive gaze of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sonic had heard the entire conversation. The azure speedster had lain on his stomach on the overhang above the door and waited until they had finished and Chris was alone. When Chris's friends had left, he had half wriggled over the edge so that his face could be clearly seen.

"Sonic, what are doing up there?" Chris inquired, frowning lightly in confusion.

"I was waiting for you," he honestly replied, almost shrugging but not wanting to chance it in case his grip slipped from the movement. "So, what's this about a sleepover?" he innocently asked after flipping off the roof.

"Francis wants to have a sleepover at my house," was the blunt reply. The two began walking at a steady pace while they talked.

"You don't seem too interested in the idea," Sonic casually remarked.

Chris grinned sheepishly at the statement. "It's not that I don't want to…" he trailed off.

"So what's the problem?"

Chris appeared torn. He stole a quick peek at Sonic from the corner of his eye and decided to go ahead. He trusted Sonic, after all. "It's just that…I've never had a sleepover. I've never been to one either, so I dunno what to do," he said hurriedly, as though saying it quicker would make it easier to confess.

"You haven't?" Sonic repeated, genuinely shocked. Chris, too embarrassed to say anything else, settled for shaking his head. "Well, I'm sure we can help you out, buddy. Cream and Amy should be able to give you loads of advice, but, with all our heads together, we'll think of plenty of things. If your grandpa says yes, why don't you ask each of them to bring something fun to do while you're on the phone?"

A big grin spread across the young boy's face. "Yeah, that's an awesome idea! Thanks, Sonic!" Chris sped up, now much more eager to get home.

The hedgehog watched the human sprint away. "What have I started?" Sonic whispered dramatically to thin air. He started jogging to catch up, wondering all the while how he was going to find the time and space to figure out his itching problem with four excited children clamouring through the mansion. He was sure Chuck wouldn't object to the sleepover and thought it wise to plan beforehand.

"A sleepover?"

"Yeah, Francis, Danny and Helen want to have a sleepover here. Please, Grandpa? I promise we'll be good!" Chris pleaded, staring hopefully at the eldest Thorndyke.

"Well, I suppose so. Only if their parents say yes, of course," Chuck said sternly.

"I was going to ring them to let them know what you said and to ask if it was okay with their parents," Chris gushed out in one breath.

"Fine by me. But tell them you lot have to stay out of the workshop!" he shouted at the retreating back of his grandson.

Chris threw an arm into the air to show he had heard. "Okay!"

He happily raced over to the nearest phone - a cordless one - and yanked it out of its base. He stopped, his fingers hovering above the buttons, wondering who to call first. He picked Francis, as it was her idea to begin with. Chris never rang anyone much, so he paused to flick through his small notebook of numbers that was lying beside the phone. Finding hers, he dialled it and waited for somebody to pick up.

While Chris's attention was elsewhere, Sonic dashed past him and up the stairs to the same bathroom he had used earlier. He put an ear to door to check if anyone was in there. It was empty so he opened the door and whipped inside, making sure to shut it quietly behind him. He went over to the basket he had dropped the hand towel into and stuck a hand inside, fishing for it. Successful, he brought the hand towel to his face for close inspection. It didn't look like it had anything on it besides the dirt he had wiped off with it. He sniffed the area where the dirt was, but his nose couldn't detect more than the scent of cotton, dirt and a faint trace of water. Huffing in annoyance, he crossed the hand towel off his mental checklist of possible causes.

'Must be a one-off thing,' he reasoned. 'It'll go away soon enough. Until then, I just have to make sure I don't scratch or it'll get worse.' Throwing the towel back into the basket, he headed to the kitchen for the other slice he had asked Amy to save for him. Resisting the temptation to scratch was a lot easier said than done and Sonic hoped a distraction would help.

Strolling into the kitchen, he only saw Ella. Hoisting himself onto one of the stools near the table, he scanned it for the cherry pie. Disappointed, he asked Ella where it was.

Shocked by the sudden voice, Ella yelped and dropped the wooden spoon she was using to mix something. She whirled around and, upon seeing that it was only Sonic, laughed. "Oh, you startled me, dearie! I didn't even hear you come in," she commented. Sonic was just about to apologise when she cut him off with a careless wave. "Now, don't you worry about it, dear. The cherry pie Amy made, you say? Hmm, I think she took it somewhere so that no one would take a slice. She made it only for you," she added upon seeing Sonic's confused expression.

"Oh…guess I'll go find Amy and ask her where she put it," he said, nodding his thanks to Ella and jogging off. 'If I cooked something for the one I had a crush on, where would I put it?' he pondered. After coming up blank, he gave it up and decided to look the old fashioned way. He'd only gotten as far as Chris when he stopped once more.

Chris put the phone back, an excited grin lighting up his entire face. He saw the blue hedgehog near the doorway. "Hey, Sonic!" he greeted cheerfully.

"So, how'd it go?" Sonic asked, knowing the answer must be good judging from Chris's exuberance. He felt it was polite to ask anyway.

"They're all allowed to come over!" the boy exclaimed, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "They'll be here in about an hour or less, I gotta go get ready!" Now with an anxious look, he hurtled away upstairs to tidy his room however he could. It was clean already, but Chris, in true first-timer fashion, wanted things to be perfect.

Sonic shook his head in helplessness at his younger friend's actions until the words Chris had spoken suddenly came back to him. 'An hour or less?' he thought in panic. 'Forget the pie; I need to fix this itch first!' Looking more anxious than Chris, Sonic followed his example and hurtled up the stairs at a much faster pace. The only place that immediately came to mind was the roof, so that was where he was going. Reaching the roof, he ran over to the side that faced away from the driveway. What he didn't know was that Amy had gone there looking for him. As he ran over the apex of the roof he almost hit her head-on. Swerving violently to one side, he missed her by a whisker. He could not stop his momentum, however, and shot straight off the edge. Giving a startled yelp, he flung his arms out and twisted his body around. By sheer luck, his fingers hooked around a balcony rail. With his drop brought to an abrupt halt, Sonic's body slammed into the railing. He craned his neck to look up as a voice addressed him.

