Sonic blinked his eyes open slowly, letting the morning light bring him out of that haze known as sleep. The window by the bed, though covered by the shade, was bright. The light seeping through gave the white walls a warm hue. The blankets he slept under felt like a small mountain whose weight pressed down on top of him like a gentle embrace. The room was quiet, as if a bubble had surrounded it to block out all the outside noise. It all felt so relaxing that Sonic closed his eyes with the intent to get just a few more minutes of sleep. As he waited for his mind to drift off, he noticed something. The quiet of their room was usually broken early in the morning by the sounds of birds. There were a few regulars that Sonic always heard, yet in this moment there was nothing. He opened his eyes again to look at the alarm clock which boldly stated in its red font that it was 9:00 AM. So where were the birds?
With a dose of reluctance, Sonic pushed himself to sit up. The motion caused the arm that had held firmly around his chest to slide down to his lap. That earned him a noise that could have been a snore or a simple snort from his partner. Sonic gave him a glance, seeing that Shadow was in fact still sleeping soundly beside him. When it came to sleeping in late, the two usually took turns. Sometimes Sonic's hero work would have him up just at sunrise so he could get the most out of his day while some days Shadow's job had him up and out of the house by 7. Rare as it was, there were days like this where neither of them had to work so they could sleep in as late as their bodies would let them. While they both agreed it was more productive to get up early, neither one made much effort to set an alarm on their days off. As gently as he could manage Sonic picked up Shadow's arm by the hand—placing a kiss to each knuckle—and placed it back on the bed. Even if they fell asleep on opposite sides of the bed, they would always wake up wrapped around each other.
He pushed off the rest of the blankets to swing his legs off the side of the bed. The wood floor was cold under his feet so he quickly got up to shuffle over to the window. He listened there for a moment, waiting to hear even the faintest sound of birds in the distance but could only furrow his brow at the silence. A small tug on the shade made it rise, Sonic guiding it slowly as his eyes adjusted to the added light. He gave a small gasp as he realized what was waiting on the other side: snow.
It had snowed overnight and must have only stopped recently as there was not a single animal track in the flat expanse of white. What Sonic had been hearing was the silence that follows a snowfall when the whole world seems to come to a standstill. There were no birds chirping at the windowsill, and no forest animals running through the trees. It was just a cold landscape of glittering snow that while beautiful and cold had Sonic's mind begging to go out and run the first tracks. The thought had Sonic away from the window and throwing on as many layers as he could so he could go outside. Socks, shoes, gloves, jacket, hat, scarf—
"What are you doing?"
Sonic stopped in the middle of zipping up his jacket. In his rush to get outside as fast as he could he realized he might have been making a fair amount of noise with all the drawers he had opened looking for his winter gloves. He turned to give the other a sheepish grin, like a child caught with their hand in a cookie jar, "Just, uh, bundling up?"
Shadow threw a quick glance to the clock as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. It was still early for a day off to get up, and yet Sonic seemed to be bursting with energy and the need to go somewhere. "Why?"
"Oh y'know. Just gonna go out for a morning run! You looked so comfy that I didn't want to wake you to ask if you wanted to join me."
"If it's a morning run, why do you need all those layers?" Despite getting up early almost every day, Shadow wasn't exactly a morning person. It took him a while to get over the grogginess that followed even the best night's sleep. It didn't mean there weren't days that Shadow would get up first and have breakfast ready before Sonic even cracked his eyes open once. It just meant that sometimes it took him a few extra minutes to really begin to function and on those days Sonic would bring him breakfast before slowly waking him with kisses.
"'Cause there's snow outside! It's the first snowfall of winter, and it's just perfect for me to run through. You can come with me if you want," Sonic smiled at the idea. He'd love to see Shadow try to skate through the snow. While Sonic hadn't been there for the very first time Shadow had experienced snow, he was there for his second first time.
Sonic had taken him around the city for the third time that week in hopes of sparking something, but with no luck they decided to retreat to Tails's workshop. They had stopped to walk for a while about halfway there when the first flakes began to float down around them. It had been cold all day but Sonic didn't think it would begin to snow so early in the season. At first Shadow didn't seem to notice until one of the bigger flakes landed on his nose.
"What is this? This..cold thing on my face?"
Sonic chuckled, "It's a snowflake, Shads. It's snowing."
It had earned him a look of pure curiosity. So Sonic explained what snow was and why it fell in winter, what the different seasons were and how the weather changed. It was a basic topic; something everyone knew but Shadow had looked at him like he was explaining the secrets of the universe. It was a precious thing, being given the opportunity to reteach Shadow how things worked—an opportunity that had come at a high price which left Sonic with the feeling of protectiveness. He had to make sure Shadow didn't get the wrong information. He had to make sure Shadow's memory came back. He had to make sure it never got lost again. As endearing as Shadow's innocent curiosity had been, it was also heartbreaking.
