So. I'm not dead! Yay. Ahem. Summer break is finally here, which means I can focus on STIL a lot more and the editing of MMG, which I intend to release chapter-by-chapter, once a week, so keep an eye on my profile for updates! Also, Sonic Resistance and Mania, amiright?! That's definitely something to get excited for!

Endless thanks to: Corpse Party At Freddy's, Love Hammer, FireWitch25, Emeraldalex123, TheCrazyClan, Steve993, Zgirl101, animelover5641, Chaotic Reflections, Jazzatron, ShadAmy1Fan, a-mvrie, SonadowStories, TrueSonicBlue22, Princess, ToxicWolf1132, MissMJS and Bloom Rossetta! All of your messages were just so freakin' lovely that they brought tears to my eyes :') Thank you so so SO much! I'm so flattered at the reception for Chapter 26!

People who reviewed from an account, my reply is in your PM inbox :D

Guest Replies:

a-mvrie - Ahhh, yes! Sally's mysterious crush! You're right, I haven't revealed who it is yet, and previously I had been intending to reveal it fairly soon. However, as I am introducing some elements of Shadally, I am unsure who to choose as Sally's love interest. Perhaps I might add another love triangle into the mix...;) But, I assure you, I will develop it further and you will eventually find out ;D Thank you very much for reminding me! And I hope you enjoy this chapter :)

Princess - Thank you ever so much for your incredible review! I'm sorry for the wait but so flattered to hear that you've been re-reading this story in the meantime :'3 As for Shadally, I don't intend to have them getting together — though I'm afraid there will be a few moments between them, in the future — but I'll try and write the scenes so that you can either ignore it or ship it :) I'm extremely happy to hear that people liked the idea of the flashbacks! Thank you so much for your compliments; they made me so happy! :'D


Previously, in So, this is love?

Sonic confirmed what everyone assumed: Fiona's a bitch who needs to be taken down a peg. After seeing through her deception and admitting that they still love each other, Amy and Sonic intend to do exactly that.


Chapter 27 – Pawn takes on Queen

(...Amy's P.O.V...)

About a year ago, Silver had taken us to a drama group, which held improv classes. Not because any of us had much inclination to become actors or actresses, but because Silver felt nervous about going by himself, for the first time. He'd gotten into it straight away, along with Cream, Rouge and, surprisingly, Knuckles (though that might've been because his improvised character was simply defined as 'angry'). Meanwhile, Blaze, Sonic and Shadow really weren't fans of it and either couldn't get into character or grew bored and immediately broke out of character. Tails, Cosmo and I were halfway between.

But, clearly, I had been worse than I thought, because Rouge saw through my current guise, in seconds, "You seem awfully subdued,"

Her voice registered in my ears, but the words were tangled, "Hmm?"

"Exactly," She slumped down beside me, gesturing at my book, "You've read that same page six times over. In the last half an hour. If that's not worrying, then I don't know what is, honey,"

"Oh! It's fine, honestly. I just can't get into it, that's all," I slid the bookmark in and tossed the novel to one side.

"Pinkie..." Rouge ran a hand through her hair, possibly picking and choosing her words, as glossy lips were pressed together, "Is this about Sonic?"

I shyly smiled, "For once, no. It's not,"

"Well, that's good news," The ivory bat nudged my ribs, lightly, with a knowing smirk — but she suddenly grew serious, "Don't you think it's time you guys sorted this out? I'm sick of seeing you mope about. It's depressing. Knuckles says that Sonic is the same,"

Blowing out a sigh, I feigned indecision and dug my hands into my own hair. After the events in the library, a week ago, Sonic and I agreed to keep our rekindled relationship secret. With everything suddenly being tossed into the air, and with the strong assumption that Fiona was out to cause trouble, we decided that it was the best thing for everyone. I hated hiding it, but understood when Sonic said that it was for the greater good. If Fiona still thought that we were feuding, then we had an advantage.

"I'm not sure, Rouge. I'm still seeing how it goes, now that we're on speaking terms," I drew out a conflicted tone and pretended to ponder upon it. She seemed satisfied with this and leaned back, nodding in approval, "How's Knuckles, by the way?"

"Knuckie? He's good, from what I know. Why do you ask?"

"C'mon, Rouge. You're not coy. You two have been hanging out an awful lot. Is there truly nothing going on between you two?"

Her lips curved, suddenly amused, not bothering to hide it. I raised an eyebrows, but she didn't cave in, "I'm no kiss and tell,"

"Well, that's not completely true—"

"Not with friends. It's true, Knuckie and I have been seeing each other, but it's not serious. Neither of us want anything serious,"

"Really?" I flipped onto my back and stared up at her. She remained curled against my bed post, as I lounged at her left, "Not even a little bit? You like him, he likes you, sooo...?"

She snorted, "Oh, sweetie, please. Knuckles isn't one for big displays of affection. Sure, he likes me — he has eyes, after all — but anything beyond that is not going to happen,"

"You don't know that. He's never shown signs of liking anyone else — he treats the rest of us girls like siblings. You guys are basically the definition of flirting,"

"Hmm, I don't know: that Shadow-and-Cosmo relationship gets things pretty heated..."

I swatted her, grimly, "Don't even go there. We still need to sort that out,"

"Oh, please! You all need to lighten up. The whole situation is ridiculously stupid and would be funny, if it wasn't happening right in front of us,"

Whilst humming my vague agreement, I noticed my phone lighting up and vibrating, rather furiously, on the table. I scrambled up from the bed and sped over, swiping it up and frowning at the name on the screen. Strange. We hadn't ever phoned each other — we usually texted. I shook away my confusion and pressed the answer button.

