"SURPRISE!" Shouted all as Tails and Cosmo entered their home, shocked to find the entirety of Team Sonic gathered in their living room, awaiting their arrival. To the left were Sonic, Knuckles and Shadow seated lazily on the sofa, while Amy, Cream and Rouge leapt up from the nearby love seat to greet the young couple. Occupying the back corner of the room was Jaran Kai, who appeared much less enthusiastic than the others. Amidst the typical members of the Freedom Fighters were some unexpected faces, new to Cosmo, but recognizable to Tails as old friends. Next to Sonic sat a yellow furred, male squirrel, sporting a blue scarf and matching blue sneakers. Next to the squirrel sat a scaly black armadillo, a heavy layer of crimson armor covering his back, garbed in a pair of rugged brown boots and fingerless gloves.
"Er—hi?" Tails spoke hesitantly, waving courteously at the others, "What's all this? Are we late for something?"
"No, silly!" Laughed Amy, giving the fox a quick hug, "It's your party!"
"Party?" The fox inquired, seeming more confused now than before, "No one told us about a party. Did we miss the memo or something?"
"You're impossible, kid!" Rouge chuckled, "It's your bachelor party! You know, the party before the wedding?"
"Bachelor party? Oh yeah, that is a thing, isn't it? Can't say I was expecting this!"
"It's called a surprise party for a reason, Tails," Shadow retorted, smirking at the fox, "if we had wanted it to be obvious, we would have told you."
"Goodness, if I had known we were having company, I would have made dinner!" Cosmo smiled, though clearly the unexpected company was making her anxious, "I'm afraid we're a little ill prepared…"
"You're right, Knux!" The armadillo spoke in a gruff, raspy voice, "I ain't never seen anything like her before!"
"Mighty!" Exclaimed Tails, bounding across the room to shake the armadillo's hand, "It's been forever! I had no idea you were coming!"
"Of course I came!" Mighty replied, placing an arm around the fox's shoulder, "When Knuckles told me you were getting married, I had to come and see it for myself! That's pretty far out! So this is her, huh?"
"Yeah! Cosmo, come over here and meet Mighty!" The fox urged, gesturing for Cosmo to approach, "He's an old friend. Used to run with the Chaotix!"
"It's a pleasure," Cosmo replied meekly, bowing politely in front of the armadillo, "I hope I didn't seem rude before. We weren't expecting company…"
"It's all good!" The armadillo reassured, "Man, you are absolutely gorgeous! Way out of Tails' league!"
"I—ah—thank you," the Seedrian stuttered, blushing at the compliment.
"Come on, Mighty, don't give them a hard time!" The yellow squirrel spoke up, his voice mild and easygoing, "You're making them uncomfortable!"
"Ray!" The kitsune exclaimed, turning to shake hands with the flying squirrel, "I can't believe you both made it!"
"We wouldn't miss it!" The squirrel replied enthusiastically, "We know you'd do the same for us!"
"We only just heard about the wedding recently," Ray explained, "when we got our invitations, I thought it was a joke at first, so I called up Knuckles! After he told us it was real, we packed up and got here as fast as we could!"
"We're certainly glad you did," Cosmo replied with a smile, "any friend of Tails' is a friend of mine!"
"Are you guys excited!?" Amy asked, her giddiness overflowing, "Tomorrow you guys walk down the aisle and become Mister and Missus Prower! Ooh, I'm sooo jealous!"
"Excited doesn't even cover it!" Exclaimed the fox boy, practically leaping up and down, "I never thought my life could get this awesome until I met Cosmo!"
"I'm sure you would have been just fine without me, love," the Petali giggled, taking hold of his hand.
"Are you kidding?" Tails laughed, "It doesn't take a genius to know you're the best thing that's ever happened to me! Not only do I love you to bits, but you're the best friend I've ever had!"
Sonic's expression fell, finding himself somewhat offended by Tails' statement. Despite having received an earful from Amy on his self-centered behavior nearly two months prior, the hedgehog's envy of Cosmo had merely been put on hold. In spite of his attempts to suppress such emotions, hearing Tails' remark had managed to stir his envy once more. Obviously he had known Tails longer. In his mind, he had earned the title of the fox's "best friend". Hearing that title issued to Cosmo severely bruised Sonic's ego. As he opened his mouth to speak, he felt Jaran's steely brown eyes burrowing into the back of his skull. Not wanting to cause a scene, he remained quiet, though he would be hard pressed to forget what was said.