Sonic blinked quickly to snap out of his revere. He realized that he must have spaced out as he was lost in the memory of their 'first' snowfall. He focused on Shadow, who was looking at him with a bit of concern. "Huh? Oh, yeah, uh. Sorry, what?"
"Okay. I was saying that maybe you should just stay inside since it's going to be cold out there and snow isn't exactly the best thing to run around in," Shadow leaned forward a bit, wanting to reach out and pull Sonic back into bed but the other was standing down by his feet. He knew that he himself was known to stare off at times when lost in thought or memory but Sonic spacing out like that wasn't as common. Sure Sonic liked to day dream, and stand at the top of the nearby hill to look out over the scenery but not to the point where Shadow had to raise his voice to get his attention. "What were you thinking about?"
Sonic shook his head, "A little bit of cold isn't going to stop me from going outside. That would leave me nothing to do all winter." He finished zipping up his jacket, making sure his scarf was tucked snuggly inside the collar so it wouldn't blow away in the wind. It was a diligent way to delay answering Shadow's question even though he knew that now that the other was awake he would be see right through Sonic's obvious aversion. "Y'know, snow. How funny it would be to see you try to rocket over it just to have it melt under your feet." That was partially true.
Shadow wasn't completely satisfied with that answer but let it go regardless. "I'm not going out there to try and run over the snow. It would ruin my shoes."
"Aw, why not? It would be fun! Just the two of us out there, racing around the running trail. I'm sure after a few laps we won't even feel the cold." Sonic took the few steps around to the side of the bed, tugging on the blankets to slowly uncover his partner's dark fur.
Shadow responded to the pulling of the blanket by taking hold of the zipper on Sonic's jacket and pulling it slowly down. "It would be more fun if you got back into bed with me, and we can keep warm right now."
Sonic could feel his face getting warm, and it wasn't just from wearing multiple layers inside the house. It seemed that Shadow was getting better at subtlety and suggestion. It caught Sonic a bit off guard, as he wasn't expecting such a direct proposition. He did his best to play coy, "Shadow! Are you flirting with me?"
"It's only practical to stay inside on a cold day. We can sit on the couch under a blanket and watch TV. Or lay here, under these blankets."
Sonic found that the warm embrace Shadow offered was tempting. Looking at Shadow's unkempt quills and fur that was sticking up from sleep was comical, but it showed that their bed was comfortable, safe and secure. His resolve was slipping. Yet a quick glance out the window at the sun shining off the surface of the snow had Sonic itching to go out there. "Just a quick run. A handful of laps. You don't even have to get out of bed, I just want to go out and stretch my legs." He leaned forward to place a quick kiss on the other's forehead before bolting out of the room. The quick departure left Shadow to huff and flop back into their nest of pillows.
Outside was just as quiet as it seemed when Sonic closed the front door behind himself to venture out to find the beginning of his running trail. The snow crunched below his shoes in a way that left large indents in the pristine surface. It was a good foot of snow at least which made it rather hard to walk. For a split second Sonic doubted his decision to run in it, but figured once he got going he could make his own trail and enjoy the crisp air. While he didn't like water outside of small containers, snow was different. Not just because it was frozen, but because it was gentle. When it rained the drops were harsh against the surfaces that it collided with. Snow fell in a light whisper as if it was trying to put the ground beneath it to sleep. It brought the rushing world to a slow crawl, so that it could be enjoyed for a few moments. It seemed like the exact opposite of the type of life Sonic had led up until now, which is probably why he liked it. It was different. It was peaceful. After trekking past the tree line Sonic found a good place to start running. His goal was to make the first impressions in the untouched blanket of snow and breaking the silence the hung in the air. Once he took off he ran a large circle through the trees, running over his own footsteps again and again to try and keep stable footing on the slippery surface of packed down snow. He pulled his scarf up so the wind wouldn't burn his face as much, the cold air filling his lungs in a way that the humid air of summer never could. It was refreshing even through the burn.
After thirty laps around the same path Sonic skidded to a halt at the edge of the tree line, sending a wave of snow through the air. He wasn't tired, but the extra layers were making him overly warm so he stopped to try and let the air cool him off a bit. What he didn't expect while taking his short break was the snowball that came flying to hit him square in the back of the head. Startled at the snow now sliding out of his quills, he turned on his heel to find the culprit. There stood Shadow in the middle of their front yard with only a scarf around his neck and another snowball in his hand. "Hey! What was that for?"
"For letting snow get in the house when you opened the front door," Shadow tossed the fresh snowball at his partner and managed to hit him in the chest. "That one was just for fun."
Sonic wiped the snow off his jacket as a smirk pulled over his lips. "Just for fun, huh?" He gathered up some snow of his own, packing it quickly into a ball, "You do know this means war right?"
Shadow's smirk was playful but wicked, "I never back down from a fight, hedgehog."
