One-shot: Don't

I do not own the image.

This is not a perfect one-shot by any means, but after several drafts, I realized I might never get this story out if perfection was the goal. I hope someone out there enjoys. This one's for you!

Shadow dug his hand into the ground to stop the momentum from dodging lasers, smirking up when Eggman re-positioned his flying pod.

"Come on! I just need one teeny tiny little chaos emerald, is that soo much to ask? I promise to give it right back," he hid crossed fingers behind his back, "when I'm through."

And Shadow thought Sonic's voice was annoying.

"What are you scheming this time?"

Eggman waved a dismissive hand.

"Just a new little project I'm working on- nothing special. Now I know you have one, so pretty pretty please with a cherry on top give it- I mean- lend it to meeee?" He was practically leaning forward, dipping the pod down at an odd angle.

Shadow crossed his arms. "You seem confident I have one in my possession."

Eyes narrowing, Eggman tried to draw closer. "You know, Shadow, it doesn't have to be like this. We were allies once. Just give me the emerald and I'll get out of your hair- quills- whatever! I promise to let you live in my new world however you see fit, but decide now before Sonic and his pesky friends get here!"

Shadow had to close his eyes to prevent a giant eye-roll from being noticed, and once again cursed Sonic for this ridiculous plan of his.

He wasn't use to being bait.

"Allies or not, what makes you think I'd just hand over a chaos emerald without collateral?"

"Hmm, good point." Eggman rubbed his chin. A thought came to him, and he rummaged around the pod to hold up a large disk.

"How about this?"

"Your mixtape doesn't impress me."

The doctor pouted, mumbling, "Stupid hedgehog wouldn't know good music anyway." He raised his voice, "Does Gerald Robotnik's life work impress you?"

It took some effort to appear contemplative and innocent, drawing it out long enough to practically hear the grinding of Eggman's teeth.

"Can we hurry this along, please, I kinda have a world to dominate."

Shadow wished he could snag that disc and just punt the doctor into space, but he did agree to Sonic's plan, and he wasn't about to ruin everything. He glanced at his communicator.

Sonic was sure taking his sweet time.

"Not to be rude, Doctor, but your record for honesty is none too clean."

Without a word, Dr. Robotnik inserted the disk and pulled up a display window large enough for Shadow to view from the ground. Sure enough, there were files upon files of dated information- all marked with Gerald's special signature.

"Convinced now?" Eggman said, ejecting the disk to flaunt it again. "Gerald's life work- including all of Maria's information, for one simple chaos emerald."

There was nothing Shadow hated more in this moment than hearing Maria's name slide out of his mouth. It took every muscle to keep from launching at the fat man.

"We have a deal?"

With a slow exhale, the dark hedgehog dispelled the negative emotions, more determined to make this plan a success.

"I want half the planet."

Eggman startled, "Wha- half! What do you possibly need half for!?"

"Along with the disc."

Eggman rubbed a hand down his pudgy face, hiding the glint of suspicion growing in the back of his mind. "Files I can do, but let's agree to split the planet seventy-thirty."

"My, how generous of you, Doctor."

"No, not-" Eggman sputtered, "I get seventy, you get thirty! Come on, that's a great deal."


"Fourty! Final offer!"

Maybe being bait had its perks, Shadow thought, a ghost of a smirk on his lips. "I thought you wanted my chaos emerald."

With a growl, Eggman sat back. A tense moment passed before he spoke, through gritted teeth this time, "Fine. You get half. Now hand it over."

Shadow made a slow show of patting his hands over his chest and down his sides. "Huh."

Eggman squinted down, "What's the problem?"

Feigning confusion, Shadow replied, "Must have left it in my other pants."

A jumble of curses seethed from Eggman.

"It's all a set up, isn't it!? You don't even wear pants! How dare you, I'll- !"


The pod jerked to the side when something pummelled into it, tossing Eggman around until he could finally regain controls. He growled down at the rude interruption.

Amy Rose.

That pink little nightmare was huffing up at him with a satisfied grin, an arm still crossed over her middle as if she just threw something. A hammer.

His panels lit up with damage control; one of the laser canons had been disabled. Then a new alert popped up.

While this happened, Shadow glanced over to the pink hedgehog, frowning.

"What are you doing here? You're suppose to be with faker."

