Disclaimer- I don't own Sonic and co.

A/N: Welcome back, amazing readers! After a little (long) break, it's time to hop back onto this non-stop train ride! I'm sorry that it's been a good handful of months since Reality Breach finished, but I've been working on other stories and life got in the way and just blah… This is the best time to get this rolling again!

So, if you're new here, I strongly encourage you to hit that back button and check out Alternate Reality and Reality Breach first. This story, Breaching Normality, is the third installment of the series. If you don't want to get lost and spoil yourself (most of the spoilers are literally in this first chapter), go check out those other two first!

Warnings: Alright, if you've gotten this far down the page, then I assume that you already know about the violence that may get bloody and about the harsh language some characters will resort to.

And last thing before we start, I want to shout-out the amazing 18204 with helping me out on this chapter by beta reading it!

Chapter 1 – Good Morning

It was a quiet and peaceful morning, the early sun's rays chasing the moon away and lighting up the skies.

Inside a particular home, it was just as silent, the occupants sleeping soundly. This was the first morning in a while that they didn't have to worry about any lurking dangers, so they rested peacefully until the sun had risen at such an angle that its rays filtered into one of the rooms, warming a certain hero's face.

A breathy sigh escaped the purple chameleon's lips as he was roused from his deep slumber. An eyelid fluttered open, its owner almost blinded by nature's alarm clock. After a moment of drowsy stillness, Espio sat up in his bed, the covers pooling down over his waist. He yawned and rubbed his eye, almost doing the same where his other one would've been. He caught himself, however, dropping his left hand back down.

He didn't dwell on his handicap because while he had lost a crucial body part, he could still see. He hadn't completely lost the sense, unlike someone else in the household. His problem was nothing compared to hers.

Espio threw his legs over the side of his bed and stood. He slipped on his gloves, socks, and shoes and stared at the loose bandages on his nightstand. With a heavy exhale, he wrapped them around the left side of his face before exiting his room.

His footsteps were near silent as he passed by Vector's and Charmy's rooms. He didn't feel the need to wake them yet, as they still had plenty of time before the lesson.

It wasn't long before Espio reached the kitchen. Instead of fixing cereal for himself like he had planned to, the chameleon crept to the other side and peeked out into the living room. Silver was softly snoring on the couch, curled up with no hint of waking any time soon.

An amber orb then drifted over to the blow-up mattress in the middle of the floor. TT and Rosy were sleeping just as soundly, like everything was perfect. But in reality…

He knew he should stop thinking like that. There was peace now. They had won.

Never mind the cereal, he was going to cook pancakes for everyone. That would be the first step in brightening his mood at least a bit.

Espio gathered the necessary materials and ingredients, wondering how long it would take Charmy to burst in once the familiar aroma filled the house. He went through the process with thoughts of an ecstatic bee and a drooling crocodile. It had been a while since their last pancake breakfast.

He was busy mixing the batter when a voice interrupted his musings.

"Good morning, Espio."

The chameleon paused in his stirring at the hushed greeting. He peered over his shoulder at the one who addressed him, his light thoughts turning dark. He hoped it didn't show in his expression.

Espio nodded at Rosy, who was stifling a yawn and giving him a brief wave. "Good morning." He returned the greeting out of habit even though she had stopped looking at him. The pink-furred hedgehog seemed well rested and calm. It was a stark contrast to yesterday. She had been a wreck after the news drop, and her fits had continued well into the night. More gloomy thoughts showed their ugly heads as he stared, and Rosy noticed the shift in the atmosphere.

She paused in her journey to the kitchen table, feeling the other's gaze on her. It wouldn't have bothered her if she didn't know exactly what he was thinking. Rosy turned towards him, and Espio's sole eye widened in slight surprise. It was still there on his face – the look of she's permanently damaged, she will never be the same. She didn't need that, especially while she was trying her hardest to hold herself together. The silence was working to tear her apart.

"Please don't look at me like that," she hoped she said. With how Espio seemed subtly contrite, she knew she succeeded. "This is my life now… and I don't want to be… constantly reminded, okay? I already know I'm d-deaf, I don't need everyone else telling me too."

Rosy took a deep breath as she finished, waiting for Espio to respond. A small smile adorned her muzzle when the chameleon eventually nodded, his expression warm and void of anything she didn't want. "I understand," she read from his lips. Espio then gestured to his mixing bowl. "I hope you don't mind pancakes."

She shook her head, her smile growing as she felt her stomach rumble. "I don't." An idea popped in her mind, and she approached Espio. She pointed to the bowl. "Let me cook. It's the least I could do since you're letting us stay here." When the chameleon hesitated, she continued. "I make the best pancakes. Tails can vouch for me!"

Espio still didn't hand the goods over. Rosy sighed. "Look Espio, I'm… deaf, not blind. I can handle it, promise." She wanted to keep busy, to distract herself.

