This is sorta the goodbye chappie, or 'see ya later, alligator!' chappie. It could have been left out, but I wanted to slip it in because of the cuteness some of the pairings share between each other!
"Maria!" Shadow called before she could walk too far away. Maria turned her head in his direction, and he made a beckoning motion towards himself, indicating that he wanted to speak with her.
"I'll catch up with you guys later," Maria told Cosmo and Tikal, who nodded before walking in the opposite direction. The blonde hedgehog walked towards her dark friend with her hands clasped in front of her. "What is it, Shadow?"
Shadow took her hand by surprise, pulling her to the side. "Look, I know this is your first adventure and all...and I'm not really good with saying goodbyes, so...uh..."
Maria giggled. "This isn't really goodbye, Shadow. It's more like a...see you later!"
Shadow shrugged, and even smiled a little. "Well...I...wanted to give you this." Maria looked down as he slid something blue and diamond-shaped in her hands, making her gasp.
"Shadow! Is this...?"
"A chaos emerald." Shadow nodded. "I always keep one on me, just in case. And I know that we've only practiced this together a few times, but I think that you're ready for this."
"Wow..." Maria gazed at it, noticing that they were the same color as her eyes. "Thank you..." She looked up at him. "But wait. What about you? I can't take this if you-" Shadow put a finger to his lips, using his free hand to dig in his pocket; Maria saw red, and she automatically knew what it was. "You sneaky little devil." She giggled.
Shadow smiled, a full one this time, but not enough to show his teeth. Then it fell as he inched closer to her. "Be careful, okay?"
Maria leaned up, wrapping her arms around his neck for a snug hug, and he returned her embrace with a sigh; she really hated it that they had to separate from each other, but she knew this was all a part of the hero thing. And she was ready...
Just...not to let go of Shadow.
"Come on, Maria!"
Maria fought back the urge to cry as she pulled back to look at him; while his hands left her hips reluctantly, her hands slid to cup either side of his neck. She opened her mouth to say something, but no sound came out. Instead, thinking that actions spoke louder than words, she leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek quickly. Leaving him befuddled and blushing, she waved as she ran, "Bye, Shadow! I'll miss you!"
Shadow touched the place where Maria had kissed him, feeling a sudden warmth coming from his chest as he went to go join the others.
"Look who got himself a kiss," Rouge joked as he approached her and Charmy.
"Shadow's not the only one!" Charmy pointed out, crossing his arms.
"Just because Cosmo kissed Tails on his cheek and you practically begged for your turn like a five year old, that doesn't mean it counts," Rouge said to him.
Charmy pouted. "So what?" he crossed his arms. "At least she was willing! And she has nice hugs too." He got a dreamy look on his face.
Meanwhile, Tails and Cream were sitting on top of his pod of the Hover Car. They sat across from each other, him playing with her fingers, and their legs swinging back and forth off the edge.
"Well..." Tails began awkwardly. "Cosmo's back."
"She is," Cream replied simply, not meeting his gaze.
"How do you feel about it?"
Cream shrugged. "I am beyond happy that our dear friend has returned. I think it's a miracle."
Tails leaned closer to her, smoothing over the texture of her hand with his thumb. "Cream..."
Cream finally met his gaze, knowing that's what he wanted. "Okay, okay! It's just...I'm a little...nervous."
"Well..." Cream continued timidly and she didn't look at him, "you two have had something...something special back then and...she was your first love...and...I don't know if you...if she..."
Tails softly chuckled, and she met his gaze with alarm. "Cream, no matter what I had felt for Cosmo, that's nothing compared to how I feel about you now. You don't have to worry about anything. I love you, and you're the only one who has my heart."
Cream's eyes shined with emotion, and she smiled. "Really?"
Tails smiled back, his forehead resting against hers now. "Really." He leaned in, and she met him halfway for a kiss.
"Awww," Knuckles crooned, walking up to the Hover Car with Sonic, crossing his arms. "You two are so cute it makes me want to barf."
Sonic chuckled at Tails' annoyed expression.
"You're just jealous because you don't have somebody special in your life," Tails shot back, then caught sight of Rouge. "On second thought...HEY ROUGE!"
Rouge was there in an instant. "What's up?"
"Enlighten us. Tell me-did Knuckles take good care of you after the accident?"
Rouge smirked, her eyes meeting the echidna's gaze; he shook his head hard at her, which made her smile widen.
"Oh did he!" she said. "Even though I was unconscious most of the time, I did hear him..." she inched closer to Knuckles, trailing her fingers up his arm, making his muzzle as red as his dreads. "murmur a few things..."
"Like what?" Sonic wanted to hear this.
"Oh you know..." Rouge leaned closer to where her lips were just about at Knuckles's ear. "All sweet nothings..."
"What did he say?" Cream chimed in as Sonic snickered, completely animated; she loved love. She loved the idea of love!
"Alright, that's it!" Knuckles was mad blushing now. "Rouge, step into my office!"