Slightly turning to him, Amy's emerald eyes locked onto his.

"Well, it's been difficult getting you alone lately, and I just needed to know," she shifted, voice softening, "If we can finish our conversation when this is over. I've had the strange suspicion you've been avoiding me."

Shadow's jaw locked when the memory sprung up. Of course he'd been avoiding her!

Confession or not, from the beginning he never planned on acknowledging the cause of the strange emotions growing inside his chest. How those emotions centralled around the persistent female who was sending him such a knowing and cautious look, tinged with hope and sadness, that he knew he wouldn't be able to answer. Not now. Maybe not ever.

Because, whatever she had done to him, he feared it couldn't be reversed.

And he was terrified it could.

A slew of lasers exploded in between them, causing them both to jump away.

When Amy came out of her roll, her hammer was in her hands again. Eggman's pod closed in.

"If I'm not here as a business man, then I'm here as an exterminator!"

Amy bolted away, lasers hot on her heels, dust spraying everywhere. She had to find a way to get back on the offensive, at least long enough to give Sonic and Tails time to destroy the doctor's newest base on the other side of the forest.

She was starting to wonder where Shadow was before the trees broke through into a literal dead end. Sheer cliffs rose several hundred feet in front of her, curving on both sides to create a natural bowl-shaped enclosure.

She whirled around just as Eggman skimmed over the last tree, sneering down at her.

"And the rat is cornered, how fortunate for me."

"Not as fortunate as the one that died under your nose."

For a second he looked ready to murder, until strangely, his face melted into a knowing smirk and he chuckled lowly. "Don't you think I know what you're doing?"

Amy paused, confused.

"Aren't you wondering why I'm chasing you and not Shadow?" He said changing the subject.

Amy quirked an eyebrow. Because you're a coward? She thought.

She watched him lean against the side of the pod, casually fiddling with his overgrown mustache, as if they were discussing the weather.

"In a fight like this, he needs more of a challenge, someone whose been dying to prove their worth. But this little ruse of yours has cost me time. And while Sonic and Tails think they've successfully snuck into my base to rig it with explosives, little do they realize they've already been sealed in."

Something like fear began to ooze up Amy's veins.

Eggman grinned. "I've infused my materials with Chaos energy to make the ultimate armor. But I need more. Don't bother with the science, it'll go right over your little rodent head."

Amy scowled and opened her lips to retort when he continued.

"So, as they explode into oblivion, Metal Sonic will be busy defeating Shadow. Not even the Ultimate Life form can withstand six fake chaos emeralds. Check. And. Mate."

The end of Amy's hammer thunked to the ground as her hands trembled.

Instead of them being two steps ahead as per usual, Eggman had them by the dozen.

Tears pooled at the edges of her eyes, chest heaving in growing panic. She finally glared up at him.

"No." She huffed, re-griping the handle. "I'm not gonna let you get away with this!"

He laughed, "By all means, have at it! There's nothing you can do here that will stop it!"

Her eyes narrowed. There was something she could do. If her communicator signals couldn't reach Sonic, then the only other option was to do it through Eggman's tech. And she was staring up at it.

He raised a derisive eyebrow at her new expression. "Looks like you'll be choosing stubborness today. Shocker."

In the distance, the sound of snapping trees and what can only be described as twisting metal, reached their ears.

An involuntary shiver ran up Amy's spine as she sent a quick prayer up for Shadow.

Now, for that pod.


Several hundred yards away, Shadow was getting impatient. Not only was the robot keeping up with his attacks, but the longer they fought, especially in close range, the more he felt... cold.

If he had any chance of finding Amy and defeating Eggman, he had to think fast. The idea of her fighting the doctor alone made unsettling waves in the pit of his stomach.

Don't be stupid, Rose.

What he did know, was that Metal Sonic was hiding something. Something about the robot was physically affecting him, making his quills stand on edge.

A missile exploded to Shadow's left. In mid-roll, he shot a Chaos blast back, and missed.

Metal Sonic arced around, spraying bullets behind a retreating hedgehog. Shadow lept unto a tree and spun back the opposite direction, gathering more chaos energy in his fist, but as he blasted by, almost in slow motion, he felt it.

Time sped up and he was crouched, panting up at a stalking robot. He could no longer suppress the shivers.

He didn't remember Sonic ever reacting like this in Metal's presence.

