Sonic took Tails into the city and left him with the family of a girl he knew. He had never met her, only been her pen pal when he had some paper to write with and enough confidence to do so, but she had always told him to come over one day. He had of course never invited her over. When he wrote to her to ask her to watch his brother, she agreed enthusiastically, even though she knew nothing about him. She wasn't even home when he took Tails there.
"Sonic, where are you goin'?" asked Tails. "An' why can't I come?"
"I'm going to stop a bad man," said Sonic.
"But I thought you weren't a police," said Tails.
"I ain't," said Sonic. "But you don' have to be a police to help people. You can't come, little buddy, 'cause you ain't old enough."
"I'm big!" insisted Tails, drawing himself up and crossing his little arms.
Sonic laughed and put his hands on his friend's shoulders.
"You sure are, big guy, but you ain't big enough yet. Maybe next time, kiddo."
"But but what if you don' come back?" Tails asked.
"I'll be back, " Sonic said. "The animals back home said they were gonna give me somethin' so I have to be back in a week."
"Will that be enough time?"
"Should be plenty. I move at Sonic speed!"
"Yay!" said Tails. He sobered quickly though and said, "But Sonic...I'm gonna miss you."
"I'm gonna miss you too," said Sonic. "But this this is something I have to do."
Sonic picked up Tails and gave him a big hug and he knew Tails was trying not to cry.
"I'll be back soon," he promised. "I won't be gone long. It'll be okay."
He put Tails down and rubbed his head. "See ya kiddo," he said.
"Bye Sonic," said Tails, and he sat down on the front steps to watch Sonic leave. Sonic felt really bad about leaving his little brother with people he didn't know, but he had to stop the eggman before he turned more animals into robots. If he didn't stop him maybe he would catch Tails one day!
Sonic did NOT want that to happen.
Now where had the eggman been going
Exactly one week later Sonic returned to Emerald Hill, wondering how on Mobius a little hedgehog like him had gone from a lonely, forgotten kid to a hero in just seven days. He did wonder where those strange gems had gone off to, but at least the eggman didn't have them. That would have been bad. He didn't know what they were for, but if the eggman wanted them he had to stop him from getting them.
He stopped in the forest where the animals were, wanting very badly to see Tails but worried that he was late for his whatever-it-was.
When he stopped in the middle of the forest he almost fell down.
There was a red biplane sitting there.
It had his name on it.
"Wh what is this?" he asked.
"It's your present!" said the squirrel.
"You're giving me an airplane?"
"What else are we supposed to give you? You can already run super fast! You don't even need it! But we found it in the forest, I guess someone crashed it, and we fixed it up and repainted it for you! Do you like it?"
"Well yeah " said Sonic. "It's way past cool!"
"YAY!" said the little animals, and they started running around cheering and calling Sonic's name. Sonic wasn't used to such things and felt a little embarrassed, but he started feeling proud of himself and that made it okay. He had stopped the eggman from roboticizing Mobius after all.
He thanked them and promised to visit, but left the plane there. He didn't really have anywhere to put it at home.
Now time to see Tails!
He went to his pen pal's place and she was home this time, but she told him she had had to send him back home.
"He didn't get along well with the other kids," she said. "I go to see him, though but he was kind of better off staying by himself "
He thanked her and said he'd write soon.
He ran back home as fast as he could (and he was pretty darn fast by now) and burst through the front door.
Tails was sitting on the floor with a pair of scissors.
He was trying to cut one of his tails off.
Sonic snatched the scissors out of his hand and hit him. "What do you think you're doing?" he yelled. "What sort of a stupid idea is this?"
"Give 'em back!" Tails cried. "I need 'em!"
"Don't be an idiot! Why're you tryin' to cut your tail off, huh?"
"You wouldn't understand!" said Tails, and Sonic noticed he was actually crying really hard. "I HAVE to cut it off!"
"Don't listen to that doctor," said Sonic. "He didn't know what he was talking about."
"Everyone else does!"
"All the kids are laughin' at me an' teasin' me and callin' me names an' it's all 'cause I'm a two-tailed freak! Now gimme those!"
The words went straight into Sonic's heart like a dagger, and he was holding the scissors away from Tails and holding him back with the other hand, two blinks away from crying himself.
Tails was being teased and hurt just like he had been, and Sonic hadn't been around to protect him.
"Tails lookin' like you do don't make you a freak it makes you special."
"I don' wanna be special! I wanna be normal!"
Sonic grabbed his brother's arm and threw the scissors out the front door, which he had left open.
"Lemme go!" said Tails. "You don' understand!"
"Yes I do," said Sonic. "Yes I do."
"How could you know? There's nothin' wrong with you!"
"There's a whole lotta things wrong with me, little buddy," said Sonic quietly. "I ain't perfect."
"Yes you are!"
"No I ain't," said Sonic. "An' I do understand, big guy. People laughed at me an' called me names an' teased me. 'Cause I ain't smart an' I was I was fat an' all that stuff."
