Thank you very much to: ShadAmy1Fan, OblivionTheScythe, Steve993, IT'S NO USE I'M OUTTA USE, Jk1ra and foxydapirate101! Your supports means the world to me!
ShadAmy1Fan - Haha, no, I'm not quite mean enough to do an ending of 'and then they all died' XD Well, I'm slowly crossing things off my list! Slowly being the operative word ;D Thank you!
OblivionTheScythe - Thank you very much! It didn't fit, in this story, but I would love to write a Shadow Vs Silver scene in a story! Ah, Sonic can't be the only one that's fighting him ;D
Steve993 - Thank you so much! I hope you like how I wrap things up!
IT'S NO USE I'M OUTTA USE - Hehe, eventually! ;D Thank you!
Jk1ra - Good advice! Although, Amy isn't the most careful person when she's angry x'D Eh, Sonic will live. Probably! ;D Thank you very much!
foxydapiratefox101 - Ah, yes, Silver doesn't get the best treatment in fiction and, I will admit, I am included in that category. I have vowed to make him as in-character and badass-ish as possible, in my next fic, where I shall do Silver the Hedgehog justice! :D
The joints in Shadow's upper body clicked — even though he'd ignored Rouge's fussing, his shoulder did hurt like hell — as he stretched his arms out. The Workshop was usually a place of quiet, until now, so he'd escaped outside to admire the rural scenery of Mystic Ruins.
With his back pressed against the wall, he dragged out a long breath. Shadow felt like he should be doing something, not aimlessly standing out here. When people sauntered outside of Club Rouge, it was usually to light up a cigarette, or something stronger. He had no mind to do either. But he had not intention of going back inside to... socialise.
"Shadow?" The usually-sultry voice was filled with concern. He raised an eyebrow as he glanced back. Rouge joined his side, her hands comfortably slotted onto her hips, "What are you doing out here?"
"Of all people, you should be able to guess," He responded, wondering where he had picked up this sudden sarcasm. Had it been from spending time with Silver? He hadn't displayed this kind of wit previously, surely? He'd always possessed it; he'd just never showed it.
"Oh, I don't know. You've been doing better, socially, recently," She chuckled to herself, before looking at him properly, "I thought Team Dark might have been one member short, back there."
Shadow met her gaze, "You doubted me?"
"Well," Rouge clicked her tongue and shifted, uncomfortably, "Sort of. I don't doubt you, Shadow, but with all of the others too, I was concerned."
The fain laughter of the time drifted outside. Rouge's ear perked up ever so slightly: she'd heard it too, "They're fine. It's fine. You don't need to be concerned — I can handle anything that the Doctor throws at me."
"I know that. It's just... Silver told me... what Eggman said to you."
"What did he tell you?" He snapped, suddenly defensive and alert, though he scolded himself for it. This was Rouge. Not an enemy, or someone who might mock him, or use it as a weakness against him. Rouge was his team-mate. Partner. Friend. But he still found old habits hard to shake.
"Not much. Something about Eggie having some of your old files. He was worried about you, and asked me to talk to you. He didn't tell me what was said, because he didn't want to invade your privacy," She smirked, "Doesn't Silver know by now that nothing is private from me?"
Shadow had to smirk at that. Rouge made him feel stable and grounded. She was, in her own way, just as snarky as he was, and it didn't ever feel like she was judging him. Omega was the same; maybe that was why he had joined their peculiar little team, "I suppose he hasn't quite learn it, yet."
"Mmm. Look, Shadow, why don't you come inside? They're not going to bite. Foxboy is nearly done with his invention, anyway, and it's freezing out here. How about it?"
"Your circulation is clearly inferior to mine," It was true - Shadow barely felt the cold chill. Professor Gerald had done a sterling job.
Rouge huffed and strode towards the door, holding it ajar for him, "There's no need to rub it in." But she grinned.
Silver resisted the urge to leap up and ask if Shadow was alright — that would be embarrassing for both him and the Ultimate Life Form. Shadow would get confused, and defensive, and think that Silver thought he was weak, or something like that. It couldn't possibly be that the grey hedgehog was just concerned for his friend.
Instead, he remained seated on Tails' couch, recounting to the others about their close call on Eggman's ship. Blaze noticed the sudden drop of enthusiasm in his voice and smiled, inspiring him to answer Knuckles' question of how they'd managed to escape the explosion.
