This is a Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic written for a 1up.com contest to write the least offensive Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic. The top winners put character from Sonic up against the horrors and mundanity of everyday life.
What do you think? The black, right? ’Cause it should be something serious.”
Amy was holding the dress in front of herself, then brought it down to look at it again.
“No, that’s too much. It’ll be like I’m trying too hard.”
She went back to her closet and returned with a pinker, more summery top. “This is more cheerful. Wouldn’t it be nice to be… No, that’s stupid, I can’t go there like this, like it’s a normal day.”
She tossed it onto the bed. “If I had my red dress… He liked that dress. Are you sure I didn’t leave it at your place?”
Blaze had dressed in her regal purple coat, as she often did. She didn’t consider putting as much thought into her appearance as Amy did. “I could go back and look again.”
“No, forget it. I’ll just wear the black. Black is… it’s what you’re supposed to wear, right?”
“Black is traditionally worn in mourning, yes.”
Amy appeared to have had the air sucked out of her by the word. “That’s what I am, aren’t I? I’m mourning. But… I have to be the supportive one. I mean, Tails, and…”
She stormed back to the closet, sweeping every piece of clothing from one side to the other. “Why? Why is it all pink? Why do I always… Why do I dress like some damsel in distress?”
She turned back to Blaze. Her eyes were wet and turning pink as her wardrobe. “How come I can’t be the rescuer? Why can’t I save anyone?”
“It’s okay, Amy.”
“I can’t do this!”
Blaze suddenly took Amy’s head in her hands and pulled her close. She began to breathe in a slow, steady rhythm. Amy began breathing with her, quivering. When she calmed, Blaze cupped her face in her hands and their eyes met.
“We can do this.”
“I know. I know we can. We can be there for… Oh, Tails, little Tails…”
Blaze tightened her grip, as though to wring the doubt from her. “We can be strong.”
“Yeah. We can.”
She stepped back and stood up straight, looking around her room.
“I wish I had the red one.”
* * *
Heads turned to see the a visitor standing in the doorway of the vestibule. Though he had traded his familiar red flight jacket for a black trench coat, there was no mistaking his ovoid frame.
Tails had already lurched out from his pew. He struggled to stand straight as he walked toward the huge, round man, but grief and fury wracked his body with tremors. He was always the youngest of them, and now he was shaking like an old man.
He stopped halfway down the aisle, lifted his head, and opened his arms as though to invite Eggman to take in the sight of the congregation, their empty faces, the altar, Knuckles standing at the lectern, the box holding his dearest friend.
“Congratulations. This is what you’ve wanted, right? Everything you’ve built, everything you’ve destroyed. It was all for this view, right?” Tails began to stagger toward him again. “You made it. Was it… worth it?”
Tails’ body seized, and he fell down to his knees. Vector, who was in the nearest pew, came to his side and offered a hand. Tails slapped it away and leapt up at Eggman, no longer hiding his tears.
“Why are you here? To gloat? You’ve always hated him, and now look what you’ve done, look what you’ve made!”
His fists pounded hollowly against Eggman’s soft exterior until he didn’t have the strength to hold himself up, and he slumped against the rounded doctor and whimpered.
Slowly, gently, Eggman put his arms around the small fox.
Once he was certain there would be no resistance, Vector pulled Tails away from Eggman and brought him back to his seat. Then Eggman sat down in the nearest pew and, along with the rest of the congregation, politely turned his attention to the lectern.
That man could deliver a better eulogy than I ever could. Knuckles cleared his throat and took a moment for the air to clear. They knew each other longer than any of us.
He would never have thought of giving the eulogy if Tails hadn’t asked. He expected the departed’s closest friend to speak, since Knuckles himself was making all of the other arrangements, but in the end Tails yielded this last responsibility to the taciturn echidna as well. Even after all this time, in many ways, Tails still had growing to do.
“As some of you know, my first encounter with Sonic was on less than amicable terms.
“I… adopted the belief that he and Miles had invaded Angel Island to take away the Master Emerald, which my people held sacred. I challenged Sonic at every turn, not realizing what I was doing. I did not realize I was being deceived.”
