Okay Tails. Play it cool. Nothing unusual. Nothing weird... well, yeah, it’s weird but... not the point. Stick with the story. You’re just tired, turning in early. Sally won’t’ think anything of it. Probably. I hope. Oh man, now I’m all nervous, and she’ll think something’s up, and... no, get it together. It’ll be fine. Come on, you just gotta talk to her for a second and you’re in the clear. Okay, here she is, let’s go...
“Hey Sally it's getting late and I’m pretty tired so I’m gonna go to bed early goodnight see you tomorrow!”
Tails booked it out of the Sky Patrol’s briefing room before Sally or Nicole could respond. The end of the Shattered World Crisis saw a momentary drawdown in Eggman’s activity, giving the Freedom Fighters some much-needed down time. Most of them found a reason to leave the Sky Patrol- Bunnie and Antoine took a personal leave of absence together, joined by Amy and Cream. Rotor went on a visit to the GUN shipyards to requisition some parts for the Sky Patrol, Sonic going with to cash a few favors to the military higher-ups as needed. Big just decided to head home for awhile. Sally had opted to stay aboard, though. She’d been beaten pretty badly when Sky Patrol was last attacked. Tails didn’t know how bad, but he’d heard Nicole talking about it. He tried to urge her to take some time off and go home, but Sally wanted to make sure there were some Freedom Fighters on call if they were needed.
He couldn’t help but feel at least a little guilty, ditching one of his closest friends like that. Way back when they were hiding out in Knothole, Sally had become a sort of big sister to him. After Sonic had introduced them, they began to grow attached to each other. Sonic wasn’t always around while Tails was too young and scared to join the fighting, but Sally loved to spend time with him. In the years since, with Sally commanding the Freedom Fighters and Tails working with Rotor to design the Sky Patrol, they hadn’t been as close as they used to be.
He stopped for a moment once he reached his room- he was ignoring Sally, one of his best friends, to do something he wasn’t particularly proud of. But it wasn’t like she was his only friend...
He unlocked his room and quickly stepped in. He had taken every precaution to keep this under wraps. Under his bed, there was a disorganized pile of miscellaneous debris: boxes of components, discarded tools, failed inventions, abandoned drawings, and a few keepsakes. Sifting through the junk, he went for a sizeable box hidden towards the back and dragged it out. His heart raced as he opened it up and began digging through the contents covering up what it was really holding...
“Well, that was... unusual,” said Nicole.
Sally hadn’t even had time to turn and face Tails before he’d left the room. She and Nicole had been monitoring communications with the Freedom Fighters in case they were needed, while Tails was performing some routine maintenance. Having the evening to themselves, Sally had changed into some of Bunnie’s old pajamas that hadn’t fit her in a long time. Her signature vest and athletic shorts worked well enough for fighting, but were nowhere near as comfy as PJs. The shirt was mostly white with a pink heart in the center, and was paired with some loose-fitting black pants.
“I’ll say.” She turned back to the monitors on the table in front of her and slouched back in her chair. “Have you noticed him acting up lately?”
“Social withdrawal, notable mood swings, spending time alone... possible early symptoms of the onset of male puberty.”
Sally shuddered at the thought. “Uh... yeah. I don’t think so.”
While Sally didn’t even want to think about it, Nicole was at least right about how Tails had been behaving. “Antisocial” wasn’t a word that either one of them would use to describe him. Tails was the most sweet and approachable member of the team (except Cream, maybe). Even when he was buried in his work, he was always willing to be there for anyone who needed him. But about a week ago, something had changed with him. He would spend a lot of time in his room or in his workshop. He hardly talked to anyone if he could help it. Even when he did, he’d keep it short. She didn’t think too much of it at first, like he had just had a bad day. But as it went on and his mood didn’t improve at all, she started to think there was something more to it.
Sally never pressed him or anyone else about it. Tails wasn’t acting outright hostile to anyone, but she still wanted him to be more... agreeable, before calling him out like that. Or maybe she just hoped Sonic or Bunnie would handle it. But now that she thought about it, she hadn’t seen Bunnie approach him at all since then...
“Hm?” She was snapped out of her train of thought by Nicole.
“It's your turn.”
“Oh. Right.” Around their third game of chess, Sally had lost interest. There was hardly a point to playing against Nicole- she often made a point of declaring victory before Sally had even made her last move- but it did help pass the time.
“Thinking about Tails?”
Sally arbitrarily moved a random pawn and passed her turn. “Yeah. Well. Sort of. I just...” Her head throbbed. She missed Nicole. Her physical body. Her handheld was still damaged...
“...een feeling any better?” Nicole’s voice buzzed.
“I’m sorry, I just keep...” she trailed off again. Focusing was hard. She felt tired a lot.
“Maybe you should rest for awhile.”
Sally smiled. “Are you worried about me, Nicole?”
“Shouldn’t I be? You were barely able to walk after you took that hit.”
“You’re not in the best of shape either,” Sally teased.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that,” she told the text on the screen. Shaking her head, she sighed and closed the virtual chess game. “Alright, I’ll go to bed early too.”
Sally stood up and yawned. “Yeah. Thanks. Let me know if you need anything.”
“I will. Sleep well, Sally.”
Sally pulled herself to her feet and shuffled her way out of the room. She passed by Tails’ quarters on the way to her own.
She stopped outside his door for a second.
Tails’ door was closed, but not locked. Unusual, but so was everything Tails had been doing. The Freedom Fighters usually had an open-door policy with each other, so Sally didn’t think much as she entered...
“Tails? Are you feeling alr-”
Their eyes locked. And for a moment, the room was completely still.
Tails was lying down on his bed, shoes and gloves off and the covers thrown back.
This was familiar to her.
Tails was wearing a diaper.