"—So I grabbed Tails, and Shadow grabbed Amy, who was now holding onto Sonic, and we both sped up using our speed and powers. Shadow had the idea of leaping into a garbage chute, which led to the outside of the ship. Eggman has no regard for the environment. When we fell out of the chute, I lifted Shadow up with my powers and held us in the air."
"Then we spotted you guys, in the Blue Typhoon, and we signalled for you to get us!" Amy finished, beaming at Cream's entranced expression. The rabbit was still spell-bound by Sonic's transformation and she kept wanting to take a look at him. Cheese had also taken a shine to the little blue cub.
"Huh. Not a bad plan. But, I mean, a garbage chute? Really, Shadow?" Knuckles smirked and, when Rouge placed a hand on Shadow's arm, the ebony hedgehog just glared.
"But if it hadn't been for Shadow..." Silver raised his head and decided that he would speak up. He heated up when Shadow's intense gaze fell upon him.
Amy chirped, "True! Shadow saved us with his quick thinking! He's a hero!"
Shadow convulsed — hero, he was anything but — and he interjected, "When will Tails be ready?"
"Oh!" Cream sat up. She had been privy to Tails' progress and successes in figuring out the secrets behind the laser, "He's nearly finished. He said he had a couple of last touches, but that's it! Mr Sonic should be back to normal soon. Amy, may I please hold him again?"
"Of course, Cream, here—"
Shadow took off in the direction of Tails' Workshop door, having no desire to watch more gooey cooing over Sonic. He left with both Rouge and Silver's gazes on his back, but he took no notice.
He'd never taken the time to see the Workshop of Miles Prower, where the fox spent ninety-nine percent of his time — he only left for food, sleep and adventure. Shadow knew that he was in the presence of a great mind — he knew that he himself had a high IQ, but he didn't deny Tails' intelligence — and he had used some of the kitsune's inventions. In his hand, right now, he had the communicator that had saved their lives several times.
Yet, the Workshop wasn't quite what he had expected. For some reason, he'd envisaged a bubbling laboratory, filled with potions, sparking electrics, indoor lightning and alien machinery. That was how Sonic had depicted it. The blue hedgehog had once admitted that he wasn't really allowed in Tails' lab: he would, inevitably, break something. Shadow wasn't surprised.
But Tails clearly hadn't spent all of his time creating technology of the future: he'd spent some time making this laboratory as comfortable as possible. A lot of the space was dedicated to his work, but the desk was also filled with tokens and souvenirs, and many small photos of the gang were stuck on the walls. Shadow raised an eyebrow, when he realised that he was in a couple of them.
"Hello?" Tails called out from behind the Blue Typhoon, soldering something at his workbench. It looked like a circuit-board — Shadow might not have been at Tails' level, but he wasn't as blundering as Sonic, he knew that for sure, "I'm over here, if it's me that you're after!"
Shadow placed the communicator on one of the shelves, and he approached, reserved, "I came to see how it is coming along."
"Oh, hi, Shadow," The fox looked a little surprised, pulling back his goggles and glancing at him, before he held the finished circuitry up to the light, "Yeah, I think that's good. I'm just adding the last little bits now. I suppose all that's left to do is test it."
Tails grabbed a laser that looked incredibly similar to Doctor Eggman's, except this one was a startling shade of blue. He began to fit the whole thing together, but he listened when Shadow asked, "Is it safe?"
"Are you worried about Sonic?" Tails didn't stop working, but Shadow glowered, knowing that there was an edge to that comment.
Shadow wasn't worried. It would just be an awful shame, if he'd spent all this time and gone to all this trouble, only for the antidote to go and kill Sonic. How ironic that would be, "I'm just asking."
"It'll be fine, Shadow. Don't worry — do you think I'd fire something at Sonic, if I had even the slightest worry that it would hurt him?"
That was true, "Alright, fine. What do I care?"
"Shadow," Tails had now attached the final layer of the laser's casing, and he admired its beauty, before looking at the ebony hedgehog, "I didn't mean to make fun of you. I'm really grateful for all that you've done for Sonic. I know he would be too, especially considering that you're not enormously fond of each other. You had no reason to help me. I can't thank you enough."
Well, that was nice, he supposed, "It's nothing. Don't mention it."