Espio didn't really have a choice now. He didn't want to offend her, and, well… if she took over, it was less likely that the cakes would be on the too-crispy side.

He gave her the bowl and spoon. "They better be the best I've ever had," he gently teased.

Rosy grinned. "You can count on it."

Since he had relinquished his duty, Espio claimed a seat at the table. As soon as he did so, Silver wandered into the kitchen, stretching his arms over his head.

The psychic spotted Espio first and smiled. "Morning!"

The chameleon nodded in response. Silver's smile waned marginally at the sight of Rosy mixing by the stove. As expected, she showed no indication that she knew Silver was there.

The white hedgie didn't have a chance to feel bad for Rosy in her current condition. "Don't look at her like that," Espio whispered, and Silver raised a brow at him. "She says it's a reminder…"

Silver nodded when he understood. She didn't want any more things to change. "Okay." He raked his fingers through his quills, fixing the ones sticking out wildly. "It has to be hard for her, though… I can't imagine how she feels. We've all been through some rough stuff, but she…" Silver glanced over at Rosy before his worried gaze lingered on Espio. "…and you have been through more…" While he and Blaze had seen haunting things, all of the others had had a worse time overall.

Espio prevented himself from touching the left side of his face. "Life isn't the fairest, but we'll make do." He then bobbed his head in the direction of the pinkette. "Go say hi."

Silver had already been on the way over. He hesitated a bit when he was behind her, not exactly knowing how to greet her without scaring her. A simple tap on the shoulder wouldn't, right?

Well, he was wrong.

As soon as he touched her, Rosy jumped and lost her grip on the bowl with a gasp. Before the batter could splatter all over the floor, the bowl and its contents were surrounded by a cyan aura. Silver meekly returned it to the pinkette's hands.

"Sorry, sorry!" Silver apologized. "I should've gotten your attention another way!"

After calming down her rapidly beating heart, Rosy giggled. "It's fine! Shouldn't have been that jumpy, I guess." Silver still looked remorseful, and she couldn't help but think that Grey would be the complete opposite, laughing it off with her. Rosy rolled her eyes. "It's all good. No harm done!"

Silver relaxed at that, giving her a smile. "Okay, so what I had wanted to say was 'good morning'." The pinkette chuckled, resuming her job. Silver watched her mess with the knobs on the stove, the urge to assist kicking in. "Do you need any help?"

She refocused on him and frowned at the expectant look he was giving her. He'd asked a question…

Rosy shakily swallowed. "Did… you say something?"

Silver wanted to hit himself. Of course she didn't know; she hadn't been looking at him! "I was just wondering if you wanted any help."

Rosy shook her head and jabbed her finger over her shoulder. "Go take a seat next to Espio."

Silver started to oppose. "But-"

"There's no p-point arguing." Silver's ears perked and he looked over to see a yawning fox shuffling into the room. Blue eyes switched from the psychic to the pinkette, who had turned when Silver did. She seemed a lot better. Last night was just her time to let everything out. He knew that there would be some low days, but he would be there for her. More than he had been.

TT settled into the seat beside Espio after giving the chameleon a genial wave. He hugged his namesakes and got comfortable, still a bit tired. He had woken up to voices, and he had to make sure the mood stayed light for Rosy's sake. "S-She gets territorial with her pancakes. She never let me near her either." And that wouldn't change, no matter what state she was in.

"If she won't let you help, then I have no chance, huh?" Silver said jokingly.

"Nope!" Rosy chirped, watching Silver take the chair on the other side of an amused Espio. "You all sit back and let the master perfect her work." She giggled before pouring the batter into a hot pan, a savory sizzle filling the air.

Silver focused on her as the appetizing scent hit his nose. "She's strong." He could see hints of Blaze in her; and, of course, Amy.

TT dug his chin into the fur of his tails, hiding how sad his smile had become. "She's b-been like that ever since I've met her. Strong for herself… strong for m-me…"

Espio hummed in affirmation. This affected the kit as much as it affected Rosy. "She's lucky to have you by her side, and vice versa. Especially now."

TT wordlessly nodded.

"Do I smell… pancakes!?"

There was suddenly a yellow and black blur whirling around in the kitchen. Rosy sensed an erratic and overly-hyper presence around her. After flipping over a pancake, she glanced behind her to watch Charmy tornado about the place before his leg was grabbed by a slightly exasperated Espio.

"Yes," the chameleon needlessly answered the kid's question. "You do smell pancakes."

It didn't seem like the bee had just woken up with the way his eyes were sparkling in excitement. Charmy wiggled out of Espio's grasp, a snickering Silver and TT watching when he zipped over to Rosy.

Charmy was hovering over her shoulder, talking a mile a minute. "Thank you so much for making pancakes for us! They smell really really good and actually better than Espio's! Don't burn them like he does!"

