A/N: And now we come down to the last chapter!
Sword: Ooo, I hope it has a happy ending!
Pen: I feel very betrayed. You promised me a dark story. Peh.
Sword: Whiner. Tails, Cosmo, Cream, and all Sonic related material belong to Sega. Me, Pen, and the story belong to the author. This one was inspired by a few songs, but the one that inspired it first was "Already Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. Also, thanks to KaylaMicael, ultimateCCC, Mew Aqua Spirit, SonicTails, Exploder, Guest, and NyanRainbowPrincess for their reviews! Let's go!
Chapter 3- Finding Love
Ding! Cosmo. Ding! Tails sat up in bed. He was home. It had all been a dream. A dream. That's right, he thought.
"It is currently seven thirty A.M.," his alarm clock droned. He pushed the screen aside and hopped out of bed. "Today's weather is sunny. Chance of rain: ten percent. High of seventy-seven degrees."
Tails climbed downstairs in time to witness his machine making breakfast. Today it was set to cook pancakes and eggs. The baking mix slid along a zipline from the pantry. When it was positioned over a bowl, it was tilted over by a metal beam. The refrigerator opened, popping out a dozen eggs. A few were caught by a catcher's mitt above the bowl. Robotic claws retrieved the eggs, cracked them on the counter, poured the yolk in the bowl, and deposited the shells neatly in the trash. A tube connected to the milk carton in the fridge drained the last of the milk as more claws added a few other ingredients.
"Please replace: milk," a computerized voice said as Tails threw away the empty carton. The beater fell into the bowl and whipped up the mix. Meanwhile, the other eggs that had been tossed were cracked into a skillet on the stove. A spatula, dangling from the ceiling, lowered and pushed the eggs around. A hand added a dash of salt, then served Tails orange juice as he sat at the table.
He patiently waited, sipping his drink as his meal was cooked. He returned to the dream, dwelling on Cosmo's words. Especially what he had promised to do. Find love. It truly was always easier to say something than it was to do it. Now that he had left the comfort of that dream, he did not know if he could go through with her request.
That sort of thing did not happen right away. Nobody could expect him to immediately jump into anything so advanced and serious. After all, it had been a dream, right? That Cosmo had not been the real Cosmo.
It sure sounded like her. Cosmo or not, it had all her qualities. She had certainly acted like the Cosmo he knew. So maybe it was truly her. Maybe that was what she would want. In which case, he had to keep his promise. I have to do it for her. He could almost hear Cosmo scolding him, reminding him to do it for Cream and himself.
But how could he simply walk up to Cream and strike up a relationship? Surely things like this took time. However, he knew a spark had already been kindled between Cream and him. Cosmo had not been asking him to start the fire, but build it. Kindle it and stoke it until it blazed like an inferno.
The eggs were delivered to a plate and set in front of Tails. Then the batter from the bowl was poured into the skillet. "Chocolate chips, please," Tails said. A bag of chocolate chips were brought out of the pantry and sprinkled in the sizzling batter. The spatula flipped the pancakes over every now and again. When one had been thoroughly cooked, it was put on Tails' plate with a heaping helping of syrup. Then more batter would be poured in.
Tails ate his food peacefully. He decided he would head to the store after breakfast and pick up some fresh milk. However, his meal was interrupted by the telephone. "Hello," he said, answering it.
"Hey, bud," Sonic said. He talked carefully, as if he were stepping around a trap built by Eggman. "How are you doing?"
"I'm good," Tails said. "What's up?"
Sonic paused, as if unsure how to continue. "Um, I was wondering if you wanted to catch a movie with me and Amy tonight? That new one, about the explorer and all? Figured you'd want to see it. We could also grab some dinner beforehand. Make a night of it."
"Sure, what time?" He could almost see Sonic gawking over the phone.
"Oh, uh, seven?"
"Seven's good. I'll see you then."
"Okay," Sonic said slowly. "See you then."
Tails scarfed down the rest of his breakfast, then quickly showered. He stopped by his memorial on his way out. The flowers were doing well, swaying gently in a cross breeze.
I have to try, he told himself. For Co- Cream and me.
Since the grocery store was nearby, he went there first. He hoped to stave off visiting Cream until he was ready. Ready to do what exactly, he was not sure. Maybe ready to figure out what he should say to her. But when he had replaced his milk, freshened up for his visit, and was on the way to Cream's house, he still had no clue what he should say to her. Hi, Cream. I had a dream about Cosmo and made a promise to her that I would try give you a chance. Would you like to go out? Go on a date? Get married? Yeah, that doesn't sound weird at all, Tails sarcastically thought.
But maybe he should ask her out. Like on a friendly outing for lunch. Nothing special, only a meal. With that plan set in mind, he spun his namesakes, flying the rest of the way to her house. When he knocked on the door, he was a little relieved that Vanilla answered it. "Hello, Tails," she said, her matronly voice soothing his jittery nerves. "What brings you here today?"
"Hello, Miss Vanilla. Is Cream home?" he asked.
She nodded. "She's upstairs in her room."
Tails' heart dropped into the pit of his stomach, which in turn plummeted to his feet. He recalled the scene vividly of Cream alone in her room, on the verge of tears. He quietly thanked Vanilla and climbed the stairs. Each step crashed like the tidal waves of guilt washing over him.
When he knocked on her door, he almost fled. He hoped she was not crying. How could he console her if she was? Especially since he would be the root cause? Tell her I've changed. Tell her everything is okay now. Although that would not relieve her heartache. He groaned. What would he do?