"I mean it," Tails insisted, wearing a big smile, before he returned to normal — much to Shadow's relief — and headed back towards the main room, with the laser in hand, "C'mon. I think it's time that everything went back to normal."
"Tails, um. Are you...?" Amy gulped. She didn't like the look of that thing being fired at Sonic, "Are you sure that this is a good idea?"
The kitsune was preparing the invention, double and triple checking everything, down to the last bolt. Cream fretted at Amy's side, also aware of how dangerous Tails' invention looked. Rouge wasn't so worried, but she was interested in how this would play out. Knuckles stood a little closer to Tails and Sonic, and he rolled his eyes.
"This is how we're going to change Sonic back, Amy. We have to do this. Besides, it's completely safe," Tails patted the laser with confidence, "Trust me."
The pink hedgehog still didn't look convinced, so Rouge offered her a smile, "Let him do what he does best. Tails knows what he's doing."
"Of course. Sorry. Go ahead."
Shadow said nothing, also curious about this whole procedure. Silver currently had Sonic in his arms, rocking him into a lulled state of relaxation. Blaze crossed her arms and asked, "Well, is everyone ready?"
Tails aimed the gun and waited for it to fall in line with blue quills. His hand was shaking, and he didn't answer Blaze's question, with his wobbling arm dancing in mid-air.
"This isn't gonna work, Tails," Knuckles spoke, strangely soft, as he pried the laser out of the fox's hand, "Maybe you should let someone else fire it. You're stressed. You've done all that you can today, and we need someone who's got a sturdy hand. We don't know what will happen if we miss — or worse, we hit someone else."
"R-Right," Tails agreed and he offered for someone else to take his place, before he went and stood by Cream, looking a little downcast. The rabbit took his hand and squeezed in reassurance.
"Well, uh," The echidna looked out of place. Weapons were not his method of fighting, "Anyone?"
Shadow felt several eyes drift to him. Of course. He did have a vast knowledge and experience of weaponry, especially guns, but he suddenly wondered if this was a bad thing.
Blaze noticed the stares of Rouge, Amy and Silver, all directed at Shadow. Since she didn't know about his past, she dared to ask, "Shadow, are you able to fire a gun?" Silver snapped his gaze towards Blaze, looking oddly offended.
The Ultimate Life Form nodded, "Yes. I am able to." He held his hand out towards Knuckles. The echidna stared at it, guiltily, before he dropped the gun into his hand. Shadow tightened his fingers around the trigger. It was well-crafted — not too heavy. Moveable. He might not have ever fired a gun, but Tails sure knew how to build one. Maybe Shadow should ask him for some customised weapons.
Rouge looked on, as her fellow partner waited for someone to signal the pulling of the trigger. The bat had a mixed opinion of guns — she didn't hate them, but she certainly didn't use them herself — but she knew that Shadow's morals were loose in that area. She didn't quite know why everyone was getting so het up about it, though, but Rouge supposed that firing something at a baby was always going to sound bad.
"Silver. You need to put him down," Blaze lightly reprimanded her friend, tugging his arm, wanting to get him out of the way. She frowned at his resistance, and Sonic remained firmly in his hold, "Come on."
"No. I'm holding onto him," Silver shook his head and shrugged her off.
Tails stepped forward, next to Shadow, "Silver. We don't know what it will do, with someone else. It's dangerous—"
Golden eyes cried out to Shadow, and the Ultimate Life Form decided that he couldn't refuse. Silver wouldn't change his mind. He'd gotten to attached — to Sonic, to everyone — to let something happen to them, now.
Shadow snapped his eyes shut, as there was a huge flash but, when it dispersed, he stormed forward. Two figures laid on the floor, strewn on top of each other, stirring lightly.
"Silver!" The ebony hedgehog bent down and shook his arm, before it curled in movement. He glanced to the side, and he was momentarily stunned, "...Sonic."
The blue hedgehog was himself again. A little worn around the edges, and slightly pale, but he was intact and roughly fifteen-years-old. His cobalt quills shimmied, as he shook his head, and a gloved hand massaged his forehead. Sonic looked back over his shoulder, and he blinked, "Shads?"
Shadow straightened up, a little overwhelmed. There was relief, and slight shock. He'd almost forgotten what Sonic the Hedgehog looked like.
