I apologise for the long delay in updates, guys — this has been the most important chapter, for me, so far. This is the chapter that inspired this whole story, the first image that I knew I wanted in the plot. So I hope you love it as much as I do!

Ever so much thanks to: ayslio, Failsona and Guest! I appreciate your comments to much, it really inspires me!

ayslio - I'm so sorry for the long wait! This chapter went through a lot of renovating, but I am so happy with it, and I really hope you love it too! Thank you so much for taking the time to review, I am so grateful. Oh gosh, you mentioning the confusing plot of 06 I watched the cutscenes of 06 so many times, to make sure that I'd tied up all the loose ends! XD

Failsona - Hahahaha, I love it! That can be the song for this chapter! It makes you wanna play 06? Aw, that's so sweet! Thank you!

Guest - Aww, thank you ever so much for your support! It means the world to me! My heart is always with this story, even though it takes me a long time to get back to it, sometimes!

12. Kiss Me Hard Before You Go

Underneath the sheets, their legs are tangled in a hot mess, seeping exhaustion. Silver stares up at the ceiling, sinking deeper into the remnants of heat, sweat and love, but he keeps himself tightly pressed to Shadow's side. Shadow briefly stirs, but he flips onto his side and tosses an arm over Silver's chest, sound-asleep. Silver bites his bottom lip, tingling.

He's waiting to wake up in Sonic's guest bedroom, in the Workshop, alone.

Silver's eyes are drawn to the window, where daylight invades the slats of the wooden blinds and, when it begins to sting, he knows that this is reality. He raises his hand, in awe of the sunshine illuminating his body; his every curve; his every stretch. His limbs glow like starlight.


There's a soft, but deep, grunt beside him. The sheets begin to rucker and Shadow's arm slides away. Silver turns and smiles. Shadow is thickly blinking, still waking up. Rubies seem cheap and tasteless when his eyes catch the light.

"Silver," He grumbles. The time traveller waits, patiently, "I wasn't sure if you would still be here."

Their shoulders are pressed together and the lines of their hips are teasingly close. Silver yearns to shift closer, "Is… Is it okay that I am?"

Blank-faced, Shadow slides onto his side, letting his eyes trail along Silver's exposed limbs. Silver bites the inside of his cheek, nervous, as Shadow asks, "Do you think I would have invited you here, if not?"

"No, but… I don't know. Maybe we want different things, and you wanted me to leave, before the morning, to avoid—"

Shadow takes him by the shoulder, gently pulls him closer, and brings their lips together.

Silver will never get tired of this. Everything else becomes blank, just for a moment, when their mouths touch. Though, the background doesn't stay mute forever. The boiler begins to hum, as it slowly warms up, but Shadow does something with his tongue that instantly distracts Silver, and he keenly pushes forward.

Shadow tastes like gunpowder and the burger from last night.

The time traveller breaks away with a soft click, suddenly unsure of himself, wondering if he's going too far with his enthusiasm. Shadow's eyes are lidded — heavy with something — and his breaths are shallow. Silver opens his mouth to speak, but Shadow springs to life and cuts him off with force, putting all his power into the movement.

Seamlessly, Shadow rolls onto his back and Silver leans on top of him, forearms resting on the Ultimate Life Form's chest. He wants to pull Shadow upright, sitting, so that they're equally balanced. But he also likes this position of authority. Silver can't imagine that Shadow lets his guard down often, not like this, and he wants to savour it. He feels honoured.

It doesn't last long enough, though. Shadow lightly presses against Silver's chest, warning him to let up. Silver quickly obliges.

"Does that answer your question?" The ebony hedgehog asks.

He shyly hides his giddy smile, "It's an answer."

"I mean it, Silver," Shadow stares at the ceiling, unaware of Silver's gaze soaking up the planes and shapes of his face and neck, "I had no intention of acting so… liberally, last night. But I'm glad that I did. A part of me just wonders what the consequences will be."

That isn't entirely encouraging, but — for once — Silver slams the door on his thoughts, and he doesn't ask about these consequences, "We have right now, at least."