The door cracked open. A solitary, sparkling brown eye peered out. When she saw who it was, Cream opened the door wider. "Tails?" He studied her face. She did not appear to have any tearstains on her cheeks. But her eyes were wet. Was she close to crying? Had that scene in his dream been a glimpse into reality?
"Hey, Cream," he said.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"I'm…" He trailed off. His voice failed him. What was it? He panicked. How could I forget? I remembered it on the way over! All the worry over Cream had shoved everything else from his mind.
"Tails?" She stepped closer to him. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine," he said, the heat rising in his face. "I was just wondering if-if," he said, elongating every word to stall for time. Come on! What was it?
"If?" she prodded.
He suddenly recalled his question. It came flooding out at once, eager to make a showing. "Ifyou'dliketogogetsomethingforlunch?" She stared at him blankly. He cleared his throat, shaking his head. "What I mean is, would you like to go get something for lunch?"
That must have been the magic word, for Cheese popped out of nowhere. He gurgled, rubbing his whining stomach. Cream giggled and nodded. "Sure. You don't mind an extra, do you?"
He smiled. "Not at all."
The trio left together, heading to the city. They settled on a small, outdoors café. The white tables were perfectly shaded from the scorching midday sun by large umbrellas. As they waited for their food- Cheese impatiently pressing his face to the kitchen's windows- Tails stared at Cream. She was gorgeous, he thought. But then he knew that. He knew all about her. Tails knew what he wanted and thanks to his dream, he now knew he could pursue it freely.
But what if she doesn't feel the same? After all, she may have cried alone many a night in her room. Who was to say that his departure yesterday had not sealed this avenue off permanently? I have to try.
"Cream?" He had her attention. He really did enjoy meeting her eyes. So bright, so innocent. There was rarely anything, but kindness and love for friends there. Although like Amy, Cream was not opposed to raising her temper in the right situation. "I'm sorry about yesterday. For running off and all."
"It's alright, Tails," she said, patting his hand. "I understand."
He shook his head. "No, it's not alright. You don't deserve that. You've been, well, amazing." She was gazing at him intently now. He saw the clarity on her face as she realized this was a serious conversation. "Even though I haven't been worth the effort, you've stuck by me. Thank you."
She slid her hand into his. "You're welcome. But Tails, you are worth the effort. Given what happened, anyone would have a hard time." She grinned. "I'm happy you've let me in as much as you have."
He took a deep breath. "But I want to let you in more," he said. He squeezed her hand. "I want to return what you've done. Give you what you want."
"Tails, you don't have to repay me," Cream said, frowning. "What I did was not a pity act. I did it because you are my friend and because I, well," she said, lowering her head. "I love you." The last part was a mumble. He could not blame her. Last time she had said that, he was sure he had shattered her heart.
"I'm not trying to repay you like that," he said. "I honestly want to give you what you want. Because…"
"Because?" Although her creeping grin already told him she knew what he was about to say. The hope in her eyes was unrestrained and she was leaning closer to him.
"Because I've started to feel the same about you," he said. There, he had come out with it. There was no more denying anything. "I'd like to give it a chance. If you still want to that is." He prepared himself, hoping against hope that she would not say she had moved on.
"Of course I do," she said. He exhaled a large breath, completely deflating himself. Cream giggled. "What made you change your mind?"
He thought about explaining his dream to her. But now was not the moment to bring up old flames. Now was about starting anew between Cream and him. So he decided to simply say, "Last night, I had some sense knocked into me. Realized that staying in a slump wasn't doing anyone any good." She nodded, accepting his answer for now as their food arrived. He smiled. If she ever asked for clarification, he would tell her.
They enjoyed their meal, talking idly about what was new in their lives. Tails invited her out to the movie with Sonic and Amy. "Two dates on the same day?" Cream asked, amused.
Tails rubbed his neck. Was this a date? If so, it was pretty nice. "If you want to that is. Think of it as one long, all-day date."
She sipped her drink. "Sure."
Once they finished their meal, they decided to take a walk around town until it was time to meet Sonic and Amy. They mostly window shopped and Tails indulged Cream's choices of clothing stores.
In one particular store window, he caught an image in the mirror. A strange image, one that seemed slightly familiar. He realized it was himself. No longer was there an air of dark depression about him. His fur held a tinge of that gold he used to have when he was younger. His eyes were brighter and for the first instance in the longest time, he was smiling widely.
On the opposite side of the street, he saw a tree, blowing in the wind. Peering out from its trunk was a shadowy figure. One whose hair was like dangling petals and whose dress swayed and flowed in the sunny breeze. It almost seemed to nod approvingly. Tails whipped around, searching, but only saw the tree. He craned his neck out and found his stranger. It was a baby palm tree, supported by wooden pieces as it was growing.
A few leaves broke off from the taller tree. They floated on the wind currents and circled Tails before taking off into the sky. He looked up and picked out a distinct cloud lazily flying overhead. It was in the form of a face that possessed those same hair-like petals as his stranger. He thought he saw a smile forming as it split apart.
"Tails?" Cream asked. He looked down at her. "What is it?" She was watching him questioningly.
He knew that he could do this. He could love again, for himself and for Cream. Definitely for Cream, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "It's nothing." He pecked her cheek, causing her to flush scarlet. She reciprocated his loving gesture and they continued down the sidewalk, grinning and blushing like a couple of mad fools.
A/N: And there you have it. Done.
Sword: Yay for romance!
Pen: I feel cheated. I was promised angst and sadness. Not this working your way through it garbage.
Sword: I'll give you angst! For your pain! En garde!
Well, let us know what you think. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!