A/N: This is a late birthday request from Ember The Flame Guardian.

Sword: Happy late birthday! *throws streamers*

Pen: *brushes off streamers* Let's just get this over with. Silver, Blaze, and all related material belong to Sega. Sword and I belong to the author. Now get on with it.

Sword: Enjoy! And have some cake! *pulls out moldy cake* It's been sitting here for a while…

Friends Only

Silver was nervous. No, scratch that. He had already passed the nervous marker long ago. Nervous was off in the distance. He was in the middle of an area where upset stomachs were the norm, sweat was ever present, and quivering limbs were taken for granted.

No one paid him any attention. They were too busy preparing for the spring festival. Banners and tapestries with the kingdom's colors of purple rimmed with gold were hung around the castle and the outer town. Each one displayed the Founding Tree on the coat of arms front and center. Although if one visited the town square where the Founding Tree was located, they would see that the insignia failed to capture its splendor or great height. The tree was a sight to behold, standing high against the numerous buildings, and brimming with lush vegetation after the many, many years.

It had certainly drawn a crowd of onlookers from the tourists. Yet most had come to participate in the festival. Farmers and vendors from all regions came to sell their inventories, troupes attended to put on shows all day, and games were set-up for both the young and old. All in all, the festival would be packed with activities, and it would all kick off with a grand feast in the castle that everyone was invited to.

Silver thought he must be the only one not brimming with excitement. He certainly was looking forward to the festival. After all, it was one of the highlights of the year. A time when all problems were forgotten and everyone could relax with friends, family, and loved ones.

Usually, Silver attended the festival with various friends, meeting and leaving their company as they did his when they saw an interesting attraction. He wanted this year to be different. He wanted to stick by one person the entire time.

"I think we need a couple right here," someone down the hall said. Silver recognized the voice. It was the exact person he had wanted to talk to. The person at the heart of his desire and fear.

"Yes, Princess." Blaze passed by his corridor. A servant was accompanying her, jotting down everything she said. Neither took note of Silver. He was relieved for that.

Now isn't the best time, he thought. Blaze had looked ragged and worn out. The lilac cat's tail had barely risen above the ground and her golden eyes had been droopy. Few people realized that the festival was hard work to prepare for and took its toll on the princess the most. If a spring festival went off without a hitch, it was only because of Blaze's careful planning. She wanted everyone to have a good time and that meant being an obsessive stickler for detail during the preparations.

Besides, I don't know what to say, he lamented, wandering into a corridor. "Hey Blaze, want to be my date for the festival?" Yeah, right. Silver had considered asking her as a friend. It was a harmless approach unlike his big dreams that threatened to dash him against the jagged rocks of reality.

Yet the problem with attending the spring festival as friends was the final event. People young and old gathered by the Founding Tree to watch a fire display when night fell. Flaming arrows would be shot, streaking across the sky in beautiful patterns and alchemists concocted explosive devices to lob into the air. It ended with the moonlight striking the Blance gem, a jewel as pure as the whitest snow and placed at the center of the Founding Tree where its branches stemmed from. As the moonlight touched the gem, it would shine a brilliant lightshow into the night sky.

To see such a breathtaking sight and to know that love was abound for that season, it was little wonder why most people spent the last part of the festival with a loved one or someone close. Knowing this, Silver kicked the stone floor. If by some chance he could convince Blaze to attend the festival with him as a friend, he would lose her then.

Why am I worrying about that now? I don't have any idea how to ask her to even go with me. He rapped his fist against his forehead. Come on. Think! Begging was out of the question. So was simply asking. He had to persuade Blaze fully. But unlike her, Silver was no politician. He was a soldier, meant to inspire troops, not sway royalty.

Maybe I should just yell and scream like the drill instructors do to their troops, he wryly thought. Eventually, he decided his best course of action would be to ask her out as a friend, promising her a good experience and pleasant company. He meant to fulfill both. He wanted this festival to be memorable for both of them and for Blaze to enjoy herself. She worked herself hard enough as it was managing the kingdom. A much needed break was her reward.