Rosy tried to keep up, but she only gleaned small fragments of what he said. Though 'thank you', 'better than Espio's', and 'don't burn them' painted a pretty clear picture. She smiled, hoping no one noticed how her lips twitched. "Don't worry! They'll be good! You just have to be patient, okay? I have to feed a lot of mouths!"

Charmy, who was wondering if he had been talking too fast – Rosy's deafness pushing to the front of his brain after he spouted out word after word – nodded with a relieved smile. "Okay!" The bee sat down at the table by Silver, his short legs happily kicking back and forth.

Espio traced the grain of the wood with a finger, feeling a bit put out. "I didn't burn the pancakes, Charmy."

The bee nudged Silver before whispering loudly. "Do you ever eat pancakes with black stuff on 'em?" Silver sent the chameleon an apologetic yet mirth-filled look that the other didn't appreciate.

Espio sighed. "I can't wait until you make your first batch. I wonder what those will taste like."

"Yes, you can, because I don't want this place burned down just yet." Those were Vector's first words as he joined the others in the kitchen, the aroma of pancakes having roused him as well. "Mornin' everyone!" The rest of the group echoed his powerful greeting. Rosy got to join in as well because of the croc's heavy footsteps.

Vector glanced at the working pinkette before narrowing his eyes at the others. "Now WHY is she slaving over a hot stove while all of you are just sitting here watching?"

"I tried to help!" Silver defended himself. "She said that she didn't want it."

Vector huffed. He couldn't believe that Espio would let a guest prepare breakfast when it was the host's job to do so. "She was just being polite and hiding the fact that she needs help!" Before TT could argue the croc's claim, Vector had aimed a smile over at Rosy, who was glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. "You shouldn't be doing this, Rosy! Let me-"

"Sit," the pinkette stated firmly, bobbing her head toward the nearly full table. When Vector opened his mouth to refute, she held up the hot spatula. "Don't make me use this." The only hint that she wasn't totally serious was the subtle upturn of her lips.

Even so, Vector didn't chance it. "Alright, alright." He held his hands up before plopping down beside Charmy. He then looked at her back. "But this is the first and last meal you're making!" She didn't respond, having returned to the pan once he walked away. The croc frowned – the reminder that they had to adjust to Rosy hitting him in the face – before grumbling to himself about how it wasn't even her food she was cooking and that it was the Chaotix's property, so they – sans Charmy – should be the ones in control of the meals.

Espio was entertained about Vector's mumbling, but he was also impressed. His two friends hadn't dwelled on Rosy's condition. And by the soft smile he could see on the pinkette's muzzle, she was glad too.

The occupants of the table made light conversation, in which Silver told Vector 'I told you so' at least twice, until breakfast was served.

When Espio took his first bite, he had to admit that Rosy had him beat.

Charmy was chowing down like it was his last meal. "This is so good!" Bits of chewed pancake flew out of his mouth. Everyone had to cover their plates so their food wouldn't get tainted. "You're the best chef ever,Rosy!"

The female hedgehog blushed as she swallowed some fluffy goodness. It was a bit harder to understand the kid, but again, she caught the gist of what he said. The whole table shared the bee's opinion. "I'm not the best, but thanks!"

Most of the others went back to digging in while TT gently nudged his sister, who had taken the seat next to him. When they locked gazes, the fox mouthed, "How are you feeling?"

Many emotions swirled in those jade orbs of hers. Muted sadness settled, and yet she confidently nodded with the ghost of a smile. She returned to her pancakes, and the fox did the same. He understood. It was going to take a while to get used to the silence. Hopefully the lessons would speed up the process.

Heads jumped up when knocking echoed through the air. Rosy blinked in surprise at the simultaneous movement.

"I got it!" Vector volunteered, hopping out of his seat. He then pointed to the perplexed pinkette. "It's my door, so you stay glued to your chair!"

"Yeah, yeah." Rosy waved him off, though she was glad he had said that. Now she knew what was going on. "Go get it."

Vector puffed before marching out of the kitchen and into the living room. He maneuvered around the blow-up mattress as he approached the front door. Turning the knob and opening it, Vector expected a blue hedgehog who had decided to come early, not another bubblegum-quilled hedgehog and a second bleached psychic.

"Hi, Vector!" Amy beamed while she fixed any ruffles in her dress. Grey had opened his mouth to chime in, but something else had caught his attention. Now he was peering around the reptile, golden irises snapping back and forth.

"Hey, you two!" Vector happily greeted back before raising a brow at Grey and then Amy. "So he was your ride, huh?"

"Luckily!" Amy nodded. "I was actually going to walk, but then I ran into him."

"And I couldn't just go on without…" Grey trailed off, distracted, before asking, "Do I smell pancakes?"