Sonic threw his snowball, just grazing Shadow's shoulder as the other ducked out of the way. It began the first snowball fight of the season and for half an hour the two exchanged dozens of throws while running around their yard. Shadow landed more hits up until Sonic fled to the cover of the trees. Hiding behind them he managed to get a small advantage that left Shadow's fur coated in at least a half dozen snowballs. Sonic took a moment to peak out from behind his cover as he readied another shot when he realized that Shadow wasn't moving around quite as quickly as he usually did. He watched as Shadow ran across the yard to try and find some cover of his own and finally noticed that he wasn't wearing his usual shoes. Instead he was wearing boots. Sonic was baffled for a moment, not even sure where Shadow got those boots from, when he got another snowball to the face. It left him sputtering for a second before he decided he'd had enough snowballs thrown at his head. Using his small speed advantage Sonic sped out from behind cover to run straight at Shadow who took a step back at the unexpected charge but not enough to prevent Sonic from crashing into him and sending them both down into the snow.
They both let out a small 'oof' at the impact but after a moment it had them both laughing.
"How does knocking us both down into a snow pile count as you winning?"
"Because I covered you in the most snow. So I'm taking it as a win."
That earned Sonic a snort from Shadow as well as a handful of snow to the face all the same. He shook it off as best he could which only caused it to fall on Shadow's face. There was a quiet moment then as they lay there—the remnants of their fight leaving the snow in their yard in complete disarray. It was peaceful. Sonic couldn't think of a better way to spend this moment then to close the distance for a kiss that was already partially breathless. Shadow responded eagerly, feeling the warmth of the body on top of him seep into his fur in a vibrant contrast to the cold ground beneath him. Shadow's hands did their best to sneak their way up under Sonic's jacket—looking for warmth by sliding through fur. It sent a delightful shiver through Sonic's body that had him pushing back into the touch. But he knew they were still outside in a mound of snow. So he broke the kiss to press their foreheads together, "Maybe we should go inside."
He felt Shadow nod against him so he pushed up to stand, taking Shadow's hands as they slipped out from his jacket to pull him up. The walk inside was quick but Shadow stopped them both at the entryway after the door was closed. "Let's leave the snow at the door. We don't need to track it all over the house."
Sonic obliged by taking off all his snow-filled clothes but found that once his extra layers were gone he was even colder than before. It had him shivering, and crossing his arms over his chest in a vague attempt to keep warm. "It's so cold."
That got him a look of 'I told you so' from Shadow, which earned Shadow in return Sonic sticking out his tongue. Shadow led them both to the bathroom, where he wrapped a plush towel around his partner before rubbing his shoulders and making his way down. "You can take a hot shower later if you want. For now we'll warm up slowly with some blankets. Like the ones on the couch." He continued to work the towel over Sonic's fur in an attempt to dry him off as best he could. Sonic relaxed at the touch, feeling the warmth slowly make its way back into his skin. Even though Shadow acted tough all the time around other people, Sonic got to see his soft caring side. It made him feel special to have someone so stoic open up to him and made moments like these stand out. The two of them did their best to take care of each other. Whether it was making sure they didn't over sleep their alarm or making sure they both made it home off the battlefield.
Once he was satisfied with his work, Shadow brought them to the couch where he instructed Sonic to sit before wrapping him up as best he could with the blanket. With a small kiss on the forehead to mimic the one Sonic had given him in the bedroom, Shadow went back to the bathroom to dry off his own fur.
Sonic settled into his newfound blanket cocoon with a smile. He had not only gotten to go out for the run he wanted but he managed to get Shadow out there too. He was happy to have enjoyed the first snowfall of winter with something as fun as a snowball fight. He would have suggested making a snowman but they had kicked up so much snow during their scuffle that there really wasn't much left for one. It didn't really bother him all that much though; he knew there would be more snow to come and more opportunities to go out. He heard the bathroom door creak open and the soft padding of Shadow's footsteps move to the kitchen. After a few minutes of listening to him rustle around in there the footsteps returned only to stop just behind the couch. Sonic looked up to find Shadow with two steaming mugs. "What'd ya bring me?"
"Hot chocolate. I know how much you like it in the winter and what better way to warm up then sharing some under a warm blanket?" Shadow moved around the couch as Sonic opened up his blanket nest to allow Shadow entry. Shadow then handed him a cup and pulled the blanket closed around them with his free hand. They settled in together—pressed in as close as they could get while still having room to drink their cocoa.
Sonic smiled down at the cup he held tightly between his hands, "Thanks. For the cocoa. And for coming outside with me. You had a lot of fun even though you didn't want to get out of bed."
Shadow ventured a sip from his own mug, "You're welcome. Maybe next time you'll wait for me to get out of bed before you go letting the snow in the house. Or maybe you'll just take me up on my offer to stay in bed."
"Oh trust me, it was incredibly tempting. With that flirting and that bedhead you were rocking, I had a hard time saying no."
Shadow tossed him a look from over the rim of his cup, "Next time I'll just pull you back into bed and take those extra layers off myself."
Sonic sputtered a bit into his cup, having finally tried to take a sip of the steaming liquid. The heat in his cheeks wasn't from the cocoa. "That's not very subtle, Shads."