The school was cool compared to the heat that graced Station Square that day, as Kharis led her class to recess after everyone had finished their lunch. She had enjoyed teaching her rotation of students that morning as they had come to one of her favorite subjects. Ancient Histories, namely, the Greeks.
The school system didn't really enjoy her fascination with that specific topic though, so to keep up with the curriculum she used her passions and created some extra credit work that the children enjoyed.
As her mind spun with the simple joys as she thought of the different myths and legends she could use, she watched all the children play along with a few other teachers on duty. She was glad she wore her comfortable flats today, as soon a group of middle schoolers asked her to come play tag with them.
It was unusual for a teacher to play with the kids, especially middle school kids and other teachers looked down and ridiculed her often. She didn't care, it helped her bond with the students and she noticed that children with closer bonds to their teachers learnt the subject materials better as they focused more closely to teachers they looked up to.
She had support for her methods as well, as the school councilor for the children and the elderly Principal both noticed the improved states of the children's attitudes and their grades. As long as her interactions never went to the darker side, they were fine letting her do as she wished. That was never an issue brought up, as even those who scorned her couldn't deny her child like innocence, though they loved to denote it as her naivety since she was still a virgin. Especially the older women with their perfect hair styles and polished make up and shoes.
Such thoughts didn't plague Kharis though as she tripped, tumbled, and ran through out the playground with the children, always just running slow enough to be caught every now and then to keep the game fair. It didn't matter that she was 23 years old, didn't matter how much she self-loathed the fact she wasn't feminine or ladylike. As she played those thoughts couldn't reach her as she felt free to be herself and to let go...
What did confuse her was the children that kept animatedly talking about someone called 'Sonic the Hedgehog'. Now Kharis wasn't one to watch the news for anything more than the weather, so she let the children fill her in on the mysterious speedster that was causing such a ruckus in the main part of the city.
It made her think of the hedgehog in her dreams...but now, with news of an actual two-legged hedgehog like him walking and talking in reality...was Shadow just the character of a most bizarre dream or was she somehow really linked to another, living creature?
Distracted by her thoughts as she was, she realized to late that she had ran to close to the ledge of a steep hill near the back of the school, a bit away from the playground. Her surprised scream was echoed by the children who saw her fall down and begin tumbling to the tree line of the forest below, moaning as she finally came to a stop.
Her head hurt badly, but it didn't seem to bad and a quick check found no broken bones. Her clothes were ripped and dirty now though, and she guessed she might have had some degree of a concussion judging by how much her head throbbed.
How else could she explain the startled green hedgehog gaping at her a few feet away?
He seemed to be around 3'5", with green fur with strangely spiked bangs, warm golden brown eyes, a red vest and tennis shoes. "Dude...that was one major wipeout...you okay?" He asked worriedly, coming over to help Kharis stand up. His voice held a familiar tone to it, like he knew her though she had no clue who he was.
"I've been worse, I suppose..." She said nervously, though forced herself to relax. He didn't outright attack her like Shadow had, so she didn't have the right to judge him based on a previous experience.
"Let's get you back up that hill, can you walk?" He asked, helping her stand then supporting her when she swayed. "...guess not...bummer." He said, helping her up the steep hill slowly as others carefully came down to assist. The other teachers nearly fainted at the sight of the large green hedgehog supporting the woman before them, but the sight of blood beginning to trickle down the side of her face spurred them back into action.
"I'm Manic, by the way." The green hedgehog introduced later, sitting with Kharis in the nurses office. She had refused to go to the hospital despite her light concussion, so the nurse bandaged her head the best she could and gave her instructions to get to a proper doctor for a check up soon to make sure it was nothing severe.
Kharis looked at the hedgehog before her... "I'm Kharis...Kharis Ariadne." She said in turn. "So uh...I know this is comin' from out of no where but...think I could crash at your place? I mean...not just me, but like, my sis and mom to? We...We're not from this area as you can see.." He said awkwardly, and the whole awkwardness caused Kharis to laugh lightly from how random and honestly adorable it was.