At the dinner seemed like the best place to ask. Dinner it is. Now he needed a nice suit for the occasion.

Preparing for the festival was always exhausting. Every single detail had to be checked, re-checked, and checked once more that it was correct. Blaze had spent all week pouring over the aspects for the final time. She had eaten little, usually while looking over the festival preparations. She had gone to sleep late and awoken early. It was necessary if she hoped to make the festival a success while taking care of her normal duties.

But as to whether it was a spectacle that all would enjoy would be left up to the people's opinion. She had surveyed the town on a regular basis from the parapets and towers, as she did now. So far, there was a lot of hustle and bustle below and people appeared to be enjoying themselves as the festival neared. She took that as a good sign and allowed herself to relax for a spell in the cool cross breeze that had built up.

She was not particularly looking forward to the feast. Every year, her dinner was filled by the same suitors approaching her to offer a date for the festival. She had accepted a few times and those instances had been pleasant, but nothing more. However, often the suitors proved to be of no interest to her. They still came every year, never failing to try. Blaze did admire their persistence.

If she was honest, she wished others would try. But her position frightened off anyone not of noble blood. Perhaps they assume I won't even consider it. That could not be further from the truth. She relished an opportunity for someone new to come before her. If only because there was one certain white hedgehog she had in mind. Silver.

Silver and her had spent time together sometimes at the past festivals. But being a princess, she had the duty to attend the festival and keep herself available until some suitor came to her. Yet that was not what held Blaze back from asking Silver to accompany her this year.

No, she was unsure if Silver wanted to come with her as her date to the festival. He had been hiding out from her all week. Though to be fair, I have been very busy, she thought. Still, she had the impression he was avoiding her for some reason. Did he anticipate her asking him, thinking she might rope him into staving off her suitors?

Maybe he already has a date. Silver was very handsome. That was obvious to her. He was strong, well-built, and his bright, sun-filled eyes could always capture her attention. When things looked dark, those shimmering orbs broke the despair and renewed her strength. She relied on him as a friend and confidant, but longed to meet his gaze on a different plane, like the couple by the gate, who kissed and embraced one another while she watched.

All too soon, it came time for her to attend the feast. She traded her informal purple and white outfit for one of her less stifling dresses. Its hem dragged on the ground when she walked, nearly tripping her. "How do they expect anyone to walk in these things?" She cinched the blue gown, cursing its uselessness, and fit her crown on her head. Then she walked to the dining hall.

The cooks had certainly outdone themselves. The tables were laden with turkeys, hams, fish, buttered bread, fruits dipped in chocolate and sugar, puddings, and enough food for everyone to eat and take leftovers home. All had taken their seats and chatted with one another. People socialized with friends and strangers from near and far. Banners were draped on the spotless tables and hung from on high. The flames in the candelabras above danced merrily to everyone's enthusiastic chatter. The people were certainly excited for the festival to begin.

When Blaze entered, everyone stood up and bowed, some addressing her as "Your Highness." She took the reserved chair at the front center table. Blaze opened up her arms and gestured to everyone to be seated. "Thank you. And welcome everyone. It's an honor and pleasure to for everyone to be here once again for this special occasion. I think I even see more here than last year."

"We heard it's a party not to be missed!" someone shouted from a table far off. A few whistles and laughter followed.

Blaze smiled. "Well, we'll certainly try to live up to that title. Can't have anyone here thinking we don't throw the best celebrations." Some clapped and cheered her on. "I only ask that you show the same respect to anyone here that you would show to me. With that said, tonight, let us dine. For tomorrow, we celebrate the festival!"

There was resounding applause to her speech. People began to dig into the food, with some parents slapping their children for not saying Grace. The chatter grew to a dull roar. As Blaze sat down to eat, she looked around at those closest to her. There were her advisors complimenting her on her speech, her personal attendants, and her select bodyguards. But one chair next to her was empty.