"What's Robotnic done to you this time!?" He growled, finally breaking the silence.

Metal Sonic stopped. "Chaos Emeralds."

"I already told him I don't have one."

"Then my next orders are to destroy you."

Why didn't that surprise him? Another shiver rocked his body.

Then it hit him. A memory. A rescue mission aboard a Metarex ship... Sonic as their target... saving some kid and a flower girl... Sonic mentioning fake Chaos Emeralds... Sonic going Dark...

He narrowed his blood red eyes to Metal. "He put a fake chaos emerald inside you?"

Metal Sonic looked as if he were smirking- if that were possible.

"Six to be exact."

Shadow barely dodged the next missile.


Amy vaulted from the cliff's wall to reach Eggman's pod. The doctor had just glanced up to see her hammer bearing down on him, and he squealed in fear.

She plowed into him with such force, the pod whipped around in all directions. But Amy, use to the X-Tornados g-forces, stood firm on the cusp of the pod, holding onto the short barrier glass with one hand.

When he got them stabilized, Amy held the butt of the hammer under his chin.

"Open your base so Sonic and Tails can get out. And recall Metal Sonic. Now!"

He sneered at her, "You think I'd let myself be bested by a puny little pesk?"

Eggman jerked the pod upside down, causing Amy to lose her grip on the thin glass and plummet to the ground below.

She should've seen that coming.

Despite the grass, it was not a soft landing, and Amy groaned in pain.

She heard him snicker, moving the pod lower to gloat. "Well, you're doing one thing right, and that's entertaining me."

He heard Amy, who was slowly rolling to her hands and knees, mumbling incoherently.

"I'll tell you what," Eggman straightened his jacket, "if you surrender now, I'll allow you to see my new world in all its glory. And I won't let Metal Sonic kill you. Right away."

Amy reeled up when he got into range, "Not happening!"

She wacked his pod like a baseball before he could react, and he tumbled into the tree line, screeching. Seeing Eggman get launched out, she bolted, slipping into the seat.

The panels fizzed a little, a few lights knocked out, but most of it looked operational. With a last glance at the doctor, struggling to get up a few yards away, she went to work.

It took a moment to find the communication buttons and she immediately opened a channel back to his base. "Sonic! Tails! It's Amy, can you hear me?!"

Soft static hummed back. "Sonic! If you can hear me, you have to stop the bombs, it's a trap! Eggman's done something weird with Chaos energy, and I'm getting the feeling it's only going to neutralize or repel your own. I'm trying to access the doors from his own equipment, but don't trigger those bombs!"

More static answered back. She made a low groan and prayed they heard her. If something happened to them because she failed... Her heart clenched. Then she found the base access codes.

Furiously typing away, she didn't notice Eggman slowly roll to his knees, a device hidden in the crook of his hand.


Shadow grunted as he peeled back the metal talons enclosing his throat. He kicked up, giving enough space to send a Chaos Blast into Metal Sonic's chest, who flew back into a tree.

He wiped the sweat from his brow and his entire body itched as his healing abilities tended to every inflicted wound. And the shivers never stopped. Even the Ultimate Lifeform knew what those chaos emeralds were doing to him. He was just glad faker wasn't here to see him like this.

Metal Sonic pried himself from the tree and dropped to the ground on one hand and knee. He looked up to Shadow from across the small clearing, power revving in his chest for another attack until-

Shadow watched as Metal Sonic looked away as if he was hearing something far off. And to his surprise, the robot rose out of his attack stance.

"Affirmative. Changing targets."

Now Shadow was even more confused. Metal Sonic rocketed away before he could stop him.

Dammit! Did that mean Sonic was here? He tsked, stepping to face the direction Metal Sonic went. Of course the blue hero would be there. It's about time.

The dark hedgehog hoped to resolve this conflict quickly, so he can go back to avoiding the evil doctor, Sonic's annoying face, and any feelings or thoughts he had towards the girl who insists on flipping his world upside down.

Calling up energy, he launched forward.

He hadn't gone far when a high-pitched scream slams Shadow into a dead stop. That was-

Heart leaping in his throat, Shadow burst forward through the tree line moments later.

And there was nothing-nothing- that could've prepared him for what he saw.


