Art by thespacelibra
There it was again. That odd feeling he often gets when traversing through the city. A weird morph of energy and comfort Shadow has come to associate with his walks. He sighs as he looks around at the gaggle of pedestrians going about carefree from the possibility of danger, extraterrestrial or otherwise that could befall them.
Nothing could have prepared anyone for the whiplash chain of events that came crashing all those years ago. Quick methodical attacks with wave after wave after fucking wave of unknown enemy attacks leaving the world shocked and without a chance for proper evacuation or defense.
The initial attack was a slaughterhouse, the total number of casualties remains disputed up to this date. Foolishly brave heroes sprung into action and along said protectors came his damned fool of a martyr. Shadow had hoped, prayed to the cosmos that Sonic had not joined the fallen that day but after several lonely centuries raging between denial and despair Shadow had come to terms with adding Sonic the Hedgehog to his growing list of fallen loved ones.
Decades of rebuilding has once again brought City Central to its former glory and with it a horrible yearning beckoned Shadow back to the place where Sonic had made his last stand. Living here fills Shadow with a morbid air of melancholy and peace, making it difficult to decipher exactly why he remains living in a place that marked one of his worst moments in his life. But on rare days such as this he could almost feel a sense of peace.
Shadow looks on as he falls back into a calm, taking him back to one of his many treasured moments he used to share with Sonic. On some days he could close his eyes and almost forget the fact of an absence in his heart. Could practically expect to reach out and touch a gloved hand.
Chaos, I must be going insane.
The dark hedgehog walked aimlessly at one of his recently favored community spots. A quaint park fit for children and joggers of all ages. Such an odd place to gravitate towards but here is where he feels-,
"...one creepy mother-"
Shadow breaks off from his train of thought. The distressed chatter of a female mobian bringing awareness to his surroundings.
"-seriously, what's your damage?"
The ebony hedgehog looks down in shock, dark eyebrows furrowed.
"I don't know what it is your trying to pull here but you need to leave me alone. Stop following me around everywhere like-like aargh!"
Shadow's confusion morph's into growing annoyance. Good mood soured his left eye threatens to tick, he turns and walks in the opposite direction away from the screaming female.
"I swear if I catch you stalking me again you're gonna get what's coming to you!"
Shadow whips back to growl out a response only to see the diminishing back of the yapping girl as she jogs away down the trail.
Damn female hedgehog, this is why he hates going to populated places. Too many opportunities for unwanted interaction and too many idiotic children running around for his taste.
Not able to calm his state of annoyance Shadow heads back home. The words thrown at him inexplicably playing on repeat in his head. With a huff Shadow brushes off the odd encounter and mentally counts down a list of things he needs to do. It's not like we'll ever see each other again.
That statement couldn't have been further from the truth. Ever since that day at the park Shadow has taken notice of not just once, not twice, but dozens of times coming across the young hedgehog. Sometimes glimpses sometimes full eye contact but always that same girl. Her gaze from an unsteady shift to a surprised stare.
Becoming aware of his habits Shadow can see more odd instances. His walks couldn't be called a routine by a long shot not when spent in random intervals and going to unconventional places.
Monday, getting a sudden urge to go to the grocery store, coming home empty handed. Wednesday, all day spent outside a local shopping district without ever stepping in. On and on his daily observations confirmed the weirdness of it all. On top of the inconsistent oddities only one variable remained the same. He kept seeing that female hedgehog everywhere he went.
With more startled looks and close encounters Shadow accumulates a list of mental notes he's unconsciously made of the girl. Like the fact that she is always fitted in athletic wear, the occasional lyrics tumbling out her mouth with a bounce to her steps, that confident energy in her running form. But the thing that stands out the most are those vibrantly emerald eyes. Such a rare tone that it makes Shadow's heart want to leap out of his throat. Shaking his head he tries to swat the thought of the girl away without success.