"Are you alright, mister Sonic?" It was Tanaka. The butler's top half was leaning over the rail and he was eyeing Sonic with a fair amount of concern. "Would you like some assistance?"

"Oh my gosh, Sonic, are you okay?" Amy cried from above, peering worriedly over the roof edge.

Sonic's arms were just beginning to feel the strain of bearing his full weight. "No thanks, I'll drop down," he said to Tanaka. Raising his voice, he replied to Amy. "I'm fine. Sorry about that!" he said with a chuckle. Rolling his eyes at her fussing, which made Tanaka smile; he let go and fell about fifteen feet to the ground. Sonic casually strolled away so as not to raise suspicion. Once he was out of sight of both Tanaka and Amy, he made a break for the hedge that lined the Thorndyke's property. He vaulted over it and sat down. After a quick survey to confirm he was alone and unobserved, he breathed a sigh of relief.

"Mr. Tanaka, do you know what that noise was?" Chris asked. He had heard the thud when Sonic collided with the railing and had raced over to investigate.

The butler took a second to compose himself. "Yes, I do. If you wish to know, it was Sonic," he responded formally.


"Yes. He fell off the roof and caught himself on the balcony rail. That noise was his body hitting the rails," he continued after catching Chris's confused countenance.

"Oh," was all the young boy could manage. After the sentence sunk a little further into his head, his reaction closely matched Amy's. "Is he okay? He's not hurt, is he?"

"Relax, Master Chris. He is perfectly fine," Tanaka stated. "Would you like me to ask Ella to prepare some snacks for you and your friends?" he offered as a distraction. He knew Chris tended to worry about things a lot more than was usually necessary.

"What? Oh, yeah, that'd be great, thanks!" Chris said, beaming at the butler for his thoughtfulness. Curiosity sated, he sped off to check the condition of the living room. He'd never forgive himself if Helen's wheelchair snagged on something and she toppled out of it. Worst-case scenarios flashed through his imagination and he went about his self-appointed task with renewed determination.

Tanaka followed the same route, heading for the kitchen, but at a more sedate pace. "I hope Ella is up for all this extra cooking," he murmured to himself. He pushed his doubts aside as soon as he uttered the last word. Ella had been happy to cook for so many when Sonic and his friends had arrived. He was confident that three more would be no problem. It was only for one night after all. He passed Amy in a hallway and dipped his head in acknowledgement.

Amy was walking a little faster than normal. She knew Sonic was tough but she wanted to check on him anyway. Reaching the place where he dropped down, she scrutinised the ground for any footprints. Sonic trod lightly due to his vast battle experience, but there would be an imprint for sure because of the height he fell from. Once she had located the tell-tale indents in the flattened grass, Amy carefully searched for a following footprint that would reveal the location he walked in. She found it, and a couple more after it, before the shock of the impact had left Sonic's legs and his light-footedness had kicked in again. Casting her gaze in the direction the footprints led, the only thing she saw was the tall green hedge that encircled the property. Undaunted, the pink hedgehog marched toward it, intent on her goal.

Sonic had a dilemma. The itchy patch on his chest was in such a position that he couldn't see it properly. He could partly see, but it wasn't enough. Sonic needed a mirror. Unfortunately for him, all the nearby mirrors were in the mansion. He debated using water as a reflective surface. It wouldn't afford him much clarity and he ran the risk of leaning over too far and falling in. He sighed, knowing that going back inside and finding a mirror was inevitable.

Amy, having heard the sigh, leaped over the hedge. Sonic gave a start at her unexpected entrance. Looking him up and down, she frowned. "Are you sure you're okay? What are you doing sitting all the way out here behind the hedge?"

Sonic, fumbling for words, could only open and close and close his mouth a couple of times like a fish out of water. "Because I want to…" he eventually managed to say.

"Now I know something's definitely wrong," she concluded. She sat down beside him and smoothed out a crease in her dress. "Come on, you can tell me," she cajoled.

"Nothing's wrong," he insisted.

Amy glared at the azure-coloured male. "Yes there is. You can deny it all you want, but I know you're lying," she deadpanned.

"Amy…" Sonic began, exasperated. He was interrupted before he got any further.

"Sonic, don't be afraid to share things with me. If you have a problem, I wanna know what it is so I can help," she persisted. Her eyes became watery, tears threatening to form as a reason for his silence struck her. "You don't trust me, is that it?" she whispered brokenheartedly.

Sonic, who hated to see his friends cry, immediately felt horrible. "No, no, that's not it at all!" he hastily reassured. He took a deep breath, wondering if he should tell her. 'If I do, maybe she can help? I'm getting nowhere by myself. What do I have to lose? Besides the itch, of course,' he thought wryly.

Amy sniffed, waiting for him to talk.

Gathering his thoughts, he took another deep breath. "It's nothing big, I just came out here to solve it because it's quiet and I can think," he said, wondering if she would leave him alone after hearing it.

"And did you solve it?" she asked, watching him closely.

"Well, no," he admitted.

"Do you want me to help you work it out?" she offered, gazing at him with a mix of worry, nervousness and a faint glimmer of hope.

"I, well…" Sonic faltered. "Okay," he conceded, "but you can't tell anyone else. I don't want them to worry, alright?"