"Yes!" Amy cried. Tails would be proud of her. If Sonic didn't get her message, she hoped the opening doors clued them in on Eggman's deception so they could high-tail it out of there and join the real battle.

Now, the only thing left is to find the off-switch to Metal Sonic. Eggman should have a back-up plan in case the robot ever turned on him, but then again, arrogance left him- WHAM!

Something slammed Amy away from the pod. The power rolled her back into the clearing.

Pain seared up her left side. With tears misting the bottom of her vision, she struggled to see what hit her.

Then he floated into view.

No... no, no, no, no!

His shiny silver and blue body, a sad mimick of Sonic's, floated closer. Eyes of burning red locked onto hers.

Panic clawed at her throat. If Metal was here, then Shadow must be... He didn't...

Just as Metal reached for her, she snapped her hammer into life, wacking him away.

But he sprung back like a rubber band.

Amy couldn't scramble up fast enough when a large crack echoed through the air, forcing her to let out a blood curdling scream.

Metal Sonic hummed a low chuckle, his heavy foot lifting off her leg.

Stars burst through her vision, spasming from the shooting pain. She panted and whimpered trying to reach down to her ankle.

"Finish it, Metal!" Eggman roared from the sidelines.

Adrenaline shot through Amy's core. She can't let Metal Sonic kill her. She can't die without knowing what happened to Shadow. She can't let Eggman win. And she can't let her friends down.

"Not..." Her fingers tighten around the handle of her hammer, using it to lift her to one knee, "Not like this!"

She swung, only for Metal to catch it.

For one brief terrifying moment, they locked eyes.

That's when he wrenched it back, tossing it away. He wound his other arm back at the same time, claws pointed. He was a blur of murder intent filling her vision until-

A strange tearing wet sound filled the air.

Her body jerked.

Metal... He was so close... Why was he...

Just as the odd sensation came, Metal ripped his claws back and every single molecule in Amy's body exploded in agony.

She fell back with a strangled sound.

She could only stare up hazily at the claw dripping in blood.

Was that hers?


Something foreign and thick washed over Shadow. A vacuum grew in his chest, sucking the air from his lungs. Everything went dark, his vision zeroing in on the metal figure. His quills sharpened, fur and limbs pulsing with raw power so potent, it manifested in visible red mist rolling over his body. Pure rage sharpened every thought into one deadly intent, one singular purpose in that moment- then he vanished.

A 'pop' filled the suddenly empty space.

Sensing a change in energy, Metal Sonic started to turn when something red filled his vision.


Tails doubled back, landing next to a frowning Sonic.

"Why'd you stop so suddenly? Something wrong?"

"You didn't feel that?" He answered, tone low.

"Feel what? What's going on?"

Sonic sideglanced the yellow fox, quills spiking slightly. "A powerful energy surge. At first it felt like Shadow's Chaos energy, but then... It feels like it completely changed." He almost shivered.

"I wonder if Eggman did something..." Tails mumbled. He hadn't seen Sonic this spooked in a while.

Sonic shook his head, quills still stiff. He crouched, itching to reach the location of the pod Amy tried to warn them from. Tails rerouted the signal the moment they left the still intact base.

"If it's what I think, we're going to have a serious problem... And I don't like what it could mean..."

Tails felt the dread roll over his shoulders as he nodded ready to take to the skies again, when a sudden burst of energy blasted them back, bending the trees with it.

Sonic grasped Tail's arm and anchored them to a tree as the residual energy rumbled out of sight. Tails glanced down at his handheld tablet that had gone dark, shaking it a moment.

"Whatever that was-


The fox glanced up to find Sonic's expression darken with a twist of fear.


"If I go dark... you know what to do."

Tails nearly fumbled the tech. "Wait- what- go dark? What are you-"

A gust of air and empty space answered back with Tails reaching out, "Sonic, wait!"

Sonic zipped through the trees, a deep frown etched in his face. He didn't mean to ditch his best friend. If Tails knew what he felt... how flashbacks of the Metarex fight flew through his mind... how he couldn't shake the feeling that something was incredibly wrong... well, he just hoped that whatever lay ahead, he could shield some of it from his friend.

Moments later, steeling his muscles for a fight, he broke through the clearing.

And nothing, nothing, could have prepared him for what he saw.


Shadow twitched at the power fluctuation in the atmosphere, recognizing its annoying signature, but kept his pure white gaze on the crumpling metal figure in his grip.

