Chapter 1: Reunions
I clutched my suitcase handle a little tighter, as I stared up at the powerful columns and pillars resting beside the brickwork of Spagonia University. Great, beautiful towers of windows lined the sides of the building, framing the fountain, leisurely spewing water outside. The steps seemed like a long, tough journey inside, but I raised my head and smiled, confidently.
The sun was warm on my back, as a faint late Summer breeze blew through the ends of my hair. There was the quiet chatter of older university students around me, which I soaked up, as this would be my life for the next three years.
Where had the time gone?
Two arms slid around my waist and I gasped. The white gloves squeezed, gently, and the person's breath tickled the back of my neck. I smiled, knowing exactly who it was now.
"Guess who!" The visitor spoke through a grin, happy and light.
I laughed, "Hello, Sonic."
As I turned, he proudly beamed and hugged me close, before releasing me. I stared up at him, still not quite believing that I was dating this beautiful model of a person, but he seemed oblivious, eyeing the fountain with suspicion. A smirk pulled at the corners of my mouth; of course. He couldn't swim.
"And how are you, on this fine day?" Sonic asked, gesturing at the dappled sunlight covering the university.
Giggling, I pulled him close again, "All the better for seeing you." We squeezed in a hug, again, before finally breaking apart. It had felt like ages since I'd last seen him — the stress and chaos of preparing to move and start at university had distracted me from him.
"Heh. The day is only as beautiful as the company you keep!" He winked and cupped my face with his hands, guiding me into a kiss. Every kiss we shared still had the hypnotising magic and spark of the very first one.
Sonic leant back, leaving me momentarily stunned. He smiled, "And you, Amy, just made my day ten times more beautiful."
I laughed and took his hand in mine, "You're in a really good mood today, aren't you?"
"You bet I am! How couldn't I be? I've just had an amazing run to this place, I'm with the person who lights up my life, I'm about to reunite with my best friends and I'm gonna have four months away from my siblings! They've been driving me crazy!"
"You ran all the way here? It's about fifty miles!"
Sonic raised an eyebrow, "Fastest thing alive, remember?"
"Okay, good point. But how can your siblings be driving you up the wall? They're lovely."
"Let's see... oh yeah. Sonia being a complete megalomaniac and screaming at me, for every single little thing I haven't done. And then there's Manic. He won't stop playing those stupid drums all night. And he's become obsessed with showing off his bike tricks, since you taught him how to ride it!"
Smiling, I reminisced about when I'd taught Sonic's older brother, Manic, how to successfully pull off a wheelie. Neither of the brothers had had much practice on bikes, as Manic had been focused on drumming and Sonic was always a bigger fan of running. I nudged the blue hedgehog in the ribs, "Are you jealous?"
Sonic tilted his head, curious, "Why would I be jealous?"
"Because Manic likes me best," I joked.
"Why would I be jealous, when you were the one who taught my brother how to do something that he's always wanted to do?" Sonic lovingly linked hands with me and placed a kiss on the top of my head.
I blushed, "Sonic..."
"Running's better, anyway."
Teasingly, I pulled my hand away, "I knew you were going to say that!"
We both turned, marvelling as a grey hedgehog dashed towards us. Suitcases and bags were floating along beside him, easily keeping up, with a mysterious teal glow surrounding their silhouette. As he reached us, the baggage carefully landed on the ground beside mine, before he pulled Sonic and I into a tight hug.
"Jeez, Silver!" Sonic protested, but he was chuckling.
I giggled, "It's nice to see you too!"
Silver released us, golden eyes shining like all his birthdays had come at once, "I've missed you guys! It's been such a long time. I've almost missed your sickeningly sweet coupledom!"
Sonic threw out a laugh, winding his arm around my waist, "Likewise, dude. How was your romantic weekend with Blaze?"
"It was awesome," Silver blushed, "I've still missed her though. But I'm looking forward to seeing the others, too! Man, it feels like forever since we've all been together, as a group!"