Where's Silver?

Silver had heard the speech near the back. He had not wanted to interrupt her by taking a seat during it, but now that the feast was in full-swing, he found his legs would not move. Hurry! Blaze is waiting! It was difficult to make his feet budge.

People were beginning to stare at him. He tugged at his dress shirt. It felt very hot. He slowly started to walk to the head table, earning hushed laughter. He glanced at his shirt. Is something wrong with it? Not the right kind of purple? It was tight across the chest, crushing his lungs as he neared Blaze. His especially furry chest hair poofed out of the top, ticking his chin with its bristles.

Already there were a line of suitors standing beside Blaze. She was politely talking with one, but Silver recognized the disinterest in her eyes. It was the feigned expression that she showed to her attendants when they laid out a plethora of outfits for her- she would nod graciously, sincerely appreciating their work in choosing dresses, but stick to her normal attire. It was no different as the suitor offered his company for the festival.

Silver quickly approached and took his seat. "I think I speak for all of us here when I say we cannot take our gaze off your beauty," the suitor said.

"Thank you very much," Blaze said as the suitor kissed her hand. "I shall certainly consider your offer."

He patiently waited while she went through each suitor, knowing that she would tell all of them that she would consider their offer. When she finished, she gave Silver a look that demanded to know "Where have you been?"

He shrugged sheepishly, essentially telling her that he "Got caught up."

She grumbled and he picked up the "I've been dying for someone to talk to." in her tone.

He leaned over to her. "So, have you decided on anyone yet?" He crossed his fingers under the table.

"I guess one or two seem alright. But I don't really care to go with either," she said. He turned away, letting out a sigh of relief. "What about you? Find some lucky girl to go with?"

If this works, I'll actually be the lucky one, he thought. "No, not yet." Did she suddenly look a little more relaxed? "Actually, do you mind if I ask you something?"

She shook her head and dipped her spoon in a bowl of pudding. "Go ahead." She watched him closely.

"Well, I don't have anyone to go with and you don't really want to go with those guys," he started. Boy, it's really hot in here. Stupid shirt.

"What's your point?" Her spoon was halfway to her mouth and her eyes had him pegged like cornered prey.

"Right, my point. My point is why don't you and I go together? We could have a good time." Her hand started to drop. "As friends," he quickly added. "A date as friends. Just friends. Friends only, together out on a date. Friends. You and I." He lamely pointed back and forth between them. "Friend date."

"Oh," she said, setting down the spoon.

He frowned. He could not bear to look at her downcast eyes. Great. She's disappointed. She's trying to let me down easy. Here it comes.

"Sure. I'd love to."

She would love to? She would love to! Silver excitedly faced her, all smiles. "Really?" Blaze nodded and he could have done cartwheels around the room. The best part was that she said she would "love to". Blaze would love to spend time with him. Silver knew they were friends, but he was still overjoyed that she valued his company so much.

Maybe it can lead to more later, he thought. Then he shook his head. Calm down. Be happy with what you have for now. Focus on that. Yet he continued to inwardly jump for joy over her loving to spend the festival with him.

Whenever he finally stopped celebrating and looked at Blaze, he noticed that she appeared disheartened. "Is everything okay?" he asked. Had she agreed so as not to hurt him He did not want to do that to her. Those eyes normally fierce as the sun, empowering others and him especially, cut to his core when she was sad as she was now.

"Yes," she said. She picked up her spoon and finished her pudding.

"Blaze, if you would rather go with someone else, I'll-"

She stopped eating again. "No, no. That's not it at all, Silver. It's nothing. I honestly do want to go with you." She leaned over and whispered in his ear. "Besides, I know I'll have a better time." She subtly jerked her head in the suitors' direction.

