C'mon Let's Be Friends
Flower sighed in boredom. She'd been waiting by herself in the living room for what felt like hours now. Flower had been told by Ella to wait there until everyone finished dinner and gathered together so that the purple hedgehog could explain to everyone what she was doing there… and just who she was in the first place.
Flower dipped her arm off the couch, her finger connecting the imaginary dots on the carpet. This got boring rather quickly, so she lay on her back, pretended the ceiling was a starry sky, and resumed the exact same activity.
Flower exhaled a sigh. How long does it take to eat a single meal, anyway? As far as Flower and her highly sensitive nose knew, all they were having for dinner was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and some carrots. Flower made a face at the very thought; she hated carrots. If there were any vegetable she could scrape completely off the list of acceptable foods to eat, it would be carrots. They were just that bad.
Flower tossed and turned on the big green couch, her frustration bottling up with each turn she made. Finally, however, her ears perked up; she heard the creaking of a chair being pushed in by some full, satisfied diner.
Well, that's a relief, she thought cynically. The door to the combined kitchen and dining room flew open, but to Flower's disappointment, this revealed the same purple hedgehog who had been talking with everyone earlier. Flower scowled.
The purple hedgehog looked over at her. "Hey, you okay?" she asked flatly, raising an eyebrow as if the fox's okay-ness were a mere data point ripe for collection.
Flower only nodded; that was about all the response she figured such a question deserved.
"Not much for talking?" the hedgehog asked, taking a seat next to Flower.
"Mm." Flower kept her frown.
It was then that Flower had a chance to get a good look at the hedgehog. She looked like she could be fifteen or sixteen years old, with suitable teenage attitude to match. She had long quills, at least half a foot each. Her light blue eyes were complimented by the much more ordinary but nearly identical color of her jeans and denim shirt, the latter of which was decorated with a sardonic pink heart. The hedgehog also wore purple tennis shoes with silly white stripes, but no gloves on her hands. How sweet.
The hedgehog stared at Flower, tapping her foot for an answer. Flower decided to give the girl what she wanted. "I like to talk sometimes," she sighed, looking away.
"Then go ahead and talk to me!" the hedgehog retorted impatiently. "Come on, don'tcha wanna be friends with me?"
Flower crossed her arms and pouted, denying this new girl the dignity even for a head shake.
With that, the hedgehog too crossed her arms and mimed pouting. "Oh, I know this game," she informed Flower. They scooted away from each other. "And I love it," the hedgehog added with an extra dollop of snark. "If you don't wanna talk, then I'll be perfectly happy playing this game. I can stop talking whenever you want. Believe me, I can do it! I'm a really quiet person when I want to be! It's true!"
"Hmph," Flower answered, scooting herself as far as the couch would allow her.
The hedgehog mimicked her action, scooting on the opposite side of the couch. "Quack!"
That was a new one. Flower whirled around, an eyebrow raised at the strange noise from the somewhat less strange new girl. "What did you say?"
"I said," she repeated, "quack!"
A confused voice rang in from through the door to the dining room – Tanaka's. "Is there a duck here?!" he yelped. "I will not allow any wild animals inside this house who have not been properly cooked and marinated!"
The hedgehog burst out laughing, and even Flower couldn't resist a quick smile, though she wouldn't let the girl see it. "Yes, there is," she continued, "and we're having fun with it! It's even teaching us how to swim with our legs up! Care to join… and learn how to swim with your legs up, too?"
"Two ducks," Flower couldn't help but utter, just loud enough to win a thankful smile from the hedgehog.
"Quack, quack! Quack, quack!" both girls continued, letting loose with their ornery bird calls until the door swung open and the diners were clued into just how real these ducks really were. But it was all in good fun, and these people started laughing themselves at the absurdity.
"Okay, you silly birds," Ella told them, wiping a tear from her eye, "is everyone finished?"
"If this is how you people treat your dignified waterfall, then I guess so!" the hedgehog laughed.
"Well, then let's all head over to the living room now," said Ella, her tone changing to exasperation. "Poor, poor Flower must be terribly bored just waiting for us, oh no!"
Flower stared at her flatly.
"By the way," the new girl muttered, elbowing Flower gently to get her attention. "I'm Sam. Samantha the Hedgehog in long form, but who cares about full names anyway when there's stuff to do?"