Grey squeezed through the narrow space between Vector and the doorframe, rubbing his growling belly. "Awesome! Man, Charmy, Rogue, and Vector are so going to hate me when they find out that they missed out on the good stuff because I let them sleep in."

Amy was a bit concerned. "What?" Her stare was a tad heated when Vector let her in, closing the door. "Why did you do that? You should've gotten them up! They wanted to learn too!"

Grey blinked back at her, not getting why she was upset about it. "Everyone deserved to sleep in, y'know? And they'll probably make it before Boom's done, and if not," the psychic tapped his head, "I'll teach them what I learned! Simple as that!" When he saw that Amy had marginally calmed down, he resumed following the delicious smell.

When he entered the kitchen, all eyes were on him. "Hey, everyone!" Grey waved with both hands and eyed the plates. Hopefully there was some for him, but before he got to that…

He focused on Rosy, who had brightened at his appearance. The psychic motioned his hands upwards. "Rosy, can you stand up for me?"

The addressed had no idea what this was about, but she did so anyway. The breath was then knocked out of her when she was suddenly hugged. She couldn't hear, but she didn't need to, because Grey wasn't saying anything. It was all in the hug – all of the sadness, faith, and hope. She fought her tears. She wasn't going to cry over this. Not again.

Grey pulled away before she managed to hug him back, his hands squeezing her shoulders. The smile had disappeared from his face, but his eyes shone with confidence. "Things'll get better, okay?"

Rosy's grin was weak yet solid. "Tell me something I don't know."

The smile was back. Grey patted her on the shoulder. "That's what I like to hear! Now…" The psychic felt a hunger pang. Since he was sure Rosy was alright, it was time to grub. "Please tell me that there's extra pancakes!"

His mood took a nosedive when she shook her head, a sorry expression on her face. "I didn't think about cooking extra. I thought you'd already eaten."

Grey wanted to collapse then and there. Instead, he ran over to the stove and desperately searched all over. "There has to be some left! Half a pancake, a slice, something!"

Espio watched as the hedgehog wasted his time for a second before he questioned, "Where are your roommates?"

"Sleeping, he said," Amy answered, strolling into the room with Vector at her side.

"Hopefully th-they'll make it…" TT uttered.

"I hope so too!" Amy then sniffed the air and scanned the breakfast items. "Those look really good!"

"They are!" Charmy beamed at her. "Rosy made them, and they're better than Espio's!"

"Do you have to drive that point home every time, Charmy?" The chameleon drummed his fingers on the table.


Rosy, who had sat back down, wished that she had cooked more; and that the Chaotix had more batter. "Sorry that we didn't have enough for you and Grey."

Amy waved her off. "It's fine! I already ate!"

Vector looked around the table, pursing his lips. "And sorry that we ran out of room. You can take my seat!"

"There's no need for that!" Rosy exclaimed before scooting over a bit in her chair and patting the seat. "There's enough room here."

"Thanks!" Amy approached her and they managed to share the chair. Amy briefly embraced her twin, the gesture being immediately returned. "So are you ready to learn sign language?"

Rosy plopped a piece of pancake in her mouth. "More than ready. I just… really need Boom to be a good teacher."

If he wasn't, Amy was going to have a few choice words with him. "Oh, he's going to be."

While they were talking, Grey had given up on scrounging for leftovers. He glanced back at the table full of goodies and a light bulb lit up in his mind. He activated his powers and floated over to his double, mentally taking control of the other's fork.

A shocked Silver sputtered out, "Wh-what are you doing?!" He tried to retake the utensil with his brain, starting a mental tug of war.

"Come on!" Grey pleaded. "We're the same person, yeah? So don't worry about germs if you're scared of that! I'm starving!"

Silver blinked before relaxing his grip on the fork. "If you would've asked, I wouldn't have said no."

Grey ruffled his twin's forehead quills. "I'll keep that in mind next time! Thanks so much!" He lifted the plate until it was held with his fingers. He gripped the utensil and ate the last half of the breakfast while floating up and down in the air, ignoring how a somewhat disgruntled Silver fixed his spines for the second time that day.

When Grey was finished, he longed for more, but it couldn't be helped. He gained Rosy's attention by waving his fork. "Props to the chef! Like, seriously." The empty plates all around supported the compliment.

"It was nothing much…" Rosy tried to stay humbled, but it was hard. Instead of one person praising her, a roomful of people were now doing so. "But enough about me." She hoped that her voice was softer. "How are you and Charmy dealing without Bla-" Tears immediately started to well up in Grey's eyes, and Rosy decided to avoid finishing the question to stop the potential waterfalls. They had all seen – and cried – enough tears to last a lifetime.

Luckily, the topic didn't get a chance to be expanded upon. Rosy was a little surprised when heads jerked in the direction of the living room again. Someone must've knocked.