Amy clasped her hands in front of her and stared at Sonic. "I promise I won't tell anyone!" she gushed out quickly, but sincerely. Inside, Amy was euphoric. 'He's finally opening up to me!' was all her mind could think of. "So, what's the matter?" she asked after getting a handle on her wild emotions.

"I, uh, have this itch," he began, embarrassed but not willing to show it. "I've been trying to figure out how I got it. Once I do, I'll know how to get rid of it," he explained, his eyes focused firmly on his red and white sneakers.

Amy blinked, considering what he had revealed. "You didn't run through any weird plants, did you?"


"It's not a rash, is it?"


"Do you have any strange spots?"


The pink hedgehog wracked her brain for any possible explanation she may have missed. She recalled hearing about a strange powder a couple of weeks ago. Ella had told her all about it after she heard someone mention it on a television show that Cream and Cheese had been watching. "Did you come into contact with any sort of powder?"

"No." Sonic looked at her then, confusion written clearly all over his face. "What does powder have to do with anything?"

Amy beamed, happy to share her knowledge with the hero. "There's this stuff here on Earth called itching powder," she said, emphasising the name. "If you get some on you, wherever it landed will start itching like crazy. It's the only other thing I can think of that would make you itchy."

"Itching powder?" he repeated slowly, thinking it sounded a bit far-fetched. "Why would anyone make something like that?" he asked to no-one in particular. Shaking his head, he got his thoughts back on track. "Nope, haven't touched any kind of powder at all," he answered, absently scratching his chest. He was not aware that he was doing it, but Amy certainly was.

"Is that where you itch?" she inquired, bringing his attention to what he was doing. He stopped straight away, flashing a guilty and sheepish grin. He nodded, turning his focus back onto his shoes. "Why don't I examine the spot? I was thinking of becoming a nurse back on our planet and I studied a lot of medical books," she added as a convincing point.

The whole idea of Amy sifting through his chest fur did not sit well with Sonic. He was about to refuse when common sense hit him. 'I can't do it myself…and if she's studied medical books, that's even better, but still… Don't have much of a choice though, do I?' Realising that Amy was his best hope, he agreed.

The pink hedgehog was using all of her willpower not to jump and down in sheer joy. This was the first time she had the chance to use her skills on somebody other than herself. "This will be a lot easier if you lie down," she said, trying to sound as professional as she could.

Sonic was apprehensive about being in such a vulnerable position with Amy so close. If it came to it, he could sprint off and leave Amy, but he couldn't leave the itch. Understanding this, he reclined, putting his hands behind his head and one foot balanced on top of his other knee like he did when he rested. It made him feel slightly better, being in a familiar position in an awkward situation. "How's this?"

"Good. Now hold still and try not to squirm," Amy commanded. Kneeling over him, she leaned down and put a hand where she had seen him scratch. "Here?" She was pleased when he nodded in confirmation. She gently parted his fur in the middle of the area. With his skin now partially exposed, she examined it carefully. Her face was so close that he could feel her warm breath tickling him. Amy, however, was completely devoted to her task. Her eyes widened a touch when she caught sight of something. With renewed vigour, she searched through the small section of fur in an effort to track it. When she caught sight of it again a few seconds later, she used her nimble fingers to extract it. Succeeding, she brought it up to eye level to see what it was.

Sonic had become curious and sat up. "What did ya find?"

"It looks like a bug," she replied, frowning. "I've never seen it before, so I don't know if this is what's making you itchy or not. It was crawling around in your fur. Your skin's a bit red, too. Whatever this insect is, it must have irritated your skin. The only way to be sure is to ask Ella or someone," she said, looking him straight in the eyes.

"But - no, you're right," he admitted reluctantly. He stood up and held out a hand for Amy. She happily took it and got to her feet. "Come on, we'll go find Ella," he said before leaping back over the hedge. Amy swiftly jumped behind him. The two walked back to the mansion keeping their eyes peeled for the only woman there at the moment. Amy suggested checking the kitchen first. Going along with it - as it was the best bet - the pair of hedgehogs progressed through the hallways.

Ella was busy putting a couple of trays into the oven when the two walked in. She closed the oven door and turned to them. "Why, hello! I see you found her," she said, directing the last part to Sonic.

Amy was about to say something, because she had no idea what Ella meant, but didn't get the chance as Sonic beat her to it. "We're sorry if we're interrupting you, but we needed to ask you something," he said, fighting the urge to shuffle from one foot to the other.

Ella blinked in surprise, but swiftly shook it off. "You can ask me anything," she said kindly.

Sensing that this was her cue, Amy walked over to the cook and presented the tiny - now squished - insect. "We were wondering if you could tell us what this is," Amy said, doing her best to sound innocently curious.

Ella let Amy drop the bug into her palm. Bringing it close to her face for inspection, she hastily drew her hand away from her face. "Where did you get this?" she gasped as she washed the bug off her hand and down the drain.

Amy glanced at Sonic for permission before speaking. Seeing his nod, she sidled up to Ella and whispered, "I found it in Sonic's fur."

"What is it?" Sonic asked in a low voice, joining the two females.

"You don't know?" Ella asked, astonished, but also keeping her voice low. None of them knew why they were keeping quiet, it just seemed appropriate. Anyone who entered the kitchen and saw them would think they were plotting something. "It was a flea," she said seriously.

"A flea? What's a flea?" Amy asked.

"Hey, I heard that word earlier today…" Sonic said, trailing off as he tried to remember properly. "I ran across this girl who was calling for her dog. I found the dog and took it back to her. Her mother mentioned something about giving the dog a…flea bath, I think it was."

"Yes, that would have been it," Ella confirmed. "A flea is a little bug that lives in an animal's fur. They must be able to live on you lot, though, if you had one on you. A flea will burrow deep under the fur, close to the skin. Fleas bite you and it makes you really itchy. Having them crawl over you itches as well," she explained. "You haven't been scratching, have you?"