Instead of stewing in his thoughts, Shadow runs. Not sonic speed, nor chaos fueled skating, but something more akin to an average jog. Needlessly unnecessary but an enjoyable upgrade to walking. The repetitive action helping clear his thoughts from all the weird going ons. Eyes take in the beautiful scenery of the trail before him yet unconsciously seeking out that emerald eyed- Ugh .
A pang of something resembling guilt hits Shadow full force. Now remembering all those times Sonic would be the one seeking him out. Annoyingly baiting him for races as if trying to prove his status as the fastest thing alive only to be met with sneers and contempt. Shadow can now see what he once thought as a vain attempt for ego fuel to what it really was...a wish for his attention. A well meaning want to spend time with Shadow and bond.
It's been years since thoughts of Sonic have taken a morose turn. Just like that, with only one short glance at some pretty emeralds and his thoughts whirl down a dangerous path full of longing and self loathing.
After all these years Shadow has yet to forgive himself for having been so closed off to Sonic. Never fully appreciating him while he was alive.
Jogging down a slope Shadow is snapped out of his thoughts as he sees the form of a hedgehog keel over, it's the green eyed girl. In an instant Shadow closes the kilometers between them and appears beside her, screams of surprise make Shadow take a step back, ears folded over in distress. He reaches out again, eyes scanning the lithe figure on the ground for any sign of injury.
"Are you hurt?"
The question is answered with wide eyes and a stupefied rendition of a fish out of water. Harsh breathing and red in the face the hedgehog snaps her mouth shut with a clack and she slumps down on the pavement. The girl shields her eyes from the sun with her arm, face glowing brighter as the seconds tick by.
A few moments of audible breathing pass when Shadow finally receives a response he did't quite catch.
A pregnant pause fills the air for a moment longer. "I said I'm fine". Mumbles out the almond peach hedgehog. Face scrounge up in distaste.
"Do you need any help? I can-",
"Stop that." She interrupts as she sits up.
"Stop being so nice to me. Especially after last time."
Shadow is at a loss for words.
"I'm- ugh, why are you making that face? Chaos, your making this harder than it should be."
Shadow continues to silently wait for clarification. His inexplicable distraught over the hedgehog's wellbeing has wound down. Wordlessly he offers his hand out to assist her up. The girl gives him a calculating look through her long eyelashes before breaking out a smile.
She reaches up to grab his hand and at their initial touch a chaotic spark of familiarwarmsolonelymissedyou jolts between their joined hands and reverberates throughout both of their body's in a hot tandem until Shadow snatches his hand back and steps away from the other.
Crimson meets emerald eyes and a look of something fills them both.
Eyes widen as Shadow stares at the other hedgehog mind racing, heart pounding, still trying to comprehend just what it was he felt between them.
"You're Shadow the Hedgehog, am I right?"
With a gulp Shadow asks,"You know who I am?"
An excited laughter peals out of the other hedgehog with such carefree and vibrant ring just like- before teetering out into nervousness.
"Well, yeah. Everyone knows who our local hero is." She gives him a friendly nudge with her elbow, the action creating a humming energy without being as overwhelming as the first touch. Her response was not what he expected but what exactly did he expect?
"I'm really sorry about last time. It was pretty shitty of me to have yelled at you like that, totally out of line!" She waved her head and arms in a negative motion.
Feeling nervous at the lack of response the hedgehog gives a respectful bow,"My name is Princ-ngh the Hedg-fuuuuck." Peach furred ears twitch back and forth, a good indicator of her embarrassment.
Bright emerald eyes meet his once again,"Princess. My name is Princess Ichigo and it's an honor to meet you. I'm sorry again for my behavior. I seriously thought I was being stalked and acted without thinking things through. But, I'm seriously a really big fan! You don't know how much I loved you as a kid, not love love haha that's crazy but, uh, the memes. Yeah, you have the best memes and the pictures !"
Shadow intercepted before the fangirl, before Princess could continue revealing a bit too much of what lays in the internet.
"Your last name is Strawberry?" Shadow asked, his knowledge of japanese clear as day. Princess gives him a pained look.
