A few days had passed since the destruction of Eggman's Ultimate Badnik and things were once again settling down for Team Sonic. Routine began to set in again and the friends had resumed the normal activities with which they were usually involved in. One obvious difference remained however, and that was the presence of Jaran Kai. Undeniably their trust of him was still shaky, but everyone had begun to adapt to the presence of their new human companion. When Team Sonic participated in group activities Kai would often join them, although he was still a bit standoffish. While the construction of his house had been delayed by their ordeal with Eggman, it continued to progressed slowly forward. Now that Kai was no longer using the construction as a distraction he had become a great deal less picky with the details of the building. He and Tails would usually work through half-a-day, and then he would allow Tails to return home to meet Cosmo for their daily conjugation.
As for the young couple, things were going more smoothly between them now that Eggman was temporarily at bay. True, the Doctor would always return to fulfill his role as the antagonist to the Freedom Fighters, which is why Tails took every opportunity to be with Cosmo on normal days. It could be said that the trials they had been through had drawn the two closer together, and it showed in their actions. Both had taken to holding each other's hands in public and would exchange a kiss openly now and then. Privately they were a bit more lenient, and passionate kisses and hugs were not uncommon between them. More than once had Sonic visited Tails' house and found the two sprawled out on the sofa, having fallen asleep in each other's arms while cuddling. This often resulted in endless teasing from the others, but this bothered nether Tails or Cosmo. They simply took joy in every moment that they could spend together.
On this particular evening Cosmo had elected to stay late at Tails' house, which Vanilla had agreed to on the condition that Tails escort her home afterward. Tails had agreed and the two were now preparing to spend the evening having a movie marathon. Cosmo sat on the couch as she waited for Tails to return from the kitchen, humming a chipper tune to herself as she did so. Soon Tails came hobbling out of the kitchen toting an unnecessarily large bowl of popcorn in one hand, while carrying two cups in the other hand. Cosmo attempted to stifle a giggle as she watched Tails comically waddle toward the couch before finally getting up herself to aid him.
"I don't think you needed that much popcorn, sweetie," Cosmo laughed, "Nether of us will ever be able to eat all of that!"
"I guess I overestimated how much we would need," Tails said, "I thought that since we would be here a few hours we would eat more, but..."
"You're a silly fox," Cosmo giggled, then reached out and took the two cups from his left hand, "I'll take care of these."
"Thanks, sweetie," Tails replied, letting out a brief chuckle at his own words. Both he and Cosmo had begun using "sweetie" and other such terms of endearment more often. Tails realized that it had begun shortly after he had accidentally used one of these terms when they had rescued Cosmo from Eggman, but nether seemed uncomfortable with the idea. Tails then set the large bowl on the coffee table in front of the couch, sitting himself down and adjusting himself so as to be more comfortable. Cosmo placed the two cups on the coffee table also, then sat next to Tails and scooted closer to him.
"This is nice," Cosmo mused, leaning her head against Tails' shoulder while he pressed the play button on the remote to start the movie, "Thank you for letting me come over today, Tails."
"You don't have thank me, Cosmo!" Tails laughed, wrapping his namesakes around her waist and placing an arm over her shoulder drawing her closer, "You know I always love having you around!"
"Still, you have been so good to me," Cosmo continued, snuggling into his warm fur and sighing contentedly, "No one has ever made me as happy as you do. I only hope I can find a way to make you just as happy, too."
"You already do," Tails said to Cosmo with an affectionate smile to which she blushed slightly, but smiled in return.
It was quiet for a moment as the two stared at the screen enjoying the movie that was being played, but not nearly as much as they were enjoying each other's company. Tails could not help but fantasize about his future with Cosmo, wondering where their romance would lead them. He hoped it would last forever, and had no reason to doubt that it would, for their love and devotion had survived death. Why should the test of time make a difference? Still, he wondered what measures that he could take to ensure that would happen. He hoped that somehow he could find a way to be there for Cosmo every moment, day or night, in case she needed him. More than that, he wished to be with her even when he was not necessarily needed, but rather desired. He wished that she could live with him. "How wonderful would that be?" He thought.
