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Old 07-22-2012, 04:20 AM
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Default [WAR XI] Snow Petals [Judged]

Yes, this is based on two of my Sonic characters. But believe me when I say it has absolutely nothing to do with Sonic...

Snow Petals

I remember quite clearly your great-grandmother. The day we met was the day my entire life changed, and set your own lives on the path to being created. That day was in January, and I was at the age of thirty-three. Yes, at one point I was young and feisty, ready to explore the world and take it for my own. Granted, things do not always work as we want them to, and I soon found myself working at a telescope with a doctorate in astronomy. I loved it, true, but coming home to a relatively empty apartment made it difficult to feel happy. I enjoyed my duty photographing the night skies, plotting star movements and I even was the first to confirm the location of a black hole. Yes, it was quite enjoyable having others congratulate me about it and to have my name forever engraved in the record books, but it still did not bring the joy I sought. I was left with an aching void – a living black hole to be relevant – within my heart, and it grew ever larger by the day, devouring my mind with little mercy. I needed a release before I lost my sanity.

It was a cold day when I left to get some coffee. I had the day off of work and was content to stay at home and read a book. There was a storm coming, and it would most likely result in a rather large blizzard, so getting some now was the best option as there would probably be no later. I had left around noon or so, and chosen to walk as it was a pleasant day out; it was the calm before the storm, as they say. The temperature was cold, perhaps in the low twenties for Fahrenheit. As I walked down the paved sidewalk of the city, I could not help but pay attention to those around me. Cars passed on the busy street, minding their own business and providing little threat. It took me just a scant few minutes to find the shop, and I entered as usual, ordering the same treat.

It was then I noticed a young hedgehog, quills pulled in a tight ponytail with a red sweater and jeans on. It hid her pale fur, a pure white, but it accentuated her crimson eyes that sat behind some glasses. Before her was a laptop in which she was typing away quickly, although I had no way of knowing what she was doing exactly nor was I inclined to snoop to find out. She had a bagel on a plate, and from how no heat rose out of her cup, she had either drank it all or had been there for some time. The poor dear looked absolutely exhausted, and as she groaned, it was clear she was frustrated as well. Taking some interest and noting all the other seats were occupied, I figured it would not hurt to approach and make some idle conversation.

She lifted her eyes to look at me as I approached and asked if I could sit down. She said she would leave soon as there were not a lot of seats available. I quickly stated I wanted to talk to her, as she seemed like she could use someone to complain to. She raised an eyebrow, before sighing. Noting my politeness, I apparently earned points for it. I introduced myself as Skye Silvart, and she in turn told me her name was Rikka Labatt. She had a major in chemistry, which is what she was working on at the moment. However, the formulas were proving to be difficult, and the upcoming deadline was driving her insane. I could not help but muse over how she was stressing, trying to find a solution when she quite clearly needed a break. Working hard was a good ability to have, but doing it too much was unhealthy and in the end, only frustrating.

Thus, I advised her to take a break. While she frowned at first, it seemed the idea quickly made her relax more as she had been given the excuse she needed to stop. Saving her work and folding the laptop down, I told her what my line of work was and what I intended to do with my skills. It was only fitting, as she had told me hers; upon learning that I had come up with a technique to discover and pinpoint the locations of black holes – known as the Blanket Method – she quickly snapped her fingers, stating my name had been familiar. It had been in her issue of
Science How? magazine, about the award I had received due to it. Rikka was astonished I lived in the same city as she did, and was even more surprised that I was even talking to her. It really did not seem like a big deal to me, but I suppose I was somewhat of a celebrity in the science world, something I did not anticipate.

We talked about many things which included our lives, our career paths, and even family. Rikka had a loving mother and father, but she was astonished to learn I never knew either of my parents. My grandfather had raised me, but he had died of cancer early on in my life so I had to go to an orphanage. I never
had that sort of love or interaction so many others did, which is why I often found myself acting cold to others. With her, however, I found a kinship which left me feeling comfortable around the albino. A chemist with such a condition was not unheard of, but it was rare. It made me wonder if she was trying to find a “cure” for it, as many often were not very healthy due to the sun’s damaging light.

Time passed, and before we knew it snow was already falling. Wrapping her scarf around her neck and tucking the laptop into its carrier, we both began to leave. I would never have forgiven myself if I allowed a young woman to go out into the world all alone with a storm brewing. What kind of man would I have been? Rikka did not seem to mind much due to me being somewhat famous and polite. Perhaps she was not treated with such kindness for some absurd reason? Well, there was not much I could do about it.