"You've got that right," I agreed.
Faintly, a soft voice yelled out to us, "Mr Sonic! Mr Silver! Amy!"
We turned and spied a small rabbit wobbling towards us, buckling under the weight of her suitcases. In a flash, Sonic sped towards her, picked her up — luggage and all — before returning and setting her down beside us. Cream carefully placed her items on the ground, before skipping forward and tackling me in a hug.
"Oh, Amy! I've missed you!" Cream nuzzled into my collarbone.
I laughed and held her tighter, "It's only been a week, Creamie!"
The two of us separated, and Cream enveloped Silver and Sonic in a hug, respectively. Sonic picked her up by the waist and lifted her from the ground, grinning when she squealed in protest. I looked on, proudly, eternally grateful that he had such a soft spot for Cream. It would have broken my heart if they didn't get along.
Silver made a sound, which sounded like he'd vomited and swallowed it back down. I grimaced, "Ew. What's wrong, Silver?"
I followed his gaze and laughed at the sight of Blaze and Rouge, striding towards us. Of course. Silver was literally lovesick.
As the lavender cat and grey hedgehog raced towards each other, spinning in an embrace, I jogged over to Rouge and hugged her. She returned the affection, casually brushing her hair out of her eyes, afterwards, "An unexpected welcome! And here I figured I'd have to stand around while Blaze and Silver sucked faces."
"Yeah, we're here to save you from that," Sonic joked, as Cream unleashed an equally excited hug on Rouge, "Anything for a damsel in distress, heh."
Rouge purred, "Ooh, anything, Big Blue?"
I sighed, fondly, at her flirtation. Blaze sauntered over, rolling her eyes in exasperation, "Rouge. Must you always flirt, at every chance you get? Sonic is taken."
"Relax, Kitty. Both of these men are hands-off, I get that. Besides, Silver's not really my type," The ivory bat smirked, as Silver stamped his hand to his heart and wiped away a fake tear.
"How... How could you?!" He mocked, pretending to kick one of Rouge's many suitcases, which she'd unbelievably carried with her, "Not your type? How will I live with this pain? Rouge, you have broken my heart into a thousand pieces!"
"Save it for the drama degree, Prima Donna."
"They're as bad as each other," Blaze sighed, but she smiled as I wrapped my arms around her neck and squeezed.
"Hey, it's Tails! And he's got Cosmo with him!"
I turned to see where Sonic was pointing. He was right; an orange fox, with propeller twin-tails, was flying towards us, and holding a green figure by the arms. Firmly gripped in the seedrian's hands were three cases: two bright yellow ones, with the name 'TAILS' printed in black, the other a pale pink, which I presumed to be hers.
Now close, Tails gently deposited Cosmo on the ground, extremely mindful of her comfort. She reassured him as the suitcases reached the ground with a controlled thud, and she elegantly stepped out of Tails' grasp. The kitsune himself returned to his feet, before his head snapped up and his eyes gleamed, "Hey, guys! Hey, Sonic!"
Tails sprinted towards the blue hedgehog and barrelled into his arms. Sonic ruffled the top of Tails' head, "Tails! I'd say long time no see, but we saw each other not long ago! Guess it sucks that much not having me around, huh?"
"Sure, that's it," Tails laughed.
"Hello, everyone! It's so lovely to be with you all again," Cosmo's voice was quiet, but its tone was excitedly musical. Blaze, Cream and I stepped forward to find out how she was — however, Rouge was a little preoccupied.
"It's about time, Knuckie! I was thinking you'd gone and gotten lost!" She teased, slinging her hands on her hips as she watched the red echidna who traipsed towards us, duffle-bag lightly hanging from his shoulder, "Did you miss me?"
"Ha! Not in the slightest," Knuckles barked, but his expression grew nervous when Rouge smothered him to the ground. His protests transformed into hysterical laughter, due to her hug turning into merciless tickling.