"A little," he replied, abashed.

"Well, where there's one flea, there's bound to be more," Ella stated, looking contemplative. "I think you need a flea bath of your own," she announced after a moment's silence.

Sonic simply stood there, taking it all in. "Do I have to?" he asked after a few seconds.

"I'm afraid so, dear. You should have one too," she added to Amy. "Fleas like to jump from one home to another. Since you've come into close contact with Sonic, there's a good chance you've got a couple on you."

"I'm sorry, Amy…" Sonic said guiltily.

Amy lifted her chin up and smiled at him. "What are you sorry for? I told you I wanted to help and I don't regret it for an instant," she said proudly.

Stunned into silence, Sonic simply looked at her in gratitude.

Ella, meanwhile, had her mind on more practical matters. "We don't have any flea shampoo," she told the two unfortunate hedgehogs. "Chris has never had a pet, so we've never needed it. I'd go and get some for you, but I have to make snacks for Chris and his friends that are coming over."

"Why can't us two go and get some?" Amy asked in curiosity. She saw no problem with that idea, but Ella shook her head.

"I'm sorry, but I don't think that's such a good idea."

"She's right," Sonic piped up. "People would ask questions and it would most likely turn into a huge mess."

Ella nodded in agreement and Amy let the thought go. But another suddenly occurred to her. "Hey, aren't you afraid you'll get fleas being this close to us?"

Ella tried to hold back a bout of laughter but couldn't. "Oh, Amy, I told you that fleas only live on animals. They can't live on humans," she said, still faintly giggling.

"Oh," Amy said in a small voice, feeling very stupid.

Ella got her laughter under control and hugged the young girl. "It's okay, sweetie, you didn't know."

"So, how are we gonna get this shampoo?" Sonic asked, interrupting the moment.

Ella stopped to ponder his question. "Am I right in thinking that you would like this to be kept secret?" She smiled faintly at the two expected nods she received in reply. "If you two don't mind waiting, I could go and buy some when I'm finished here," she proffered. "You'd have to stay away from everyone, though. Preferably outside, as fleas can get into carpet and lay eggs."

"I never was very good at waiting," Sonic mused aloud, more to himself than anything.

"If you don't want to wait, the only other thing I can think of is to get Tanaka to get some for you," Ella said, waiting to gauge their reactions. Sonic looked reluctant, and Amy would go along with any decision he made. "He won't tell anyone if you don't want him to."

Feeling the overwhelming need to scratch yet again, Sonic made up his mind. "Yeah, we'll go ask him," he said hastily, wanting the irritating sensation to stop as soon as possible. "Do you know where he is?"

"Hmm, he came in here not too long before you did asking me if I'd make some snacks for the children. I think he's keeping an eye on Chris. Chris was in the living room last I heard," she said, shrugging. "Sorry I can't be more help…"

"Nonsense, Ella, you've been a great help!" Amy said earnestly. Sonic voiced his agreement with her statement. Ella said a heartfelt thank you and the hedgehogs departed the kitchen.

Sonic took the lead, ears erect for Chris or Tanaka, with Amy trailing closely behind. "All this trouble because of a tiny little bug," he grumbled, just loud enough for Amy to hear. She muffled a giggle behind a gloved hand but was otherwise silent. Sonic was grateful for this rare show of personal space the pink-coloured girl was giving him; she was usually much more physically clingy. He was never very good with words in those kinds of situations, though, so he opted not to say anything at all and save himself the embarrassment.

A constant stream of footfalls could be heard from further up the hall. The two simultaneously moved toward the noise and pushed open the double door. Chris was pacing the length of the room. Tanaka was trying, in vain, to get him to relax and sit still. Sonic tried his luck. "Hey, buddy, you're gonna wear a hole in the floor. I don't think anyone will enjoy fixing the floor before someone trips," he said bluntly, but still in a casual tone. It worked. Chris, fearing that happen - to Helen, mostly - immediately ceased and flopped into an armchair. While this was happening, Amy had grabbed Tanaka by the hand and led him out of the room. Sonic surreptitiously exited after them, making sure not to attract Chris's attention.

"What is the meaning of this, may I ask?" was the first thing the butler said when the doors had swung closed.

"Not much," Amy said conversationally. "We were just wondering if you could do us a teensy favour."

"What kind of favour?" Amy motioned for him to lean down. He obliged, and she whispered their request - along with the promise to keep it a secret - into his ear. When she was done, he turned to face them both. Amy looked at him pleadingly while Sonic stood there coolly, simply glad that Amy was the one doing all of the talking. "Of course I can. I needed to get a few things for Ella anyway," he said with a conspiratorial wink.

"Thank you!" Amy softly squealed, hugging the butler briefly.

"You are most welcome," he formally replied. That said, he strode away to grab a list of things from Ella. It was mostly an excuse for him to leave, but he thought it would be a wise move to grab some extra snacks and drinks anyway. He knew the kids would go through them like there was no tomorrow.

Amy shyly glanced at Sonic. 'This is the longest I've ever really been alone with him. I still can't believe he accepted my help on this! We MUST be getting closer!' she thought in excitement.

"I guess there's nothing else we can do but wait." His voice unintentionally broke through her thoughts. "But outside," he added, quickly walking to the building's nearest exit. Amy was swift to scurry after him. He went straight for a large tree and leapt onto a branch sturdy enough to support him. Knowing the rest was out of his hands, he reclined until he was simply lounging on the branch. He shut his eyes, trying his hardest to ignore the fleas.