"I feel the same," Cosmo replied, hanging onto the fox's arm, inseparable as they so often were, "most people only dream of second chances. I was lucky enough to receive one; and I'm thankful every day that I—"
"SO!" Sonic spoke suddenly, cutting Cosmo off, "It's getting late. Time for you girls to get going, yeah?"
"Yeah, you're probably right," Amy replied, standing slowly, "come on, Cos, grab some pajamas and let's head out!"
"Me?" Cosmo asked, looking confused, "Where are we going? What's going on?"
"It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride the day before the wedding," Rouge elaborated, "it's tradition. You'll be staying at Amy's place with us tonight."
"But—I wanted to stay with Tails tonight," the petali replied, looking somewhat saddened.
"Oh, come on, Cosmo! It's one night!" Amy insisted, patting the Seedrian on the back, "You'll have all of tomorrow to be with Tails! Now come on, get your stuff!"
Cosmo hesitated, staring at the coral hedgehog for a moment before shifting her gaze to Tails. The fox smiled sadly, placing a hand on her shoulder as he attempted to reassure her. "Hey, it's fine. We'll see each other tomorrow! Like Amy said, it's just one night…"
"I suppose," replied Cosmo, "I just wasn't expecting this. I had planned to spend all night with you…"
"Yeah, same here…" The fox nodded in disappointment, "I guess I should have seen it coming, though. Don't worry, I've got the guys to keep me company! Plus, after tomorrow, it'll just be you and me for the next few weeks…"
"Promise?" Asked the Petali.
"I promise," Tails reassured her, casting a warm smile upon her face.
Nodding her head, Cosmo drew close to Tails, who in turn placed his hands around her hips. Slowly she met his lips with her own, kissing him tenderly. The other occupants of the room could not help but smiles, save Sonic, who rolled his eyes in irritation. After several seconds the couple separated, both wearing blushes across their faces.
"I love you," Cosmo whispered, causing the fox to beam brightly.
"I love you, too. Now go on, grab some clothes! I'll see you tomorrow!"
With that, the Seedrian darted upstairs, gathering a small selection of clothes suitable for one night at her friend Amy's house. Having done this, the four girls made their way out the door, but not before Cosmo managed to sneak one final goodbye kiss to her fiancé. With the girls finally out of the house, the men began to grow active, feeling less inhibited now that there was no female presence to stifle their conversation…
"I thought they'd never leave!" Exclaimed Knuckles, "Finally, the real party can start!"
"I gotta say guys, this is pretty neat," Tails chuckled, "I gotta ask, though, how did you get in my house? The door is code locked."
"Thank the human for that one!" Mighty replied, pointing over to Jaran in the corner, "You keep some weird friends, Tails…"
"Vector, Espio and Charmy'll be here soon with pizza," Sonic informed Tails, "Jaran and Shadow brought some wine with a long, fancy name, of course…"
"Um, not that I don't appreciate the thought, but you know I don't drink," the fox said in a less-than pleased tone, "I'm not going to be too happy if you all decide to get drunk in my house…"
"He's talking to you," Jaran spoke loudly, glancing over at Knuckles who sat passively on the sofa.
"Hey! I don't drink that much!" Argued Knuckles.
"Expect when you're at Rouge's place, which is all the time," Shadow mocked.
"Besides," Jaran continued, "I'm going to need a drink to get through tonight."
"Why?" Asked Tails curiously, "It can't possibly be that bad."
"He doesn't like bachelor parties…" Shadow answered for the sage.
"Oh, okay. Can I ask why?"
"I've seen too many people use it as an excuse to indulge in debauchery before committing their life to someone," Jaran explained in a noticeably irritable tone, "which completely defeats the purpose of a marriage. Nothing good ever comes of it."
"You know I'd never do anything to hurt Cosmo!" Tails defended, "Especially right before our wedding!"
"It's not you I'm worried about…" Jaran assured the fox, his gaze shifting toward the red echidna on the sofa.
A knock was heard on the front door, gaining the attention of those present in the room. Standing, Sonic paced over to the door, turning the knob and opening it. Standing in the doorway with a stack of pizza boxes was Vector the Crocodile, along with the other two members of the Chaotix Detective Agency, Espio the Chameleon and Charmy the Bee.