He smiled. "Okay then. I'll try and make it the best day you ever had." She copied his grin, but he could see there was something troubling her. Whatever it was, Blaze did not seem like she wanted to discuss it. So Silver resolved that he would do his best to take her mind off her problem and give her a great day tomorrow.

Blaze was awake earlier than usual. Having already acclimated to the rigor of working behind the scenes for the festival, she was not too tired. She dressed for the day in another accursed gown, which matched her fur, and swept downstairs as quickly as she could. The servants were up and early preparing for their day off. She met with her advisors and planners, pouring over the details one last time before the festival kicked off.

Once every minute point had been covered, she climbed up to the ramparts and lingered there, watching the sun rise behind the castle. The great fiery body's many-fingered hand stretched out over the town beyond, shaking the residents from their beds and telling them it was morning. Eventually, the fingers stretched past the wooden buildings and arrived at the Founding Tree, trying to wipe away the darkness from the leaves.

As she watched, Blaze saw the sunlight twist and weave throughout the streets. When it had reached the Founding Tree, combating with the inky blackness, she picked up on five beams of the sun reaching further down the land at different angles. Then there were two houses near the Founding Tree on either side, both with glowing yellow windows from the light inside. And the ground had taken on the color of peach, while the tree was looking more and more like a nose.

She rested on the edge of the ramparts and banged her head on the solid stone. Blaze had nearly thought it a wonderful dream when Silver had asked her on a date last night. What were the odds her very wish would come true? He had forsaken any other date to ask her. He wanted to date her.

As friends, she remembered. When he had clarified where they would stand on this outing, it had ripped her dream asunder and torn at her heart. The rest of the evening, she had mentally tortured herself, fantasizing about more. She had hoped this date might lead to something else.

But as she dwelled on the issue again, Blaze decided it would be better if she did not expect anything. Hoping for only a few seconds last night and wishing had hurt her. Imagine if she were to build up her expectations all day. Silver had made it abundantly clear they were simply friends going out, nothing more. Then why would he chose me? She shot down the notion fast. Perhaps no girl grabbed his attention. Same with the men and me last night.

Blaze figured she should be glad they would get to spend the day together at least. Silver was fun to be with and she was assured of a good time one way or another, either by his effort or klutziness due to his effort. Best day I'll ever have, she recalled, smirking. That would involve unlikely behavior from Silver.

There was a warm spot on the nape of her neck. Blaze lifted her head. She had been standing around longer than she thought. The sun was higher and the sky was painted blue. Gaggles of people below were forming for the festival's attractions. Blaze arched her back, popping a few kinks and shook out her legs. They were surprisingly stiff and ached from standing in one spot.

Taking one last look at the town, Blaze headed downstairs to meet Silver. She was determined to try to enjoy the day, even if it was only a date between friends.

Silver was impatiently waiting by the castle gates. Blaze was not late, but that did not stop him from pacing back and forth. Others headed out in droves of pairs or small groups.

Her absence did afford him the chance to go over his plan for the day. Show her a good time. He had dwelled on the mysterious art of dating all night, planning to make Blaze's day wonderful. Maybe, maybe if he was lucky, he could get closer to her. The festival had plenty of opportunities to kindle amorous interactions. He wondered if it was possible to win Blaze over and finally reveal his true feelings towards her. If I do well and make it perfect, it's possible. He fantasized about telling her, picturing Blaze and himself locked in a loving embrace throughout the day and kissing during the Blance gem ceremony.

A hand touched his shoulder, shocking him out of his dream. Silver whipped around to find Blaze, as radiant as ever in a light, violet dress and wearing an amused grin. "Should I come back in a few minutes?" she asked jokingly.

He was unable to tear his eyes away from her. His mouth hung open stupidly as if wanting to already move in for a kiss. "Wha?" he mumbled, enraptured by her. Eventually, his mind connected the dots and realized he should give a substantial answer. "Er, no. No, I'm good," he said. He coughed into his hand and averted his eyes. Say something to her. He had trouble settling on a compliment. "You look beau-ni-good." It came out like a garbled groan.

