"Come on Tails!" he yelled, sprinting through the puddles without feeling the cold and wet seeping into his socks.
"Wait up, Sonic!" Tails panted, his little body dripping with water. "It's harder for me, I'm little!"
"Hey," said Sonic sternly. "I told you not to think like that."
"Sorry," said Tails.
"Don't believe what people say, buddy! You can do whatever it is you wanna do! Just do it! It's easy!"
"For you," said Tails bitterly. "You can do everything already."
"Hey, pal, what's up? You alright?"
"Just...just feeling young, I guess."
"Well, you are only 7, you know..."
"Yeah, but...usually I don't feel 7, you know? I usually feel older than that."
Sonic laughed. "That's 'cause you're so smart, buddy!"
"No I'm not, there's lots of people smarter than me."
"Lots of 7 year olds?"
Tails had to admit that was unlikely.
"Well then? Watcha worryin' about? Everythin's fine. You're smart and stuff, and one day you'll be able to do all the stuff you can't do now, you just gotta wait. That's what growin' up's for."
Sonic went distant for a moment.
"Don't grow up too fast, Tails.
"You'll regret it."
Sonic sped off again, not wanting to remember a past that was lurking inside his brain. It wasn't even his past, it was someone else's, a miserable little kid who couldn't stick up for himself.
"Come on, Ogilvie...I like it better when you cry..."
"Shut up," Sonic muttered.
Sonic glanced behind him. Tails had caught up, although Sonic could see what maintaining the speed cost him.
"Nothin', bud. Just talkin' to myself."
Tails laughed. "Don't do that, it's not good for you!"
Sonic laughed as well. "I'll keep that in mind!"
Sonic poured on the speed, knowing that Tails would catch up eventually -he always did, he never gave up- and he was just reaching a velocity he had never known when all of a sudden his ankle turned painfully and he fell.
He went sliding down a slope of mud and rock, twisting and turning in the muck. He tried to yell for help, but he got a mouthful of muck and clamped his mouth shut tight. A few moments later he was out in space, flying through the air with nothing below him, when all of a sudden he landed on something. It was hard and forbidding, and smashed into him painfully. Then he was submerged and he realized he was in the river.
When his head didn't break the surface he started to panic. God, his ankle hurt. The river plowed onward, relentless, driving him farther into a land he knew nothing about. In the back of his increasingly numb brain he remembered Tails telling him something about flooding, and rain making rivers overflow their banks, but he didn't know why he was remembering such a thing.
He felt rain hit his face and he gasped for air, but all that he inhaled was water. He didn't understand. Wasn't he above the water?
Long moments went by as he struggled to hold his breath. It was harder and harder to see, his vision was turning red, and besides all he could see was the horrible rushing water just barely blocking his path to the air he so desperately needed.
He couldn't take it anymore. The panic had built to a point where he could no longer contain it. He started to scream, inhaling great mouthfuls of water, but he couldn't stop, he couldn't stop! He tried to call out, to call for Tails, but then he remembered that he had left Tails behind, and besides how would he get down here without falling in himself? and when the blackness came, his panic spiked and everything faded to black.
What was that echoing?
"Sonic? Are you okay?"
Where was he again? He remembered leaving the house with Tails, waving goodbye to Rosemary, running into the forest...
His eyes shot open.
Sonic started screaming. Tails jumped back in surprise. "Sonic? What's wrong?"
Sonic couldn't answer. He was screaming and crying and shaking, unable to shake the horrible panic of it all.
Tails reached over and wrapped his little wet arms around Sonic, trying to calm him down. "It's okay, Sonic, you're okay! You're out of the water now!"
Sonic stopped screaming, but he couldn't stop the shaking or the tears. He pushed Tails away.
"Don't look at me," he gasped. Tails obediently turned away as Sonic threw up. When he was finished his throat and stomach ached violently. Tails immediately pulled him into his arms again as Sonic cried.
"Where are we?" Sonic gulped after a few minutes of it.
"Where we started," replied Tails, holding Sonic tight.
"But...but how did we get up here?"
"I flew," said Tails quietly.
"You...you flew?" asked Sonic.
"Yes," said Tails. "Looks like what I needed to get going was a real emergency, huh?"
Tails told Sonic how he saw Sonic fall off of the slope, and as soon as he got to the edge he had just leapt off into space without thinking. Somehow his 7 year old brain had figured it was do or die time, and he had finally figured out how to rotate his tails in a way that would render him airborne. He had quickly located Sonic in the rushing river and pulled him out, then brought them back onto the ledge they had fallen from.
"That's guts, buddy," said Sonic.
"Nah, " said Tails. "It was stupid. I could've killed myself."
"You saved my life," said Sonic quietly.
And they sat there, in the torrents of rain, holding on to each other, two wet brothers thinking about what they had gained that day, and what they could have lost.