"I've got pizza!" The toothy reptile exclaimed, staggering into the house while balancing the stack of pizza boxes precariously in his arms, "They had an amazing two-for-one deal!"
"Our budget is shot, Vector," Espio remarked irritably, "We're never going to finish fourteen pizzas!"
"Leftovers!" Vector declared, setting down the leaning tower of pizza on the coffee table, "Sorry we're late, Tails! Did we miss the Missus already?"
"Yeah, she's gone. I'm missing her already…"
"Come on, man! She's been gone for like, ten minutes at most!" Sonic laughed, "We've got food, we've got games, let's party!"
"Yeah, pop in a dirty movie and let's get to it!" Knuckles snorted loudly. All at once, room fell silent, with all eyes shifting to Knuckles, who grew nervous at the intense stares he had suddenly garnered. "What? What did I say?"
"I beg your pardon?" Jaran spoke, his eyes narrowing, "Put in a what?"
"A dirty movie?" Knuckles reiterated cluelessly, "I rented a few. Isn't that what guys do at bachelor parties?"
Slowly, Jaran approached Knuckles where he sat on the sofa, his figure seeming to become even more imposing the closer he drew, while Knuckles couldn't help but shrink back fearfully…
Meanwhile, at the apartment of Amy Rose, things were significantly quieter. Amy, Rouge, Cream and Cosmo began to settle in immediately upon arrival, all four ladies changing into their pajamas as Amy began whipping up a simple dinner of finger foods. All the while, the quartet laughed and joked, speaking of the upcoming event…
"I still can't believe we made it!" Amy remarked as she leaned over her stove, "Losing you once was bad enough. After what Xemus did, I seriously thought that was going to be it for you and Tails. You're getting really good at proving me wrong!"
"How are you feeling about all of this?" Rouge asked curiously, crossing her legs as she sat in a nearby chair, "I mean, with what happened, are you over it, or…"
"I don't know if I'll ever be over it," Cosmo replied, lowering her head slightly, "that's not something you can just forget about. I'm not going to let it control my life, though. I love Tails, and I want to spend the rest of my life with him. My only regret is that I let what that monster did hold me back from that…"
"Ata-girl!" Amy praised the Seedrian, "Show that jerk he can't keep you down!"
"You seemed pretty quiet back at your place," remarked Rouge worriedly, "are you sure you're okay?"
"Oh, yes!" Exclaimed Cosmo, her emotions seeming to burst fourth suddenly, "I've never been more excited in my life! I just didn't want to scare off Tails' friends by seeming too eager!"
"You mean Mighty and Ray?" Asked Amy, "Those guys don't care! I'm pretty sure they're just glad to see Tails with someone! For a while, we didn't think it would ever happen!"
"Oh? Why would you say that?"
"Have you met your fiancé?" Amy snickered, "He's a walking encyclopedia! Not that being smart is a bad thing, but it takes a special kind of person to put up with a genius!"
"He's also a little awkward, if you haven't noticed," remarked the winged harlot, "he tries so hard, but certain social situations that should be really simple just don't seem to click with him…"
"That's not very nice!" Snapped Cosmo, finding herself on the defensive due to remarks she perceived as derogatory regarding her husband-to-be, "It's not his fault that everyone else doesn't understand him! He's kind, and generous and one of the most selfless people I know!"
"Easy, Cos! We're not trying to badmouth Tails!" Amy replied quickly, "Tails is a really nice person, and we all love him for that!"
"If you haven't noticed, Mobians don't really tolerate things they don't consider normal," Rouge elaborated, "Tails got hit pretty hard with that. His deformity didn't exactly make him popular. Being as smart as he is just makes people jealous. Most vixen his age wouldn't look at him twice. You're the first girl who's ever liked him for what he is. That's what Amy meant."
"Really?" Cosmo asked, seeming slightly shocked, "I mean, he's mentioned this a few times, but I always though he was just being humble! Was it really that bad?"
"Afraid so," Rouge nodded.
"Well…" Cosmo began, her frown shifting into a soft smile, "They don't know what they're missing! I'm the luckiest girl in the universe for Tails to pay me any mind. You know, it's really strange to think about, actually. Seeing my first fox after meeting Tails, I was actually a little disgusted…"
"Why's that, Cos?" Asked Amy, raising an eyebrow curiously.