As we walked and got closer to my own apartment, however, the wind had picked up to send the frozen particles slicing through clothing, fur, and skin. Ms. Labatt still had another twenty minutes to walk to get to her home, and in that time the blizzard would have been upon the city in full force. Hesitating by the door, I asked her if she would like to take shelter in my living quarters. While it was clear the idea made her uncomfortable, Rikka recognized the dangers of trying to leave in a snowstorm, and climbed up the staircase to my apartment.

My house was truly nothing of worth, scantily clad in terms of furnishings. There were plenty of books on a bookshelf that I loved to read, and the television rarely saw use other than weather and news. As for my kitchen, well, just a lot of stainless steel sinks and wooden cabinets. When I said my home was worthless, I really did mean it. Rikka quickly found comfort in the couch, while I went to the kitchen and prepared a meal – and by “prepare” I really meant “pop something into the microwave”. Once that was done, I brought it over to her, sat down, and turned on the television as we waited for the storm to blow over.

The only problem with that plan of action was that the storm refused to perish. The next night, when it became apparent it was still going strong, I slept once more on the couch. It was wrecking my back, but I had no choice, as I had given my room up to Rikka. What we had talked about continued to bug me; she was defensive about her albinism and intelligence due to being bullied as a child, as when I had finally decided to ask her about it Rikka had nearly bitten my head off. She accused me of being judgmental when I was not, and lying when I tried to explain myself. Ms. Labatt had gone to bed shortly after that outburst, and now I found myself wondering what I had said wrong at two in the morning.

Later on, despite the blizzard still raging, her temper had not cooled at all. As we spent days together in the worst storm the city had seen in one hundred years, I found myself enjoying her company more and more, my thoughts growing weary if they were not focused on my temperamental friend. So, over a bowl of soup one week later, I told her how I felt. I told her that I could have cared less about how her eyes looked, or the way her glasses fell on her nose. I said that pale skin only made her cheeks all the cuter when she blushed, and her white fur was just as pure as the snow that fell outside. Her temper was refreshing, bringing excitement to my otherwise dull life, and I wished to have more of it. With great trepidation I asked if this could be our first date, noting that it would be remembered due to how unconventional it was.

I was so relieved when she said yes.

Weeks passed since that night, and we went on numerous dates. I took her to as many places as I could - restaurants, movies, theme parks, even the telescope where I worked. The more time we spent together, the more my heart ached the longer we were apart. Every waking moment I thought of her, wondering what to tell her, and growing frustrated with myself over not being able to come up with an answer. It filled up my mind, and my gut would twist when I tried to avoid thinking about it, plaguing me with its memories. I finally worked up the courage to ask her to move in with me, which she responded to with an affirmative. I was thrilled. It was just as great as our first kiss, which had filled me up with energy and joy thanks to the nectar of sweetness that it was. In a similar manner, I was content.

One evening in front of the ocean during a beautiful sunset, its rays painting the sky with a myriad of colors while the sea was smooth as glass, I knelt down on one knee. I took her hand and told her how much I loved her, how the world stopped revolving if she was not by me and how my mind always focused on her. I could not breathe without her, let alone live without her. She was my one and only, my everything, and if I could not have her I refused to go on in a world where my feeble existence meant nothing. I was attached, and to sever that bond would create recoil so harsh that it would snap my frail heart in two before yanking it out completely. So I asked her the simple question that could fell the entire relationship built over months of hard work; I asked Rikka Labatt if she would marry me.

A few months later, we stood on the altar and joined our lives together, vowing to live to the age of one hundred years old unless an extremely good reason came up for betraying that oath. Granted, that would mean I would die first, but she assured me that she would spend her last five years thinking only of me. Our marriage had another happy story to tell, however. Rikka, a month prior, had become pregnant with our first child. She was due in two months, so getting the marriage over with now was better off for the child in the long run. That was not to say we skimped on it. Oh no, it had everything. It was a nice place by the ocean with crimson roses – her favorite flower - and silky trees overhanging the church, a shining limousine which drove us away to our honeymoon - which was a cliffside picnic beneath the full moon - and the best catering around. Her dress was a thing of beauty, and it accentuated her glowing figure with its intricate lines and lace, while providing little discomfort to the unborn child. As for myself, well, a black suit really is not worth mentioning compared to her beauty.