"I'll get it this time." Espio stood out of his chair and ambled to the door, wondering who it was. It was near the time Boom was supposed to show up, but he didn't put it past the hedgehog to arrive late. He opened the door to reveal emerald orbs. Espio had misjudged him, then. "Good morning, Boom."

The azure speedster had his arms crossed, expression blank. "Yeah," he finally responded.

Espio examined him, spotting a couple blades of grass sticking out of the hedgie's quills. The chameleon had a couple of places in mind where he could've slept last night, one taking precedence. But it seemed that he hadn't had a good night's rest, as there were near-invisible bags under his dull eyes. Espio didn't comment on it, however, knowing the concern wouldn't be appreciated. The chameleon exhaled heavily before stepping aside to let him in.

After closing the door, the ninja led Boom into the kitchen.

The speedster surveyed the area as Espio sat down, noticing that all eyes were on him and that the place smelled like breakfast. Boom disregarded the inaudible rumble in his stomach. He would eat later.

"If you're hungry, you should've been here earlier." Boom focused on who he assumed was Grey. The psychic was sitting cross-legged in the air with a plate in his lap, wiping at his eyes. "You could've bummed off of someone like I did."

"I'm not hungry." Boom's response was automatic, monotone. He couldn't think about what he was doing. If he did, his mind would wander, and then he would be treading on thin ice. He didn't have the choice to leave, though. Rosy needed this, just like how Mephiles…

…Dammit. He had to keep his thoughts on a tighter leash.

The azure anthro approached the table, positioning himself right across from Rosy, in between Silver and Grey. His tone was sharp. "Let's get this over with."

That rubbed Rosy the wrong way. "I'm not supposed to be a b-burden to you." Beside her, Amy glared at Boom once she saw that Rosy was having trouble doing so. Other emotions were clouding her anger.

Rosy bit her lip. "No one's making you do it. If you want to go, then go."

Boom saw TT rub her arm in reassurance, but he didn't break eye contact with the pinkette. She had lost something like he had – something that was gone forever.

"I'm teaching you the alphabet first, because if you forget a word or phrase, you can just spell it out," he said, and Rosy relaxed a bit in her seat. Boom then regarded the rest of the table, no inflection in his voice. "I'm only teaching her, so if any of you lag behind, I don't care."

There were curt nods all around. No arguments.

Boom took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself. He stared right at Rosy and held up his right hand. It looked like a fist, but the tips of his fingers weren't digging into his palm – the pads flattened – and his thumb was resting against his pointer fingers. "This is 'A'." There was movement all around him, but he only focused on one bubblegum-quilled hedgehog.

Rosy positioned her fingers and glanced at Boom to make sure she was right. The speedster nodded. He then positioned his digits like they were a stop hand signal, except his thumb was pressed against his palm. "This is 'B'." She copied his positioning again, and they continued this process until they hit 'Z'.

After the pinkette figured out the correct way to draw the ending letter with her pointer finger, he said, "Try to spell your name."

"She's lucky to have a short name," Charmy mumbled to himself as he stared at his hand, not knowing where to start.

"Um…" Rosy chewed the inside of her cheek, racking her brain. They had gone through all the letters just once, so she didn't know if anything actually stuck. After a moment of thought, she signed, "A… N… Y."

"'M' is three fingers, not two," Boom corrected robotically, showing her the right sign.

She fixed her mistake. "Got it."

"We can do simple words and phrases next." Boom paused for a second before holding his fingers up to his lips. He then moved them out and down. "This means thank you."

Both pink twins repeated the action. "This is simple enough!" Amy commented with a smile. "It's like blowing someone a kiss!"

"Yeah, you have enough practice with that, Amy." Silver chuckled, and she stuck her tongue out at him.

Once Rosy got used to the easy action, Boom moved on. "Next, make an 'A' with your fist and put it on your chest. Move it in a clockwise direction." When the azure hedgehog performed the sign, a buried memory surged. His next words were a bit shaky, to everyone else's surprise. "This... this means…" Before he could finish, his mind drifted.

Sonic stared at the food in front of him with a blatant grimace. The questionable meal was sitting in an open cardboard box, its smell making his stomach growl and almost making him gag at the same time. The pizza was slightly burnt, had something he couldn't name growing on one part of the crust, and there were sardines on it. It was obviously the source of the smell.

The hedgehog scrunched his nose up at it, but he had no choice. This was actually one of the better garbage raids, so he had to suck it up. He had to be a good role model.

Sonic smiled just for show as he picked up a wrinkled slice. He flicked away a couple of the sardines and took a bite. It was okay enough to eat. He swallowed and laughed. "We can have this for a long time! It's a full circle!" He bit into the pizza again and glanced over at his neighbor, who was sitting beside him in silence, giving the food a distrusting look. Sonic nudged him. "C'mon Mephy! You hafta eat! You're hungry, right?"

The blue-striped hedgie blinked at him before hugging his knees against his chest and shaking his head.