"Hello?"

Sally's voice was breathless, "Oh, thank goodness! I was scared that I wouldn't be able to get hold of you! I'm really sorry for calling, but I didn't know what to do — I panicked! She—!"

"It's okay! What's wrong?" I glanced back at Rouge and smiled, as if everything was absolutely under control. The bat raised her eyebrows and folded her arms — she didn't buy it for a second. I repeated in my head that I mustn't say Sally's name out loud. Then I heard something in the phone's speaker, at her end, "...Is that music in the background? Classical music?"

"Yeah. Father likes it, thinks it's calming or something — but never mind that! Please, Amy, I don't know whether I should go up to her or—?!"

"Go up to who?"

"Fiona! She's here!"

"Where?"

"Right! Sorry!" Sally sighed and muttered something faintly to herself, "I should've explained. My Father is holding this ball, in the next town over — a business event. Compulsory for all family to attend: I couldn't get out of it. Anyway, I looked over to my brother, a few minutes ago, and saw Fiona! She's here! Talking to him!"

I instantly understood her worry, but couldn't help but wonder: "Couldn't she be on the guest list? Related to one of your Father's business...people?" The idea wasn't so unbelievable. Fiona seemed like she could flitter across a web of connections.

"No, definitely not. I've known a lot of these people for years — I'm required to mix with them — and I swear, none of them know her! She's sneaked in, somehow! I don't know what she's planning, Amy, but I know it can't be good!"

My mind was running wild. Could Fiona really have some ulterior motive with this? Sonic and I already suspected that she was planning something, but we thought it would be directed at us. Not Sally. What had Sally done? "Wait there. Don't do anything yet. I'm coming over,"

"What? Amy, no, please, — I won't let her go after you instead—"

"Don't be silly. I'm coming. Text me the location and I'll meet you at the entrance. Hold on, okay? It'll be alright," I hung up, fearing that I wouldn't be able to keep that promise.

Rouge straightened, as soon as I threw the phone onto the side, and she watched while I raced to find a suitable battle dress, "What was all that about? It sounded urgent,"

"Uh..." I couldn't think straight. I'd need something posh to get inside — I could only imagine what Sally's family were like — and I was currently in PJs and bunny slippers. I knew that I had a dress, somewhere, but the only visible clothes of mine seemed to be t-shirts and jeans, "Yeah, I need to go and meet someone. Like, now. And I would, if I could find something classy enough to wear!"

"Calm down," She scolded, before sauntering off, towards her pristine wardrobe. I heard the sound of coat-hangers, scraping across the rail, and then she returned, holding out a silky, purple dress, "Put it on,"

Spouting my eternal thanks as I changed — Rouge had seen all sorts of things; we weren't too self conscious in front of each other — I swiped up my phone and tapped out a text as speedily as possible, sending it to two people. I grabbed a bag and dumped the phone inside, along with my keys and purse, before pausing to look at my reflection, in a nearby mirror.

I deemed my day-make-up to be fine; I didn't have time to complain. Rouge's dress was a tad more revealing than I would have liked — there was a medium-sized keyhole cut-out and everything else was rather short and tight. I knew it would look great on her, but it required a lot of confidence. If I hadn't been racing against the clock, I might have tried to find something else. At least it had a layered strap, which wove across my right shoulder and ended on my left. It slightly lessened the amount of cleavage on show.

Rouge let out a low whistle and placed a hand on my shoulder, "Hot. I have great taste. And I hope you run into Sonic, like this — he won't know what hit him. Do you want some heels to go with it?"

"I'm not sure if I'll be able to walk in those, but thank you so much, Rouge. You're a life saver!" I knew the height of her shoes — those heels certainly weren't tame. I opted for my own pumps, "I owe you one. Seriously,"

"Maybe I'll take you up on that—" She gave me a quick hug, before I darted out of the door, "—this person better be grateful! I'll make sure of it. Trust me. I'll track them down."


(...Sonic's P.O.V...)

Impatiently — how long was she going to be, it had been at least three minutes! — I tapped my foot against the ground and kept my arms folded, even though the night was merely chilled. It had gotten dark quickly, as we were passing through the end of Winter, but there were still a few people out, though none that I recognised. I stood in front of the fountain, as instructed, and tried to prepare myself.

Even from the little that I knew, I could tell that this was going to be dangerous. I trusted my instincts, with things like this. Then there was a brisk tap on my shoulder and I turned.

I searched for something to swallow: my throat was dry. I adored Amy's style of clothing — she always looked pretty, no matter what she wore — so I could tell that this dress was different. It had a Rouge-esque vibe about it: the tight, but slinky, fabric made her seem curvier; the cut-out obviously drew eyes. But she was stunning. Clearly, it wasn't simply Amy's style which made her look good. It was Amy.

I was staring, so I quickly averted my eyes. Things were still too early, between us, to start shamelessly checking her out. Which I was. Undoubtedly.

"Y-You...uh..." I closed my eyes and wanted to sink through the floor. It was as if I hadn't spoke to her in a decade. C'mon, Sonic, step it up! "...You look great. A-Amazing. Beautiful,"

"R-Really? Thank you!" She beamed and blushed. Why did she sound surprised?