"And I'm Flower!" she announced proudly.
"I…" Sam sighed. "Uh… that's great! Nice to meet ya, Flower!" She spread out her arms for a perfunctory hug, which Flower eagerly returned.
But their moment would not stay solitary. Just then, they were joined by Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Cream, Cheese, Mr. Tanaka, and Ella.
"Awwww," they all cooed.
"So cute!" Amy shrieked.
With only enough blushing that they could finish off their hug properly, the girls unwrapped each other and sat back down on the couch. After a minor chuckle, everyone took their seats – except Sonic, however, who spoke up.
"Hey, everyone, 'sup? So, now that we're all gathered together, I'd like to give you all a formal introduction to an old friend of mine, someone I haven't seen since I was – wow, was I… twelve?" He trailed off.
"I dunno, we weren't keeping track of that," Sam interjected sarcastically. "Sounds right to me."
"Yeah, anyway…" continued Sonic. "One of my old friends is-"
"Old friends?!" Amy growled. She pointed her finger accusingly over to Sam. "You mean this old siren?!"
"Y-yeah, it's her, Amy," Sonic jittered, scrambling to get the words out in something resembling comprehensible syntax. "I promise, she's not my long-lost girlfriend… or whatever it is girls have incubating up in their crazy heads these days…"
"I take offense to that!" Sam retorted, raising her hand nonchalantly as though in a classroom. "I'll have you know, my crazy head thinks about lots of different things!"
"Well, sah-ree!" Sonic moaned. "But I'm not exactly one of you girls myself – so how am I supposed to know what your fantasies are about?" Sonic then cleared this throat before continuing. "Anyway, yeah, this is my good friend, Sam the Hedgehog."
That finished, Sonic stood up to clear some space for her. A polite applause rang out. "Tails, why are we clapping?" Cream whispered to the fox.
"I... don't know," Tails replied slowly.
Sam shuffled to the front of the room, smiled, gave a small and fleeting wave, and began: "'Sup. I'm Sam the Hedgehog. I'm almost sixteen years old and I can shapeshift into anything I want."
Everyone stared in awe. "Wow," Tails breathed.
"Really?" Cream gasped.
Sam nodded. "Yup! Anything at all!"
And she stared Flower right in the eyes, throwing her the startling realization with a small laugh. "Anything," she repeated.
"That's got to be extremely useful," commented Knuckles, who was sitting by himself in a big green chair and didn't seem to care that that was all of the conversation he had gotten.
Flower sprang to her feet, scurrying right up next to Sam. "Y-you were the lioness I saw! Back at the zoo!" she stammered in disbelief.
"Yes, yes, I was!" Sam confirmed. "Please don't freak out too loudly; I had enough of that back at the zoo."
"Heyyyy… you said something about a zoo earlier as well," Sonic recalled. "Can you tell us a little bit about it?"
"Did the zoo people take good care of you, Miss Sam?" Cream questioned.
Sam sat herself down and thought of how to answer the rabbit's innocent questions. The "zoo people", in reality, had treated her well enough – no thanks to those inane visitors and their bawling infants – but they hadn't really had the time for too much doting. She had even heard the staff state openly how understaffed they were.
But Sam knew that it could break Cream's heart if she told her that. "…Yes, they did!" she explained. "In fact, they took such good care of me, I even thought I'd stay for a while and just… uh, do tricks to entertain them as gratitude for being so… well taken care of! Yeah!"
Cream's eyes sparkled in relief. "Oh good," she smiled. "I know the zoo people are nice people who love animals and will do everything they can to make sure they are happy."
"That's right, sweetie," Ella interjected. "But let's hear what Sam has to say, okay?"
"Okay, Miss Ella!" the rabbit complied.
"Nah, it's fine," Sam joked. "I get interrupted all the time."
Flower blushed, but the others laughed good-naturedly. Sonic motioned for the other hedgehog in the room to talk.
"Okay, so there I was in a jungle," Sam began. "It was called something really transparently descriptive, I know that… the Jungle of Trees? The Leafy Jungle? The Jungle of Lions? Oh, that's right!" she exclaimed. "The White Jungle! Anyways, so I was wandering around there – since, you know, I haven't really got anywhere better to be than uninhabited, remote forests inhabited by dangerous animals, but it's pretty cool when you're one of those animals yourself – when this giant human hunter comes out of nowhere and shoots a dart at my back. Dude didn't even have the dignity to offer me a phony vacation getaway..."