It wasn't enough to destroy the robot's core, not even enough to shred Metal into small pieces, not enough when Ivo lay motionless a few yards away.

It wasn't enough.


Shadow dropped what was left of Metal Sonic and lurched in front of Sonic's form, kicking him back from reaching Amy.

Sonic yelped, rolling out of the unexpected hit.

Whatever sharp insult he was about to say died on his lips as he took in the Ultimate Lifeform.

Or more like...

"Stay the hell away from her!"

Sonic stared, unable to process the eerie sight of Shadow's white eyes, the darker stripes of red running down his body, and of course, the way red chaos energy wafted across his skin in a sickeningly deadly dance.

Dark Shadow.

It was like looking into a strange mirror, and Sonic couldn't suppress a shudder.

He swallowed, "Shadow, listen to me. Amy needs our help and you know better than anyone I'd never hurt her, so can you step aside?"

The white's of Shadow's eyes narrowed, "You are also to blame!"

Sonic flinched, "What!? What did I-"

"She was suppose to stay with you! You were suppose to stick with the plan!"

A small gasp turned both their heads as Tails stood at the edge of the trees, staring wide-eyed at Amy's still form.

Shadow started to move before Sonic shouted, "Tails, don't move! Shadow's not himself!"

When Tails spotted the darker hedgehog, he took an involuntary step back. But... he couldn't just leave or do nothing.

Not when Amy looked...

Sonic, with panic rising from the bloody sight of Amy, reached out towards Shadow, getting his attention back, "Shadow, we can help her. I don't know what happened but we can't do anything until you calm down."

He got a low growl in response. He tried to keep his eyes focused on Shadow and not the form behind him.

"I've been there, Shadow. I gave in once, and had it not been for Eggman and ultimately you, I don't know what would've happened. But I know you can fight this. Let us help."

They stood in strained silence a moment before a soft cracked voice pulled Shadow's attention.

"Shadow... "

He spun, finding Amy struggling to keep her eyes open, a thin stream of blood flowing from her mouth.

Almost as if time reversed, dark power waved off his body as rage was replaced with pure concern.

He dropped to her side. Even through the haze, Amy could see the cracks forming through his usual stoic visage. Cracks that thundered down his entire body.

"Idiot!" He hissed, gently swiping quills from her cheek, trying to ignore the way his hand shook.

She loosely placed her hand over his. "Hey... it's okay..."

Shadow squeezed his eyes shut. It definitely wasn't okay. How could she be trying to comfort him when-

"Dammit, Amy, I... "

Somewhere behind him, he heard Sonic and Tails shuffling around, voices low, until the yellow fox appeared on the other side of Amy.

His cerulean eyes were wide, processing her wounds.

"Oh, Amy... "

He tried to hold back tears, and steeled himself to face Shadow. "All my tech was ruined in that blast, so I have no way of knowing how bad she really is. We need to get her to the hospital right now."

Amy spasmed, a wet cough choking in her throat. Blood speckled her lips.

Sonic kneeled next to Tails with haunting eyes locked onto Amy's pain-twisted face.

"Can you use chaos control to get her out of here?" Sonic asked.

Shadow gently moved his arms beneath her neck and legs, flinching when she hissed, her eyes fluttering close.

"No- Rose- hey! You wanna finish our conversation, don't you?"

He felt her shudder, and watched in horror as her eyes rolled back.

"Don't you even dare-!"

Her head lolled against his chest and she went still.

Sonic and Tails were suddenly looking at empty space.

Sick emotions knotted and twisted inside Sonic's core, the image of all that blood- her blood- causing his fist to grind into the ground.

He held back a scream, remembering who was kneeling next to him. But he did take a slow glance around the battle field until they landed on the still form of Eggman, who was half hidden by a large broken piece of his pod and surrounded by what was very little left of Metal Sonic.

He swallowed rising bile before turning to Tails, who was looking exactly how he felt.

"We'll... come back for them. Amy... she needs us more."

Tails could only nod and numbly climb into Sonic's arms before they shot away.

The thin mattress was starting to feel like stone to Amy. By now it held a perfect mold of her body, but given the circumstances, she knew she was more than lucky to not be in something that closed at the top.

Scratch that- she owed fate.

And Shadow. Especially Shadow.