"Thank you," Blaze said. "So do you." Although she bit her cheek and her mouth was crooked.

"What is it?" Silver asked. He checked his clothes. Was something amiss?

"Nothing. I'm just not used to seeing you in something formal," she said, playing with the hem of his peach jacket.

She doesn't like it. He dejectedly tapped his forefingers together. "Oh, well, I thought since I was going with you, it might be best to, you know, dress nicely."

"I like it," Blaze said.

His shoulders slumped in relief. He quickly stood straighter and held out his arm. "Shall we?" She nodded and wrapped her arm around his.

Okay, a small stumble, but it's going well. Easy does it. He felt like he had to use all his concentration just to walk side by side with her out through the gate. Silver tried to pretend it was like any of their other walks together. But the festival noise and Blaze's arm locked with his shattered that thought.

The festival was already in full-swing when they entered the town. There were so many colorful sights and jubilant sounds to behold. Streamers and balloons littered stalls selling food, candy, toys, rings, knick-knacks, goods, tools, weapons, and whatever else the vendors produced from underneath their tables. The shops lined the streets and were interspersed with games of all kinds. Some had children throwing darts at balloons, others involved throwing balls at jugs or into various glasses, and there were smaller booths where people had to deduce which of three cups held the marble.

Families, couples, and all kinds of people walked by, laughing, talking excitedly, or just enjoying the lively atmosphere. Several paused in their reverie to greet Blaze and compliment her outfit. Indeed, many men admired her, as many women did Silver, smiling in his direction flirtatiously. A few men, when they saw the pair pass, would nod approvingly at Silver as if to say, "Lucky dog."

"So," Silver said as they neared the center of town. "See anything you would like to do?"

"Not yet," she said. "How about we get some food? I skipped breakfast."

"Sure thing." He picked out one of the stalls selling a variety of food.

After they ordered, Silver slipped his hand into his jacket pocket. But where he expected to find some money that he had brought for the day, his fingers slipped into a hole. Oh, no. He opened his pocket wider, looking into it. The hole was large enough that he could clearly see the ground through it.

"Silver?" Blaze was watching him curiously.

"Be right back," he said. "I, er, dropped something." He dashed off, running through the crowd. Well, this day is starting off great, he thought. I can't be better than her other dates messing up like this. At this rate, she might regret not picking one of the other guys from last night. With all the people around, he had a hard time searching for his money. He figured it might be near the castle gates. So, building up his power, he floated into the air, surrounding by a neon green glow. Then he was off, gliding towards the castle.

When he arrived at the gates, he saw his stack of money. It was being by prodded at by one of the guards. "Hey!" Silver ran forward and snatched up the money. "Sorry. I dropped it," he said, grinning sheepishly.

As he walked away, he counted out the coins. There was a portion missing. Perhaps fallen to the ground elsewhere, lost among the trampling feet or picked up by someone. Silver sighed and started to stuff the money in his pocket. He remembered the hole and placed the money in a different pocket, making sure to first check it for holes.

Can't look for the rest. The food is getting cold and Blaze is hungry. Silver flew back to the stall and found Blaze with the food already in hand. She munched on hers and handed over Silver's when he landed. "What happened?"

"I paid," she said.

He smacked his forehead. "I'm sorry. Here, I have the money. I'll pay you back."

"Don't worry about it," she said, finishing her food. "Come on, let's see what else there is."

He hung his head, but nodded and ate his food. "Thanks."

"You're welcome."

They strolled through the town, passing by a few games that neither were interested in. After worming their way through the throngs of people, they arrived at the Founding Tree. There was a gaggle of people admiring it and trying to get a better look at the gem between the branches. Blaze chuckled at the parents scolding their children for climbing on it.

"Can't wait to see the show tonight," Silver said as they walked around the tree.

"Me either," Blaze said.