He was unsurprised to see heads turning to look for any reaction from Eggman, who feigned ignorance either out of pride or courtesy.
Knuckles sighed and shook his head. “I know what some of you are thinking, and I’m afraid you’re mistaken. There’s one person to blame for what I did — and that’s me.
“I deluded myself into thinking that the world ended with me. I didn’t trust anyone from outside to let me be safe. To let me be myself. I was stronger by myself. I was stronger alone.
“It wasn’t until I lost everything that I realized I had nothing. I was the custodian of a floating tomb and I didn’t know anyone who would call me friend.”
Knuckles looked over at the blown up picture resting on the easel next to the coffin: the arms rebelliously crossed, the eyes wide with expectation, looking as he did when they first met. Is this how he will be remembered, while the rest of us get older?
He gathered himself again. “He pointed me in the right direction and he showed me what could be accomplished if you have the courage to trust someone. As he trusted Tails. As he trusted me. And most importantly, as he trusted himself.
“Sonic was a risk taker, and he would be the first to admit that — like any of us — he’d made mistakes. But that’s what life is. It’s mistakes. Live and learn.
“He never regretted a single thing he did. He learned, and he kept moving forward. He had a steadfast heart of gold. No matter what happened, no matter what anyone said, everything he did was a step in the right direction. And it’s because Sonic was such a risk-taker that we’re all here today.”
It wasn’t until then that Knuckles noticed the irony in those words.
He took another moment and looked out at the faces staring back at him. Amy and Blaze and Cream. Vector and them. The bird rogues he never really knew, but he was glad they were here. Shadow, Rouge. Big. Tails. He never would have known any of them if he had stayed on that island.
“It’s because of Sonic that we’re together right now. He was open to every possibility that life could offer him and his world exploded and grew to include each and every one of you.
“He was strong. He could fly. He reached the other side of the rainbow. But if you look around, you’ll see that he’s still here in each of us. In the way we live each day. Always moving forward, with no regrets.”
As Knuckles stepped down from the lectern, he felt lighter. Whether he had gained something or lost something, he didn’t know.
* * *
“That was really wonderful, Knuckles.” Rouge leaned in to touch him on the shoulder.
Shadow stopped short of the exit and draped his coat over one arm and checked his watch again.
Knuckles turned his attention from the Babylon Rogues to Rouge with a sense of relief that didn’t escape Shadow’s notice. “Thanks. I appreciate it. I hope he would’ve liked it.”
“The eulogy he would’ve enjoyed, but the reception! I don’t even see any chili dogs here.”
Knuckles laughed politely. “I still have some things to clear up before I go. But, hey, Cream’s family is having people over later, though, so… I’ll meet you guys there?”
“Oh, a get-together? That’s nice.” Rouge looked back expectantly at Shadow, who made an exaggerated show of checking his watch. “Well, I guess we’ll… go and change first. See you later, Knuckles.”
She hugged him, then turned toward Shadow, who was already walking out the door into the cool dusk. She hurried to catch up to him. “Somewhere to be?”
“We do now, evidently.”
“Come on, just go with me. You don’t have to say anything to anyone.”
“I’ve had enough of that today.” Shadow still couldn’t feign vapid optimism the way he assumed everyone else did, no matter how often he was subjected to it. Sonic had pulled him into this world and Rouge was keeping him in it.
He fished his keys out of his coat and unlocked the Escalade from afar. They stopped when, in its headlights, he saw the silhouette of a boy with two tails.
“Oh,” said Rouge, “Hello, Tails. Do you…?”
He looked up at her with dry, steely eyes. “Knuckles is staying here. Can I… get a ride home?”
Shadow looked sidelong at Rouge. He had no intention of acquiescing, so he left the honor to her.
“Of course you can. Come on in.”
As they pulled out of the lot, Shadow spotted Eggman walking along the curb toward his Eggomatic hovercraft. Rouge waved politely as they passed, but it was too dark then to tell if he had noticed.
She crossed her legs and sank back into her seat. “What a lonely man.”
As they approached the intersection, Shadow turned his head to look for oncoming traffic, and in the corner of his eye he saw Tails looking out of the window back at Eggman without a hint of scorn.