"Well, why couldn't she?" Tails began to wonder to himself. Even though he was only eight years old Tails made enough income to maintain his home, and was perfectly capable of supporting two people with the money he made selling his inventions and the occasional fan donations he received. He was a capable cook and could care for others when they were sick, and he and Cosmo were openly and deeply in love, so what reason was there not to?
Even with his youthful mindset however Tails was fully aware that it was never that simple. The social implications of two young people living together in a house by themselves would raise suspicions from other Mobians. The ridicule Cosmo was bound to face for being non-terrestrial would only be compounded if they knew she was living with him. True, he would experience ridicule himself, but he was willing to bear through it. Aside from that, what would Cosmo think of him if he were to ask? What if she thought he was being too forward and left him? He would rather continue with the status quo than lose Cosmo altogether. He would be lying though if he said that her living with him was not something he wanted greatly.
"Tails, are you all right?" Cosmo suddenly asked him, causing him to snap to attention, "You seem frustrated. Is something bothering you?"
"Err... no, I'm fine," Tails said defensively, "Just... thinking."
"About what?" Cosmo asked curiously.
"Ah... nothing," Tails said hesitantly, "it's not important."
"You're not... afraid to tell me, are you?" Cosmo said seeming worried, "Because if you are-"
"I'm fine, Cosmo. Really," Tails said, "nothing's wrong."
"Oh... okay then," Cosmo replied seeming hurt.
There was a long moment of silence between the two as they stared at the television in front of them. Tails shifted in his seat uncomfortably while Cosmo continued to stare forward with a hurt expression on her face. Tails suddenly let out a long sigh, standing up from the sofa and began walking toward the kitchen.
"Where are you going?" Cosmo asked worriedly, "Have I upset you, Miles?"
"No, I just need to... get something. I'll be right back," Tails replied before entering the kitchen and closing the door behind him.
"Okay, do you want me to pause-" Cosmo ceased speaking when she realized that Tails had already left the room. She then lowered her head with sadness reflecting in her eyes.
Upon entering the kitchen Tails leaned against the door and closed his eyes, breathing a frustrated sigh as he did. "I want to ask her," Tails whispered to himself quietly, "but I don't know if I should. What am I supposed to do?"
"What is it that you think you should do?" A voice suddenly said, causing Tails to jump in surprise. Quickly turning his head to the left Tails spotted Jaran Kai standing in his kitchen, crossing his arms and staring at him inquisitively.
"Kai, what are you doing here?" Tails asked the robed human, "How'd you get in?"
Kai pointed to his left and Tails followed his finger until his eyes fell upon the window above his kitchen sink, which he noticed was open. Tails gave a brief grunt of frustration upon seeing this.
"Don't do that," Tails said in a dull voice, "What are you doing here?"
"I sensed you were troubled, so I came," Kai answered, "What's on your mind, my friend?"
"It's... nothing," Tails evaded, shuffling to the other side of the kitchen anxiously.
"Your thoughts betray you," Kai said closing his eyes, "I already know what you're thinking about. You might as well tell me."
"Isn't it kind of rude to read my mind like that?" Tails asked uncomfortably, "What if there's something I don't want you to know?"
"Then your mind would shut me out, and I would respect your privacy," Kai said calmly, "but this is obviously something that you greatly want to be known. I wouldn't be able to see it if that weren't so."
Tails gave a loud sigh, pacing the kitchen in frustration as he tried to decide how to best explain his feelings. He knew that Kai was aware of his desires, so it really didn't matter how he worded it. He finally decided to say whatever came into his mind first.
"I... want Cosmo to move in with me," Tails stated plainly.