"I had just assumed that all foxes had two tails!" Explained the Seedrian, "Whenever I see a fox that just has one, it almost feels like they're missing something. None of them are quite as handsome as Miles…"
"Yeah, I guess Tails is kind of cute," remarked Rouge with a smirk, "a shame he's not a little older…"
"It's strange," murmured Cosmo, a visible blush filling her cheeks, "I never thought I could be so attracted to an animal, but there's something about Tails…"
"Oookay, we get it!" Amy laughed, "You think Tails is hot! Message received!"
"Well, yes. Isn't that a good thing, though?"
"Duh, your marrying him!" Laughed Amy, "You don't have to keep going on about it to convince us!"
"Sorry," the Petali apologized, giggling anxiously, "I'm just very excited. It's hard not to talk about it. I wish my mother could be here to see this—and my sisters…"
"I'm sure they'd be proud," Amy remarked, "I know the rest of us are!"
"So what's the plan tomorrow?" Asked Rouge, "Your the Maid of Honor, you make the call."
"The ceremony's at twelve o'clock sharp," Amy began, carrying a plate of goodies over to her coffee table around which the others sat, setting it down before having a seat herself, "I figured we'd get Cosmo up around nine, then head over to Cream's place. We'll get ready there and be at the park around eleven-thirty."
"I didn't know you could be so organized," Rouge snorted, smirking at the coral hedgehog.
"Ha-ha!" Scoffed Amy, "Very funny! I'm not just a pretty face, you know!"
"Thank you both for all the work you've put into this," Cosmo spoke humbly, "I can't begin to tell you how much this means to Tails and I…"
"Hey, don't sweat it, kid!" Rouge replied with a warm smirk, "Just do us a favor and make him happy. Do that, and I promise he'll make you the happiest girl in the world in return!"
"I will," the Seedrian replied, nodding her head as she smiled widely, "I promise you, I will…"
Back at the prower household, things had managed to go from peaceful to unpleasant rather quickly. Careening out of the front door, Knuckles' face met the front lawn with a solid thump, causing the echidna to groan in pain. Standing in the open doorway, fury written upon his face, was Jaran Kai…
"I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR SORRY FACE UNTIL THOSE MOVIES ARE GONE!" Barked the sage harshly.
"IT'S JUST A FEW MOVIES!" Argued the Guardian of the Master Emerald, "WHAT GIVES!?"
"IF YOU'RE HONESTLY INCAPABLE OF ANSWERING THAT FOR YOURSELF, THEN YOU'RE TOO STUPID TO STAY IN TAILS' HOUSE!"
"WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM, KAI!?" The echidna roared, Jaran's insults striking a nerve with the crimson mammal.
"MY PROBLEM IS THE RED MORON ON THE FRONT LAWN! NOW FUCK OFF!" With a mighty thrust the sage slammed the door shut, causing the entire house to tremble and shake. Turning, Kai became aware that the stares of the group had now fallen upon him. "This is why I hate bachelor parties! Stupid people making stupid decisions!"
"Dude, don't you think you were a little hard on him?" Sonic asked, "I mean, yeah, it was a dumb thing to do, but that's just Knuckles…"
"I refuse to listen to any excuses for that moron!" Spat Jaran resentfully, marching his way toward the kitchen, "I've put up with him, but this time, he knew better!"
Tails watched as Jaran vanished into the kitchen, staring blankly into space as he tried to comprehend what had just happened. Approaching him from behind, Sonic placed a hand on his shoulder, hoping to reassure his friend before the situation became any worse. "Sorry about Knuckles, dude. I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it…"
"It's fine…" Replied Tails, shaking his head in dismay, "I guess I should have seen it coming. Still, I can't believe he'd even bring that kind of thing into my house! What kind of person does he think I am?"
"A pig, like him…" Shadow murmured.
"I just couldn't do that to Cosmo," the fox continued, "what would she say if she knew I was looking at--that stuff?"
"She'd likely be hurt," Espio spoke up, "you made the right decision, Tails."
"Yeah, what Espio said!" Vector concurred, flashing a thumbs up with his left hand while balancing a slice of pizza in his right, "Besides, as pretty as Cosmo is, why would you need anything like that?"
"Yeah, that is true…" Tails replied, smirking as he stared off into space wishfully.