"Sonic," Silver groaned, sounding crushed, "Please... Get off me..."
"Whoops!" The Blue Blur regained his strength and wits in record time, as he leapt to his feet and held out a hand to Silver, "Sorry 'bout that, Silv! Thanks for catching me though!"
"No problem," The time traveller replied with a shy grin, and he was pulled up. The three of them exchanged glances, unsure of what to say, before someone spoke for them.
"Sonic!" Tails threw his arms around his older brother's neck. Sonic chuckled, patting the fox's back in return, "Thank goodness! I thought I'd never be able to speak to you again!"
"You and me both, buddy."
Knuckles folded his arms and raised an eyebrow, grinning, "So. You remember anything?"
"Uh, well," Sonic pointedly glanced at Shadow and Silver behind him, "A lil', I guess. It's a bit of a blur, Knux."
"Oh, Sonic!" Amy glomped him, Tails and all, "I've missed you! We've all been looking after you, you know, especially Shadow and Silver — but Vanilla said I was a natural with you! 'Guess you knew it was me, huh, even as a baby! Well, you were just sooooo cute as a kid, but I'm so glad to see you! You're pretty cute now, hee hee!"
"U-Uh! O-Oh, really? G-Great!" Sonic gently pushed her away and rubbed his head, breathing strangely, "Yanno, I'm not feelin' so great, you guys..."
He proceeded to topple backwards, as balance slid out from underneath him, and he pulled Shadow and Silver down in his fall. The ebony hedgehog was pressed up against the carpet, with Silver's quills ruffled over his face, and Sonic still on top.
"Not again..." Silver muttered, ribcage crumbling.
"Uh, guys?" Shadow heard the smirk in Knuckles' voice, "I think he fainted."
A parched Silver the Hedgehog knocked back his glass of water, feeling the bruises on his limbs cry out at the movement. Sonic was surprisingly heavy, and he hadn't exactly landed the correct way.
He rinsed out the glass, carefully balancing it in the drainer, before he pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, aloud. The grey hedgehog was relieved that Sonic had been cured — although he was embarrassed, Sonic was glad to be back to normal — and everything was good, once more, but he didn't feel too happy about it.
Something slipped into his peripheral vision and, when he turned around, he was met with Shadow's crimson gaze. Silver lightly blushed, and he felt rather foolish, but he pretended that the sudden appearance hadn't fazed him, "H-Hello, Shadow. Whatcha doing?"
The Ultimate Life Form didn't smile back — instead, he ran his eyes across the kitchen, in one swift movement. He ignored Silver's pleasantries, "Why are you not with the others?"
"You can talk," He snorted, gesturing at Shadow himself, but the confidence faded away, and he suddenly felt shy, "I, uh, needed some space. To clear my head, you know?"
He nodded, "What are you worried about?"
"Me? Worried? Pfft. Not at all! I'm fine, Shadow, honestly," The bravado was obviously fake, but neither of them mentioned it, "Did Rouge speak to you?"
"After you sent her to check up on me? Yes, she did. You don't need to fret over me, Silver, your concerns are wasted. I don't need checking up on," He reeled in disdain.
Silver figured that he knew Shadow well enough, now, to backchat him, "Isn't that exactly what you're doing to me, right now?"
He looked a little surprised, but not too annoyed. His shoulders drooped, and Shadow took a deep breath, "True. But you don't spend most of your time alone. Something is clearly wrong."
At least he'd noticed. It was a compliment, in a weird way, "Okay, I'm feeling a little down."
"I don't know. I just do. I suppose... even though it was stressful, and sometimes gross and irritating, I did kinda like caring for Sonic, and spending time with everyone. It beats going back, I guess."
"Oh," Shadow was a little taken aback. He had assumed that Silver would be relieved to get home, not having to deal with Sonic's whining or Shadow's temperament, but his world wasn't exactly 'home sweet home', "Then stay for a little longer."
"It's not that simple. Blaze and I are needed; people depend on us. Blaze understands why we've had to stay here, but now that everything's sorted, she'll want to go back. And I understand, 'cause we have to. But... I just don't... want to."
Shadow wished that he possessed an ounce of Maria's ability to cheer people up. She'd always been good at it, especially with him. But she'd always cheered him up, not the other way around. Now he was paying the price, "Silver..."