Before I knew it, it was time for my son to be born. I rushed my dear wife as quickly as I could to the hospital, and from there into the emergency room for the delivery. Granted, I detest blood in any form, but I could not wait outside. I had to be with her and my child in this time of utmost need. Of course, Rikka grabbed me by the throat and told me she would kill me for this, so I had to question if it would have been safer for me to stay in the lobby. I digress, her screams of agony I will never forget as they are forever painted onto my eardrums. Hidden amidst the folds of pain, however, was a notable tenor of excitement. It is simple to explain but so powerful in its meaning, for a new life was coming into the world and our little family was expanding. Had she not felt that emotion, I would have been deeply worried.

Clutching her hand and talking to her, time swirled into a blend of monotony. Seconds were minutes, minutes were hours, hours were days, and days were weeks. Watching her struggle was one of the hardest situations I had ever been in, as I was completely powerless to help her other than offer words of comfort which were lost on a muddled mind. The doctors provided their own form of sympathy, talking to Rikka and telling her she was almost there or announcing a random joke to take the edge off. That being said, doctors were not exactly funny, and the condition she was in made them fly over her head.

On March twelfth at six seventeen, my son’s wail broke the tumultuous strain we had all been under. It did not take long before we could see him fully, and my wife was positively beaming as she held him. I commented how he had her face, while she retorted he had my eyes. His fur was a very light blue, the same shade as my own which was a pale sky blue, but I knew it would darken as he grew older. When I was allowed to hold Darrell, I felt my heart nearly burst from joy as he slept soundly, snuggling into my chest. Raising him up a little, I lightly kissed the infant on his forehead, and I grinned when Darrell in turn reached up with a chubby hand to grip the skin on my muzzle. It was the lightest touch, soft as a feather, yet it moved me beyond words. Leaving both my child and wife at the hospital that night was one of the most difficult choices I ever had to make, but for their recovery it was necessary.

The next day when they were both given permission to leave was a rainy one. The planet was renewing itself as it thawed from the winter, and as I helped Rikka out of the hospital with Darrell, she chose to remain beneath a bus stop so I could bring the car around. As I rounded the corner to get the vehicle, however, I heard the most awful sound my ears had ever heard, causing me to turn. A semi going too fast had lost traction on the slick road, its wheels screeching as the driver hit the brakes. It jackknifed, and I caught one last glance of Rikka as we locked eyes. In the next instant she turned her back to the approaching threat, clenching the baby seat against her chest as the truck pulverized the flimsy cover of the bus stop. The metal bench went flying, crashing into the hospital to break a window, while the vehicle continued to slide into an intersection, taking out more cars in its uncontrolled rampage.

I ran as quickly as I could to where I saw the limp figure of my wife, sliding to a stop beside her. Rikka’s normally white fur was covered with red in various spots, and I tried to wake her up, gently prodding her and slapping her cheek. I pleaded with her, telling her she could not die as that would break the oath we made, but there was no response. I felt no pulse; there was nothing. A scream so distraught and agonizing ripped itself from my throat, so high in pitch that a few seconds later it cracked and cut out, rendering me without a voice. I buried my face into hers, hot tears trickling from my eyes as I lamented my loss. My heart had been torn asunder, the semi having hit me without ever coming close. My love was dead, and I could not do anything to change it.

For what I felt was hours I sobbed, until I heard the muffled crying of a tiny voice. It was then I realized that Rikka had given me one final gift; in giving up her life she had protected the life of our son. Picking up the dented car seat, I observed that Darrell had very few cuts or bruises, but the infant was wailing for the loss of his mother. He barely knew her, but the bond had already grown over three months of nurturing in the womb. I was all he had left.

I made a vow that I would not let Rikka’s memories die with her that night, and that I would do everything within my power to raise our son right.

Last edited by Grassy_Aggron; 07-22-2012 at 04:36 AM.
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Old 07-22-2012, 04:34 AM
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Default Re: [WAR XI] Snow Petals

“Dad, are you done putting the kids to sleep yet?” Skye blinked, having been snapped out of his storytelling by the graying hedgehog beside him. Darrell’s pelt had indeed darkened from since he was a newborn, being far more akin to a robin’s egg blue than his father’s sky blue. That being said, Skye had dulled to more of a grayish coloration, but being in his nineties was a very good excuse for it. The ancient hedgehog was confined to a wheelchair for the most part, his heart being too weak to sustain walking for very long; lack of mobility did nothing to dampen his spirit and activity.