By this time, Sonic and Tails had joined us again, watching the scene in bewilderment, next to Silver. Sonic cupped his hands around his mouth, "Surrender, Knuckles! You've lost this one!"
There was the roar of an engine. A sleek motorbike skidded into view, bumping up on the pavement and screeching to a halt in front of us. The rider paused, staring at us through the helmet.
"Shadow!" I said aloud, and the rider took off their helmet to reveal that it was, indeed, Shadow the Hedgehog. Swinging his leg over the side, he turned off the bike, dismounted and deposited his belongings in its locked seat. Strolling towards us, I noticed that he was wearing the leather jacket that I'd bought him for Christmas, and I felt a sudden swell of pride. Everyone else seemed equally happy to see him — even Sonic, who gave a slow nod and asked how Shadow had been.
Our group had started to attract some attention from the other students, especially with Shadow and his bike. I overheard a pair of nearby girls exclaim that Shadow was "ridiculously hot" and needed "to get in my bed. Now."
I frowned, feeling strangely protective towards Shadow, after hearing that. If he'd heard, the comments wouldn't have bothered him, but I still felt internally that they seemed a little... forward.
"Hello, Amy," Shadow greeted, pulling me out of my musings. I jumped a little, but mustered a smile and responded just as cheerfully.
"So, the whole gang is back together!" Glancing between everyone, Sonic turned towards the university and gestured at its entrance, "I guess we should probably head on inside!"
"We'll have to collect our keys for our rooms, inside. Then there'll be something called Matriculation, later on, where the chancellor welcomes us to the university. Oh, we should probably also apply for any optional modules which we may have. Then we'll have the rest of the day to explore!" Tails' entire itinerary was a surprise to us all.
"How'd you know all of that?" Silver asked.
Tails cocked his head, "Didn't you read the email?"
We blinked and glanced about, nonchalantly. We hadn't.
"Alright. Time to collect some keys!" Sonic led the way towards the entrance, and we followed after him.
Rouge didn't immediately follow, only managing to gather three of the cases into her arms, this time. She glared at the final two, resting on the floor, before calling out, "Ohhh, Knuckie?"
"I am astounded that we've had the fortune of being placed in a flat together," Blaze said, as she walked through the door from the hallway into the communal area. By some twist of fate, us girls had all been allocated the same dorm, with our rooms located next to each other down one hall and a shared living space.
"I guess this is a reward for having to deal with all that Sally shit, back at school," Rouge reclined on the couch, fondly smiling as Knuckles heaved her suitcases out into the hallway. The boys had found the same luck as us, sharing a single dorm together, but Knuckles had made a detour to deliver Rouge's bags to her room, all with minimal grumbling.
Sonic had come too, insisting that he would carry my bags, despite my protests.
"I really appreciate the gesture, Sonic, but I am honestly fine with carrying them in," I spoke up for the thousandth time, as Sonic reappeared from my room, after shifting my bag inside.
The blue hedgehog shook his head, adamantly, "Ames, it's part of my duty as your boyfriend. And, besides, I'm stronger than you."
I raised an eyebrow and scoffed, "You're really not."
"Don't even start with that crap, you two," Blaze warned, not even facing us, as she stared out of the window. Our block of rooms were really close to the university — so much so, that we had a beautiful view of the fountain from our living room. The sofas were uncomfortably practical, with their smooth plastic-leather coating, but there was something charming about them. I wondered if the boys had the same set up, just two floors below us.
Sonic joined my side, "It is a really cool view."
"You bet it is," I leaned into his side and he instinctively lifted an arm around my shoulders. I rested my head against his neck.
"I think this is the start of a new adventure," He said.
"Do you think it's going to be a good adventure?"
Sonic smiled — bright and beautiful — and placed a kiss on my forehead, "It's going to be awesome, Ames."