I grinned back, before holding my arms out and crouching a little, "Well? We better get moving, if we wanna get to this place. How come it's so urgent? Not that it matters: we'll get there in—"

"Hold on, Sonic," Amy put her hand up and stopped me, watching my frown settle. She suddenly grew embarrassed and I strained my hearing to catch her quiet voice, "There's someone else coming..."

I sucked in my cheeks and pondered on this sudden feeling. It hurt and I was confused, "Someone else? Who? You don't need to worry — I can protect you,"

"Be that as it may, who's going to protect you?"

"Oh, for—!" Spinning on my heel, I narrowed my eyes and shot my deadliest glare at him. His smirk annoyed me, even more, and his crimson eyes burned, "You? Really? C'mon, Ames, we don't need this guy tagging along!"

"I didn't expect a red carpet, Faker, but I did expect some gratitude,"

"Gratitude? Heh. No way. Keep dreaming, Shads—!"

"Stop it!" Amy stepped between us, sensing the tension, and raised her palms to quell the brewing fight, "Are you two done? We've got other stuff to deal with, right now!"

I retreated, reluctantly, and focused my attention on her, "Did you really have to get Shadow? He'll slow us down!"

"I'm here to sort things out when you — inevitably — make a mistake. Do you have a problem with that, Faker?" He nodded, satisfied by my low grumble, "Good. Now, what is our mission?"

Amy raised her head, "Mission? Right! Sally called me: she's at this fancy party, for her father, and it's full of business people. Guess who just happened to show up?" She nodded at our dead-set frowns, "Fiona,"

"Something tells me that she's not on the guest list?" I clenched my fists.

"Exactly. She's up to something. Whether it's cosying up to Sally's family or just trying to torment her, we've got to go and help. We can't let her get away with this, not anymore. I won't stand for it. Not for myself, not for Sonic and certainly not for Sally. We need to fight back!"

"That's my girl," I blurted out, before I could think. But at the sight of Amy's joyful blush, I was glad. Shadow tilted his head to the left, blinked and then straightened. He nodded his approval. So much for being subtle.

The ebony hedgehog started to make his way towards the road, "If everything's in order, we should leave. We haven't got any time to lose. Do you have the address?"

"Right here!" Amy passed her phone to him.

I glanced at it, over Shadow's shoulder; I roughly knew where it was. He did too, by the looks of it, as he handed it back and said, "It's not far. We'll get there quickly, if we run. Sonic, you take Amy and then we—"

"WAIT!"

"Tails?" I lowered my arms, with wide eyes, as the fox dashed towards us, lightly panting, "What are you doing here?"

He puffed out his chest and marched up to me, with a determined expression. Amy and Shadow stayed silent, as he declared, "I'm coming with you!"

"What?! No, Tails, you're not. I'm not letting her hurt you, not again," I bowed my head, ashamed. I hadn't been fast enough to protect him, last time. I wasn't going to allow Fiona to hurt him again. I would never let that happen.

"Sonic..." He stood in front of me and placed his hands on my shoulders, "We're in this together. You, me and everyone else. Amy's right! And I have to go! Sally helped me, against Fiona. I want to do the same for her,"

"Sally helped you?" Amy repeated.

"When was this?" Shadow asked, with his naturally-imprinted frown.

"Right before Shamar. She stepped in, when Fiona tried to hassle me. I owe her one," Tails lowered his hands to his sides, but continued to gaze at me, softly.

Shadow grunted, "It would explain why Fiona is there,"

"Invading Sally's home turf, to ensure that she doesn't step out of line again? Makes sense," Amy agreed.

My head was still hanging. I didn't know what to do. Tails inched forward, peering up, weakly smiling, "I won't let you down, Sonic. Please. Let me come with you,"

"Of course you won't let me down, Tails. It's not about that,"

"You don't have to protect me all the time. You've got someone else to protect now," He cocked his head in the direction of Amy and I flushed. He chuckled, lightly, taking my hand and curling it into a fist, before bumping it with his own, "We'll always be brothers,"

Furiously blinking, I clapped a hand on his shoulder and turned to the other two, "Let's do this,"


Sally had alluded, in the past, to her family's fortune. I knew she was rich — her father was actually a member of the royal family and owned several towns, across the continent — but perhaps I hadn't grasped quite how rich.

The four of us were mesmerized, when we arrived, by the sheer size of the 'hall' where Sally's dad was hosting the party. It was a mansion, in the purest and simplest of terms, but the building was definitely not pure and simple. Shadow and I had run here, while Tails flew overhead. Amy stepped onto the ground, as I placed her down, gazing up at the walls.

"Whoa," Tails muttered, as he landed on the gravel, too. I could see the entrance: a large doorway, with bright light beaming through the darkness of outside. I quickly gestured towards it.

"C'mon," Amy prompted, being the first one to dash up the steps and enter. The rest of us followed closely.

Inside was a crystallized paradise. White was clearly the theme — snow white walls, white-lace table arrangements, ivory fabric — and it shimmered and glowed in the disco-ball lighting. One firm rug was spread across the floor: a black velvet material, with thousands of crystal studs, dotted all over the place. I blinked at the pristine perfection and everyone else in it, instantly feeling out of place.

Amy chewed her lip, nervously. I knew that she was thinking the same thing. Tails had a similarly doubtful expression on his face. Shadow folded his arms, huffily.

"You know when you called her 'Princess'?" Amy said and Shadow stiffened. She was talking to him.