"Have you ever, uh," he paused, thrown off by her turning to him. Don't ask. It might be coming on a little strong. But his mind blanked on what else to say.

"Have I ever what?" she asked.

He had started the question. Now he had to commit to it. "Have you ever, you know, with anyone during it?" Silver jerked his head at the Blance gem.

She followed his head and the realization dawned on her. "Oh. No, I haven't. Polite and friendly, yes, but nothing else." There was a silent moment before she posed the same to him. "What about you?"

"Uh, kind of like you. Nothing significant." He sensed a painfully awkward air between them. Then again, it could have been his imagination. Either way, Silver saw a restroom to the side. He excused himself and powerwalked over to it.

Once inside and away from her, Silver collapsed against the restroom wall. Why did I ask that? He smacked the wall, drawing some eyes to him. Calm down. I shouldn't rush this or I'll scare her off. He did not want to lose her like that. Take it nice and easy. Slow and steady. Don't go too fast or you'll blow it.

Blaze was puzzled by Silver's behavior. He had spoken of them being friends on this date, but the way he acted so far was like one would on an actual date. She figured she might be reading too much into it, but his hasty retreat to the restroom was equally jolting as his nonchalant attitude when he walked out. Plus, she caught him peeking at her from the corner of his eye as if he had something on his mind. To be honest, she was reminded of the suitors and how they claimed to "not be able to take their gaze off her beauty."

She had hoped he might continue with the topic of the Blance gem. It had stirred images up for her, notably Silver and her together underneath the Founding Tree's limbs, lip-locked. Blaze also had an insatiable curiosity to find out who he had kissed. It was like she wanted to outperform all others in some sort of jealousy. She thought it a silly emotion, but it did not stop her from wanting to be the best of all his kisses.

However, Silver changed topics, much to her chagrin. "You really outdid yourself on the festival this year," he said.

"It could be better," she said. "I wasn't able to procure as many decorations as last year. And the show tonight might be a little shorter because we're low on arrows."

"Still though, you always do a great job," he said.

"Thanks." She pondered a way to steer him back to the Blance gem. She had to be subtle. "You know, some are predicting there may not be a show from the Blance gem tonight."

He nodded. "I heard about that. Cloudy weather, right?"

"That's right," she said. Her stomach felt like it was being carried into her throat on the wings of butterflies. "I'm hoping it will just be short and not completely cut out. But I guess some will pretend it will happen even if it doesn't."

"I guess."

He was turning this way and that. She could not get a good reading of his reaction. Blaze growled in frustration. Give me something here, Silver. Maybe she should keep up with simply thinking of them as friends? But the more she thought of the possibility that Silver wanted more, the harder it was to return to that previous stance.

"Hey, how about a game?" he suggested.

Blaze blinked and realized he was pointing at one of the game booths. "Uh, sure." Her stomach sank as they ran over to the booth. So much for that.

The booth was comprised of a wall of balloons, homemade stuffed animals dangling in a line from the roof, and a smiling attendant, who tipped his flat hat to them. "Welcome!" he said, laying a handful of darts on the table. "Five coins, good sir and madame- Oh, Princess Blaze!" He knelt before her. "You may go for free."

"That's alright," Blaze said. "We'll pay."

He stood up. "Very well then. So who wants to go first?"

She waved Silver ahead. "I'll win you something," he said. "What do you want?"

"Anything is fine by me," she said. Although she was rather fond of the plump, white kitten in the corner. Silver caught her gaze and stepped up to the game.

"That's the spirit, my boy. Win the fair princess a prize!" Silver paid the attendant and picked up the darts. "Hit five balloons with the five darts and you win any prize you want." He stepped out of the way. "Go ahead."

Silver took careful aim at a fat red balloon and threw the first dart. Pop! "Good one, Silver," Blaze said. He thrust out his chest and readied another dart. Pop! Then he tossed another. Pop! Three down.

