Welcome to the Midquel! There is nothing her that really affects the entire story arc of the Third Eye series, but there are a few details that will be used and referenced later on, so... yeah. Anyway, here's the obligatory disclaimer:

I DON'T OWN ANYTHING I DON'T OWN. SEGA OWNS THAT.

Okeeday. Now, I bid thee enjoy.


The Midquel

Part I:

Birthday Preparations

"Hurry up, guys! I want everything to be perfect for when my Sonikku arrives!"

The Mystic Ruins was bursting with energy, almost all of it forced. In fact, to an innocent bystander, the pink figure who watched over the entire operation from the shade on the hill seemed almost like some ruthless owner of a Southern plantation, sipping lemonade and pressuring the slaves toiling in the sun below.

"Miss Amy!" A small Mobian rabbit came jogging quickly up the hill, her chao trailing not far behind and giving the occasional exclamation as they went. As it just so happens, she was also trailing about a foot of red crepe paper from one gloved fist.

"Yes, Cream?" Amy said before noticing the paper. Once she did, however, her jade eyes narrowed and her hand habitually reached into her dress pocket to grasp the currently unexpanded hammer within. "And what is that?"

The young rabbit cupped her hands and held the decoration out innocently. "This is the last of the party streamers. We're all out!" "Chao chao!" Amy could feel the frustration welling up inside her, and she had to almost physically push away the red mist beginning to cloud her vision. "I meant," she growled, "what is that colour?"

Both bunny and chao cocked their heads confusedly. "What do you mean, Miss Amy? This streamer is red..." Cream looked down at the material in question, furrowing her brow as if she wasn't sure anymore what colour it was. "Who was in charge of the shopping?" Amy's left fist clenched at her side as its counterpart struggled not to push the pink button that would expand her hammer. "I believe it was Mister Shadow who..."

Before the words had fully escaped from Cream's lips, Amy stormed down the hill, ignoring the heat from the sunlight and frantically scanning over the preparations. She stomped to a halt behind a two-tailed fox who was currently struggling with, (and miraculously managing not to spill), a large punch bowl. "Where is Shadow?" Tails turned at the venomous voice behind him, the artificially blue liquid in the bowl sloshing dangerously as he did so. "Shadow?" he said, muffled from behind the glass against his face. "I think I saw him over by the food..."

Amy left the kit and stamped to the snacks, ripping a length of red crepe paper off the gift table as she went. The small buffet, she saw as she arrived, was devoid not only of Shadow, but also of a certain decoration. "The ice sculpture," she said angrily to no one in particular. "where is my Sonikku's ice sculpture?"

Amy's head was buzzing, and she almost lashed out blindly when a voice spoke behind her. "I believe we agreed that it was too expensive. Especially for something that would melt in ten minutes with this heat." She spun around wildly and came face to face with Espio, his face perfectly neutral and unfazed. She leaned forward threateningly. "What do you mean 'too expensive'? Nothing is 'too expensive' for my Sonikku!"

Suddenly, there was a loud *bang* off to the left, followed by arguing. Amy slowly turned her head toward the sound to see the other two members of the Chaotix detective agency, one of which, a small bee, hovered a few feet above the ground with a bag of balloons while the other, a large crocodile, yelled at him for just having popped one. The hedgehog couldn't help but notice that the balloons were a deep shade of red. She shook with pent up frustration; Espio took a step back.

"WHERE IS SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG!?"

Silence. More silence Unbearable silence. "Oh, for Chaos sake SAY SOMETHING!" she yelled exasperatedly. More silence.


"Happy Birthday, Shadow!" The addressed black hedgehog looked down confusedly at the object in his friend's hands, wondering what her strange greeting meant. "What?" he asked quietly, not sure if he was meant to take the bundle of laboratory papers and tape before him. The girl who had spoken widened her eyes and looked over at her grandfather, who stood in the lab's doorway. "You didn't tell him?" Gerald suddenly seemed embarrassed.

"Well," Maria said, brushing a strand of golden hair out of her eyes. "Shadow, today is your birthday. One year ago today was the day you were born!"

Shadow smiled lightly as he recalled his first birthday. He remembered his confusion at the entire ritual; especially the idea of presents. His gift, (the earlier version of his current hoverskates, considerably heavier and bulkier,) was appreciated, but he never understood why living for another measurement of human time was a reason to receive material goods. As he ended up telling himself, however, (and he did this for every holiday they unorthodoxly celebrated aboard the ARK), if Maria thought it was important, then it probably was.

It was June 23rd, Sonic's birthday. The two hedgehogs had been together since the rather tremulous events late last fall, and, by the hero's request, it had remained a secret. Sure, Blaze knew, but she lived in another dimension, so it wasn't like she was a liability. Anyway, despite his lack of understanding about presents, Shadow knew, (and felt), that he should get a gift for his boyfriend. He had kept an eye out for something he was out doing the forced shopping for Amy's party, but nothing had seemed quite right.

Now, his hoverskates echoing in the emptiness of Club Rouge, he was going to resort to asking for advice. He was also going to hope that he could create something convincing enough to satiate her curiosity.

Shadow went up the stairs in the back and opened Rouge's apartment door, walking in without bothering to say anything. He let the door close loudly behind him. A few moments later, the jewel thief appeared from around the corner. She had an amused look on her face, (as opposed to 'why the hell are you in my apartment'), as she pulled on one of her white gloves. "Don't you believe in knocking, hon?" Shadow leaned on the nearby wall and crossed his arms. "You know I despise hypocrites." Rouge raised an eye ridge. "Touche."

There were a few moments of silence as the bat fished through a nearby jewelry box. "I'm going to assume you're here for a reason?" She picked out a silver ring with a single transparent colourless stone set in the top and slipped it onto the middle finger of her left hand. Shadow hesitated before he said anything, nervous of what Rouge's response would be. "It's about Sonic." She smirked and admired the gem on her hand, apparently unfazed by her friend's statement. "Relationship troubles?"

Shadow forced a snarl, hoping that it was convincing, and that she was joking. "What?" Rouge looked up from the ring and narrowed her icy-blue eyes. "I think it's really cute that you're keeping it a secret, but you can drop the charade now. I try to keep my gossip harmless." He lowered the harsh exterior somewhat, but kept the hardness in his glare. "What? What are you getting at, Rouge?" The addressed bat smiled a little. "You know," she said, "I like to think of myself as a relationship expert, and even if you both didn't practically bleed rainbows I think it would be hard to miss."

The black hedgehog unfolded his arms and made his hands into fists at his sides. "I do not," he said through clenched teeth, "bleed rainbows." Almost drowning in the venom from his voice, Rouge put her hands out both comically and defensively. "Whoa, tiger!" she chuckled. "Let's get back to the matter at hand. What about Sonic?" Shadow re-crossed his arms and glared coldly at the floor. "It's about a present."

"Ah..." she smiled, "I get it. Don't say another word. This all starts on Christmas of last year, when you didn't get a single present for anyone. You could tell Sonic was disappointed, so you decided to make up for it by getting him something extra special for his birthday. Also, you feel like, because you're together, it has to be gift that surpasses all others. Am I getting warm?" He didn't say it, but she was pretty much spot on the entire time. He turned away and gave a light 'hmph'. "Well," she continued, "if it were me, I'd say to get me the Master Emerald, (or its stubborn guardian), but since this is Bluey we're talking about, I think this may call for something a little...different."