"Yes?"

"...You...uh...you weren't wrong,"

I glanced to the right, directly next to the doors, and had a brain-wave, "Back in a minute!" I zipped inside the cloak room, grabbed what I needed and returned in a flash. The three of them stared, in interest. I held up my findings.

"Tie, tie and bow-tie!" In one hand, the two black ties were made of slick fabric: smart and stylish. In the other, the bow-tie was also black, but velvety, and clipped up at the back. After bagging one of the ties, I watched Shadow take the other and winced at Tails, "Sorry, lil' bro,"

"No worries," Tails smiled, easily slipping the bow-tie around his neck and doing it up. It was a little off-center, but he fixed it instantly, "Bow-ties are cool,"

I laughed, just managing to do my own accessory up. It caught at the neck — a bit too tight and uncomfortable — but it would do. Shadow knotted his own tie up and glanced down at it, disdainfully.

Amy grinned at us, looking strangely proud, "Very smart, all of you. You look extremely handsome,"

"Thanks, Ames," I winked. She giggled.

"Amy!" A voice called out and we turned to see Sally rapidly approaching. She was nervous, shaky in heels which she had always been a master of. But she painted a good picture of composure: the auburn up-sweep of hair was crammed into a tight bun, though I wondered how her short crop had been able to do that. Sally's strapless dress sparkled like the room: a moody shade of sapphire, with measurably-straight pleats that streamed to the floor and pooled at her feet. It complimented her eyes, "You're here. I'm so glad. Thank you,"

"It's no problem! We came as quickly as we could. I thought it might be better if we had some back-up..." Amy gestured to the three of us guys. Shadow straightened, as Sally's eyes raked over him. They shared a look. I frowned.

"Of course! Thank you so much for coming. Hi Sonic," Sally smiled, surprising me by stepping forward and enveloping me in a hug. I glanced at Amy — she was happy, with a relieved shine in her eyes — and wrapped my arms around Sally's waist.

"It's good to see you, Sal," I breathed, as she moved away.

"Same to you. You're looking a lot better. Happier, too,"

"Yeah," I grinned, "I am,"

"I'm really glad to hear that. Hey, Tails!"

"I'm so happy to see you, Sally," He greeted back, more than happy to be wrapped up in her arms. I knew that my expression had softened considerably: I wanted him to have hope, to see that people could change and that things would be alright, "I've missed you, like this,"

"So have I, Tails. It's good to be back," Her voice sounded close to cracking. Sally quickly blinked, a couple of times, before raising her head towards Shadow, "Hello, Shadow the hedgehog,"

His face remained still — thin-lipped, stoic, made of stone — but something changed in his eyes. I wanted to demand an explanation, but didn't feel that it was the right time nor place. Amy seemed to know something, as she bit her lip in a grin, when Shadow replied, "Princess,"

Sally sighed, but was smiling all the same, "I suppose I can't argue with that, considering where we're standing," She waved a hand at the ceiling, "Mother likes to go overboard. Father is perfectly fine with that. The end result is this,"

"It's so pretty though!" Amy complimented, entranced by the jeweled floor.

"It is. But this is their version of 'cutting the expenses'. You should have seen Christmas,"

"Amy said you've got a gatecrasher?" As much as I wanted to catch up — I really did, because seeing Sally connecting with the others was such a relief — Fiona's presence was lingering at the back of my mind, uneasy and foreboding.

Sally nodded, grimly, "Fiona's here. Talking to Elias. It's one thing for her to mess with me, but with him—?!"

"Where did you last see them?" Tails asked.

"The hallway, I think. Close to the stairs..."

Surprisingly, Shadow was the one who shot off first. I followed, close at his heels, and dashed up, taking the stairs two at a time. Upstairs had another hall, just like below, decorated with a similar theme. We didn't venture in, however, because two figures were leaning against the doorway, close and intimate. Fiona whispered something into Elias' ear and he laughed, before glancing up.

"Sonic?!"

"Elias," My eyes widened, as he stepped forward and clapped an arm around my shoulders. Feebly, I patted in return. Fiona's eyes were slits, glaring in my direction.

"My word, it's been years! Sally must have invited you here, right?" His smile radiated warmth and relief, having forgotten entirely about Fiona, though they'd been hip-to-hip, moments ago, "I am glad to hear that. I never knew what happened between you two but I could tell how much Sally regretted it, whatever it was,"

I chuckled in response, uneasy, and knew that he'd skin me alive, if he actually knew the truth, "Yeah. Me too,"

"Is Tails here, with you? I would love to see the old gang back together. You guys were as thick as thieves!" His blue eyes drifted over to Shadow, who had been silently scowling for the entirety of the conversation, "And you are...?"

"Shadow the hedgehog," Fiona pushed up off the wall and approached, with a slick smile. She toyed with the ends of her hair, letting her free hand fall to her hip. Shadow and I tensed up, "He's infamous,"

"You know each other?" Elias was either ignorant of, or ignoring, the tension. He laid a hand down on Fiona's shoulder, "This is Miss Jackson. She's...apologies, but what was your relation to my father, again?"

"The niece of his banker," She lied, fluidly, with fluttering eyelids. The expression hardened, when she turned back to us.

"Ah!" Elias straightened up, staring over my shoulder, "Dear Sister, why didn't you tell me that Sonic was coming?"