Before Rouge could comment, he yanked her by the hand and pulled her away from everyone else. They were a good fifty feet away before he stopped walking, dropped her hand, and crossed his arms; they were now in the woods, so it was a good place for some privacy at least.
"I don't like it when you tell all my business," he growled.
"You don't like a lot of things, Knuckie," Rouge replied with a roll of her eyes. "But so what? Is it so wrong for us to love each other?"
Knuckles almost cringed at the words. Stupid Rouge. Stupid caught in the moment. Stupid me. If she hadn't got hurt, then I would've never-!
His thoughts faded as her hands rose and cupped his cheeks, and his eyelids drooped.
"You act like that night never happened..." Rouge tilted her head to the side, observing him.
Knuckles didn't reply, his thoughts backtracking. Sure, he took care of her while she wasn't conscious. Sure, he was in panic and started to think out loud. Sure, he let it slip that he loved her. Sure, she just had to have been listening and woke up. Oh great timing.
And sure, they talked briefly before getting heated in front of the Master Emerald-hey. Let's not get hasty. They didn't do that thank you very much.
"I'm...I...uh..." Knuckles tried to form his thoughts into words, and she waited. "Give me time, okay? Then I'll tell them."
Rouge smiled, leaning up. "That's all I ask."
They locked lips, arms wrapped around each other, and reluctantly let go of each other.
"Team Rose, you're up!" Sonic called out, looking at his watch and sighed. Great, Team Rose was leaving. And that meant that Amy was leaving.
"Hey!" Sally called out, and Amy turned around as the squirrel approached her. "I know we haven't...talked really, but I just wanted to say..." She took a deep breath. "Good luck, girlfriend."
Amy smiled, relieved. "Oh," the two even hugged, "thank you. I wish your team good luck too!"
"Catch ya on the flipside?"
As Amy walked off, Sally felt a hand on her shoulder, and she turned her head.
"That was a very nice thing for you to do," Espio told her with his calm and raspy voice.
"Thanks, Espio," Sally said with the faintest of blushes. "I didn't want her to feel...intimidated by me, you know? But what Sonic and I had is behind us. I prefer having him as a friend." Espio nodded, understanding. "Besides..." She smiled. "I know he likes her."
Tails was hugging Cream, keeping her snug to him.
"Be careful, Miles," Cream murmured against his chest, her arms tightening around his torso.
"You too," Tails murmured back. "We'll see each other soon, I promise. Maybe even earlier than you think. We could see you guys in Grand Metropolis!"
Cream smiled, pulling back to look up at him. "You're right!" She leaned up on her toes and kissed him once more, this one more lingering. "Bye."
"Bye," Tails whispered, and he let her fly away so she could catch up with Amy, who was watching Elise approach Chris.
"Are you going on the adventure as well?" she asked him.
Chris shook his head. "Naahh. I'm sticking behind with Silver and Blaze. We're staying to protect Station Square. I think Sonia, Manic, and Mighty are staying behind too, but that's on personal matters to protect Sonic's mother." Chris got to his feet. "I wish you the best of luck, princess." He held out his hand.
Elise smiled and took it, doing a little courtesy. "You are definately most kind, Christopher. Many young men who have come to court me in the past just wanted me for my wealth. I thank you for your kindness and friendship." She took his face in her hands and kissed him on the left cheek, then the right cheek. "Farewell. And best of luck to you too."
A blushing Chris was smiling wide, watching Elise's retreating back.
"Alright, girls!" Amy said, hands on her hips when they all came full circle. "Ready?"
"Yes!" Cream and Elise said, and with a chorus of "Whoo!" they did a group high-five. Before they could start off for the seaside, however...
Amy whirled around as Sonic jogged up to her.
"We'll wait for you, Amy," Cream said, pulling Elise along and they both tried to fight smiles and failed as they practically ran off to leave Sonic and Amy alone.
"Hey, Sonic! What's going on?" Amy said, arms behind her back and batting her eyes a couple times.
"Well, um..." Sonic gulped. "I, uh...wanted to...say..."
"Good luck?" Amy guessed, and Sonic chuckled.
"Yeah, that too."
"What's the other thing?"
Sonic didn't answer. He started to hold out his arms with a sheepish smile, and Amy-though surprised, she went willingly-stepped forward and accepted his embrace, clutching his back; in response, one of his arms was wrapped around the back of her shoulders, and the other around the small of her back.
"I'll miss you, Sonic," he heard her say, and his eyes widened a little; his heart fluttered inside his chest.
"I know." He pulled back and she released him. "I'll miss you too. Be careful, Ames."
Amy looked like she wanted to say something, but there was no success; she almost looked sad.
"Hey." Sonic gently elbowed her. "If you see Eggman, be sure to give him a good whack in the head for me."
His method worked, because her face cleared out and she giggled.
"Oh don't worry, I won't hesitate!" she said, and Sonic laughed with her. With some of her old self coming to the surface, she said, "I'll see you soon, Sonniku!" and she kissed him on the cheek. Before he could do anything, she ran off, heading up the hill, and left the blushing and stammering hedgehog standing there.
And, much like Shadow had done, he touched the place where she had kissed him.