"Don't let Knuckles kill the mood, yeah?" Sonic spoke, "We've still got all night. Let's not waste it!"
"So, what's the story with the human, huh?" Asked Mighty curiously, gesturing toward the kitchen where Jaran had vanished, "He seems really intense…"
"He's really not," the fox chuckled, shaking his head slightly, "Jaran's a good friend. He's been with us going on a year now."
"Where'd he come from? Eggman's world?" Asked Ray curiously.
"Nah, some far off universe with spaceships and magic," answered the fox, providing the simplified version of their history with the Guardian known as Kai so as not to make the story drag on, "he works for these beings that monitor all of reality. After Cosmo died, he came to help…"
"Um, not trying to call you a liar, Tails, but we literally just saw Cosmo," remarked the armadillo skeptically, "she seemed pretty alive to me!"
"Well, yeah," Tails replied, "it's sort of a long story, but Jaran helped bring her back. I'd be lost if he hadn't come to help us…"
"Whoa, that's intense!" Ray said, shocked by Tails' recounting of events passed, "I was honestly a little worried when I heard you were getting married, what with your age and all, but I can see why you'd want to, now."
"Yeah, it was a miracle, that's for sure! Didn't think I'd ever believe in those, but I don't know what else to call it. Cosmo's changed a lot for me--for the better. I never thought that someone like her could love someone like me…"
"Come on, really?" Sonic asked, raising an eyebrow, "Never? Seems a little extreme, bro…"
"I'm serious!" Tails insisted, "She's kind, and generous and beautiful! Most guys would kill to have someone like that! Girls like her don't look at guys like me. I don't know what I did to get her to love me, but it must have been something really good…"
"You were yourself," Jaran spoke in a low voice, having emerged from the kitchen without the others' notice, "she found something unique in you, as you did in her. Are you so in need of the 'why' that you'd question that?"
"She's unique alright…" Sonic murmured quietly, failing to be heard by Tails, "Not too many walking, talking plants that snatch up best friends around these parts…"
"I guess you're right," the fox continued in response to Jaran's question, oblivious to the venom Sonic was spewing, "it's just hard for me not to doubt myself, sometimes. I don't want to sound shallow, but Cosmo is easily the most beautiful girl I've ever seen! She could have any guy she wanted, but she picked me instead! Heck if I know why, but I'm sure not complaining!"
"So after this is all over," Sonic spoke slowly, "after you're husband and wife and everything's great, what then? What comes next?"
"I guess we'll just live…" Tails replied with a shrug, "I don't see why anything has to change."
"Right…" The hedgehog murmured, sinking back further into the sofa.
Slowly, Jaran began pacing toward the door, quietly passing the others as they sat on the sofa, reaching for the doorknob. "I think I'll take my leave…" Said the sage.
"Where are you going?" Tails asked, "Aren't you going to stay here with the rest of us?"
"I've got things to do before tomorrow," Jaran replied, "some loose ends need tying up…"
"Like what?" The fox begged, "Don't tell me you haven't finished the vows!"
"Tomorrow…" The sage replied cryptically, casting a smile over his shoulder before opening the door. As he did, he found himself facing a rather depressed looking Knuckles, who stared evasively down at the welcome mat before him.
"Uh, can I come in?" Asked the echidna sheepishly, "I returned the movies…"
"Ask the person who owns the house," Jaran replied dismissively, pushing past the Emerald Guardian and into the night, "I don't care…"
Knuckles frowned, slowly raising his head as his eyes met Tails' from across the living room. "Can I come in?" He repeated himself with obvious hesitation, "Please?"
Tails nodded, eyeing Emerald Guardian as he reentered the house, having been gone for nearly an hour. An awkward silence befell the attendees as the echidna quietly shut the door behind him, slinking over to the sofa where Tails sat.
"I'm--sorry," apologized Knuckles, sincerity in his words, "I shouldn't have brought that kind of thing into your house. It wasn't right. Next time I should just keep it to myself…"
Tails was quiet, studying Knuckle's expression closely. After a moment, a wry smirk crossed the fox's face. "I forgive you. I'm not judging your lifestyle, Knuckles; but personally, I love Cosmo too much to eye up other girls. Just, don't do it again, please?"
"No way," Knuckles agreed with a smirk, "nothing like that from now on, I promise!"