I turned and swallowed at Sally's expression, which fully portrayed her unyielding wrath, "I asked him last minute," She coolly responded, laying eyes on Fiona.

Elias nodded, "I see. Tails! There you are! I figured that, if Sonic was here, then you must be too! It's great to see you! And the other lady is...?"

"This is Amy Rose," At Sally's introduction, Amy politely stepped forward and offered her hand to Elias. Tension between the rest of us simmered and spat, as they briefly smiled and shook. I kept my eyes fixed on Elias, wondering if he suspected something — if so, he was doing a good job at hiding it and playing host, "Amy, this is my brother, Elias,"

"So!" Fiona had apparently had enough of the pleasantries and, with a poisonous smile, turned her attentions to the pink hedgehog, "You were all friends at school, I gather? How adorable. Surely some of you must have coupled up? Amy and Shadow? Or how about Sonic and Sally—?"

"Brother?" Sally barged between Fiona and Elias, firmly gripping him by the elbow, "Would you go and check on the drinks downstairs? I think Father said something about supplies running low,"

"Oh, really?"

"You should go too, Sal," I suggested, clenching my fists, "Things could get messy,"

Sally looked like she wanted to argue — she opened her mouth, poised for defiance and protests to pour forth — but Tails reached out and squeezed her arm. Her blue eyes trailed and met his own, washing over with regret and something akin to guilt. Amy quietly whispered Sally's name, as the chipmunk beckoned Elias and led him downstairs.

"Your subtlety is impeccable, Sonic," Fiona smirked, smoothing down her dress. A low-cut, figure-hugging number, in black, "Really,"

"Enough with the false pretense," Shadow barked back at her.

"What do you mean by that?"

I strode forward, "My friends are going to know, Fiona. I'm going to tell them what you did. You can't lord it over me — you're not some dirty little secret, not anymore — so stop playing these fucking games!"

"Oh, but it's just so much fun. And since we've already started, we might as well end it..." A waiter sauntered past us, raising a tray with tinkling glasses above our heads. Fiona plucked one off and held it against her lips, snickering and letting her breath condense against the side, "You know I don't like to lose,"

"But there's nothing to win!" Amy flanked my side and I felt my breath hitch. She was incredulous, frowning straight at the vixen, "I can't even understand what your end-goal could possibly be. You don't love Sonic, so you don't want him back. You knew that he wouldn't tell anyone about what you did, so it's not about keeping him in line. How can you possibly be a winner here?!"

Fiona laughed again, but there was something real to it, like she was genuinely amused, "I really don't wanna hear your empathetic bullshit. Screw your psychology, or whatever it is that you think you're doing. Just because he told you about it, you actually think you know what you're talking about? Wow. Talk about having your head up your own ass,"

"Why are you doing this?" I asked, unable to stand the insults and general I don't care attitude that Fiona always wore. Why can't she just stay gone?

"I'm teaching you a lesson, you ungrateful little fuck: stop trying to be the hero," She took a sip of wine, staining her lips a darker red, "I don't think you quite realise how lightly I let you off, all those years ago,"

"What, making me leave? What were you gonna do to me, Fiona? Enslave me into your criminal gang? Kill me?!"

"Killing you was pretty high on the list, when you wouldn't stop going on and on about our future together. I mean, damn. Did you know he talked about how we'd leave Knothole together and stick by each other, forever and ever?" Fiona had leant towards Amy, almost conspiratorially, but now straightened with a wicked glint in her eyes, as she noticed the pink hedgehog's forced swallow, "Clingy as hell, right? Fucking his virginity away was the only thing that would shut him up. Sort of. He's a pretty loud climaxer,"

An iron fist slammed into my gut, to hear her speak about something, which I had once held so preciously, so carelessly. I wasn't prudish but I didn't throw things — like making love for the first time — around. Fiona was my first everything and it meant absolutely nothing to her.

"You really are a stone-cold bitch," Amy spat, when she found her voice.

"See, it's not so much about winning something. It's about regaining what I lost. Sonic decided that it would be a good idea to defy and humiliate me. I'm restoring his obedience and throwing around a little misery, while I'm at it. Don't worry, I'm making sure that you're all getting your fair share. That slutty bat and dense echidna are next on the list," Upon seeing Amy tense up, Fiona raised a hand to silence her and spoke, "There's no reason behind it. Sometimes, people are just born bad,"

"That's not true! You can just walk away from all of this—!"

"This is sounding a little bit familiar, isn't it, Miles?" She tapped a finger against her cheek, as Tails bit down on his lip, with glossy eyes, "Amy, would you like me to slap some sense into you, too?"

"Wipe that shit-eating grin off your face," Shadow barged past all of us, unhurt and unaffected, before tossing Fiona against the wall and clamping a hand around her neck.

"Shaddy-boy, you are just askin' for an ass-kickin',"

Ramrod straight, the ebony hedgehog turned his head and released Fiona. She managed to prop herself up, gulping air down and furiously rubbing her collarbone. Scourge beamed at all of us, from the hall doorway. Shadow growled, "I'd like to see you try. You've never managed it before,"

"Well, since we were just talking about firsts..." Mockingly adjusting the tie slung around his neck, (in other circumstances, I would have quipped that he looked like more of an idiot than usual, without his beloved leather jacket and red sunglasses) Scourge raked his eyes over me, smugly, "You gave it up to Fiona, Blue? Damn! You slut. Or was it because you thought it was true love?"