Amy, on the other hand, could not jump that high. Not wanting to push her luck with him any further than she already had for today, she didn't kick up a fuss. Giving in with good grace, the young girl lay down in the grass underneath the branch he was occupying. Unknowingly copying her crush, her eyelids slowly closed as the peaceful atmosphere worked its magic upon her.

The low rumbling of a car engine shattered the relative silence that enveloped the yard. Cream, who had been picking flowers on the other side of the mansion, skipped happily around to the front to see who was visiting. Cheese faithfully hovered near her shoulder, a small crown of brightly coloured flowers adorning his head.

Because she had been outside the entire time, and Chris had been too preoccupied to ask her for advice like Sonic had suggested, the young rabbit knew nothing of the sleepover. She was therefore pleasantly surprised, but a little confused, when she saw Helen being helped out of the car and up the front steps. Another car engine could be heard a minute later and a blue car drove through the gates. When it pulled up, Francis jumped out. Cream silently watched as Grandpa graciously came out to help her with a big bag she had brought. She was about to walk over and say hello to the girls when another car made her stop before she had even taken a single step. Danny got out of the last car. Cream, wanting to know what was going on, got her legs to move and followed him inside.

The car engines, though faint to Amy, had awoken her. She sat up and brushed herself off, reflexively looking up to check if Sonic was still there. He was. Sonic was still asleep but he looked troubled to Amy. She guessed it was the fleas making him uncomfortable as he had rolled over and the branch scratched his chest every time he moved. Amy stood still for a moment, waiting for an itch to hit her. She felt nothing, however, so she decided to awaken Sonic from his sleep-induced torture. "Sonic, wake up! I think somebody's here!" she called, watching him in case he fell; ready to catch him if he did.

Sonic groaned. His nap had been far from restful. He continued to itch, even in his dreams. His dreams had not given him a break either, containing giant insects that sprayed a strange powder from their mouths that fell all over Station Square. The people in the city had fallen to the ground in a frantic frenzy of scratching as soon as the powder descended upon them. 'I need to get rid of these fleas; fast. They're driving me crazy!' he thought before managing to prise his eyes open. He saw nothing but green to start off with. Thinking that something was wrong, he swung his gaze around until it landed on something pink. His memory came back to him at that point and he realised that he had rolled over on the branch so that he was facing the grass below.

"Sonic, are you alright?" he heard Amy ask. The pink hedgehog was staring up at him, worried, but trying to hide it.

Shrugging off the last of his sleepiness, he replied, "I think so. I just had the strangest dream… Can fleas mess with your mind?"

"No, I don't think they can," she answered back, now letting the worry wash over her.

"Hmm…oh well, never mind. Did you say that somebody's here?"

She nodded. "Yeah, I heard…three, I think, yeah, three cars. I'm pretty sure they pulled up at the front door. Are we expecting company?"

"Hasn't anyone told you?" he asked her, slipping off the branch and landing lightly a couple of feet away.

"Told me what?"

"Guess not," he muttered to himself. "Chris is having a sleepover tonight with Francis, Danny and Helen," he told her. "That's pretty much the reason I wanted to get rid of this itch while it was still quiet," he confessed, in a slightly lower voice that was not quite a loud whisper.

Amy mouthed an 'oh'. She put her hands behind her back so that Sonic would not see her twining her fingers together shyly. "Hey, Sonic?"

"Yeah?" Sonic's ears were folded flat, the only testament to his internal battle of wills. He desperately wanted the itching to stop.

Amy noticed his ears, but refrained from commenting. She wanted to put forth an idea that had just come to her. "I don't itch, so, I was thinking that maybe I should go see if Mr. Tanaka is back yet," she said tentatively.

"You don't? Well, I guess it should be okay for you to go inside then. Don't stay inside too long, just in case, alright? I'll be waiting here for you." As if to prove his words true, the speedster sat down with his back against the tree. "Oh, before I forget, could you grab me another slice of that pie while you're in there? I went looking for you earlier to ask where you put it but I got…sidetracked," he added, grinning crookedly.

Amy's heart fluttered at this and she found that controlling herself around him suddenly became ten times harder. "O-of course!" she stuttered out. She took off before she completely lost her composure. She raced indoors, grinning from ear to ear the whole way. She slowed down when she got inside to avoid accidentally colliding with somebody.

"Amy, dear, what's the rush?" Ella asked as Amy came barrelling down the hallway towards her.

"Is he back yet?" was all she said, not offering an explanation as there was now no need.

"I'm sorry, sweetie, but no. I'll keep an eye out for you. Where are you and Sonic staying? I'll come and get you the moment I see him return."

Amy smiled gratefully. "We're at a big tree on the east side of the house. I've gotta go, I need to get that cherry pie, thanks again!" That said, the young girl resumed her mad dash through the halls.

A crisp breeze blew by. The sun was trying to re-cast its drowsiness spell with varying amounts of success. Sonic struggled to keep his eyes open in the comfort of the shade of the tree. It was not in his nature to worry about little things; he knew that Amy would return when she was ready and not before. The sun managed to coax his eyelids shut once more. To Sonic, it seemed like only seconds had passed until he felt someone gently caressing his fur at the base of his left ear. Easing back into proper consciousness, he pretended to remain asleep to try and find out who was violating his personal space.

"Oh, Sonic… Why does everything always have to happen to you?" a feminine voice softly whispered in a sad tone. "Nobody really cuts you a break, do they?" the voice continued. "You're constantly helping others with their problems, but who's helping you? You're letting me help you this time, but what about the next? I know you don't even speak to Tails about your problems… I just wish you'd let me be your sanctuary; someone that you can speak freely to… Bottling things up inside isn't good for you. Oh, Sonic, I want you to let me in; I can't stand seeing you unhappy or in pain…"

The blue hedgehog was deeply moved. He knew that Amy wanted him to reveal his true feelings to her, but nothing else. Sonic began to think that there was more to Amy than her obsessive crush when it came to him. He didn't foresee any heart-to-heart chats in his future though; running usually cleared his head of any problems that haunted him. He kept his eyes - and mouth - shut, to spare Amy the embarrassment of knowing that he had heard her.