Sonic pouted. "You storyteller." He picked up a slice with his unoccupied hand after brushing off the sardines. "It's really, really good!" The hedgie held it to his friend's mouth and moved it in a hopefully tempting manner. Mephiles was stubborn, though. He covered half of his face with his arms.

Blue ears perked when a suspicious sound emitted from the striped one's stomach. A victorious grin grew on Sonic's muzzle. "See! Your belly thinks the same! Open!"

Mephy fought it a little more, but he eventually gave in. He hesitantly took the tip of the slice between his teeth and bit it. When he swallowed, he stuck his tongue out in disgust.

Sonic snickered when the other 'hog took the pizza out of his hand. "See? Not that bad!" Mephiles just puffed his cheeks in irritation as he finished off the slice. Despite how he apparently didn't like it, Mephy reached out for more.

Sonic hastily closed the box with Mephy sending him a hurt look. The blue anthro shoved the rest of the piece of pizza in his mouth and got off the hard asphalt, the cardboard box in hand. Mephiles' expression morphed into a confused one when he stood up as well.

The blue mammal didn't respond to it, instead searching for a place to stash their edible prize until they came back. He glanced up and down the alleyway before focusing on a large pile of bigger boxes and zipping over there. He hid the pizza before approaching Mephiles.

Sonic peered up at the sky before saying anything. The sun was beginning to set. Perfect timing. He then grabbed a surprised Mephy's wrist and pointed out of the alley. "I found someplace new we have to go to! While you were napping earlier, I heard people say that you can learn a lot of things at the library! Maybe you can learn how to talk!"

Mephiles vehemently shook his head, ears folded downwards. He was trying to pull out of Sonic's grasp.

The azure hedgie didn't understand. "Don't you wanna learn how to talk?" His friend was slightly trembling now. Sonic pursed his lips. It… it wasn't because he was shy, was it? Sonic loosened his fingers, and Mephiles hugged his hand close to him, taking a couple steps back. "Don't be scared!" He didn't like seeing Mephy like this. "It's getting dark, see?" Sonic pointed to the sky, the other's reluctant gaze following it. "People are going to be sleeping! It won't be a lot of them!"

When the striped hedgehog didn't budge, Sonic switched tactics. He tapped his foot repeatedly on the ground. "I just want to know what you sound like! Please?" Sonic jutted out his lip and made his eyes big and wide.

Mephiles' resolve was beginning to crumble, he could tell. "Only nice people will be there! Please?"

The striped hedgie's trembling had ceased, but he still looked worried. Even so, Mephy merged with his blue friend's shadow.

"Yay!" Sonic cheered, clapping his hands. "It'll be fun, you'll see! The people came out of a big building by the park! We'll get there in no time!" He then blasted off, his young legs guiding them through the backstreets toward their destination.

Once there, Sonic found that the parking lot was near empty. He smiled as he jogged up to the doors of what he believed was the library. Sonic peered up at the handle that was out of his reach. He could jump up, but he couldn't pull it open.

"Mephy!" He glanced at his shadow, which had two green reptilian eyes staring back at him. "Get me up!"

Mephiles maneuvered right underneath Sonic's legs and phased out of the ground, letting the blue 'hog sit on his shoulders. Mephy wobbled back and forth because of Sonic's weight, and the speedster shouted words of encouragement until he got a grip on the handle.

Sonic grinned. "We did it! Now you have to walk back-" He gasped when the door slammed into both of their faces. The pair hit the ground hard, Sonic whimpering as pain blossomed from the back of his head.

"I'm so sorry! Are you two okay?"

Sonic rubbed the tender spot as he sat up, barely sparing the person talking a glance before sending Mephiles a worried look. Tears pricked the striped one's eyes, but he was too busy cowering away from the newcomer to nurse the bruise growing under his head-quills.

Mephy didn't seem too badly hurt, so Sonic focused on the stranger. It was a tall lady with a purse and keys in her hands.

"We're fine!" The azure mammal hopped to his feet, wanting to look strong in front of her. Mephiles ducked behind him, gaze wary. The woman relaxed, and Sonic asked, "Do you work here?"

She nodded, tucking her hair behind her ear. "I do, but I'm sorry, we're closed right now." She looked around a bit. "Where are your-"

"It can't be closed!" Sonic felt his chest tighten. "My friend needs to learn how to talk!"

"Learn how to…?" She focused on Mephiles, and he hid a bit more. After glancing around one last time, she released a quiet sigh and knelt down to their height. Her expression was soft and gentle. "Is… is he deaf?"

"Deaf?" Sonic tilted his head in confusion. "What does that mean?"

"Can he hear you?"

The azure glanced at his curious and cautious friend before nodding confidently. "Yeah! He can hear me!"

"He doesn't talk…" The woman hummed quietly for a second. "Does he make any other sounds?"

