Cream watches Tails from afar, and comes to a realisation. Set after Episode 78 of Sonic X.
This fanfic is set well after Episode 78 of Sonic X.
Please read, enjoy, and, if at all possible, review.
I Could be Your Second
I gaze at you from across the bay, and I struggle not to weep. You try to hide the pain you feel, Tails, but whether it's up close or from this great distance, I can see your pain. I can see it because, for well over a year, I've felt the same pain.
It's the pain of loss. It's that terrible, terrible pain you feel when fate takes away someone whom you care about more than yourself. We've both felt that pain, and although I'm sure many others have as well, for us it's different, because we were the ones who had to kill the ones we loved.
At the time, I'd never have been able to put the word "love" to what I felt for Emerl. It's strange that, in the years since his death, I've come to realise how naÃ¯ve I was. I couldn't have known then what I know now. After all, it seems so ridiculous. A six year-old rabbit loving a robot? It's no wonder that no one ever saw it. It's no wonder that no one took the notion seriously until I'd knocked Emerl's beaten form into the ocean. It's no wonder that no one ever cared for Emerl like I did.
The only one who even came close to feeling what I felt for Emerl is my best friend, Cheese. He hovers beside me, his tiny pink wings flapping effortlessly to keep his light body in the air. I turn my head to face him, and he stares at me. His large blue eyes penetrate through any barrier I may have formed. We don't need words. I know that he knows what I'm feeling, even though he doesn't understand why I can't move on.
I go back to watching you, as I have every night since we returned home from our battle with the Metarex. The first night, it was purely accidental. I saw you feverishly working on the X-Tornado, and I couldn't help but stand there and watch. I came back, and every night it was the same.
Anyone else would dismiss this as something natural for you, but I know better. Before we left to fight the Metarex, you were often working, but it was always on some new project, and it was never for as long as this. Now, it's the same thing every night. This isn't you at all. Rather, you try to forget your troubles by holding onto a constant, but I know that that alone won't work. I know, because it didn't work for me.
That's what I tried to do when Emerl died. I tried to act like nothing had changed, but something inside me had, something that I can't describe. Things that made me happy before suddenly had no effect on me. I tried to remain as I had been before I met Emerl, and that was my mistake, for I was trying to be someone I'm not.
I was lucky, though, in the sense that things happened that made me realise what I still had. When we had to leave Chris' world, I knew I was leaving something behind, but I was also reminded that I still had my mother and my friends. Maybe they'd never be what Emerl was, but they were something for me to hold onto, and to move towards the future with.
It hasn't always worked. Some nights I have nightmares about how I had to kill Emerl, and some days I wake up and think about him for no apparent reason, but I don't let it control my life. I move forward, with help from those dearest to me, help that they may not even realise they provide.
I wish I could say the same for you, but my mother raised me to be honest. After that initial, tragic period where you were still trying to come to grips with what had happened, you failed where I had. Every word you've said and every action you've made since then has been an imitation of your old self, but it's a mockery. You may be able to fool the others, but you'll never be able to fool someone who's experienced those feelings.
Ever since we came back, I've tried to reach out to you. I've tried to break through that shell you've set up, but nothing I've done has worked. You've become an expert at shutting people out. I think that you don't want to bring others down with your pain. You've always been too kind for your own good. If only you could realise that, although this lie may help the others, it makes my heart ache.
As if on cue, the massive metal door to your workshop closes, as it does at the end of every day. I look out to the sea, and I see the setting sun. The pink sky wavers ever so slightly with each passing moment. The sun's rays bounce and scatter off the ocean, causing it to sparkle like some preview of the night sky.
It's summer, and even though it won't get cold for a while, it's still late. Mother will be worrying about me, and I hate to make her worry. It's the last thing I want to happen, but there's one more thing I must do before I can return home for the night.
I look down at the candle I hold in my left hand, and the box of matches I hold in my right. There was a time when I wouldn't have dared to use matches, and my mother wouldn't let me. I've grown more responsible in since then, however, and now my mother has sufficient trust in me to let me use them. That responsibility and its accompanying trust are the only things that have improved in my life in that time.
I kneel down in the sand, and push and twist the candle in until it's able to stand by itself. I carefully pull a match out of the box, and strike it against the rough side. The spark and sudden flame cause me to flinch ever so slightly. I've been afraid of fire for as long as I can remember, and although I've learnt to control that fear, it will never be eliminated.