Amy sighed and let her fingers fall to her lap. 'Sonic deserves to rest. I might wake him up if I continue to stroke him. Shame, though, I was really enjoying that! His fur is so soft…' The fan girl that Amy let out so often was jumping in pure glee at the physical contact. It hadn't lasted as long as Amy would've liked, but she was ecstatic nonetheless.

Sonic, despite himself, had enjoyed the feeling almost as much as Amy. Nobody had ever really comforted him in any physical way. He was not adverse to the contact, but he was always exuding such a confidant aura that everybody assumed that he did not have a care in the world; this one or his own. It was always him that was boosting others. The fact that he had never fallen back on anybody in an emotional way had rarely occurred to him. Sonic was not even sure that he could open himself up to someone else in such a way. He disliked having any type of vulnerability that could possibly be exploited.

The young girl heaved another sigh, her expression wistful. With much reluctance, she gently shook his shoulder to wake him up. With a bit of acting, Sonic let his eyelids rise halfway to give the illusion of a half-awake state before opening them completely. "Is he back yet?" he asked, sitting up properly.

"Not yet," she said in an annoyed tone. "But I did get you the cherry pie!" she added, suddenly sounding much more enthusiastic.

Sonic grinned and tried not to drool. He still had not had anything for lunch other than the slice of pie he had eaten earlier and he was hungry. As soon as the pie and fork she had brought was in his hands, he dug in with a will. He made a conscious effort not to overstep any boundaries concerning manners and etiquette because she was watching him eat every bite.

Both hedgehogs were silent - except for Sonic eating - and Amy longed to say something. She held herself in check admirably well. Sonic was licking the last of the crumbs from his fork and set the plate and fork down, patting his stomach appreciatively. "Great pie, Amy! You should make another one for Chris and his friends to share tonight," he said, gazing thoughtfully at the mansion as though he was trying to see through the walls. His gaze switched to a more focused one so quickly that Amy whipped her head around to see why.

Ella was standing at a window that directly faced the tree they were under. When she had their attention, she smiled and waved, gesturing for them to come inside.

"He must be back!" Amy exclaimed, having no need to explain who was back. Feeling bold again, she grabbed Sonic's hand and raced over, all thoughts of doors forgotten as she jumped through the window still towing him behind her.

Ella simply smiled and winked, walking off. Amy caught on immediately and followed, not releasing her grip on Sonic's hand. The cheerful woman was leading them upstairs, heading straight for the bathroom that Sonic had used twice already today. "Tanaka is waiting for us in the bathroom upstairs," she stated. She had to stop suddenly as Danny came racing out of the left-hand room right in front of her. "Oh my, do watch what you're doing!" she admonished.

"Sorry, Ella!" Danny shouted over his shoulder as he raced away, not slowing down in the slightest.

Amy was about to ask what his problem was when her question was answered. Francis came hurtling out the room, covered in silly string, her eyes promising revenge as she brandished the can that Danny had used. "Get back here!" she yelled at his retreating form.

The two hedgehogs poked their heads around the doorframe while Ella clucked in disapproving amusement. Chris and Helen were still in the room, doubled up with laughter.

Ella stood in the doorway, hands on hips, and gave Chris a pointed look. "I hope you tell those two that they'll be cleaning up any mess they make with that stuff," she said sternly.

Chris nodded through his giggling fit, assuring the maid that he got the message.

Sighing mentally, Ella exited the doorway and continued her trek to the stairs. Amy and Sonic darted past the doorway, too fast for the children to see, and resumed walking.

Sonic grinned, unable to hold it in any longer. 'I can finally get rid of this annoying itch!'

Amy instantly took note of his more cheerful demeanour and found herself grinning along with him. Her thoughts immediately turned to other matters as doubts began to plague her. 'What if this shampoo ruins my fur? What if it has some horrible side effect because we're not from Earth? What if it dyes my fur and quills an ugly colour; so ugly that Sonic won't be able to stand looking at me for even a second?' The pink hedgehog almost gasped aloud, catching herself at the last second. While she was happy that Sonic would be cured, she started to dread how the rest of it would turn out. Her grin faltered and she fought to keep it in place for Sonic's sake.

The three ascended the stairs and walked up one of the hallways, stopping when they reached the bathroom door. Ella softly knocked on the wooden door. "It's us, open up," she whispered loudly enough to be heard on the other side of the door. The doorknob turned, seemingly of its own accord, and the door was swung away from the three; held open by Tanaka. The two hedgehogs and one human quickly scurried inside and Tanaka deftly closed the door behind them.

"Are you ready?" he asked the blue hero.

"I'm ready," Sonic answered. He watched as Tanaka started to run the bath and eyed the water with distaste. He didn't mind water; he was just uncomfortable with being immersed in it. The simple fact that the bathtub was quite large wasn't helping his unease.

Because of its size, the tub was taking a long time to fill. Due to the fact that both hedgehogs were a lot shorter than the average human, Tanaka turned off the taps when the tub was half full a minute or two later. The butler plucked something from atop one of the cupboards nearest to the tub and presented it to Sonic. "Here you go, mister Sonic; use as much as you feel necessary. I bought three bottles, so do not worry about using too much." His task done, Tanaka took leave of the bathroom, planning to supervise the children.

Ella wanted to give the hedgehogs some privacy. Before she left, Ella sat two white, large, fluffy towels on the floor near the bath's edge. "Make sure you wash everywhere dears, even behind your ears!" she said, simply repeating what she used to tell Chris.