"Back off, Scourge!" Tails defended. I felt a pang of gratitude and warmth, but instinctively tensed, even so.

"Oh, you want some humiliation too?" Scourge cracked his knuckles and snickered, menacingly, "It'd be my pleasure to slam your face into a wall, Miles!"

I pushed him back, glaring daggers, "Lay one finger on him, just one—!"

"Or maybe I should go after your chick instead and see if she gives it up to me? 'Cause she clearly hasn't gotten down an' dirty with you. Did Fi break your heart that badly? Shit, first her, then Princess and now Pinkie? Your love life ain't exactly flourishing, is it, Sonic?" The green hedgehog grinned, wolfish.

"He doesn't have Fiona's hypocrisy," Shadow's voice was remarkably stable. Simply and intensely, he stared at Scourge, as everyone turned to look at him. Fiona grew increasingly furious behind him, "Her comments about love are rather hollow. Has she confessed her feelings to you yet?"

"You son of a—!"

I sped over, knocking aside Fiona's outstretched kick. Her stiletto cracked against the floor, as she righted herself from the block. With a grave expression, I watched her and shook my head, once, "You don't wanna do this. Even you know that this is a bad idea,"

"Fuck you! You don't know how much I want to do this! Maria Robotnik wouldn't be very proud if she saw this, would she?" Fiona grinned at Shadow, with a wild look in her eyes, as his face drained of composure, "Oh, did I not mention this? I did a little digging about you, Shadow the hedgehog, and your backstory is surprisingly interesting—"

"Don't," I had never heard Shadow sound so broken.

"Have you told them about what happened? I bet not. I'm sure the memories are pretty raw—"

"Don't you dare,"

"Are you still cut up about it? You should be. It was several years ago, but you probably don't get over killing your best friend. It was the reason for Towers putting you back in the care system, after all—!"

"Don't. You. Fucking. Dare!"

But Fiona had never known when to quit, "You were driving. She was in the passenger seat. Where were you going, again? Taking her to see her Grandad? But a car pulled out on you, ran you off the road, tossed you into a ditch. She died but you crawled away. You killed her. You killed—!"

"Enough!"

I'd been expecting Shadow to roar forward and knock Fiona off the ground, so I blocked him from her, with an outstretched arm — but he was worryingly still. It was Sally who darted out and delivered a hard blow to Fiona's abdomen. The fox briefly doubled over and Sally's eyes flashed with blue fury.

"Damn," Scourge muttered behind us.

"Get out of here! You're disgusting filth, the both of you! You're leaving, right now!" When Fiona stood up and said nothing, showed no sign of attacking or throwing back a nasty quip — her face was utterly blank — Sally glared at her and became even more enraged, "GET OUT!"

Rolling his eyes, Scourge made a rough gesture to Fiona, as he turned and headed towards the stairs, "Calm your tits, Sal. We're leaving,"

Pointed heels smacked against the ground. Fiona calmly sashayed through the middle of our group, without so much as glancing back. Light fell onto her eyes, as if they were made of glass, and she suddenly appeared fragile. I frowned, wondering if this was the calm before the storm.

"You've got something in your eye, Shadow," She called back, void of pride, just before disappearing from view, on the staircase.

My shoulders sagged, when I breathed out a sigh of relief. My eyes met Amy's, who looked just as concerned and ill-at-ease. It was a victory. But it didn't feel like one.

"Are you alright?" I heard Sally lowly ask Shadow. Her hand was hovering at his shoulder, not quite touching. He didn't seem to notice, because he was gripping the door-frame with such a strength that his gloves were straining. Knowing better, Sally didn't ask him again, but her eyes didn't leave his form.

I loosened my tie with one hand, "That was..." Horrible. Invasive. Worrying.

"Damn Fiona for saying those things! How could someone be so...so...?!" Sally's hand delved into her hair as if it were the only thing that could soothe her frustration.

"Like she said, some people are just born like that," I muttered.

"Tails?" Amy's voice was drifting away, as she dashed towards the stairs, following after the kitsune's retreating figure, "Tails, where are you going?"

"Tails!" I yelled, gently moving her to one side, and sped after him. He slipped into the writhing crowd — which had suddenly thickened — and disappeared from view. I cursed under my breath. What was wrong? I managed to worm my way through, heading for the entrance, before escaping into the cool, fresh night air.

Everything was cloaked in the murky black ink of darkness. Bold lights from the mansion trickled onto the gravel pathway, but they were soaked up by the endless stretch of surrounding field. Sally's dad had chosen a reclusive location, on the edge of town, but still within walking distance. The closest thing was a little bit down the road: a greasy 24/7 diner. Tails probably wouldn't have gone there. He must have raced off, across the grassland.

"Sonic!" I turned and caught Amy in my arms, as she barrelled down the steps. Her cheeks were flushed from the heat of indoors, "Where is he?"

"I don't know. He must have taken off, over in that direction," I gestured with a free hand, before sighing and watching my breath turn to smoke. I lowered my head, "Dammit, Tails..."

"You're going to go after him, aren't you?"

"I have to, Ames. Who knows where he'll end up, if he just keeps walking? It's not safe,"

"Of course. Will you be alright?"

I smiled and held her face in my hands, dropping a kiss to her forehead, "I'll be fine. Stay here, okay?"