Coughing a little and noting his seven great-grandkids all on the ground sound asleep, Skye chuckled softly. “Well, you know me Darrell, I love telling the story of your mother.” He frowned a little. “My only regret is that you barely knew her. She was a wonderful person.” It was his ninety-ninth birthday, and the entire family had come to celebrate it. His three grandchildren now had the problem of driving home without waking their young children, something Skye had not intended to happen. He loved his family, and was glad he was still around to experience every milestone with them, although the fact he could go at any moment weighed heavily in the back of his mind. The hedgehog had never expected to live this long, and especially without his wife whom had left a gaping hole in his weak heart.

As the others wished him goodbye, Darrell glanced at his father, noting his thoughtful expression. “Dad, is something wrong?”

Remaining silent for a few breaths, it was only after the hedgehog cleared his thoughts up did he deign to reveal them to his son. “You know next year is my one-hundredth birthday, right?” With little surprise, this was confirmed. “I have a request. Would you take me to see Rikka’s grave?” That question earned a great deal of surprise from his son, but he ultimately agreed to it, although he questioned why he didn’t want to see it now; Skye chuckled once more at this. “Promises of the past, Darrell, promises of the past.” He reached up, pulling his son down to kiss him on the forehead. “Now let us get ready to sleep. You have to work tomorrow at the company. I could always help you sleep by telling you the story of how I founded it…”

Darrell groaned. “Not again!”


As months passed since that birthday party, however, Skye’s health began to decline at a rapid yet steady pace. No doctor could find rhyme or reason for it; every medical scan came back normal, and every blood test was as perfect as a ninety-nine year old could be. Skye was losing weight and energy, yet no one was able to give an explanation as to why. Darrell was frantic, worrying that his father wouldn’t live much longer; it was only natural that he would experience such a panic with the likely possibility of his only parent dying within a year. The two had done everything together, and he had even inherited the company when Skye had retired. His father meant as much to him as his wife and children, and he had no desire to lose that.

Perhaps by fate or grand design, Skye made it to his one-hundredth birthday, although he was severely underweight. On December twenty-first, Darrell wheeled his father into the cemetery where his wife was buried, and it didn’t take long to find the intricate marble piece that was her tombstone. The day was cold, and no snow had fallen quite yet although there was a storm coming in later. Skye always looked at the ground in front of the tombstone, and he constantly frowned upon noting the rose he had planted had never bloomed. He had buried the seed over fifty years ago, so Darrell did not understand how he expected it to still be alive after all those years.

Skye asked to be left alone for a bit with Rikka, and while his son protested leaving his frail father alone, he gave in and decided to go for a brief walk. When he had disappeared from sight after a kiss to the forehead to wish him well, the old hedgehog braced his arms against the wheelchair and with great difficulty pushed himself to his feet. Taking a few hobbling steps forward, he felt the top of the tombstone, noting how smooth it was despite the years of abuse the weather repeatedly hammered against its structure. The day was crisp, and it reminded him of how they had first met, dragging sorrow from the depths of his heart.

“Oh, how I miss you my love.” Skye croaked out, biting back bitter tears that he had long since thought had dried up. “I never stopped missing you. I buried myself in my work, in raising our son and helping others, but I could never stop thinking about you. Every day has been a living hell for me because my heart is constantly tearing itself apart in its grief. I regret that I left you beneath that bus stop on that day; I detest Mother Nature for raining and for that trucker driving too fast. They all took you from me. I try not to be bitter, but I fail. I love you too much to be unable to stop putting the blame on someone.”

He knelt down, tracing his spindly fingers on the name carved in the stone. “I miss you so much. We were only together for about two years, but it was enough to make me realize I had found my soul mate. When you died, you took my soul with you.” His legs were hurting, so he sat down and leaned against the tombstone, taking a deep breath of the cold air. Clouds were rolling in, painting the sky a deep gray, and he knew that soon snow would begin to fall. There was no noise at all, no birds or other people, making the entire scene quiet and calm.

“There is a storm coming in, similar to the one that snowed us in and made us fall in love. I often wondered if I would hurt less if I never met you, Rikka, but then I realized that I would have become a cruel, lonely person. You changed my fate, and I can never thank you enough for it. I miss you so much, but I would rather be loved once and hurting forever than never loved, never in pain. It tells me I am alive.” Listening to the sound of the wind through barren trees, the soft rattle they made soothed him and made him drowsy. Skye looked up as he felt something cool land on his head, and with a start he realized it was snowing.