Sonic blinked and stared at the bottle of flea shampoo in his gloved hand. He found himself a little wary of the contents of the innocent bottle and turned to face Amy. "Ladies first?" he offered, trying to buy some time out of the water behind him.

As much as she wished that Sonic was simply being courteous to her, Amy knew that he was trying to delay the inevitable. "That's sweet of you to offer, but I think you should go first. You need it more than I do," she said gently, making a valiant effort to ignore his pleading eyes. "I'll wait outside, okay? Come get me when it's my turn." The young girl all but bolted out of the room, feeling horrible for denying her crush a brief respite. 'It really is better that he goes first,' she sternly told herself.

After the door had clicked shut, just missing Amy's tail, Sonic had started to inspect the flea shampoo, knowing that there was no way he was getting out of this. He took a moment to carefully read the instructions and, with much reluctance, made his way over to the half-full bathtub. The tub's edge came up to about Sonic's nose and he had to stand on tiptoe to look over it. He sat down with a huff and pulled off his shoes. He gingerly set his sneakers down and pulled off his socks, rolling them up into balls and stuffing them into their respective shoe. The gloves went next and he tossed them on top of his shoes. With a huff, he clambered onto the tub's edge and stood there, examining the clear water and the little wisps of steam that rose from the faintly shimmering surface.

Sonic felt weird having his feet bare. He always wore his shoes, no matter what. They afforded him a sense of security because, without them, he would not be able to run very fast as his feet would burn from the friction. He knew that nothing could possibly get him at this very moment and allowed himself to relax. He dipped a toe into the water to test the temperature. It was a touch too warm for his liking. 'I don't think Tanaka took my fur into account. Because of my fur, the water will be warmer to me than it would be to him and I doubt he even thought about it. Oh well, nothing for it I guess!'

Sonic crouched down, put his left hand on the edge and slid into the water. He gasped at the feeling of being almost neck-deep in the hot water. The temperature of the water left him very uncomfortable, but he gritted his teeth and vowed to bear it. Ignoring the fact that the quills covering his back were now waterlogged, weighing him down, he grabbed the flea shampoo and flicked the cap open. He squeezed a dollop onto his tan-coloured palm and stood the bottle on the tub's edge within easy reach.

The shampoo was white with a strange silvery gleam to it. He examined it for a moment, sniffing it and hoping that he wouldn't have a bad reaction to it. It was then that Sonic noticed that the bottom of the bathtub seemed to tilt slightly. Wading through the water, he went one way and then doubled back and went the other, realising that there was a deep and a shallow end to the tub. This made him feel a little better and he waded to the shallow end, just far enough that the itchy patch on his chest was above the water.

Unsure how much shampoo to use, Sonic simply smeared the entire lot in his palm over the spot. He gritted his teeth, as the shampoo was rather cold in contrast to the water, and started working it through his tan-coloured fur. Touching his skin only irritated it further and Sonic found himself scratching just as much as he was working in the shampoo.

The hero worked it into a lather that covered his entire chest and cupped his hands, pooling some water into them. He splashed it onto his chest and watched as the bubbles from the lather floated away across the surface of the water. The red, sensitive skin on his chest had not taken kindly to the sudden onslaught of hot water and the burning sensation reached the pain receptors in his brain making him yelp.

Amy, who had been faithfully sitting in the hallway by the door, jumped up when his yelp reached her ears as though she, too, had been scalded. Regardless of privacy, Amy shot through the door with her trusty Piko Piko Hammer held firmly in both of her hands. "Sonic?"

The azure male snapped his eyes up to meet Amy's and his brain seemed to freeze on him in pure shock from her unexpected entrance.

Amy was having trouble getting her own brain to work as she took in the sight - as much as she could with the tub's edge in the way - of the mostly wet male before her. A sudden heat flooded her cheeks and she blushed a bright crimson, clearly visible even through her muzzle fur. "Sorry!" she squeaked, wrenching her eyes away from his form on instinct rather than any desire to do so. She quickly fled the room, barely remembering to shut the door behind her.

Sonic blinked; the whole scene had only taken a few seconds to pass. 'What's her problem? She's seen me wet plenty of times; what makes this one so different?' He shook his head at the girl's strange behaviour. 'Girls act so weird sometimes!'

"Did you hear that?" Helen asked.

"Yeah… Francis must have caught up to Danny," Chris replied, referring to the yelp and unsure whether or not to worry or laugh.

"Oh, I hope she doesn't do anything too bad to him…" she said, trailing off as she looked up, imagining what sort of things Francis would do in revenge.

"I don't think she would," Chris said, hoping he was right. He was about to add something else when Ella walked into the room bearing a tray full of chocolate-chip cookies. Both pre-teens were sufficiently distracted by the welcome treats and waited as patiently as they could for Ella to set the tray on the coffee table in between their chairs.

"Try to save some for your friends," Ella said, watching the two instantly reach for the cookies the moment she had let go of the tray. "Since I doubt that's going to happen, I'll go looking for them, okay?" She received two nods in reply, as the children's mouths were full. Smiling in spite of herself, Ella left them to it and headed to where she had last seen Francis and Danny.

Meanwhile, Danny had foregone the entire ground floor and run upstairs. He knew it wouldn't take Francis long to figure out where he'd gone, so he dashed down as many side hallways as he could to try and shake her off his trail. It was down of these many hallway detours that he came across Amy sitting cross-legged with her back against the wall and her hands clasped in her lap. "Hi Amy, what are doing sitting there like that?"

"Oh, not much…" Amy replied, her mind working furiously to come up with a believable excuse. "Just…needed a place to think and this was the first spot I sat down," she said, internally cringing at her answer.