"Good arm, good arm," the attendant said. Silver spotted one balloon in the corner, begging to be popped. He threw the dart. Thunk! The dart sailed too low and bounced off the wall. "Too bad," the attendant said. Silver glanced at Blaze, crestfallen. She smiled sympathetically.

However, Silver frowned and turned back to the wall, scanning the rows of balloons. Blaze saw the pair of balloons before he did. Both were very close to one another. A well-aimed throw could pop them.

Siver's hand glowed green, as did the dart. Blaze stepped forward and grabbed his shoulder. She shook her head. "You can do it on your own," she said. "But don't stress about it. It's only a game."

The glow faded and she backed off. He aimed at the pair of balloons and chucked the dart. It landed between the balloons and stuck in the wall. The attendant yanked it out. "Three balloons. You can have one of the smaller prizes," he said, pointing to the side wall.

Blaze selected a small hedgehog and held it up to Silver. He looked so ashamed, like he had let down the entire country. Blaze patted his back and said, "It's okay. Look, you won me this."

"I wanted to win you the cat," he said. "Sorry."

She shook her head. "Silver, really, it's fine. Besides, I like this little guy." She held up the prize to his face. "In fact, I'd say wanted a hedgehog more than anything else."

He raised his head, cocking an eyebrow at her. She buttoned her lips and hid her red cheeks behind the stuffed animal. "Shall we keep going?"

"Sure." They resumed their walk around the festival. Blaze glanced at Silver's empty hand. She ever so gently brushed his fingertips with the prize and her own fingers a few times. When she caught his eye for a brief moment, he finally took the initiative and grabbed the prize's other stubby little arm, holding it between them.

The rest of the afternoon, they enjoyed a few other games- none of which they won- and Blaze greeted dozens of people who had traveled far and wide to visit her. However, aside from an embarrassed stare or two and staying constantly attached via the stuffed animal, nothing further occurred between Blaze and Silver. She prodded at several moments, trying to trench the depths of his mind, but either she was interrupted by another visitor or one of her advisors had to ask her advice on an "urgent matter" or Silver would somehow change the subject.

It tired her out by the day's end and after the sun had set, she had given up. Maybe it's a sign I should stop asking, she thought. Maybe Silver's odd antics were simply him trying to make good on his promise to treat her to a fun day, which he had done. It certainly was not the first time Silver had been weird around her and it certainly would not be the last. It was part of his naïve, innocent charm that she found endearing to his other, heroic traits.

Blaze just wished he would turn something else toward her once in a while besides humor and kind-heartedness, pleasant as those were. Perhaps his confident expression, reserved for before battle, directed at her. His honorable nature taking her by the hands and pulling her close to his fluffy chest. That expert prowess as he positioned himself to attack her lips and lunged forward. Then, the fighting spirit and raw power they shared, fighting for dominance as their tongues attacked, encircled by the lip's battle lines that refused to allow either to retreat.

She shook her head, realizing they had stopped. Blaze felt extremely warm and found herself sweating. Silver had not noticed. Like everyone else, he was too busy waiting for the final ceremony to begin. Blaze bypassed the stuffed animal between them and slipped her fingers into his hand. She switched the animal to her other hand.

Silver jolted to her touch. She was afraid her would pull away at first. It was silly to fear. They had held hands many times. But not at something like this.

Thankfully, he settled down and actually gripped her hand tighter. Blaze sidled closer to him as the first of the arrows streaked across the sky like burning bolts from the sun.

The arrows grew in number, wowing the crowd with their display. A few minutes into the performance, the alchemists let loose their payloads. Explosives of every size burst in the air, shooting off sparks of green, red, blue, purple, white, orange, and yellow. People cheered and little children yelped, some frightened by the loud bangs! and thunderous booms!

Silver watched Blaze, admiring the way the colors lit her up. She was bathed in all the colors of the rainbow, like an otherworldly being. He had the urge to reach out and touch her splendor, but held himself back. Wait for the Blance gem.