"You don't have to say anything," The grey hedgehog was aware of Shadow's discomfort, "I know you find it awkward and, much to your surprise, I don't like having a pity-party thrown in my honour. Thanks for listening, though. I appreciate that."
"Right," Shadow didn't like leaving it there, "You know, Silver, you don't have to be closed off from this time. You should return, when you can. Tails is a smart kid — I wouldn't be surprised if he invented a device that allowed us to communicate with you, even when you're not here."
"Communicate? You'd want that?"
"We're... what did you all it? 'Friends', aren't we?" He wore a grin.
Silver rolled his eyes, "Don't pretend you don't know that word. Give me some credit, Shadow."
"I wouldn't bestow anything less."
Sonic chose that moment to saunter into the kitchen and jumped, lightly, when he realised that he wasn't alone. Shadow's heightened hearing told him to look back, and Silver's eyes widened, but he covered it up with a smile. The blue hedgehog chuckled, awkwardly, "Um, hey, guys."
"Hey, Sonic," Silver grinned, lop-sided, as Shadow crossed his arms in greeting, "How're you feeling?"
He grinned at that, "Probably a heck of a lot better than you two, right now. Sorry 'bout landing on you, by the way."
"No worries," The grey hedgehog pointedly looked at Shadow, and he managed to coax a quiet 'it's okay' out of him, "Did Tails fill you in on everything that happened? How much do you remember?"
"Bits and pieces. Tails and Amy told me what happened. 'Sounds like I have you guys to thank for... quite a lot."
"That's putting it mildly. You are not an easy infant to look after, Faker," Shadow smugly smirked.
Thankfully, Sonic's easy humour allowed him to laugh at that, "Ah, but I remember you calling me 'Sonic' several times, Shads! Clearly, you cared for me, in that time! Maybe you'd be a good parent, after all."
"Remind me to never, ever help you again."
"Heh heh," Sonic scratched the back of his head, remembering something important that he wanted to say, "Well, I just thought you should know, Tails and I can't thank you enough for helping me out in my time of... uh, need. You kicked Eggman's butt real good, and that's coming from an expert! So, thanks for bein' my parents, for a while."
"No problem, son," Silver stuck his tongue out.
Sonic grinned, "I wonder who'd be Mum and who'd be Dad?"
"Obviously, Silver would be your mother."
"You fretted over him, endlessly, and how could I ever be considered maternal?"
"You were the one who wore a papoose!"
"Wait, what?! Shads wore a papoose? Please, oh please, tell me that someone caught this on camera!"
"Of course they didn't. I would never let that—"
"I think Rouge might have."
"Faker, get back here, now!"
"—ooooooooooougeeeeeeeeeeeeee—OW! SHADOW! GEDD'OFF!"
"Tell her to delete it."
"Nooooooooo—OW—ooooooooooooo, Shadow, no, get off me!"
"Taaaaaails! Knuckles! Amy! Shadow's tryna break my arm!"
"Ha, you said my—AGHHHHHHHH! N-NO, NO, NO, NO, STOP!"
"Okay, Rouge, please, please, please delete it! Do it! Do it now!"
Silver watched in bemusement, as the two of them wrestled on the floor. Shadow sat on Sonic's back, with the blue hedgehog's arm twisted up into a horrible position. It really did look like it was about to snap off.
Who ever said that any of them had grown up?
After a screeching Sonic had been freed, and consoled with the prospect of chilidogs (Tails had wondered if he would need a little bit of rest, after his transformation — clearly, that was not the case, as the blue hedgehog was practically bouncing off the walls), Knuckles chuckled to himself over the weirdness of it all. When he spoke to Rouge, later on that day, he asked if she had truly deleted the photo of Shadow.
"Of course not! I made copies — I mean, c'mon, look at his face. How could I ever delete this beautiful moment?"
Indeed, it was pretty funny. Knuckles decided that the internet would now be used for something useful.
Mum's the word was one of my very first stories, and it has ended an era. I started this while I was writing Mobian Mean Girls and it has been great to experiment with humor, a story without Sonic (which was different, lemme tell ya!) and Shadow and Silver friendship.
Thank you so much for your brilliant support, as this story shows extremely well how I have progressed from 2012 to 2015 in my writing, thanks to everyone. I definitely hope to write another comedy in the future!