A slow smile crossed his lips. “It truly is like when we first met, Rikka. The beginning of a storm in winter, which could easily become a blizzard just as powerful as ours was.” He held out his hand, allowing a snowflake to land on his palm. It sat for the briefest of moments before it melted into a droplet of icy water, which he let roll to the ground. It was joined by more drops of liquid, but this time from tears which fell freely from the old hedgehog. “This just brings up more memories, so please, forgive my weakness. It makes me miss you all the more, although I already made that clear. Winter brings harsh clarity, while spring brings about renewal. Ever since your death, I could not bring myself to go out in the snow…”

Yet he felt so calm here. His eyelids were being tugged down by an invisible force, persistent yet gentle. “You remember that vow we made, right…?” Skye shook his head. “We would always be together no matter what. You broke it and left me alone, yet I cannot be angry with you. Now I am a tired old man that is quickly dying, and I have no way of knowing if after all these years you would still be here with me. If the accident had never occurred, would you still be walking with me, talking and loving me, just the same as when we made that oath?”

He coughed, and started when he felt something feathery and light against his hand. Glancing down, surprise overrode his sadness, before it turned around into a tiny smile. “I see. That is your answer. I am glad to know that, Rikka, I really am. Mmm…” Opening his mouth, he gave a great yawn. “Do you think it is time?” Pausing, the wind whispered through the trees with a sweet murmur, and he nodded. “I suppose you are right, my love. I knew this was coming all along. Our child and their children will be fine. We will always be watching over them, and with our little Darrell keeping everyone in line…” Skye sighed. “I hope I raised him right, Rikka. I really do. He grew up without a mother…”

As the snow began to fall more thickly to begin blanketing the land with its frozen grace, he did not hear the wind this time. Skye instead heard a gentle voice giving him comfort, telling him he did the right thing, and with a smile the old hedgehog nodded. “It means so much to hear that.” Stroking the object beside him, he leaned back against the immobile stone, the tears slowing to a stop as he closed his eyes. His mind wandered into the abyss of dreams, and for once since her terrible death they were filled with happiness.

Darrell, having noticed the snow coming down more heavily, was quickly making his way back to where he had left his father and cursing himself for leaving in the first place. Upon getting close enough, he noticed that the wheelchair was empty, and panic began to flicker into his thoughts before he noticed a few quills poking up in front of the tombstone. Relieved that he hadn’t tried to go far, he jogged up to where Skye was, poking his head around the tombstone. It was quite clear his father had been crying, but his expression now was one of peace, not turmoil. Darrell had a hard time remembering the last time he had ever seen him so happy before, and was hesitant on waking him up for fear of ruining that moment.

Reaching forward, he nudged his father’s hand only to get no reaction. “Dad, come on, now isn’t a good time for your nap.” When he still received no response, he moved to be beside his father, shaking him a little harder. “Get up!” Lifting his hand up, he pressed it fingers against his neck, trying to find the rhythmic drum of his heart. Full blown fear gripped his own muscle when he realized there was none, and he nearly tried to do CPR when it dawned on him. His question a year ago, the rapid weight loss, the talk about promises…

Skye knew he had been dying.

It did little to stop his own crying, but now he understood everything. His father didn’t want a birthday party because he knew he wouldn’t be coming back from the cemetery; he didn’t want to get the kid’s hopes up to see their great-grandfather alive and well when he wouldn’t be. His father had never been truly happy, and for the longest time Darrell had thought it was because of him; he had learned a long time ago that it was because of his mother being deceased but had assumed by now Skye had put it behind him. Only now that he could see him so joyous in death did he realize his assumption had been completely wrong.

While it hurt, it made him happy to know that his father was finally in a better place. He was with his wife in a younger body, watching down on them from afar as guardian angels. As much as it tore him apart, he would rather have Skye be gone but happy than be here and miserable. Leaning forward, for the first and last time in his life he pressed his lips to the old hedgehog’s forehead, giving him the same kiss he had always received every day from his doting father. As he stopped and began to fall back, his hand brushed something his father was clutching, and he could only gaze with shock at the flower before that emotion slowly began to turn into understanding.

It was a single white rose.
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