Glance Through Time

Getting whisked away by a mysterious purple cloud did not faze Shadow. Encountering Sonic's younger self, well, that was another story.

TAGs: one-shot, Writing Exercise, word-count: 1.000-5.000, Shadow's POV, set during Sonic Generations

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

AN: This was a request made by Miyuki_Namida49 (on AO3) who asked, "How would Shadow react to Classic Sonic? Would they get along or would CS be cautious around him?". I don't suppose this is what you imagined when you made that request but I hope you (and others) will still enjoy what I came up with!

Shadow had been in the middle of an important recon mission when the sky ripped open and black-and-purple monster slipped through and pulled him into a violet portal that led to some kind of white timeless void before promptly disappearing in another.

Of course, at first Shadow had been confused by what had just transpired and slightly apprehensive of his new surroundings but it didn't take long for his inner chaos radar to lead him to a familiar face. Sure, Silver had known nothing about what the hell was happening either, but together they were able to find their way to others, who were able to shed some light onto the matter.

Unsurprisingly, it was Eggman's fault. It always was. Tails wasn't sure what he and Silver were doing there when they hadn't been with the rest of them on Sonic's birthday party when the monster appeared, but hypothesized that the monster had dragged them into it because the two of them had a prominent presence in Sonic's life just like any of the places or people that had made it into the white void.

Speaking of Sonic, the hero was apparently jumping across time-space, trying to get it back to normal. Well, two Sonics apparently; the current Sonic and his past self. Shadow didn't have the chance to get a proper look at the past Sonic but from the glimpses he caught when the other happened to breeze past, he could say his past self was many years younger than his current self—he seemed to not even be a teen yet.

When the Time Eater was defeated and they appeared back at the birthday party—Shadow assumed it was the right place seeing table full of food, drinks and a cake—Shadow actually got his chance to get a proper look at the younger Sonic and confirm that, yes, he was still a child.

This finding made something violently twist in Shadow's gut; he had known that Sonic had been been fighting Dr. Eggman since he was kid, but seeing it with his own eyes made him feel...odd. This child had been—would be—the main defender of the planet against Dr. Eggman; he was going to spend his child years fighting deadly robots, risking his life protecting people he had never met and would never know, and grow into an adult that had more scars than fifty people would acquire in a lifetime.

He was going to spend his childhood on a battlefield, learning to fight and survive.

Shadow knew in that way that way their early years were similar; his own childhood could hardly be called one—the former GUN leadership had ensured that—but at least he had known since day one what his life was going to be like. He wasn't thrust into it, he was born into it—specifically created just for it.

But Shadow had had only two lives to be responsible for—Professor Gerald and Maria—while Sonic had the weight of the world put onto his shoulders. He had been the only person around that was capable of stopping Dr. Eggman's mad conquer and had been forced to make a decision—to either flee and doom all that lived on that one island Eggman had picked as the start of his conquer or fight and risk his own life in the process. Despite being just a child, Sonic had chosen to fight, showing himself to be more courageous than those much older than him, those who should be fighting in his stead—and regardless of how much pain and how many wounds each battle had brought him continued on doing so again, again and again...

It was a surprise Sonic had walked through it all without any kind of trauma. Or maybe he had and it just wasn't obvious—after all, the hero was the most upbeat and adventurous person you could find. Who said it wasn't just because Sonic lived with the idea that each day might be his last day and that was why he tried to be the best person he could and experience as much of the world as he could.

"Shadow, why exactly are you giving such a mean eye to mini-me?" said occupant of his latest thoughts questioned, tearing him from his thoughts. Shadow refocused back to present and saw Sonic—the older one—staring at him disapprovingly but at the same time a brow raised in question, arm crossed over his peach-furred chest. On the other hand, Child Sonic was currently hiding behind the adult one's back, looking unsure but gazing at him with clear curiosity. Shadow's lips pressed into a thin line as he observed the height difference between the two. Chaos, the kid was even smaller than Tails. How old was he? Eleven?

"Hey, Shadow! You listening to me? Mobius to Shadow!" This time Sonic waved his hand before his face and Shadow was pulled from his thoughts again—this time properly as Shadow's brain finally processed what he had been asked.

Tan lips pulled into a frown as dark brows eyes furrowed. "Mean eye? I'm not—I was just thinking," Shadow explained, letting his expression turn into something more relaxed as he regarded both selves of the hero with a look and said, "I apologize."

Older Sonic gave a dramatic gasp. "The great Shadow the Hedgehog is apologizing? That's unheard of. Have we changed the past by mistake?" the hero's tone was full of a clearly fake disbelief and shock, the whole show even more undermined by the fact the corners of the peach mouth were twitching.

Shadow's own pulled into a frown. Child Sonic just seemed confused.

Seeing his act was not gaining the reaction he hoped for, Sonic let it drop and instead let his lips finally stretch into an amused grin. "Just teasing ya, Shad," he said, giving a slight playful nudge to Shadow's shoulder.