I put the quivering flame to the tip of the candle, and the light intensifies. I pull the match away, and the candle remains alight. I raise the match and put out its flame with a single puff. The light of the candle remains. I sit down cross-legged a foot away from the candle. Cheese flutters down and nestles in my lap. I hold him against me, and gently stroke his head, but my eyes are not on him. They are solely focused on the light of the candle.
It's strange how fire can be both so destructive and so comforting. I've seen fires tear through buildings, forests, and spaceships, a seemingly unstoppable force of chaos. On the other hand, I also know that I have rarely felt more at peace than when I've fallen asleep in my mother's lap in front of a gently crackling fireplace. That's the way life is: everything has two sides. You may think that you're helping us by keeping your sorrow to yourself, Tails, and in part, you are. But deep down, you're hurting yourself and thus hurting me.
That's why I'm offering this light up to you, and to every other lost soul, as I have done every night for a long time. I offer it up for those who have died, and for those who want to; for those who take their anger out on others, and for those who keep it all to themselves; for those who fight for selfish reasons, and for those who run away from those fights which are needed. For those like Emerl and Cosmo, those loved ones whom we'll never see again. I know this light can't bring back the dead, but if I offer this light up to them, maybe they'll realise that they'll always be loved. Maybe then, they'll be able to find in death the peace they searched for in life.
I can't help but wonder what Emerl and Cosmo would say if they could speak with us now. Would they want us to be forever gripped by sorrow? I don't think so. When Emerl was himself, before the power of the Chaos Emerald drove him insane, he never wanted anything more than to see me happy. As for Cosmo, the words her spirit spoke as she died were all that we needed to hear. Amongst other things, she said that she simply wanted to help us all, particularly you, Tails. The last thing Cosmo would want would be for you to be forever in the shadow of her death.
I remember that when I was very young, my mother told me that there was someone out there for each and every one of us, a soulmate, someone who would make us whole. I thought I'd found that when I met Cheese, but I was wrong. He was, is, and will always be a great friend to me - the very best I could ask for - but he's not my soulmate. Although I didn't truly realise it at the time, I now realise that Emerl was my soulmate, as Cosmo was yours.
Now, though, we've both lost our dearest loves, and we both feel an emptiness that wasn't there before. I know I shouldn't doubt my mother's wisdom, but I find it hard to believe that we're both doomed to walk this world alone for the rest of our lives. I just can't believe that whoever or whatever made us would condemn us to that fate.
Therefore, I now believe that when both of us lost our first loves, we set in place something that would ensure that a second would someday come. It's taken months, but as I sit here tonight, I've come to realise what's drawn me here each and every night: you've become my second. I don't know why, and I doubt I ever will, but I feel for you now what I'm certain I felt for Emerl.
With that realisation in my mind, I return to a more immediate reality. The sun has set now, and the sky is turning dark. It's still warm, but I don't know how much longer that will last. I lean over and blow out the candle. The lost souls, with the exception of you, have received their message, and I've received mine.
I stand up, and Cheese flutters out of my arms and hovers beside me. I stretch my arms, and the tightness that had developed there eases. I take one last look at your workshop, and with a sigh, I turn away.
I take a few steps, but then I trip, and fall face-first into the sand. I raise my head, and I see Cheese floating in front of me with a worried look on his face. I stroke his head, and his expression returns to its normal content appearance.
As I try to rise to my feet, a throbbing pain rises in my right ankle. I manage to kneel, and reach under my ankle. Feeling something there, I grab it out. It's a large seashell, and I can't help but wonder how I didn't spot it. I suppose I was just so focused on you, Tails, that I didn't pay attention.
This shell is just like the barrier you've erected around yourself. You block out anyone else, in an attempt to protect yourself, but inside, you're left in darkness. That's no way to live. I shake the seashell, and hear no rattle inside. Some hermit crab was smart enough to leave this dismal home behind. If only you could do the same.
I look up at the sky, and see the first star of the night. I know it's naÃ¯ve and childish, but I want to make a wish. I wish you'd come out of your shell. I wish you'd move on. I wish that you wouldn't hurt me by trying to protect me. That's actually three wishes, so I'll change it to one.
I wish that you'd let me be your second.