Danny, however, simply nodded. "If you see Francis, please don't tell her I was here!" he suddenly begged, turning pleading eyes towards the young hedgehog.

Amy was about to answer when the sound of footfalls reached her ears. Evidently, Danny had heard it too, as he gained a panicked expression. Looking wildly around, he spotted the door that Amy was sitting next to and darted through it.

"W-wait…!" Amy cried in a futile attempt to stop the young human. 'Oh no, he's going to see Sonic! What if he guesses why Sonic's in the bath? I told myself that I'd guard the door to protect Sonic's secret and I failed! He's going to be so mad at me!' Amy thoughts whirled around her head in a frenzy and without thinking she followed Danny through the door.

Sonic had decided that it was better to be safe than sorry and had scrubbed the shampoo all over his body; even putting some on his fingers and combing them through his quills. The bottle was now half-empty and Sonic was standing on the tub's edge so he could get to his legs and feet. He was so focused on his task that he was caught completely off guard when Danny burst through the door; Amy right behind him. Being covered in lather and standing on the edge of a ceramic bathtub was a major disadvantage for Sonic. As soon as his weight shifted, his balance was thrown and he slipped, landing on the bathroom floor with a vaguely squelch-like splat.

The noise immediately drew the attention of the two intruders.

"Sonic, I'm so sorry! I tried to stop him, I really did!" Amy proclaimed, hiding her face in her hands.

Danny simply stood there, taking in the strange sight and not knowing what to say. "Uh…oops?" he managed to mutter after a moment. Danny whirled around and faced the wall, granting Sonic a bit more privacy.

The azure hedgehog, now mostly white from the bubbles, gave a soft sigh and jumped into the water. As he began to wash himself off, he addressed Danny, "It's okay. What are doing, anyway? You came through that door like your tail was on fire!"

Danny was not expecting to hear the word 'tail' and figured it must be something from Sonic's world. Humans don't have tails, after all. "I'm hiding from Francis," he admitted sheepishly. "I sprayed her with some silly string and it made her a bit mad. I dropped the can and she snatched it before I could. She started to chase me with it and I heard her coming up the hall so I came in here to hide. Please let me stay in here!"

Sonic found that he could easily sympathise with the young human; it was never good for your health to hang around with an angry female. Sonic had to admit that Amy was getting a bit better at controlling her awesome temper; she didn't come after him with a swinging hammer as much as she used to and he sincerely hoped she would continue in this vein. "You can hide in here. Amy, if Francis tries to come in, do you think you can yell out that you're in here and don't wanna be disturbed?"

Amy, whose face was still buried in her hands, nodded, daring to sneak a quick peek at Sonic through her gloved fingers. When she saw that he was not looking at her, she took the opportunity to stare.

As soon as he had seen her nod, Sonic had gone back to washing off the last off the shampoo lather. The quills that covered the back of his head were proving themselves to be a pain. Feeling a little silly and embarrassed he sucked in a breath, submerged himself in the deep end, and ran his fingers through his quills over and over to wipe off any shampoo still clinging to them until he ran out of air and was forced to surface.

Francis dashed here and there, chiding herself for letting Danny slip out of sight. She didn't mind silly string, but not when she was the covered in it. She was walking up an empty hallway when she heard a splashing noise. Her curiosity got the better of her and she walked over to the fairly inconspicuous door. Her hand had just settled around the handle when Ella, at the end of the hall, shouted at her to stop.

The three inside the bathroom said nothing. Danny was almost holding his breath, Amy was staying silent until she was given her cue and Sonic simply finished washing the shampoo out of his fur and quills.

"Oh, you can't go in there, dear," Ella said, slightly breathless as she had hurried over to the girl as soon as she realised what door was about to be opened.


Ella floundered for a moment. How could she say this without embarrassing anybody or leaking any secrets? Thankfully, she was saved by a voice from behind the door.

"You can't come in because I'm having a bath and I don't want to be disturbed!" Amy half-shouted, putting just enough of an annoyed tone into her sentence to fool anybody who was not in the room with her.

'Wow, I didn't know Amy could act!' Sonic thought, impressed by her impromptu performance.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" they heard Francis say. The young girl's footsteps faded quickly and Danny heaved a long sigh of relief.

"Whew, I thought she almost had me there!" he said, chuckling nervously. "You two are lifesavers!"

"Oh, well, it was nothing…" Amy said, trailing off with a light blush staining her cheeks.

Sonic said nothing, but dunked his head once again. He didn't like baths, always preferring to let the wind clean him as he sped around. It worked well enough and he saw no reason to make taking baths a regular occurrence.

Now completely shampoo-free, Sonic cleared his throat. "If you two are done, could you please leave? I'd like to get out now."

"Uh, right," Danny said, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. He opened the door and snuck through, glancing around for any sign of his pursuer.

Amy followed the young human through the door, sneaking one last glance at her crush before clicking the door shut.

Sonic hopped out of the tub and almost slipped over when he landed. Grumbling about the conspiracy water seemed to have against him, Sonic grabbed his towel and wrapped it around his soaked form, its size compared to the Mobian hedgehog leaving almost half of it trailing on the floor or hanging off him in baggy folds.

A/N: I started writing this back in 2007. I added a couple of bits and pieces to it over the years, but I know I'm never gonna finish it, so it's going here.

If you haven't guessed already, this was a oneshot based on Sonic getting fleas. (The Sonic world is Sonic X, though that's pretty obvious too.) I'm pretty close to some sort of ending but...meh. Hopefully someone can finish it off. It's been so long I don't even remember what Chris's friends look like!

If you want to adopt this or feel like co-writing it with me, just send me a review, PM or e-mail.