Stretching his arms out wide, Tails let out a yawn of fatigue, turning his gaze toward the staircase leading to the upper floor of his house. "I think I'm going to turn in, guys…" The kitsune groaned tiredly, "I need to make sure I'm rested for tomorrow…"
"Aw, come on, I just got here!" Knuckles wined, "Besides, it's only like, seven o'clock! It's because of me, isn't it?"
"No, no! I'm just really tired!" The fox responded, "It's nothing personal, I just really don't want to be tired tomorrow."
"Alright, bro! We'll try to keep it down, down here!" Sonic said, flashing him a thumbs-up, "Go get your beauty rest!"
Marching upstairs, Tails vanished into his and Cosmo's bedroom, shutting the door behind him. Hobbling over to his bed, the fox crawled beneath the sheets, laying his weary head down on the pillow. In spite of all that had happened that evening, the fox could not help but smile, reveling in the company of good friends, and thoughts of what was to come tomorrow. Still, something was missing. He could not help but find himself longing for the company of Cosmo, the distinct absence of her next to him in bed making him feel lonely. Unwilling to let this go, the fox shut his eyes and, using their psychic bond, reached out across the city, hoping to hear from her before succumbing to sleep…
In the apartment of Amy Rose, the Seedrian faced a similar predicament. While the time spent with her friends had been enjoyable, her sudden separation from Tails left her feeling somewhat unsettled. As she lay quietly in Amy's bed, however, a second presence began to manifest itself within her consciousness. A warm, familiar presence, recognizable as Tails reaching out to her. Smiling to herself, she began to reach back, returning the call of her beloved fox…
"Feeling okay?" She heard Tails' voice resonate within her own thoughts, "I hope I didn't wake you up. I needed to hear from you before you went to bed."
"No, I was hoping to hear from you as well…" She replied mentally, "How did the party go?"
"It was… different," the fox replied, a trace of hesitation in his wording, "I guess it was fun, but I'm not sure it's something I want to do again…"
"Same… I miss you, Tails…"
"I miss you, too. So, what about tomorrow? Are you ready for this?"
"I've never been more ready for anything in my life!" Cosmo exclaimed wordlessly, "After all we've been through, there's nothing in this world I want more than you…"
"You sure?" Asked Tails, "I mean, if you're not ready, you know I can wait…"
"I know," Cosmo replied, "that's why I'm so certain. You waited for me when you had no reason to. I trust you, Tails. I want to be a part of your life forever…"
"I wish I was as good with words as you are," said the fox. Had she been nearby, she was almost certain he would be laughing. "I wish I could put into words how I felt--how much I love you…"
"You don't have to," Cosmo reassured, "I know just by how you act that I'm loved. I've never believed that more than I do now."
"Well, I do," Tails replied, "are you sure you don't have any regrets?"
"Only that I can't kiss you goodnight," Cosmo teased, "what about you?"
"No, no regrets."
"I'm glad…" The young Petali replied, smiling to herself, "I suppose we should get some rest, then. Otherwise, we'll both be tired tomorrow."
"Yeah, I guess so. Good night, Cosmo. I love you…"
"Good night, my love," the Seedrian replied, slowly drifting into unconsciousness, "sweet dreams…"
Several miles from the home of Miles Prower, on the shores of the Mystic Coast, Jaran stared out over the horizon as the sun began to dip toward the horizon. "Alright, Celestials," he murmured, his eyes remained fixed on the horizon, "time to make good. Bring the family home…"
Slowly, the sun began to sink beneath the horizon, gradually disappearing from sight. Inch by inch, he watched as the massive orb of light became obscured, until finally, the last sliver of light vanished beneath the horizon. Just as it did, a faint green flash of luminescence manifested against the orange sky, remaining for a fraction of a second before disappearing without a trace. After standing for several minutes, the sage began to grow agitated, snorting to himself as he turned on his heel.
"I guess promises don't mean anything when you're all powerful…" Jaran snorted. However, upon rotating, he was surprised to see six limp forms lying on the sand, unconscious, but breathing nevertheless.