Shadow looks at him. He smiles, "Yes. I suppose we do have that."

They must fall asleep again, afterwards, because Silver awakes to the sound of clattering.

He is draped over Shadow, like before: one hip, leg, arm, all over. Maybe he is magnetically drawn to that position. Silver likes to feel the rise and fall of Shadow's chest — the reassurance that he is alive, and okay, and right beside him, safe from harm. He burrows closer into the Ultimate Life Form's side; he's warm, and a lot softer than he looks.

Something about Silver feels complete, now. Less tainted. He even dares to hope that Shadow might feel the same way.

But the ruckus in the kitchen suddenly gets a lot louder, and he figures that someone should investigate. Silver goes to wake Shadow — he wildly considers kissing him until he sees crimson or doing something else — but his hand lingers on his shoulder. Shadow only ever looks peaceful in sleep and Silver remembers his tired eyes, guessing that sleep isn't common for him. The grey hedgehog knows a little too much about disturbed sleep and exhaustion.

So he smiles to himself, smooths his hand over Shadow's arm, then stretches up and gracelessly clambers off the bed.

Silver moves to Shadow's side, which is closer to the door, and this doesn't go unnoticed by him. He shucks on his boots, discarded during the frantic hurry of last night, but the metal toe accidentally clips the floor and the sound reverberates throughout the room.

There's a loud clack behind him. The handgun, which was on the bedside table, is missing.

"It's me!" Silver hisses, but he still raises his hands in surrender. Tentatively glancing over his shoulder, he sees Shadow sigh and lower the gun.

"Don't do that again," Shadow says, tossing it back onto the table, and rolling onto his side, sliding beneath the duvet.

Silver is ecstatic by the suggestion that this might happen again. He grins and climbs back onto the bed, sitting, "How else am I meant to get up?"

"I don't know," Half-asleep, Shadow rolls onto his front, tucking his arms beneath his chin. Silver is staring at his solid profile, "Don't."

He's about to scramble on top of Shadow and kiss the tiredness out of him, when there is a loud banging on the bedroom door.

"Shadow! Get up, already! I'm hungry! The bet, remember?"

Shadow groans, and Silver looks at him, curious, "The bet?"

"We made a bet on something. I lost. She decided the payment should be for me to cook for the next two weeks."

Halloween. Rouge and Knuckles kissing on the stairs. "It's not his fault that I won the bet." Now her words made sense, "What did you bet on?"

Shadow's head sinks into his arms, until his face is obscured. Silver laughs and begs him to tell him. The Ultimate Life Form arches his neck and tilts it, curiously. Silver starts to sweat, as if he's the one answering, which makes no sense whatsoever.

"She…" Shadows' voice is low and sour, "She said she could kiss Knuckles before I kissed you. I took it as a challenge. I underestimated her."

Silver's heart shrivels and expands, simultaneously. Shadow had wanted to kiss him at that Halloween party? Oh, Chaos, he wants to savour that night all over again. He feels like he took it for granted, even though he spent most of the night in revelry. Silver ducks his head and stares at his boots, "I had no idea that you felt that you felt that way."

Shadow smirks, "I was told that I wasn't very good at hiding it."

"I'm getting in the shower, Shadow!"

The two of them internally sigh at the interruption. Although he quietly laughs, Silver's voice has a twang of disappointment, "I'm guessing that's my cue to go?"

Shadow sits up, "You could stay."

He wants to, "I'd better not. I'm not sure how it would go. Besides, Blaze is probably wondering where I am. I-I… I'd best be off."

Understandingly, the Ultimate Life Form nods. He flicks his eyes towards the closed bedroom door, "If you want to head out, unnoticed, now is your chance. Rouge is in the shower. You'll have plenty of time."

But Silver doesn't want to go — what if this is the first and last time that he'll ever have this? He steps forward, staring down at Shadow, "Will I—? Is this—? Do you want to…?"

Arching up, Shadow pulls Silver into him, until they're fitted against one another. They bathe in each other's attention, before Shadow lays his forehead against Silver's, "As I said before, this is not common for me."