"You're the smartest person in the whole wide of the world! An' you ain't fat neither, an' you never was!"
Sonic kind of wished the day wouldn't come when Tails realized he was about a million times smarter than Sonic, but he knew that it would come. But until it did, being the smartest person ever was kind of cool, even if it wasn't true. He still had a hard time believing he wasn't fat though. When you're told something a zillion times it gets kind of hard to ignore.
"Okay, I won' argue with ya," said Sonic. "But don't ever wanna be normal, big guy. Bein' normal is easy. Bein' special is hard. An' what thing that you ever got easy is worth keepin'?"
"But I don' care if it was easy or hard," said Tails. "I jus' don' wanna be teased no more."
"I won't tease you," said Sonic. "Well, I won't mean it, anyways."
"But you're only one person, Sonic! I have to deals with everyones!"
"Do they matter?"
"Do they care about you?"
" no "
"Would they care if they saw you with only one tail?"
"I dunno "
"I don't think so. They'd see just another little fox. But you ain't a fox. You're a kitsune. And you're special. An' if someone doesn't care about you, then you shouldn't care what they think."
"But Sonic it's hard "
"I know big guy I know "
He wrapped Tails in a hug and Tails hugged him back very tight. He hoped Tails could somehow squeeze all the bad feelings away, but he had a feeling he had been affected in a way that would take a long time to heal.
"Hey Sonic, you're right!" said Tails all of a sudden, leaning back.
"'course I am," said Sonic.
"Well, you tried to do the easy thing an' kill yourself, right?"
"Yep," said Sonic, his mind now on the cuts on his hands.
"Well, I saved ya din' I?"
"You sure did," said Sonic, knowing Tails had no idea what had happened.
"But you din' kill yourself again! You started doin' the hard thing, an' now nobody has to be a robot right Sonic?"
"Right, Tails," said Sonic, trying to make sense of his two-year-old logic. He thought he almost understood but couldn't quite get it.
"Hey, I got somethin' for ya," said Sonic. "Oh, and Tails?"
"Sorry I yelled and hit you," said Sonic. "I was I just didn't know what to do when I saw you doin' that. Don't you know that if you cut off one of your tails you'll die?"
"You gots your spirit in there," said Sonic. "That's what makes you a kitsune, silly."
"Oh," said Tails. "That's kinda scary. I din't wanna die, Sonic."
"Well well, come to me if you do," said Sonic, not wanting to suggest anything to the impressionable child but wanting Tails to know that he could tell Sonic ANYTHING.
"I will!" said Tails, and he grabbed Sonic's hand.
Sonic took him up the hill and showed him the plane.
"Oh my gosh!" said Tails. "A real live airplane! Can I touch it?"
"Sure," said Sonic.
"It's got your name on it," said Tails, running his little hand over the body.
"The animals gave it to me for saving them," he said.
"Cool present bro!" said Tails. "I wanna sit in it, can I?"
"'course you can," said Sonic, and Tails scrambled over the side and into the cockpit.
"Oh, this is SO COOL!" said Tails, jumping up and down. "I never thought I'd see a true plane ever in my life!"
"It's yours," said Sonic.
Tails stopped jumping and looked over the side at Sonic.
"It's yours," repeated Sonic.
"But I din't save the amimals. You did."
"So?" said Sonic. "They gave it to me. I'm giving it to you. I can pick what to do with it."
Tails jumped out of the plane and ran over and gave Sonic a hug, and he was crying and laughing and thanking Sonic for the "super 'mazin'" present, and Sonic was laughing too and telling him it was no probs, he deserved it.
"Can we drive it? Please?" said Tails.
"Do you know how to fly a plane?"
"Duh," said Tails. "I din't read all them plane books and learn nothin' you know."
Sonic laughed, and even though it wasn't that funny he couldn't stop, it just felt so nice to be so happy for a change. Of course Tails didn't want to be left out so he started laughing too, and they were both just standing there laughing and laughing until they were crying and could't breathe.
Eventually Sonic calmed down and wiped the tears out of his eyes, for once out of happiness instead of misery, and he jumped onto the wing of the plane. His legs were super strong now from all of the running he did catching Dr. Robotnik.
"Oh boy oh boy!" said Tails.
"Let's speed, keed!" said Sonic.
Tails did indeed know how to fly the plane and was soon flying it like he had been born to. Sonic just stood there on the wing, savouring the feeling of freedom that standing in the sky gave him. "Sonic Sonic Sonic," said Tails.
"Can I come with you next time? Please? Promise I won't get in the way!"
"If there is a next time " maybe."
"Betcha ya can't run faster than I can fly this plane," said Tails.
"Bet I can," said Sonic.
"Nuh-uh," said Tails.
"Yeah-huh," said Sonic.
"'kay, I'll land it and we can have a race," said Tails.
"Nah, I'll do it my way," said Sonic, and he jumped off the plane and hit the ground running.