Kai responded by arching his eyebrow at the fox, staring at him with an intrigued expression. "Why?" He asked simply.
"Because," Tails began, "I love her. I want her around all the time. I want to take care of her."
"That is a big commitment, Tails," Kai pointed out, "Besides, you do that anyways. You protect her, you're with her most of the time, and you care for her when she is around. Why is it so important that she live here? What would change?"
"Because I want to be with her ALL the time," Tails continued, "not just during the day. I want her here so I can be near her WHENEVER she needs me, day or night. I want to be the one who supports her. I want to take care of even her smallest needs."
"Another mouth to feed," Kai stated dryly, "why do you want that?"
"Because," Tails said growing frustrated, "I want her needs to become my responsibility. Because I know that no one can take care of her like I can. Because I want to be with her when she doesn't need me. I want her to know that I am always there, day or night, for even the smallest things. I love her, and I want her here with me... forever."
There was silence between the Mobian and the human as Kai stared at the fox blankly. Tails began to grow nervous, fearing that he might have incurred Kai's wrath somehow. His fear became confusion however as a wide grin began to spread across Kai's face and a light chuckle escaped his lips.
"That, my friend, was the right answer," Kai said in an amused tone, "It is clear to me that you both deserve the companionship you seek, so why not ask her?"
"Because," Tails said beginning to pace again, "I'm not sure how she'll react. I don't want her to think I'm being pushy or forward or anything, and what if she says no?"
"What if she does?" Kai inquired, "It simply means she isn't ready. That is not to say she will never be ready. I can promise you though that even if she does refuse, it will not be the end of your relationship. Your commitment survived death, so a simple request could not possibly end it now."
"But... she lives with Miss Vanilla," Tails continued to hesitate, "What will she think if I ask Cosmo to live with me? She might get mad."
"She will not," Kai replied.
"How do you know?" Tails asked.
"Because we have already spoken of it," Kai said, much to Tails surprise.
"Wait, you talked to her about it already!?" Tails said in shock, "B-but... how did you know that's what I wanted?"
"I had a hunch," Kai said, "and Vanilla was accepting of the idea. She also told me that if you do ask her, that she conveys her blessing."
"But what if-"
"Tails, you can think of a thousand reasons not to do something," Kai spoke, "but you only need one reason to get what you desire. Ask her, you might be surprised as to what she says."
Tails fell silent once again, considering his options and what might come of him asking Cosmo to move in with him. He then came to realize that Kai was right, the worst she could possibly do is say no, and he really had nothing to lose by asking her. He finally came to a decision as he looked up at Kai and gave him an uncertain smile.
"Okay... I guess there's no reason not to."
"Good boy," Kai said, walking toward the open window he had apparently entered from then turned his head to look over his shoulder, "And Tails, when she does say yes, don't worry about embarrassing yourself in front of her. You have a right to be enthusiastic."
"But, how do you know she'll-"
"Shh," Kai hushed, silencing the fox. Tails stared at the odd man waiting for him to continue as a smile formed over Kai's face. "Let's just say I have another hunch and leave it at that."
Tails could not help but smile at the human, grateful for his encouragement. "Thanks, Kai," Tails said to the man.
"Don't mention it," Kai said as he began to climb his way out the window, "Really, don't. Oh, and Tails?"
"Yes?" Tails replied cocking his head to the side in curiosity.
"It's Jaran," Kai said with a smile, "just call me Jaran."
Tails said nothing, replying only with a nod of his head and a friendly smile. He then turned around to face the living room door and walked toward it, stopping to steal one last glance over his shoulder at where Kai had previously been. Seeing that he had left and had been courteous enough to close the window behind him, Tails shook his head and once again entered the living room where Cosmo was waiting for him.
Upon entering the living room Tails noticed that Cosmo had stopped the movie and was leaning her head against the armrest of the couch, looking very distraught. Noticing that Tails had re-entered the room, Cosmo quickly sat up and looked at him, forcing a smile upon her face as he sat back down.