Happiness escapes from Silver's lips, and he covers it up by swiftly brushing his mouth against Shadow's, and whispering, "Same for me."

Shadow smiles, full and unrestrained.

Silver decides that now is the best time to go, even though it also seems like the worst time to go, because everything is so perfect. But he'd rather leave things on a high note — for now, because he will be back, if Shadow wishes it — so he heads towards the door, twists the handle, steps out and closes it behind him. He sinks against the other side of the bedroom door, sighing, heart aching in his chest.

"Aha! I knew he'd asked you to stay over!"

His eyes snap open, tracing the figure of Rouge the Bat, sitting at the kitchen counter, very much not in the shower.

Silver's breath is caught in his throat, "Rouge. I-I can explain."

She's holding a mug of coffee in her hand, judging by the smell, but there's another steaming cup opposite her. Rouge gestures for him to sit on the barstool, which he does, and her heavy stare implies that he should drink. Silver gingerly raises the porcelain to his lips and swallows. Soon he gulps down the tea until it has disappeared; he hadn't realised how thirsty he was, until now.

"Now, give me details. We both know that Shadow won't say a word — he'd like to say that it's to protect your privacy but, really, he's shy about these things. Neither of you have done anything like this before, right?"

Silver isn't sure how to answer that, and he doesn't get the chance to, before Rouge's mouth breaks out in a victorious grin.

"You haven't!" She cups her face in her hand, "How sweet. I honestly couldn't have hoped for more, for him. Lemme guess, Shadow topped? Of course he did, he could never let anyone else take charge. Or maybe that's his one moment of submission. Besides, it's always the quiet ones, isn't it? Maybe you're bossier than you let on, Silvie."

He has no idea what she's talking about, and he's starting to panic.

"R-Rouge, I don't know what any of that—!"

"I know, I know. I'm teasing you," Rouge mischievously winks. But something about it seems like she's not entirely joking, "But, seriously. How was it? Whatever you did, you were both comfortable, weren't you?"

Silver blushes furiously, "Yes, absolutely."

"Good. Because that's what matters," Then her blue eyes start to sparkle, as she leans forward and grins with sharp teeth, "Don't worry, I didn't hear anything. I can just tell by the look on your face. You're seconds from smiling — it's obvious."

"It was… different," Silver settles, wanting to keep all information private, until he's discussed it with Shadow. But Rouge is right: his face is begging to smile, "I hope you're okay that I stayed here, last night. I don't want to intrude in your home…"

Rouge shakes her head and swats her hand in dismissal, "Don't be ridiculous, Silver. You're welcome here any time. I'm really happy for the two of you. Besides, Shadow pays half of the rent — it's his place too. He can bring back whoever he likes. All I ask is that you two don't head into my room for any rendezvouses."

He's horrified by the suggestion and rocks back, "Oh, no! Of course not—!"

"Hey, no judgement here, honey. His room, the living room, the kitchen. They're all good."

"What would we be doing in the kitchen, Rouge?"

They glance over. Shadow is standing in front of his bedroom door, far livelier and more awake than he had been earlier. He has strapped on his hover-skates and GUN communicator, suddenly seeming a lot more untouchable. Silver's heart leaps and he can't believe that he has been in bed with him. He has kissed him, and he'd kissed back.

Rouge hums her amusement, as Shadow rounds the kitchen counter, opening a couple of cupboards to remove saucepans. He turns on the oven's hob, before reaching into the fridge for eggs. Oh, the bet.

"Stuff happens, Shadow. You're making them coffee and then one thing leads to another, and you're getting hot and heavy over the sink. Or whatever you crazy kids are into."

Shadow frowns, "Are you speaking from experience?"

Silver really, really doesn't want to be privy to this conversation. This goes way beyond both his place and previous experience, "I don't actually like coffee—!"

But Rouge challengingly stares up at Shadow, "You know that I bring people back here, sometimes. I know I'm good at hiding them from you, but I'm not that good."

"I was not aware that things were taking place in the kitchen. Where food is prepared."

"Hey! If I didn't make it clear, the no judgement rule applies for me, too!"