Shadow just rolled his eyes at the other's antics. "I should return to my mission," he commented, turning to leave.

"Oh, come on, you haven't even had the cake yet!" Older Sonic protested, grabbing him by the arm and thus stopping him in his way. "It's going to take you some time to get back there anyway. You can spare five minutes."

"You don't even know where I'm supposed to be."

"You've got sand in your quills. There are no deserts nearby. Wherever that is, getting back there on foot will take time and therefore five minutes is an acceptable delay," Sonic argued, clearly finding his logic flawless. "So lay back and enjoy your time here, okay? I'll go cut up the cake so you don't have to rush savoring it, okay? Ms. Vanilla wouldn't be happy if ya did after taking her time to bake it. And you—" Older Sonic turned to his younger self, placing his hands onto the other's tiny shoulders and pushing him forward. "Watch him for me while I go cut up the cake, okay? If he tries to leave, shout."

The cobalt hero disappeared to find something to cut the cake with and Shadow was left alone with Child Sonic. The kid was no longer looking at him with apprehension but the curiosity was still there; he also looked quite unsure at what he was supposed to be doing which wasn't surprising. After all, Child Sonic had not met him yet and had no idea what to expect from him.

Then again would they even meet in the kid's future? Tails had said that as children he and Sonic definitely hadn't ended up traveling through time-space and meeting their older selves and that it was unlikely past Dr. Eggman would try try this plan again when he knew it would fail, so this whole mess had most likely created a new separate time-line for the 'past-selves' of Sonic and Tails...

Shadow hummed thoughtfully. Maybe the 'past' Dr. Eggman would actually decided to give up on villainy when he knew how (disappointedly for him) the future turned out like where he didn't. Maybe this Sonic was going to have an easier and happier childhood than their had. He wondered if it'll affect what kind of person he will grow up to be. All the life experience clearly had their Sonic.

"You are much more talkative as an adult," he commented to fill the strange silence that the Sonic he knew would have normally filled with his own voice. It was odd seeing someone who resembled—who technically was—Sonic so quiet. The small kid continued to gaze at him silently. Was talkativeness something Sonic had acquired through years?

"Heh, adult. That's a good one," Sonic—the older one—remarked with a grin as he approached them, holding two plates of cake and balancing a third on his forearm. He passed one of them to his younger self, who immediately sniffed curiously at the cake. "Definitely haven't ever heard somebody call me that. Knuckles would be rolling on the ground in laughter if he heard you."

"You've grown a lot since our first meeting," Shadow acknowledged. Sure, Sonic could still be childish from time to time—and Shadow doubted Sonic would ever fully lose that personal trait—but he had definitely matured in those years since they had know each other.

Sonic looked surprised by his words, but the emotion quickly gave away to his usual amiable attitude. "Well, you've improved quite a bit yourself, Shadow." Sonic passed him one of the remaining plates and then gave him a friendly nudge with his elbow. "I definitely prefer the current you to your old grumpy self. Though you should probably still work on the antisocialness a bit."

"I'm still here, aren't I?"

"Heh. Touché." Sonic smiled. "...I appreciate it," he added, sincere.

Shadow felt something twist in him again. It felt odd but not violent this time. It was almost...pleasant.

Crimson eyes flickered to Child Sonic who was currently stuffing his face with a cake and obviously not paying them 'adults' any attention, before looking back to the hero before him, the older Sonic beginning to nibble at his own portion much less hurriedly than his younger self. A question burned on Shadow's tongue.

He let it escape. "Do you ever regret that you've became a hero? "

Sonic seemed caught of guard by the question. After all, how often could he get asked something like this? But despite his question's unusualness, it didn't take Sonic long to respond.

"No." The hero shook his head, lips pulling into a small smile again. "Why would I? It earned me all of you—" Sonic gestured to the whole assembly and then turned back to him, lips stretching into a blinding smile. "—and helped many many people. I think it was a win-win for everyone. Beside Egghead, of course." Sonic chuckled lightly.

And Shadow felt that lurch again, this time accompanied by a flood of warmth and something Shadow struggled to name. But before Shadow could try to theorize what the feeling was supposed to be, Sonic was talking again.

"Hey, you didn't try your cake yet," the hero commented, looking slightly apologetic. "Well, I'm not gonna hold you up anymore. Enjoy your cake and good luck on your mission. See ya around, Shad." Sonic gave him a last parting smile before tapping his younger self on the shoulder to get the kid's attention. The moment the dark eyes focused on him, he gestured to the clearing close-by. "Come, I want to show you a few tricks that will make things easier for you in the long run."

The two placed their empty plates onto the table. Shadow watched them walk away and for a while even as Sonic showed multiple tricks and his younger self tried to copy him. Then realizing he actually really ought to get back to his mission, looked back to his slice of cake and finished it in a few mouthfuls. The plate didn't even have the chance to fully come into a contact with the surface of the table before he was zooming off into the distance and deciding one thing.

Next time he was going to make sure he was free on Sonic's birthday.