"Cosmo, are you okay?" Tails asked, knowing full well when something was bothering his girlfriend, "Is something bothering you?"
"Well... not really," Cosmo evaded, "It's just... I don't want you to be upset with me."
"Huh?" Tails said, seeming confused, "What do you mean?"
"You just seem very distant tonight," Cosmo replied, "Whatever I have done, please tell me so I can fix it."
"What? No!" Tails said quickly, not wanting Cosmo to think she had done something wrong, "I'm not mad at you! You haven't done anything! What made you think that?"
"It just seemed like something was bothering you and you didn't want to tell me," Cosmo replied, "I thought it must have been something I did."
"Of course not, Cosmo!" Tails said giving her a pleasant smile, "I just have a lot on my mind right now, that's all."
"You know you can tell me," Cosmo said, reaching over and resting her hand on top of Tails' hand, "If there's something bothering you, I want to help."
Tails hesitated, knowing what he was about to ask Cosmo and fearing the response he would receive. He recalled what Kai had told him however and realized that if it were ever to come to pass, he would eventually have to take that leap. Tails then took a deep breath and let it out slowly, preparing to ask what he had wanted to for a long time.
"Cosmo," Tails began, "you know that... that I love you, right?"
"Well of course I do!" Cosmo giggled, "You've been very open about that lately. Why?"
"Well, I- you know you can trust me, right?" Tails asked nervously, "I'll always be there for you. You know that don't you?"
"Tails, where is this going?" Cosmo asked seeming to become a bit nervous.
Tails gave a loud sigh, folding his hands in his lap nervously as he began to twiddle his thumbs. After a brief pause he continued to speak. "Cosmo," he began, "ever since you came back I've been wanting to become closer to you. I... I wanted to become more than friends. Now that we are, it's like I don't want to be away from you. I... I want to be able to take care of you."
"But you do take care of me, Tails," Cosmo said, "All of the times you have saved me I-"
"No, I don't mean like that," Tails interrupted, "I mean I want to take care of you all the time, even when nothing is going on. I want to be there to make sure you are comfortable and happy. I want to be there to wish you off to sleep at night."
"Tails, what are you saying?" Cosmo asked, now listening intently.
"Cosmo, what I want to ask," Tails said, beginning to choke up, "is... will you... would you like to come and live with me?"
There was silence in the room as Tails waited for a response from his love. When nothing was said, Tails chanced to look up at Cosmo, who was staring at him with her mouth agape while simultaneously blushing. Tails quickly looked down in his lap, blushing himself as he spoke with nervousness in his voice.
"I-I'm sorry," he said in a low voice, "I shouldn't have asked. It was a stupid idea. I should have-"
Tails was cut off when Cosmo suddenly leapt at him from across the sofa, tackling him and causing him to fall onto the cushions on his back. Cosmo wrapped her arms around Tails in a crushing hug as she whispered into his ear.
"I hoped you would ask that since the day I came back," Cosmo said softly, "Thank you so much, Tails!"
"Wait," Tails said, leaning up and looking into Cosmo's eyes, "You did? I never thought- so does that mean?"
"Yes, Tails, I would love to come and live with you," Cosmo answered, smiling lovingly at the two tailed fox.
"Really?" Tails said, seeming surprised at the answer he had just received, "That's great! I guess we'll tell Miss Vanilla tomorrow. I can help you move your stuff if you want."
"That would be wonderful," Cosmo said stroking Tails' whiskers lovingly, "Thank you so much Tails. You... you are amazing."
"I love you, Cosmo," Tails said, gently running his hands up and down her back, "and I always will."
"I love you too, Tails," Cosmo replied hugging Tails closer.
Slowly the two brought their heads together, their lips meeting once again in their traditional dance of affection. As the two continued to kiss both realized that no matter what trials they faced and no matter how much they lost, they would always have each other, and that would be their greatest ally through what was to come...