They just met! Now he was asking if he and his family could live with her? Well...She did owe him for helping her she supposed...plus it didn't seem likely that any one else would offer assistance to a walking anthropomorphic hedgehog and his family without calling the government to haul them off to Area 51 or something...
"Um...well...I do live in a two bedroom apartment...so I suppose...? How old are you though?" She asked, to which he relaxed to her agreement of his family's arrangement. "Huh? Oh! I'm 15!" Manic replied. "Besides...not like you should be alone
right now anyway with that bruise on your head."
"Right..." Just what in the name of Olympus did I just agree to...?! She thought to herself, exhausted.
The principal let Kharis go home early that day and gave her the month off with pay. Despite her objections that she could still perform her job. She did stop and meet with the children though to reassure them, before Manic began to escort her home as her vision swam more than once. In the parking lot they meet with a pink hedgehog, obviously a female judging by the petite body form and dress. "Yo! Sonia! Kharis said she'd let us crash at her place!" Manic called cheerfully to which the acclaimed Sonia face palmed. "Manic what did you do!? Why is she hurt?!" Sonia screeched, marching up to Manic who hid behind Kharis fearfully.
"Um...c-can we just go home...?" Kharis asked, trying to stall the incoming fight with the two brightly colored hedgehogs. They froze, Sonia with her fists raised and Manic cowering comically away from her, and blinked owlishly at her. Kharis was beginning to rethink letting them stay with her...or perhaps that was just the bump on her head.
The way home was...interesting to say the least. Kharis lived a few blocks from the school, further out into the countryside and away from the heart of Station Square. It was a good thing to, as it meant she mostly walked from home to work and vice versa, so she didn't have to worry about driving in her condition.
She could have done without all the stares and whispers though! Sonia and Manic made it worse even, walking on either side of her like some sort of body guards! Their backs were straight, eyes fierce and everything about them gave off an aura of protectiveness and determination. But she noticed that they also seemed...to be looking for someone.
Didn't Manic say his sister and mother? So...that meant they were looking for their mom as they made the trip to Kharis' little apartment.
It didn't take long to find her.
A scream had the two hedgehogs jumping into action before Kharis could finish blinking, dashing into an alley not to far up ahead. She dashed after them after gathering her bearings, and shooting some light glares at the few people that had been whispering about the group nearby. It didn't seem like any one was calling the cops or animal control just yet, so maybe they just thought they were just kids in costumes?
Not being as fast as the two, it took her a few minutes longer to get to the opening of the ally way...and she wished it took her longer. There, laying prone on the ground were three men, the local drunks if Kharis recalled correctly, unconscious with fresh bruises beginning to appear on what flesh she could see.
Further in she saw Manic and Sonia fretting over a tall purple hedgehog woman, whom Kharis assumed automatically was their mother judging by how the woman interacted and handled the two.
The purple hedgehog seemed to be around 5', just a bit shorter than Kharis was and was dressed in a fine white gown with gold trimmings and red cloak held snug around her petite shoulders with a golden heart clasp. She had startling green eyes, a womanly figure and held herself with the poise and grace Kharis could only associate with royalty.
The royalty bit was also cemented when Kharis caught a glimpse of the ornately decorated golden crown that sat upon her head of cascading amethyst locks of hair.
It was obvious the woman had fought back, judging by the slight disarray of her clothing and ruffled appearance, and Sonia and Manic had just finished them off in the seconds after. "Let's get home quick, best not to be standing around in case they wake up..." Kharis said worriedly as she leaned against the wall of the ally, slightly grossed out by the muck on it but shrugging it off as the vision before her swam more violently with the excitement.
"Yes, the young lady is right, my dears. Let's get away from this dreadful place." The mother said, as Manic came to help Kharis once more as her knees wobbled. As the group of four hurried home, the mother introduced herself as Aleena on the trip back.
Only thing Kharis could think of through the headache though as she talked lightly with the elegant woman was that she had one heck of a tale to tell Shadow that night!