October 30th, 2:00 p.m.
Her face scrunched up, eyes set and determined to the task at hand. A knife poised expertly in her delicate fingers raised and came crashing down, hitting her target: a round, bright orange pumpkin. She cut around the stem in a round circle, tongue slipping out of her mouth with concentration.
"What did that pumpkin ever do to you?" Sonic teased, his own pumpkin placed in front of his legs, carving tool in hand.
"Pumpkin carving is no joke," she stated in a serious manner, though a smile touched her lips. "You've got to have precision or else you'll lose your canvas and have to start over. You can't rush; it requires patience."
"Doesn't sound like much fun," he said in an indifferent tone, copying her movements.
She laughed into the crisp autumn air. "The fun part is coming up with what you want to carve. It can be scary, silly, or whatever you want it to be." She lifted the top that she carved and placed it next to her on the grass.
"Interesting," Sonic grinned, an image coming to mind. "What are you going to carve?"
"It's a secret," she said with a devilish smile. "What's the fun in telling you before you see it? Now, after you take off the lid you carved you have to clean out the insides." She took off her gloves and reached her bare hand in the pumpkin, lifting out orange guts and oval seeds. She made a face as it squished within her fingers.
Before he could stop it, a laugh broke free from his lip-locked cage. "Nice face, Amy!"
"It's gross," she whined, squishing her nose as if it smelled. "This is the worst part of carving. It's slimy." She dumped the handful of pulp into a trash bag seated near them.
Sonic slipped off his gloves and stuck his hand into the pumpkin. Amy was right, the orange guts clung to his fingers, slick to the touch. An idea popped into his mind.
The rosette hedgehog glanced over at him, scooping out the last of the innards of her gourd. Her eyebrows raised in question, mouth set in a smooth line. "What," she smacked her lips, "are you up to? I don't like that glint in your eye, mister. Every time you get that look it means trouble."
"I have no idea what you are talking about," he said, annunciating every syllable with the click of his tongue. "I am doing exactly as you said. I'm cleaning out the pumpkin."
"Mhmm," she hummed in a disbelieving tone. "I'll believe it when I see it, Sonic."
"You know, Amy," he chided, "I am wounded that you wouldn't put your faith in me." He put his hand over his heart, as if physically hurt. "I am an honest hedgehog."
"Yeah, yeah," she said, waving her hand in dismissal as she picked up a carving tool. "You're also a sneaky hog."
"Not sneaky, just fast, which makes people think I'm sneaky."
"Uh-huh," she said, trying her hardest not to smile, which made her cheeks puff out. "I don't quite see the logic there."
"Well, it's there," he insisted, toying with the orange, slimy innards with his fingers. In a flash, the pumpkin pieces were out of his hands and oozing down Amy's back. She let out a shrill shriek. "For example, I don't know how you managed to get pumpkin guts on your back, but you should really be more careful about that."
"SONIC," she seethed, her eyes ablaze as she stared him down. A hammer miraculously appeared in her hands. "You are dead!"
He flung more pumpkin bits at her, head flung back with unceremonious laughter. She swung at them, sending explosions of orange all around them like fireworks. "You'll have to catch me first, pinky!"
A cry bellowed from deep within her chest. A battle cry. She swung her hammer, each time hitting whatever pumpkin ammo he threw her way. Occasionally, she would miss and would get hit, orange staining her dress as it fell in globs. This was not a hindrance. If anything, she swung harder, faster, a determination woven in her posture. He dodged. He ducked. He darted. He was there, but always just out of reach.
Amy was right, pumpkin carving was fun!
"Truce," Amy wheezed after minutes of chasing. She leaned on the handle of her hammer, cheeks rosy with exhaustion. Pumpkin clung to bits of her hair in clumps, which she tried meagerly to pick out with delicate fingers. She whined, "You ruined my new dress."
He strolled over to her, his smile stretching across his face. "But wasn't that fun?"
"I was already having fun," she said as she stuck her tongue out at him. She took her hammer and bonked him in the head. "Meanie."
"I suppose I deserved that," he ruminated, rubbing the spot she had hit. "But it was worth it."
"For you," she teased as she flicked bits of seeds off her stained outfit. "You didn't even get any pumpkin on you. Gross, it's not even coming out of my hair. I'm going to have to go inside and wash up."
"Here, let me help." He inspected her head carefully, fingers weaving through her hair to reach any hidden pieces. She watched him, eyes fluttering close as he continued his work silently. "Your hair is pretty sticky now."
"I wonder whose fault that is."
"Well, technically speaking, it was yours for making me carve pumpkins with you."
She snorted. "Technically speaking, it was you who threw pumpkin at me."
"Ahh," he tittered in retort, "but it was you who managed to get pumpkin guts on your back. After that, I merely added to it."
She thrusted her finger at his chest, staring up at him as she refrained giggles. "Liar."
He picked the last of the orange slime out of her hair, and flicked it at her nose. "Nosy."
Amy squealed, one hand swatting her nose and the other pushing away from him. "Sonic! Stop!"
"I can't help it," he grinned, showing his pearly whites. "Orange is the new pink."