"Your name is Princess Strawberry". Laughter bursts out at the end of that statement. Princess squawks and stomps her foot on the ground demanding he cease and desist before joining in on the laughter. A few tears begin slipping out of Shadow's eyes his gloved hand quickly covering his face as their laughter continues.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what he's feeling, elation-pain-remorse-joy an unbelievable dose of disbelief. This entire time, his restless pacing, random ventures, senses going haywire. His very life source was seeking him out, working on instinct and trying to find his chaos energy signal that called out to Shadow like a beacon.
If this was his second chance, if he has not already lost his mind to grief. Then he swears on memory of his sister that he would not squander this second opportunity at happiness. Truly a miracle to be reunited with his lover once again. Now that Shadow is closer to the other hedgehog he can recognize that warm blanket of chaos energy being emitted.
It was Sonic's but tamed, as if still in a deep sleep. Waiting for someone to come and awaken him.
Shadow opens his eyes and stares deep into those beautiful familiar emerald eyes.
5 months later
"I cry myself to sleep sometimes."
Shadow's ear twitches in response as he listens on, head laid on Princess's lap.
"It's so unfucking fair how god-like conditioned your body is. And dat speed is so ngh. It still pisses me off how you can beat me at every single race without even breaking a sweat!"
Shadow hums in acknowledgment.
"You should totally let me ride you sometime."
Shadow's face bursts into a crimson to rival his stripes.
"You're strong, you can carry me and skate at the same time, right babe?"
Shadow opens his eyes and looks up into mischievous emeralds, a knowing look gleaming down at him.
"Anything for you, Princess." He replies.
"Ugh, I swear everytime I hear my name my very soul cringes, cringes I tell you!"
7 months later
Shadow slowly changes the bandages on the battered hedgehog. An ugly cacophony of colors marr her skin, a reminder of just how delicate this new body is. How fragile Sonic has become since coming back to him. Red tints Shadow's gaze, bubbling chaos energy buzzes around both of them threatening to burst out into a chaotic blast of wrath. Sonic can't just up and start playing hero again. It's not the same, nothing can ever be the same again. Dark thoughts freeze to a halt when Shadow starts trailing over a particularly gruesome row of staples, latched unto delicate reddened skin that will surely scar. His ire is immediately doused into an icy numbness. The whiplash of emotions nearly overwhelming for the ebony hedgehog.
"Shadow? I'm not sorry for what I did but I am sorry you have to see me like this. You know I don't do this for fun and I can't just stand by while other people get hurt without trying to do something about it."
"I love you Shadow".
A sigh leaves Shadow as he pauses what he's doing and borrows his face in between the nook of her shoulder and neck. Peach hands gently pet his back, gloveless fingers slipping in between sharp quills as they attempt to calm his silent sobs. Black arms tighten around the lithe body as he murmurs his pain and fears, regrets and love. The thought of losing her to some faceless thugs, of one day finding her cold body at the end of an alley. It's all too much to bear and he sorrowfully breaks in her arms.
"Ah, dude. Don't don't cry Chaos, I've had worse you know".
"Not in this body, Sonic."
Silence fills the room as the two continue to comfort each other.
2 years later
"Hey, Shadow! Check this out!"
Shadow turns towards his counterpart before looking away in embarrassment.
"Aww, someone is feeling shy." Sonic coos, eyelashes fluttering dramatically.
Still unused to Sonic's new found love for being unclothed Shadow feels a flush race up to the tip of his ears. Still unsensitized by the scandalous habits of his lover. But still Shadow sacrifices his greater sensitivities and looks back at Sonic's insistence, eager to show the ebony hedgehog something.
"Ya, watching? Good." A wink makes Shadow's face heat up again.
And without further notice Sonic dashes towards a wall at full speed and manages to run all the way up the wall and touch a ceiling 5 times his height with relative ease. Sonic hoots at his display of speed before screaming at the pull of gravity.
Shadow appears in an instant to catch the speedster before she crashes unto the floor.
"Hah, show off," Sonic responds.
"Anything for my Princess." Groans of dismay leave Sonic at the reminder of the given name.