Sonic shook his head, and Mephy subtly copied his action. "Nope! Nothing!"

The lady smiled, but it was sad. "I'm not completely sure, but I think he's mute." Before Sonic could ask again what that was, she explained, "When someone is mute, they can't… learn how to talk."

"He can't?" Sonic stomped on the ground, not wanting to believe it. "No! Y-you're… you're wrong!" He felt Mephy's sad gaze on him. "He has to learn!"

Her eyes swirled with sympathy. "How about this, you two. Come back here early tomorrow, and I will teach you how to talk…" She raised her arms and wiggled her fingers. "…with your hands!"

Sonic pursed his lips. "With letters? He can draw letters."

She was slightly surprised, but the look disappeared in a flash. "That's great, but with my way, it's much quicker!"

Sonic and Mephiles were equally awed. "Really?!"

Her smile was happier. "Yes, really!" She lightly chuckled. "What are your names?"

The blue speedster pointed at himself. "I'm Sonic!" He then gestured to a less timid Mephiles. "And that's Mephy!"

"Well, Sonic, Mephy, before I go, I'm going to teach you a little something." The kids shared a look with varying levels of giddiness. The lady rose a hand and made a weird-looking fist. She placed it against her chest and moved it clockwise. "This means 'I'm sorry'. Let's go back to earlier." Her hand made a circle. "I'm sorry… for hitting you."

Sonic's eyes were wide with wonder as he clumsily copied her action multiple times. "Sorry. Sorry! Mephy!" He turned to his friend. "This is so awesome!"

Mephiles nodded in muted excitement as he repeated the action over and over again, eyes sparkling. The woman smiled warmly at them before standing. "Now, I have to get going, but I'll see you two back here tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay!" Sonic energetically waved as she walked away, Mephy doing so with slightly less enthusiasm. The blue hedgehog then whirled around to face his friend. He jumped high into the air, fist pumping. "It's sad that you can't learn how to talk, but you can do it with your hands! That's so cool!"

Mephiles' expression brightened, and Sonic laughed. It'd be much easier to talk to Mephy now! The blue hedgie then rubbed his tummy. "We're done here! So... ready for some more pizza?"

Mephy's features twisted up in disgust, but there was a small smile on his muzzle anyway.

A hand on his shoulder startled him back into the present.

"Hey, are you okay?"

Boom's moist emeralds swiveled away from the tableful of worried stares to meet Grey, who had asked the question with a concerned frown. The speedster's mind took a moment to restart, reminding himself where he was, what he was doing, and that he was in the process of reminiscing – and possibly breaking down – in front of an unwanted audience.

He needed to leave.

Boom hastily ended the contact with a jerk of his shoulder. "I'm done." For right now, for today, or for forever, he didn't know. He just needed some damn air. Boom turned to leave, but he paused at a feminine voice.

"We can take a break now, if that's what you want!" Rosy shot her words out quickly. She was standing up, leaning against the table and her fingers straining against it. She fought to control her voice because she had a good guess as to why Boom had frozen like that. "We can take a break…" Rosy continued at she hoped was a lower volume. "…because we know what you're going through. We all miss him."

That must have triggered something within Boom, for he spun on his heel and slammed his hand on the table, startling the others. A long crack formed because of it. His teeth were bared, snarling. "You didn't drag him to his fucking death."

It was a stare-down between the two. Rosy didn't dare back down, although her gaze was nowhere as heated as his was. "It's not your fault." She shook her head. "No one… no one blames you. Mephiles…that was an accident, just like how Cream and her family…" The rest of the table solemnly agreed with her as tears fell from her eyes. She couldn't stop them. "They were accidents caused by Sabo, and he's gone now."

It was quiet for a moment. Boom was breathing heavier, still glaring, but it was aimed at the cluttered table rather than her.

Rosy reined in her raging emotions, wiping away the dampness on her face. Her misty jades then went to find Grey, who looked to be fighting back tears too. "Y-you know where their graves are, right?" The psychic blinked in surprise, but he nodded anyway. "Take me there, please…"

"Me t-too." TT stood up, ears droopy.

"Me three." Amy followed suit, taking Rosy's hand and squeezing it.

The Chaotix got up as well. Vector gestured vaguely to the front yard. "We can take the jeep to make the trip easier."

Espio noticed that Silver was still seated, his brow furrowed as he fiddled with his fingers. "Silver?" White ears twitched, and golden irises rose. "Are you coming?"

The long-quilled hedgie avoided his gaze and shook his head. "I didn't know Mephiles or Cream… and I don't want to intrude in on the moment, you know?"

"You wouldn't be intruding." Espio opposed. "But you can stay here if you want."

Grey stared at his twin for a moment before addressing Boom. "Hey, jerk… are you coming too?"

"No." It was almost a hiss, but it lacked the necessary energy.