That hedgehog was even more stubborn than Sonic; refusing to leave her side since he brought her here.

Don't get her wrong, it's been giving her intense butterflies- or is that from the morphine- ever since she woke from surgery. Again.

And yet, it also made her feel incredibly guilty.

"Stop making such a face; or do you wish to remain that way forever?"

His low voice gave her a small start, his wine-red eyes now open and staring back from his seat.

She frowned in a pleading way.

"Are you sure you don't you want to go back to your home and sleep? I mean, I know you technically don't need it, but, it's better than this place. All white and bleach-smelling."

She scrunched up her nose, impatience peeking through her tone at her own unease about being couped up.

Amy felt the bed dip and suddenly Shadow was staring down at her, arm pillared on both sides of her form. He looked torn.

Heart racing, she could only stare up at him.

"I think I have been more than patient with you," he started. "How much longer are you going to keep me waiting?"

Shadow couldn't lie and say he wasn't somewhat pleased by the reddening of her face.

"Wha- what are you talking about?"

"I think you know exactly what I'm talking about, Rose."

Yeah, if only she could concentrate without the object of her affections invading her personal space and speaking with a suspicious drip of teasing intent, maybe she could solve the riddle and stop inhaling his intoxicating scent.

But no.

"Um, yeah, I'm on like 30 different medications, you're gonna have to give me more than that."

Shadow's face drew into concern. "Are you feeling any pain now? I can alert the nurse-"

"No, no, it's- ngh!" The sudden movement into a sitting position tugged on her stitches and broken ribs.

Firm hands led her slowly back down.

"Idiot." Shadow whispered, squashing the sudden panic.

Amy felt both warmth and guilt at this, and cursed her fragility. A hand graze her cheek.

But Shadow paused in his movement, confused by the repeated need to personally sweep stray quills from her face. And from the look she was giving him, she must be thinking the same thing.

He pulled away. 'This will be my ruin.'

"I'll retrieve the nurse," he said, moving to stand, but a tug on his wrist made him stop.

"I don't need a nurse, please, Shadow I'm really okay."

He watched as her skin flushed again, noting how her hand remained firmly grasped to his wrist.

"But," she continued, "I would like to know what you were talking about earlier. You seemed... insistent."

He sank onto the bed, now careful not to touch her, despite his hand being held hostage.

"You were right," he said, "About before. I was avoiding you."

Amy withdrew her hand, holding back a disdainful smirk. I knew it.

"I needed time to think. It was difficult to process anything with you around."

More like impossible, he thought.

Shadow wrapped his hand around the spot Amy had held his wrist.

"Shadow," Amy reached out, "if you're uncomfortable, we don't have to-"

He shook his head. "No. I wasted time. Precious time. You were vulnerable with me, and to you, I must've appeared callous and cynical. I want to apologize for that."

A pang pinched Amy's heart. "It's okay, you have nothing to apologize for."

"Actually, I do." He pinned her with a look that was so heavy with intent, acceptance, and something else that it quite physically took her breath away.

Shadow continued, "Had I been more perceptive and honest with my feelings from the beginning, especially on that day, you would not have had to wonder if I was in love with you; you would have known."

'He... what? Would have known what?' Amy thought. 'If he was in love with me? Is he? Or... is he implying he never felt that way and is apologizing for not realizing sooner? Is he trying to gently let me down?'

His hand on her cheek brought her focus back to him.

"You're thinking too hard." He chuckled lowly.

At this distance, her scent was overpowering- an intoxication he realized he'd been drowning in from the beginning. And he didn't mind. In fact, how he ever thought these feelings were weak, baffled him. If anything, it strengthened his purpose.

While Shadow's hand burned into Amy's skin, his words melted into her soul, sending flames to every cold and broken part of her being.

Amy reached up without a word, and pulled him down.

Their lips crashed in a fiery explosion of stars and fireworks.

In that moment, despite the scars, the tubes, and the repeating memory of bloody claws, Amy had never felt more alive.

Her heart had never felt so-

"Ahem. Are we interrupting?"

Amy and Shadow broke apart, turning wide eyes to the door where a blushing fox and a smirking Sonic stood.

Amy made a small noise, fisting the sheet to her reddening cheeks while Shadow stood to cross his arms. His scowl did little to sink that ridiculous look on Sonic's idiotic face.