"But what if he's gone the other way? Towards the town? Heading back home? I should check it out, just to make sure,"

"Amy, no," My blood ran cold at the thought and my hands moved to her shoulders, gently squeezing, "Fiona and Scourge could still be hanging around. They're dangerous. I would never forgive myself if—"

"And I'd never forgive myself if they hurt Tails, because I sat around being safe and letting you put yourself in danger,"

"Then get Shadow to—"

"Shadow is not in a place, right now, where he'll be rational if he runs into them. You heard what she said. He'll tear them to pieces, if he finds them,"

"But how do I know that you'll be okay?"

She placed her hands over mine and entwined her fingers, "I will be. I'm not being a defenseless princess in a tower, remember? It's time for us to be badass heroes, teaming up to defeat the bad guy,"

"This isn't the alternate reality, Amy," I whispered.

"No, but they're versions of us. They're really not all that different. You need to go after Tails,"

I chewed my lower lip in frustration. Everything inside me screamed that this was a really, really bad idea, but what choice did I have? I had to go after Tails; I couldn't just leave him. I had to go. But if I did, Amy would search in the other direction, no question. I hated the thought of putting her in danger, where I couldn't' protect her.

"Go," She prompted, lightly pushing against my chest, "Text me, when you find him. I'll do the same,"

"Only walk until you reach the diner, on the road, okay? And wait for me there. Don't head back by yourself. It's open all night. You'll be safe there. Promise me that, at least,"

"I promise,"

I kissed her and then ran.


(...Amy's P.O.V...)

I fired off a quick text to Shadow, still with tingling lips, telling him that Sonic and I were searching for Tails and that he should protect Sally (Shadow would not appreciate being told to simply "hang tight"). I didn't expect a reply, so gripped my phone in my hand and purposefully strode down the long road.

The flashlight turned on with a sharp click of the button. I'd managed to grab one, from inside the mansion, as there were several at the entrance — presumably, they belonged to Security. The beam didn't have a long range and only really illuminated the path, but I gratefully clutched it and held it close to my chest.

It wasn't long before the cold prickled against my body. Rouge's dresses were hardly tailored for warmth and I found myself wishing that I had wings, like her, so that I could fly — it would generate more heat and speed up the search. Sonic's speed would've worked, too. I hope he's alright, I prayed, with chattering teeth and numb skin.

"And here I pegged you as one of the smarter ones. But damn, Pinkie, did you really think comin' out here was a good idea?"

Spinning, I shone the beam in his eyes and gritted my teeth at Scourge's irritated hiss, before lowering the flashlight, "Don't come near me!"

"Chill out. I just came back for Fi's coat," He raised the furry bundle, which he held in one hand, as proof. My racing heartbeat slowed, just a little bit, "What're you doing here, without Blue?"

"We're looking for Tails. For some reason, he ran off," Glaring, I watched Scourge huff out a sigh and scratch the back of his neck, with his free hand. He looked remarkably like Sonic, all of a sudden, without such a cold demeanour.

"Yeah, well. Kid needs to get a grip,"

"He's not exactly overreacting!"

"Whatever,"

The tension left my shoulders, because he really didn't seem like he was going to hurt me. He seemed tired. But the venom of his and Fiona's words bubbled up in my mind, "You should go,"

"If you know what's good for you, you'll just let Fiona win. I'm tryna help you here, Amy, so tell Blue to get over himself and just back off," I searched his eyes for signs of malice — they were startlingly blue, not as deep as Sally, not innocent like Tails, but not light-hearted like Rouge, either — and yet I couldn't find anything.

"Why the hell would you help me?"

"I dunno. Maybe it's the vodka talkin'. Forget it,"

He started to walk away. I leapt forward and grasped at his shoulder, pulling him around, "Scourge, you don't have to—!"

"Don't ever do that," His hand clamped down on my wrist, dragging it down and forcing me to stoop. I growled up at him, as he rasped into my ear, dark and foreboding, "I was wrong to doubt Fi. You really are incredibly fucking stu—"

"Hey. Let go of her,"

We both glanced up at the stern voice, accompanied by a low, whirring sound. I took in the hoverboard first, which lit up with strange patterns, but also had a strong headlight, at the front, pointing towards us. I raised my own torch and widened my eyes, murmuring, "Jet!?"

The green hawk tilted his head, still waiting for Scourge to drop my wrist. He did, but managed to throw a fierce glare in response. Jet folded his arms across his chest, "Is he bothering you, Ames?"

"Ha! I wouldn't call her that, if I were you. Her boyfriend gets all pissy about it. It's his name for her—" Scourge rolled his eyes and stepped back, ready to leave, "—and don't call her Rose, either. That's her other boyfriend's name for her,"

"Scourge," I warned, feeling braver now that Jet was ominously whirring beside me. But had I swapped one danger for another? Tense again, even as we watched Scourge slink away into the night, I stared up at the hawk, "Thank you,"

He ruffled his feathers, uncomfortably, "S'okay. Where are you heading, anyway?"

"There's someone I'm looking for...but I'm meeting Sonic at the diner, up the road?"

"I'll go with you. I don't trust that green hedgehog. He's bad news,"

Jet caught on fast, I'd give him that. He asked if I wanted to hop onto the hoverboard, which would get us there faster, but I quickly glanced at it and decided no — that thing looked dangerously unsteady — so instead suggested that we walk. Briefly confused, Jet leapt down onto the trail, tucking his board under his arm, and followed the steady shine of my torch.

He didn't let the silence linger for too long, "So what was all that about?"