"Will you be here when we come back?" Grey dared to get closer, tears dried and his tone having a sharper edge to it. "She really needs this." Boom barely spared him a glance, continuously looking down at the table. Grey patted him once on the shoulder, and he tensed; though he still kept quiet. Grey's lips twitched upwards before he gestured for the rest to follow him, calling out, "Come on. It's far, but not too far."

Footsteps echoed as the group filtered out. Charmy had lingered behind just to say to Silver, "Don't let him break anything!"

Vector, who had heard, responded. "You're the last person to ask that, Charmy…"

After those words, Silver and Boom were alone.

The psychic felt the awkwardness smother them; or at least him. Boom was lost in his own mind, not acknowledging his existence. Silver wanted to say something, anything, but – to simply put it – Boom wasn't as approachable as Sonic, especially while in this state.

Silver watched as the speedster exhaled harshly through his nose before giving the psychic his attention. Silver unconsciously sat up straighter at the intense stare. It was safe to say that he was more like Shadow than Sonic.

"Why are you still here?" Boom asked crisply, needing a distraction. He had to pull his brain out of the murky water it was drowning in.

Silver didn't expect the blunt question. "Um…" He frowned in confusion. "Did you hear what I told-"

"I heard that." Boom dropped down into the nearest seat, the wooden legs screeching against the floor. He drummed his fingers against the table in irritation. "I meant, why are you still here. Go back home."

"Oh." Now that cleared things up. Silver scratched his cheek. "I'm here because I want to spend a bit more time with the friends I have before I go back." He sheepishly laughed, rubbing the back of his neck. "Honestly, I have more here in the past than I do in the future."

Boom creased his brow. The psychic was strange too, but not as strange as the Psycho. "Tch. Why don't you just stay here then?"

Silver cocked his head at the other, not completely understanding him. His tone was bland and dull like he was bored out of his mind and wanting to end this conversation as soon as possible; but his face, while mostly expressionless, showed a bit of interest. He was way more complicated than Sonic too.

The psychic shrugged. "It's kinda, uh… my duty to make sure the future stays bright. I've been to this past a couple times when things went awry. The first time…" Silver paused, unsure. "…well…"

"Spit it out."

Silver chewed his cheek. Hopefully this wouldn't set the other off. "The first time I came back, it was after I met with… I guess this dimension's Mephiles." Boom's eyes widened before they narrowed into slits. That was a curious reaction. Silver questioned, "Did they not tell you about… our Mephiles?"

Boom's rigid body language clearly communicated a 'no'.

Silver wondered why not, but then again, they probably didn't have time to with all the chaos that went on. "Okay, for starters, he wasn't anything like your Mephiles."

"Wasn't?" Boom's voice was icy.

Silver figured that an explanation was in order, and maybe that could get the other to relax somewhat. "I'll get to that in a bit. Our Mephiles was completely evil, and he wasn't… mortal."

Boom hadn't gotten over the fact that a Mephiles could be anything other than innocent beyond belief before the other finished his sentence. Wasn't mortal? What in the hell did that mean?

He asked that aloud, and Silver didn't beat around the bush. "Mephiles was a time god, or… half of one I think." It hadn't been really clear.

That was the last thing Boom expected the psychic to say. "You have to be bullshitting me. He was a damned god?"

Silver nodded, briefly reliving those nightmarish memories. "Yeah, to save our worlds, we had to kill him. And we did."

Boom eyed him for a minute before scowling. "If you're lyin' to me, I effing swear—"

"I'm not!" Silver held his hands up. "You can ask anyone! They'll tell you the same thing." He lowered his limbs as Boom tapped his foot, still indecisive. "Trust me, when I first learned about Sabo, I couldn't believe it either. Then I came here and met you guys…" Silver chuckled. "But your situation's a bit different, yeah? Our Mephiles isn't here, so you don't have tangible proof."

"No, I don't." Boom looked away, trying and failing to picture Mephiles somehow destroying everything.

"Not that it's a bad thing. It's really good actually." Silver added before noticing that Boom's glare was gone, replaced with something sadder. It wasn't obvious, but Silver noticed it enough to venture, "You and… Mephiles had been good friends for a long time, right?"

Boom sent daggers, but he didn't follow up with a punch like Silver thought he would. "No. We weren't," the azure speedster said stiffly, getting out of his chair and heading for the exit.

"Wait!" Silver reached out for him. "I…" He was going to apologize but thought against it, believing that it would only make things worse. "Where are you going?"

"None of your business," Boom snappily replied.

Silver also had the idea to use his powers, but immediately ousted it. He wasn't going to force him to stay. "Are you going to be back when they return?"

"Don't worry about me."

He ran, leaving a guilty Silver behind by himself.

And the first chapter is done! As you can tell from the lack of robots and the lack of bodies raining from the sky, this story starts off a bit slower than the previous two. These guys deserve a little downtime :)