Chapter 11: Conquer the Fear of Water

"Achoo!" the lavender cat sneezed before shivering as she hugged herself, trying to get the towel to wrap around her body for more heat. "Ugh…I hope we're never doing that again…"

Amy didn't seem to hear and squealed, "That was so pretty! Those mountains were almost like, towering over us, and then we were actually in the clouds! And then, and then, and then…!"

"Ugh, are you kidding me?" Rouge cut in, "I've seen that all over the place, and it was freezing." She and Blaze locked eyes for a moment and they shook their heads in disapproval, agreeing that going to that event was stupid.

Tails cleared his throat and raised his eyebrows at the girls. "I know. However, as I said earlier today, going to the rotenburo tonight to relax ourselves would help us feel better by tomorrow. So let's stop complaining and head upstairs to get ready."

"I have a feeling blue 'hog here's gonna have a hard time staying in there," Silver teased, which had earned him a glare and a growl.

XXX

So women and men each get a different section of the rotenburo, separated by rooms? Sonic was fine by that. He personally wasn't ready to see so much feminine anatomy…

Sonic clenched and unclenched his fist and hesitantly went in the changing room. A burst of warm air hit him and he shuddered as he stepped further into the room.

In there, were stacks of pale blue lockers. Since he didn't have a key, he walked over to a shelf and copied what everyone else was doing: taking off their clothes.

Thank Chaos they were all men…but all those rows of butts weren't exactly comfortable to see, either. Just be glad it's not…that, he thought.

Forcing himself to ignore those shiny buttocks, he quickly took off his gloves and socks, shoving it onto the shelf and turned around to start walking towards the rotenburo. And in front of him was a nice back view of someone dark furred, his head quills curling up, tail sticking straight out…really nice curves, too, really.

"I thought there were no girls allowed in here…?" muttered Sonic, trying to avert his eyes from the hedgehog, he supposed, in front of him, but in vain. It was only when he saw red stripes on the hedgehog's arms and legs that he realized…

…Nah. It couldn't be. Right?

Feeling incredibly stalkerish, Sonic walked past the familiar-looking hedgehog. In the seconds he was passing by, he glanced sideways…and then back tracked.

The azure speedster grinned, trying to cover up and throw away his earlier thoughts. "Whaddaya know, the slowpoke faker is here!" He snickered at his remark while the other blinked in slight surprise before raising an eyebrow and crossing his arms.

"You don't seem to be any faster, though, hmm?" Gloveless black fingers pushed open the see-through screen door as Sonic crashed into the other door with a yelp, and grabbed his nose. "So why are you holding your nose, hero? Hit it by accident? Need some help?" Shadow snickered.

Sonic glared and rolled his eyes. "That never happened."

They both headed towards the showering section, where there were rows small stools in front of shower heads and a bucket on a long counter. Shampoo and body soap sat on the counters as well. Bare feet hit the slippery tiled floor, splashed with water.

Being the mischievous hedgehog Sonic is, of course he would push the Fill button and fill up his bucket before dumping it on his darker companion.

Accepting the silent challenge, the one dripping wet growled and pushed the Shower button and grabbed the shower head, spewing strings of water in the other's face.

The two stopped, one was fuming and the other was still recovering from his panic attack, realizing that they were attracting attention. "You know what the outcome is if you ever try something like that again," seethed Shadow.

It was Shadow who stopped Sonic from screaming 'CANON BALL' and tossing himself in the water. Yet again, he'd saved the hero's butt and his ego, as well as a speech in Japanese or bad English about 'no jump water! Rules forbidden. No do it again, okeh?'

"Party-pooper," he grumbled before sitting down on the edge of the rotenburo and dipping his feet in the warm water. A shiver traveled up his spine and he was already feeling better. In no time at all, he slipped both his legs into the water, supporting the rest of his upper body above the water with his arms, hanging onto the ledge.

Shadow sat down as well, before pushing himself off the ledge and disappearing under the water's surface. He bopped up again and wiped the water from his eyes, turning to Sonic. "Come on, it's not bad."

Still a bit unsure, Sonic gripped onto the ledge a while longer before lowering himself so the water met his chest. By that time, he'd let go of the ledge, preparing to grab it again if he fell straight down the rotenburo…But right at that moment, his feet reached the bottom, and he blinked dumbly. "Ooookay then…" he murmured, realizing how stupid he must've looked.

He heard a kid laughing, and he looked over to the source of the sound. The kid was pointing at him, tugging at, what seemed to be, his father's arm.

But hey, he was hydrophobic. It was pretty good he'd made it this far without jumping out and running away as far as he could from the water and screaming his lungs out. Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration…but still.

He shook his head and resisted the urge to blow raspberries at the kid.

Green eyes closed, and he mumbled nothingness with content. It really was nice…He almost didn't want to open them again. He lowered his head even lower, feeling the warmness tickling under his nose. Mm…

But when he did open them again, he saw Shadow over at the edge of the rotenburo with his eyes half lidded, water all the way up his muzzle. His ears were still twitching to get some water off, as a water droplet dripped off his nose. His fur was matted down.

"We should come here more often," he murmured, red eyes slowly going up to meet with green ones. "Especially after that cold weather up there…"

Sonic only nodded. Ugh, this was awesome…All the tension in his muscles escaped and flowed out into the warm water, escaping to wonderland, never to come back…Well, that's what it seemed like to the blue spikeball. He was like a pile of blue putty in the water right now.

But speaking of the tension going to wonderland, that's where his mind looked like it had flown to, too. Because, seriously, those red eyes were starting to look like real rubies with that dark core in the middle…And then those ears are so, so fluffy…

Quickly feeling warmer and warmer, Sonic's vision got hazy and it got harder to breathe. It was only when the familiar childish ring of his friend that snapped him out of it. "Sonic! Shadow! How do you like the rotenburo so far?"

Sonic stood up and gulped in the air filled with oxygen, instead of running on the stuffy air near the surface of the water. "Oh hey, Tails. It's really nice actually. Go shower over there real quick, then you can join us! Where's Silver?"

And everything was basically just small talk after that.

You know, except for Shadow constantly staring at his doppelganger from afar. Maybe his mind flew elsewhere, too?

Ugh, I'm on a roll. I updated this as well!