"You couldn't knock?"

Tails stepped forward with Sonic, face half-hidden by a clipboard. "T-the door was cracked. We didn't know you... "

Oh how Sonic wished he had a camera.

Shadow sighed, "What do you want?"

Letting his smirk soften, Sonic turned to Amy, who was trying desperately to swallow her blush.

"We came to check up on you. Doctor said you shouldn't need anymore surgeries. How are you feeling?"

'Besides pure embarrassment?' She thought. "I'm doing okay. Still sore. I just can't wait to get out of here."

Sonic chuckled, "We know, Ames." He brushed past the dark hedgehog to sit on the edge of her bed, much to Shadow's annoyance.

"If you'd like, we can bring some stuff from your house to help pass the time. Tails has a lap-screen you can use to watch movies or whatever else you like to watch too."

Amy gave Sonic a grateful smile. She opened her mouth to add another suggestion when she noticed Tails fidgeting with the clipboard, eyes unable to focus on one thing in the room, let alone them. Fear had replaced embarrassment.

She frowned, trying to piece together his odd behavior. Then it clicked. At least, she hoped it did.

"You know, I've been in here for a while and no one has once mentioned what happened that day." She directed her question to Sonic, "So what happened to Eggman and... Metal?"

The air in the room grew thick and cold as the boys stole furtive glances from each other.

She noticed Shadow couldn't quite reach her gaze.

Sonic rubbed the back of his neck. "We didn't really think you'd want to talk about it yet. We just wanted you to focus on getting better."

"Yeah, he's right," added Tails, stepping closer, "It seemed pointless telling you when there was nothing to be done."

Amy had the dreadful feeling she was missing something important that she should know.

Her mind tried leaping back in time, back to the incident, back to those bloody claws.

What could have possibly happened in that span of time between Metal's attack and waking up six days later in the hospital?

Come to think of it, she saw neither Metal Sonic nor Eggman after she was stabbed.

But Shadow was there. She remembered hearing his cry. Remembered the devastation on his face.

Amy jolted. Then hissed at the pain.

Several hands were on her arms to keep her lying back.

She glanced up at Shadow, who had a grim line across his face.

"Shadow, please. What happened to them? Did they... escape?"

He drew back a bit, too many miniscule changes crossing his features for Amy to pin something down. It made her stomach twist.

"Amy, please listen," Tails spoke up, noting the way Sonic's gaze seemed far away as well, "First of all, it's not your fault. Not even close. In fact, if you hadn't of intercepted Eggman, and stuck to our plan, we wouldn't have known about the ambush in time. You saved us. And when... when Metal hurt you, Shadow and Sonic saved you."

Amy glanced between the two forlorn hedgehogs. Did they feel guilty for somehow not getting to her in time? For the plan going the way it did?

But... she reached out as far as the pain would let her to touch Shadow's hand... they shouldn't feel that way.

"It's okay," she said, "If you don't want to talk about it now, that's okay."

She tried giving them a warm smile, but it was replaced by a yawn, remembering it was time for the timed release of her sleeping/muscle relaxers.

She had about a minute.

"They're dead."

Her eyes widened. Shadow scowled into the floor, arms crossed.

"They're dead and it's all because of me."

She saw the affirmation in the way Sonic's shoulders tensed and how Tails held up the clipboard like a shield.



Eggman and Metal Sonic... gone?

Shadow... he did it? He killed them?

Something warm trickled down Amy's cheeks before she could stop it.

"Oh, Shadow, I... I'm so sorry!"

She buried her face in her palms, feeling the room begin to dip and sway.

Less than a minute now.

Someone tugged her chin up gently, and through hazy watery eyes, Amy could still make out the mix of shame and fear in Shadow's red eyes.

"What in Chaos's name are you sorry for Amy Rose?" He half-whispered.

"You... you were just trying to protect me," she muttered, sniffling. "I understand. I would have felt the same way if they had hurt you."

She clasped his hand as she sunk back into her pillow, "I forgive you. Even though there's nothing to forgive you for. So stop looking at me like that and just let me love you."

He blinked, speechless for once. As her eyelids drooped and she uttered something incoherent, a small smile made its way across his lips.

With those same lips, he pressed an unbroken promise into her forehead.

'Thank you.'

My sincerest and deepest thanks to all of you!