Silver is at a loss for words, as all of this unfolds in front of him. It's all so stunningly domestic and normal. He hadn't really expected Rouge to be angry, or take offence in his involvement with Shadow, but he hadn't expected her to have such a natural position within it. She's a part of the dynamic in a way that he can't explain. And as for Shadow, well, he'd never imagined that the Ultimate Life Form would be so comfortable with the concept, so quickly. He'd truly expected the morning after to be a case of dashing out of the door, unseen, not hanging about and certainly not being included in their homely interactions.

"Shadow, I fear that the poor boy is traumatised," Rouge fondly prods Silver's shoulder, snapping him back into focus, "Just what did you do to him?"

Shadow smirks, "Nothing. Your vulgar conversation, however, might have."

The doorbell rings. Rouge swans over to the front door — put-out, but amused — in a way of response.

Gently, Shadow lays a hand on Silver's arm, "Are you alright?"

"Yeah," He shakily nods, "Really, I am. I just didn't expect this to be so… so…"

Shadow huffs his laughter, "Believe me, the feeling is mutual."

"Hey there, Omega. I hope your status has improved since yesterday. I will be checking to see that you've been looking after yourself," With E-123 Omega in tow, the bat sashays back to her barstool and retakes her seat, "Oh and, by the way, we can update the 'boy-toys' title to 'boyfriends'."

"Rouge," Shadow scolds.

"Okay, okay," She turns back to Omega and theatrically cups on hand around the side of her mouth, "Make that 'bedfellows'."

Omega beeps, "Information received."

Ducking and blushing, Silver grins while Shadow roll his eyes and checks that the eggs aren't burning. But there's a relieved amusement in his gait, too.

"Anyway, since you guys are sitting down to breakfast, I'd better go," Silver nods his head, unsure of how else to proceed.

"What?" Frowning, Rouge swivels in her seat, "You're not staying? But you're basically obliged to stick around for the morning-after breakfast! That's Shadow's responsibility, as the host. Besides, he makes a real good fry-up."

"Agreed. Protocol suggests that you are entitled to be fed, before departing."

"Alright, that's enough, both of you," Shadow spins around and dumps Rouge's eggs on her plate, short-tempered, "Let him decide whether he wants to stay or not."

Silver looks at him and feels a sharp tug between his head and his heart. He wants to stay, but he knows that Blaze and everyone else will be wondering where he is. He needs to go, "I'd love to, but—"

"You have other matters to attend to," Understandingly, Shadow nods, "Of course. Get back to Sonic's safely, Silver."

Rouge and Omega watch in a stunned silence, as the time traveller heads over to the front door, at a loss for what to say. This goodbye feels very abrupt and unaffectionate — this won't be the last time that they see each other, will it?

Maybe Silver should just go quietly. His hand brushes the door handle, and he pulls it open, one foot forward — but he just can't stop himself, "I'll text you."

Shadow doesn't really try to hide his pleased expression, "I'd like that."

"You spent the night with him."

Silver halts at her broken tone, lingering by the entrance. His eyes flicker upwards, soaking in her rigid figure — tense, strained — and she blankly stares at the empty wall of the Workshop. Silver's mouth runs dry and words tumble out: "It was late, I didn't—!"

"Don't, Silver," Blaze slowly turns to look at him, over her shoulder. He prepares for a battle: cold, film-covered eyes, filled with disdain. But his artillery shuts down when he sees the tears in her eyes, "Don't lie to me. Not you."

"I'm not!"

"Yes, you are. I can see it in your eyes. In the way you hold yourself…" Her voice trails off into something misty — dream-like. But she hardens quickly, pulling her shoulders back, and jutting her chin out, "You've fallen for him."

Silver's expression drops into a heavy frown. He feels offended, like she's patronising him, and indignant rage flares, "And if I have? Why does it matter so much? Why do you hate him?" He pauses, watching her, "I've never seen you like this. I know you don't trust him and you think he's dangerous, but it's clearly more than that. Why can't you be happy for me?!"

Her anger is scarcely contained. Blaze clenches her fists, "You can't ask that of me."

