When you're a kid, you don't think it'll happen to you.
They tell you it doesn't last, that you grow apart eventually. That the friendships we form when we are young only last until the ones we befriended no longer have what we once needed.
We didn't believe that.
'Friendship never ends', and all that.
How could we believe that?
We kicked supervillain ass together. Died together. Came back to life. Lied for each other and sacrificed for each other and were there for each other, no matter what.
I blame Sonic.
And it really was his fault. Sort of. I know he couldn't help it, but he broke first.
We could tell he didn't want to stick around any more. It had all become routine. Kick robot ass, talk some smack with Eggman, rinse and repeat. None of it was fun for him anymore, which is the only reason he did it in the first place. Because it was fun, because it was exciting. He got to say all the heroic catchphrases and trade barbs with a mad scientist. I guess one day he ran out of smart remarks.
We would hang out all the time, like friends do, but he started to die inside after a while. A little bit more and a little bit more every day, until he stopped talking and was barely present even though he was there with us. Tails said he might be getting depressed. Said he no longer ate or slept or even ran, just sat in the living room staring at the wall. If he was asked to do something he would do it, but automatically, with none of the flair and panache he used to give to even the simplest of things, like doing the dishes. Hanging out with Sonic was like hanging out with a washing machine. And the washing machine would have responded more than he did. So eventually we stopped asking. Eventually we started meeting up less and less.
One day he just left.
Tails called me and told me that Sonic had moved from the living room to the front porch. He was pretty excited. "If Sonic's gonna run," he said, "then everything's gonna be alright."
But he just sat there, through the day and into the night.
By morning he was gone.
We didn't bother going after him. We couldn't have caught him and we didn't know where he was going. And we both knew that the real Sonic had left a long time ago, way back when the rest of him was sitting in the living room.
Tails was devastated. Sonic was his big brother, his role model, his mentor, and his best friend. When he left he should have taken Tails. He kind of had anyway.
Tails changed completely after that.
He moved out of the house he and Sonic had been living in and went to live with his dad. He stopped building planes and robots and whatever else he thought up to put together and sold all of his patents to high-tech, high-profile companies.
He had sworn never to do that. He had the view that it was equivalent to intellectual prostitution, to sell this technology to companies that would own it exclusively and charge through the roof for it. He had wanted to release his technology to the world, for everyone to use. He put away anything that had to do with their friendship, including photographs and mementos, and changed his name back to Miles. He was trying to forget Sonic completely, as Sonic had forgotten him completely.
He stopped calling me soon after that, and didn't call me back when I tried to reach him. So our friendship had gone into the wind with Sonic. I guess none of us realized how much Sonic held us together until then.
Sonic has not tried to contact us.
Until now I hadn't realized how dull and lonely my job was. Eggman's kind of on the lam for now, we don't know why. But we thought it had something to do with Sonic. So guarding the Emerald is damn boring. No one tries to steal it. No one but me's been here for a few years now, except for Sonic and Tails a few times. When I was a kid it was a big, dangerous job I was special enough to do. Now I do my training exercises and watch the Emerald and almost wish for someone to try to steal it, so that this damn boredom can be interrupted for a while.
My life is kind of pathetic nowadays, actually.
So when I hear the phone ring this morning I'm very sadly excited. Maybe something's actually going to happen for once.
"Knuckles, I need you to do something for me, please."
"Sure, what's up?" I ask.
"I…I need you to find Sonic."
I hate Sonic for what he did to Tails. I do understand why he did it, but it wasn't fair to leave him behind like that, to just take off without saying goodbye. He tore the kid's world apart.
"Knuckles, it's…it's an emergency."
"Why don't you do it? You've got the plane." The plane he built for Sonic. "Besides, you know him best."
"No, I don't have the plane. I sold it. And if I knew him that well I would already know where he is. And I don't."
He sold the Tornado?
I realize just how deep his hurt runs. He was so upset by Sonic leaving that he tried to cut Sonic completely out of his life to deal with it.
I never thought he would sell his first plane.
I forgot I was on the phone for a minute. "Yeah?"
"I'm sorry, but…I really need him right now. I know you don't like what he did…I'm not asking you to be friends again. I just need you to get him to come here for a while. You don't have to see him or anything. It's me. I…I can't do this without him."
"It's my dad, Knuckles…he's sick, really sick. He…he could die, Knuckles, and I…I really need Sonic, Knuckles. Please."
I just stand there and stare at the phone.
What did Tails do to deserve this?
First he loses his mom in a car accident, and very nearly loses his dad too. Three months later, he loses Sonic when Sonic…uh…suffers wanderlust, I guess. And now his dad is dying, and he's about to lose him too.
"I'm on my way."