Meanwhile, far out in the depths of space, far from Mobius, a scene of stellar peace prevailed as the stars of the area twinkled happily. A bright, rolling nebula could be seen in the distance, while a fiery red comet drifted lazily through space. An undisturbed area of the cosmos where beauty was commonplace, and a silent peace reigned supreme.
The peace was suddenly broken however, when a gap suddenly formed between the stars. The gap began to grow, starting as only a pinprick of black and expanding until a gigantic, swirling vortex was opened in the fabric of space. Lightning arched within the massive pit in space revealing more of the endless abyss with each burst. The swirling black stood violently drawing in loose matter that rested anywhere in the general vicinity, tearing at the space around it like a hurricane.
As if from Hell itself, a black mass began to emerge from the abyss, crawling out from between the stars like a sick cancer of the universe. A gargantuan pointed thing with a cragged and broken surface, as though pulled from a junkyard of damned starships. The life and beauty that the scenery once held was suddenly snuffed out, seeming to pale at the presence of this dark craft. The vortex closed behind it, leaving only this monstrous ship hovering silently in space.
Within the dark mass, past the fragmented hull and halls exposed to the vacuum of space, a massive bridge stood; its ceiling and forward area dominated entirely by one massive viewport. A large platform rested above a row of deep pits with control stations on either side of it. Within the control pits were several zombie-like humanoids working at their stations with tired, empty stares. At the end of the platform was a large observation area, looking out the massive window and giving a grandiose display of the space outside. Standing upon that platform, was a dark humanoid staring out into space.
This humanoid did not fit the description of normal, however. The creature was garbed in midnight black robes with obsidian armor covering its breast. A hood shrouded the head of the creature, showing nothing of its face. Even the simplest of features were concealed, as if there was only an infinite blackness underneath the hood. The only thing that could be seen under the hood were two bright, white eyes, which contained no pupils and seemed to be suspended in the black void that rested under the garb. Shadows seemed to curl and writhe at the feet of the entity and any light that the room held seemed to be sucked from the air around it. Most disturbing however were the sensations that the creature gave off. It was as if the entity radiated all emotions that were negative. Something about the being simply seemed utterly and totally wrong.
As the black entity stood on the platform, a zombified humanoid approached it from behind, stopping and addressing the creature with a voice full of absolute and total fear.
"We are receiving a transmission," said the sickly looking human.
"Source?" Asked the entity, its voice sounding vile in every possible way.
"The comet..." replied the human, "it originates from within the comet."
"Open a connection," the black entity said, "Let me hear it."
Static hissed from an unidentified source on the bridge of the ship, as a barely audible voice became apparent. Slowly the voice resolved itself and began to address whomever would hear it.
"We are the Black Arms," a deep voice said, "lower your shields and prepare to be boarded by our soldiers. You will serve us now."
The dark entities eyes seemed to flicker, showing amusement as it stepped forward. The creature then replied in a voice so chilling that it would freeze one's blood.
"Black Arms," the entity spoke officially, "before I comply to your terms I must ask, to whom am I speaking?"
"I am your new overlord, Black Doom," replied the deep voice, "You will surrender your ship to the Black Arms and we will find a purpose for all life on your vessel."
"Well, Black Doom of the Black Arms," the entity said in a subtly mocking tone, "as much as your confidence amuses me, I'm afraid you have our roles quite reversed."
"What!?" Growled Black Doom, "You are outmatched in every way! I have hundreds of ships at my disposal and you have one! Surrender or you will be annihilated!"
"I will be forced to decline," the entity responded, "You will, however, surrender your comet to me. Do so and there will be minimal loss of life."
"You would dare defy the Black Arms!?" Roared Black Doom angrily, "You will die for your insolence! Who are you to deny us!?"
"I..." hissed the entity in a sickeningly pleased voice, "am Xemus..."