"You travel a lot?" Knuckles asked, newly interested in what Sam had to say.
Sam considered for a moment. "Yeah," she said. "Feels like I'm always moving. And when I'm resting, I tend to get a little stressed after a while."
"Why the obsession with traveling?" Amy wondered aloud. "It's fun, but we all need some time at home to recharge our batteries."
"I don't have a home," Sam replied, a hint of sadness to her voice. "Or a family," she adds a moment later.
Everyone stared at her with pity in their eyes, their questions going unsaid.
Eventually, Mr. Tanaka took it upon himself to break the silence. "I think today has been quite exciting for all of us, and now it is high time to escort Miss Flower and Miss Sam to bed."
"Good idea," Ella chimed in relievedly.
Sonic turned to Sam. "You willing to stay?" he asked.
Sam faked a smile. "Why not? I don't have anywhere to go anyways." Sam sighed. "Besides… I'm just bushed."
"Figures," Sonic replied, cringing at the need to see anyone at all in a state like this. Sonic put a hand on Sam's shoulder, and she blushed only from this slightest of touches. "I really missed you," he whispered near-silently.
She looked up and smiled at him. "I missed you, too."
Sonic nodded, removing his hand from her shoulder and checking his own shoulder for any possible pink-colored complications – luckily, they really were alone.
"Good night," he told her.
"Night," Sam yawned back to him, "ya paranoid lunk," she added, stepping into the hallway. He chuckled to himself, shaking his head at the dismissal of the hedgehog he loved, who he had to admit hadn't changed a bit.
The room was clearing out, Knuckles saddling up to depart to his faraway island paradise and Cream retiring into the arms of her also-exhausted mother. Sonic's thoughts, however, stayed with Sam. He sighed at the warm memories they shared – she had been one of his best friends, before he had met even Tails, and in many ways their relationships paralleled.
The memories flashed diaphanously by like the yellowing pages of an almost-filled scrapbook: walking together, playing tag – Sonic, of course, always won – coming just a bit too close for comfort to an actual, full-on kiss on the lips. That last one he rather liked, and he thought the kiss over fondly.
Sonic jumped a little, then whirled around to find Mr. Tanaka standing behind him. Sonic breathed a sigh of relief, knowing it could have been someone much less favorable toward the prospect of him thinking about this girl. "Don't do that," he shuddered.
"My apologies, Master Sonic," the butler said, "but I can't help but notice that you look uneasy. Is something the matter?"
"Something the matter?" Sonic echoed. "H-haha! No way, Mr. T."
Mr. Tanaka stared at him. "I am not convinced," he answered.
Sonic sighed. "Sorry… I just-" Sonic cut himself off, feeling that the fullest explanation of his feelings could wait. "I'm just a little out of it." Sonic tried again. "Egghead causing trouble as usual, of course, but then a friend who I haven't seen in years suddenly appears."
Mr. Tanaka frowned. "Are you not happy to see her?"
"No, no, no, no," Sonic clarified. "I'm always glad to catch up with old friends. It's just, ah... it's very, very, very complicated."
"Then I shall not distress you further," Mr. Tanaka said. "It is late and you seem to be very tired. Let your body and mind rest – then you will feel refreshed enough to conquer your challenges, exactly like the most heroic of warriors do."
Sonic smiled, shaking his head as if playing the typical role of the graduated student of one of these kung-fu masters the butler loved imitating. "Thanks, Mr. T. You and your endless kung-fu flicks never fail to put a smile on my face."
"You are welcome," Mr, Tanaka responded. "Remember, if you need to talk about something that I am an option. Go now. Rest, young warrior."
"Okay," Sonic replied, making sure to punctuate his response with a signature thumbs-up. "G'night, Mr. T," he yawned, winking.
Mr. Tanaka chuckled lightly. "And good night to you, Master Sonic." He bowed and, with that, disappeared into the shadows of the hallway.
Sonic watched him leave, wondering just how this man made film clichés so poignant and effective. Shrugging it off as another one of the man's many mysteries, Sonic left the room himself.