She groaned, wiping her nose. "Now all I can smell is pumpkin. You're impossible. Absolutely impossible."
"But you love me," he said in a sing-song voice.
He had only meant it as a joke, but the weight of his words came crashing down upon them as the wind picked up, leaves whirling about as they deserted their branches. Yellow, brown, orange, and bright, blinding red swirled around them.
"I, um," she stammered, playing with a leaf that had fallen and stuck to her dress. Her voice wavered, "I'm…going to go wash up."
"Amy," he started, reaching out toward her.
"It was a joke," she said with a smile that didn't reach her eyes. "I know that."
"Amy," he said, "I…."
She didn't stop to listen as she swung the door open and bolted inside, leaving him faltering in the breeze. He sighed, plopping down next to his forgotten gourd. "I always do this," he said to the pumpkin, resuming his position with his carving tool. "I don't know why she still hangs out with me." He was pretty sure he knew the answer though, which made his heart pang. "Might as well finish what I started…."
He worked tirelessly on his canvas, brow forward in concentration. Amy said people carved scary or silly things into pumpkin. He thought this would embody both of these things quite nicely. He just wanted to see her smile and hear her laugh again. He didn't want to slip back into this routine again. He wanted to make her happy.
He was so engrossed in his work that he didn't hear Amy walk up behind him. "What," she inquired with laughter bubbling out from behind her hands, "is that?"
He glanced up at her. She had adorned herself with sweatpants and a loose t-shirt that teetered precariously on her shoulder. Her eyes were full of mirth as her body rocked with endless giggles. Water from her quills dripped onto her shoulders. Tears filled the corners of her eyes as she continued her laughing spurt.
"Well," he explained as if it were the simplest thing in the world, "It's Eggman in his underwear. You told me people carve scary and silly things."
"I don't know which one it is!"
"Both?" Sonic suggested.
"Both," she agreed, wiping her eyes as she calmed herself. "Ah man, that's spectacular. Everyone is going to love it."
He stood up and stretched his arms toward the sky, sore from sitting for so long. Her voice carried upon the wind, "I thought you would have left."
He stole a sideways glance at her, "Am I that predictable?"
"Kind of," she admitted, running a hand through her hair. "I'm used to it by now."
He wasn't sure why, but this greatly bothered him. His shoulders collapsed upon themselves. "I don't want to be predictable. I don't want to be someone who always runs away from the unknown."
"What are you talking about?" she asked, tilting her head to the side. "You're the most courageous person I know. You're the first to face the unknown."
He shook his head, placing his hands on her shoulders. "That's not what I mean. I don't mean fighting Eggman. I don't mean that."
"Then…what do you mean?" she requested in a tremulous voice. He could feel her shoulders shaking underneath the palms of his hand. Goosebumps rose on her skin. He dimly realized he was getting pumpkin on her newly clean shoulders.
"I mean," he murmured in a voice that sounded far away, "that I don't know if I can be friends with you anymore."
Her head snapped up, eyes wide with devastation. She sputtered a breathless, "What?"
His forehead rested against hers as he let out a grunt of frustration. "This is harder than I thought…."
"Sonic, what in the world are you talking about that we can't be friends? We were getting along just fine! I even let you get pumpkin on my freaking dress."
"Amy, just shut up."
Amy bristled with irritation. "Don't tell me to—"
Her words caught in his mouth, and they faintly tasted of pumpkin. He savored the flavor of autumn on his tongue as his eyelids fluttered close. The warmth of her breath filled his buzzing body. As he pulled her closer, her scent overpowered him. Lilac and spices filled every inch of him. She sighed softly against him, humming a sweet lullaby of bliss. The cool autumn breeze encompassed them, whistling against their ears.
He broke away, breathless. Her eyes were still closed, lips pursed. Rosy. She slowly opened them, as if awaking from a dream. Her eyes sparkled as she looked up at him. Flecks of emerald scattered in a grassy landscape. Her cheeks were painted floral pink.
"What I mean is," he gulped, rubbing the back of his head, "is not that we can't be friends, but that I don't want to be just friends."
"Are you serious?" she whispered, touching her lips with tantalizing fingertips.
He nodded wordlessly. "I've been fighting this for months now, Amy. I want to finish what I started on that night. So…will you be not friends with me?"
Tears of delight filled her eyes as she smiled up at him, "Yes, Sonic. I agree to not being friends anymore."
He released a breath that he didn't know he had been holding, relief washing through him like the end of a storm. He had been running endlessly for months, and he was tired of it. He wasn't running anymore.
After all, what more did he have to fear?
I want to apologize for how long it took me to update this story. It took me two years to write this chapter. Writers block hit HARD. I think my fingertips literally bled writing this chapter. I wrote, erased, and rewrote so many times until this came to life. I do hope this chapter was worth the wait. I hope it was everything you were waiting for and more. I still have my doubts about it, but at the same time know this is how it was supposed to be. I have the rest of the story planned out, and there are three chapters left. It's very exciting!
As always, feedback is welcome. Thank you to my faithful readers, and to the new ones who decided to check this story out. It is greatly appreciated.