"Why not? What is wrong with him?! Is it because he's a guy?"

"Don't be absurd. You know that's not the reason."

"I can't think of any other reason!" Silver throws his hands out, and he accidentally catches his psychokinesis on a pile of papers, lying on the kitchen worktop. Blaze glances at them, as they flutter to the ground — her posture is utterly defeated. Silver tries to stay calm, "I'm falling for him, okay, Blaze? Really hard. He cares about me."

"If you don't think that all the people here care about you—!"

"It's not about anyone else! It's about him! You can't possibly understand what it feels like, Blaze. I mean, Chaos, when I'm in the same room as him—!"

"—It's like everyone else is on mute. You notice everything he does, everything he says, everything. He talks to you and you're bursting with joy and when he looks at you, and fixes you with those eyes, you're frozen. And it feels like he understands every single part of you, in that one moment."

Imploringly, Blaze pins him with those big, beautiful golden eyes, and begs him to understand. And, finally, Silver does understand.

"Yes," He whispers, as his heart breaks for her.

"Don't you tell me that I can't possibly understand. I know all too well," Exasperated and tired, she shakes her head, throwing her gaze to the floor, like she's completely done with him. Fuck, Blaze, I am so so sorry. If I'd have known! I didn't know! I wish I'd known! "You're still so naïve. Everyone knew, except you. It's so blindingly obvious but, of course, the person who needed to know the most had no idea at all."

He needs to her it from her mouth. Just to be sure, "Tell me."

"Why? Why would I put myself through that?" Tears glitter at the corner of her eyes. Those eyes, with the eyeliner so painstakingly painted on, "Admit that I'm in love with you, when I know that you love someone else? Why would I do that to myself?"

"How long?"

She calms, slightly, "Since we were seven."

Somehow, that makes it even worse. Silver can feel a hole in his chest, sucking the air out of his lungs, "You should have told me!"

"What difference would it have made?"

"Blaze," He finds himself reaching for her, but he pulls his hand back. That's not what she wants right now, "I'm so sorry."

"I don't want you to be sorry. You've done nothing wrong. No one has."

Those words feel more damning than anything else she's said, but Silver can't blame her, not even a little bit. He'd been too selfish — too wrapped up in himself and his own excitement — to notice something that was right in front of him. Now he's paying the price, though he doesn't quite know the full extent of it, yet.

Defensive, but broken, Blaze shakes her head and flees towards the stairs. He considers going after her — maybe if they just talk this out, if he could reassure her of her importance to him — but decides against it. He's the last person that she wants to see.

As her heels grow fainter, the clicks fading as she reaches the top of the stairs, Silver sits on the bottom step and brings his knees up to his chin. He buries his head in his arms. His stomach is full, with a settled knot of anguish and guilt. The joy of last night seems hollow and cracked.

"Blaze? Are… Are you okay?"

Silver pauses. It's Sonic, and it sounds like he's on the top of the stairs. Is Blaze still sitting there, quiet, like Silver is?

There's a sniff, and then Blaze's collected voice floats down, "Of course. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be in the way. I'll head to my room."

"Blaze," There had been the sound of shuffling on the carpet, before Sonic said her name. He is resolute and firm, and she doesn't try to say anything more, "You don't have to tell me about… whatever happened. I just want you to be okay."

"Thank you."

"But… if it's what I think it might be about… it gets better. This is the start of the healing process, you know."

Silver feels bad for listening. This is a private conversation, between Sonic and Blaze; he shouldn't be here. But he can't move, without the risk of being heard himself.

"Then why does it feel like I'm dying inside?"

"Because, if it didn't hurt so much, it wouldn't be love."

Blaze huffs a laugh: fond, pained and dry, "You seem quite knowledgeable on the subject, Sonic. I would not have expected this kind of wisdom."

"Heh. What can I say? I'm full of surprises."

Neither of them come down the stairs, straight away. Maybe because they've continued the conversation in an upstairs room, or maybe they're just sitting on the floor together, silent, too.

Whatever the reason, Silver is grateful, because it's a long time before he's able to move from that bottom step.