When the arrows ran out and the last of the explosives diminished, the crowd hushed. All heads turned to the moon, which was slowly slipping out of the heavy cloud cover above. Its pale light struck the ground, then the Founding Tree, and finally the Blance gem itself.

When the moonlight hit the gem, there was a flash of brilliant white. The entire night sky was swallowed up in what appeared to be a large, heavenly cloud. Here and there were abstract shapes and images too pure and bright to look at directly. Everyone cheered and absorbed the show. Many of the visitors could scarcely believe what they were witnessing and walked about in awe.

Silver saw a couple nearby kiss tenderly. Then a domino effect spread to the rest of the audience, with people grabbing significant others or loved ones and embracing. Silver turned to Blaze and was surprised she was staring at him.

"It's really something, huh?" he asked.

"Yes," she said. "Every year seems to be more beautiful than the last."

"I'll say," Silver said. Blaze gave him a funny look and he cleared his throat. "Uh, hey, Blaze?"


"Well, I was…" He grabbed his head and shook it. He was losing focus. He could not choke now. Not here. Not when I'm so close.

"Go on," Blaze said.

"What I want to say- What I need to tell you- Ugh." His confidence was draining. He had to act fast. No more time for words. He held her shoulders. "Look, just stand there and I'll show you, okay?"

She nodded, watching him in confusion. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and leaned in. Silver was within range. He could feel her breath tickling his nose. Their lips brushed, his mouth quivering with anticipation.

Then in the blink of an eye, the display around them disappeared. The Blance gem's light faded and the moon retreated behind its cloud cover. The sudden change destroyed the moment for Silver and Blaze. They looked around, bewildered like everyone else.

Blaze frowned. "I guess the forecast was right. At least we got a show."

"A short one though," Silver said. This was not how it was supposed to go. Nothing had gone right today and now the one big moment he had wanted was snatched away too.

She turned back to him, a knowing twinkle in her eye. He sensed that she knew what he had wanted to do. He rubbed his neck, blushing a furious shade of red. Blaze came closer, holding his hands. "And here I thought it was a friend date. A date as friends. Just friends. Friends only, together out on a date. Friends. You and I," she said teasingly.

He chuckled and rubbed the top of her hands with his thumbs. "I figured it would be the best way. I didn't know if you-"

"I do," she said.

His head snapped up. "Really?" he asked, grinning like a child.

"Yes, really," she said. She wrapped her arms around his neck. Slowly, without thought, he encircled her waist in his arms. She laid her head against his chest. It tickled, but was so warm and lovely that he never wanted her to leave.

"You know, I wanted this to be the perfect date for you."

She murmured into his chest. "I would say it already is."

As the crowd started to disperse, Silver lifted her chin. "Blance gem or not, I still want to make sure this is perfect and a day you'll remember." He gently closed the gap between their lips. This time, their mouths met and they sharply inhaled at the sensation. His arms tightened around her, lifting her up and against him.

Silver hungrily slid his tongue in her mouth. Both moaned at one another's passion. Blaze dug into his back, her claws slightly poking his skin. Silver cradled her and tilted his head to the side, trying to get a better angle.

Without warning, a light brighter than before surrounded everyone. Silver and Blaze broke their kiss. The moon had reappeared and the Blance gem was shining powerfully. The images it threw around came faster. Everyone ran back to the gem, gawking at its magnificence.

"Wow," Blaze said.

Turning to her, Silver grinned. "Yeah. Wow." She eyed him and they leaned in for another kiss. Sparks seemed to fly between the two. Or perhaps the Blance gem's light grew stronger still. Either way, the couple lost themselves in the kiss.

A/N: Hm, I feel like something is missing.

Pen: A good story?

No, just more to the plot. What do you guys think? Please, let us know.

Sword: *shines a flashlight through a prism* Look, Pen! Let's kiss!

Pen: Get away from me.