"I...I don't even know myself. We were just in a stand-off, with him and Fiona Fox, but that? I have no idea what just happened,"

"Huh. Strange. Are you guys at war or something?"

I snorted, weakly, "That's a pretty good way of putting it. Scourge is just the henchman, though — Fiona is the General,"

"Who's the General on your side?"

"Sonic, I guess. But we're all standing with him,"

With a slow nod, Jet let his gaze slip to the floor. I watched, mesmerised, wondering why he was acting so differently. There was no trace of his cocky bravado, that irritating smirk. Maybe it was because Sonic wasn't around — he got more of a kick out of Sonic's frustration than he did mine — but it was still odd. Perhaps Scourge's sudden sympathy was contagious.

I could see the faint glow of the diner, resting on the incline of a hill, with neon flickers and soft music. Jet didn't make any comment, but something else had piqued my curiosity, "Where's your crew, anyway? You know, Wave and Storm? Are they around here?"

"The Babylon Rogues? Nah, they're back home. Storm had some TV show that he wanted to catch up on; Wave's working on adjustments for her Extreme Gear. Like she doesn't spend enough time doing that already," He grumbled.

"Extreme Gear? That's your board, right?" I gestured at it and he nodded, "You were going to race Sonic with it, weren't you?"

"Yeah. Then the idiot had to go and break his ribs. How is—is that, um, clearing up okay?"

I eyed him up, for a moment, lightly smiling, "He's doing well. It won't be long before he can race you again. Or were you actually concerned about him?"

"Ha! No! I just wanted to know when I could put him in his place. 'Shoulda known he'd pull a stunt like that, just to cover his pride," But Jet was smirking to himself, "Where is he, anyway?"

"Tails—uh, his best friend— ran off, because of something that Fiona said. Sonic went after him, but I came this way, just in case Tails was over here. We agreed that I'd wait at that diner," I pointed towards the building, which was now remarkably bright and close, "He didn't like the idea of me being confronted by Scourge or Fiona,"

"Kinda like how Scourge confronted you, just now?" Jet headed off, grabbing the door handle of the diner and holding it open for me, "Idiot. But I get why he'd be worried. 'Guess I'll have to wait with you, until he comes back,"

"You don't have to," I stepped into the entrance, because it was freezing, but took the door from him, so that he could turn to leave, "I'll be okay here. You've done enough for me already, Jet. Thank you,"

But he followed after me, shrugging, "I don't care. I'm kinda hungry and Sonic's had it rough. 'Might as well help him out a bit and have him owe me. And jeez, stop thanking me. It's annoying,"

We shared a smile, before snagging a booth.


(...Fiona's P.O.V...)

"Here," Scourge slung my jacket towards me, when he sauntered along. Silently, I slid the soft white fur around myself and hugged my torso with my arms, "Better?"

"I'm no longer cold," I answered, rage burning in the pit of my stomach, but something about it felt dull, almost stunted. There were times when I could be infuriated, with heat sparking in the very depths of my veins, but this wasn't the same. There was something empty about this anger, "Not better,"

"You did it," Scourge pointedly stared ahead, "You made Shadow cry. How long have you known about his backstory?"

"Long enough,"

"Okay, what's with the bitch-fit, Fi?" He sounded angry.

I glared right back at him, "We didn't do shit! Amy knows everything. We're at risk! Sonic won't squeal, but Amy might!"

"You're at risk. Sonic doesn't know about me saving your ass, while the cops went for the Suppression Squad, does he?" Scourge clamped his hand around my wrist, pulling, "Right?"

"No," I admitted, tiredly, but with enough energy to try and yank my arm back, "Don't think you're dumping me in it! Not now!"

"I don't owe you anything,"

Startled, I stumbled back, "Where's this coming from? What, you're gonna start losing your balls as soon as the going gets tough?"

"I humoured you, with this little revenge plot. It sounded like it might be a laugh. But now it's gone cold and I'm bored. You used to be fun, Fi. Now you're just obsessive,"

"What are you saying?"

He finally met my stare, half-grimacing. The bottom of my stomach dropped, empty and hollow. I glared harder and harder. He relented, "I'm not doing this anymore,"

"That's it? That's fucking it?! All because they rattled you with their team-spirit shit?! No, you're the one who's changed — you weren't so spineless when I met you! You've gone soft! You're not cut out for evil anymore!"

Scourge sighed, rubbing a hand across his temple, "What did Shadow mean? About you being a hypocrite? About your feelings?"

"How should I know?" I snapped, taken aback, "He was just making shit up,"

"If he was just making shit up, then why'd you fly off the handle?"

It was a reasonable question. But I threw my hands up, into the air, and cried out in frustration, "I don't need to listen to this! I can't believe you're actually choosing—!"

"Fi, if...this..." He gestured between us, hesitantly, as if he could hardly bring himself to refer to it. I stared at him in stunned silence, almost shivering, wondering how working up a sweat in bed, last night, had turned into this, "...has gone too far, then I need to know,"

"Screw you! Screw them and screw you too!" Ignoring the tight feeling in my chest, I strode away from him, heaving out my breath in anger. Insults and retorts zipped in and out of my head. I whirled around and hissed, "Don't go thinking you can come crawling back! I'm done with you!"

"The game was fun while it lasted, Fi,"

I exhaled, calm once more, "Don't go thinking it's over yet,"


A/N: As a gift for waiting so long for an update, the next chapter will finally, finally address Tailsmo! :D