The first of the figures was a tall female Seedrian, wearing a white dress and a blood-red amulet on her chest. A single flower adorned the top of her head, from which two vine-like tendrils fell. The next bore an uncanny resemblance to the first, save the vines snaking down her head, which were absent. In addition, her amulet was of a greenish hue, complimenting her hair which was of a turquoise hue. Next to her, a large Seedrian female, both in height and girth, lay upon the beach, her leafy hair colored in shades of burgundy, with a pair of yellow flowers on either side of her cranium. Still another Seedrian lay next to her, her hair a light shade of greenish-yellow, possessing two bulbous red flowers and wearing a crimson Seedrian gown. Another Seedrian, with dark, forest green hair and purple flowers lay next to her, wearing a bluish amulet and a magenta dress. Finally, there lay the most unusual of these creatures--a large, masculine looking figure with wooden horns protruding from his head and a long main of straw-like, purple hair. His clothing was sparse, wearing only a long, dark blue cloak to cover his form.
Jaran quickly rushed to their sides, taking time to check each of them for a pulse. After several failed attempts, the sage began to panic. Finally, he managed to locate a slight, rhythmic undulation emanating from the back of the elder Petali, just beneath her shoulder blade. Quietly he began to curse himself for his lack of understanding of Seedrian biology. After ensuring that each of them was indeed alive, he made his way over to the eldest Petali again, gently shaking her as he used his own mental energy to strengthen her.
"Hertia, wake up!" He ordered, "You can sleep when you're dead! Or, dead again…"
Slowly, the female Seedrian began to stir, blinking her eyes as she slowly raised her head up, uttering phrases in what Jaran could only assume were the Seedrian tongue. "Verter eseme? Heskai al-exeven…"
"For the love of the One Above All!" Jaran growled, rolling his eyes, "Don't make this difficult for me! I know you speak Basic!"
"I--" the elder Petali grunted, seeming to find her words, "what happened? I feel--"
"You feel what?" Inquired Jaran, "Sick? Hurt? Tired?"
"I feel," she repeated, shaking her head, "that's it. I feel. I haven't experienced sensation like this since I was--"
"Alive?" Jaran interrupted, smirking at the plant woman.
"I'm alive?" Hertia repeated, a smile gradually growing across her face, "I'm alive! We made it! Lucas, wake up! Open your eyes and breath!"
The large male stirred, groaning as he sat up and opened his eyes, looking out over the horizon. "By Gaia!" Exclaimed Lucas, "He kept his word! He truly did it!"
"Of course I did," Jaran replied, helping Hertia to her feet, "I'm many things, but dishonest isn't one of them…"
"Mother…" Groaned the second oldest Petali, gradually rising to her feet as well, "What is this place? I don't recall Greengate being this cold!"
"Careful, daughter," Hertia cooed, helping Galaxina to her feet as each of the others finally came to, "you're disoriented. This is Mobius. The Guardian kept his word…"
"This is Mobius, then?" Asked Lucas, glancing about curiously, "Are the days always this dark?"
"It's nighttime," Jaran answered, "It will get brighter in the morning…"
"When can we see Cosmo?" Begged the Seedrian with the crimson flowers, apparently the second-youngest of the family, "I miss my little sister!"
"Soon, Daisy," Hertia spoke calmly, "we must be patient…"
"This is all so confusing!" Remarked the girl with the dark green hair, "How do the living cope with linear time? There's so much waiting!"
"With patience, Starla," Hertia advised her second-youngest daughter, "you'll have to excuse my family, Guardian. We're all quite eager to see Cosmo and her boy…"
"I imagine so," Jaran replied with a chuckle, "but it's as I said, it must wait until after the ceremony…"
"Why?" Asked the large Petali, the second-eldest of the group, "What's wrong with now?"
"If we show ourselves now, then Cosmo will be too distracted to focus on the wedding!" Galaxina spoke to her younger sister, "You don't want to spoil her union before it's begun, do you Chrysanthemum?"
"No, I suppose not," the Seedrian now know as Chrysanthemum replied with a nod, "what are we going to do until then?"
"Until then, you're welcome to stay at my house for the night," Jaran offered, "we can discuss tomorrow more when it arrives…"
After reaching an understanding with the newly revived Seedrian family, Jaran led them down the coastline toward his hidden abode. The night had been long, and it seemed that tomorrow might be even longer. Still, Jaran took it with a smile, feeling confident that having Cosmo's lost family present would only add joy to the already momentous occasion of Tails and Cosmo's wedding. Much like Starla, Jaran could not help but feel a certain eagerness, hoping that tomorrow would come soon, and that he would finally have the honor of declaring the couple he had long watched over as Mister and Missus Prower…