I Can't See the Stars at Night, Can You?
The evening sky was plastered with splotches of oranges and yellows, with pink spreading out behind the sinking red sun. As the saying goes, 'red sky at night, sailors delight.' Beyond the bright warmth was a touch of twilight. The warmer colors were fighting a war they couldn't win. Soon enough, the red sun would be swallowed up by the void that is darkness, and it would remain that way until the following morning. The warmth will burn back the coolness so that the cycle can start again.
It was a pleasant evening. It was just warm enough where one would become hot if they were moving around, but cool enough that the sky was bright and clear. A soft breeze would make its way by once in a while, with just enough force to rustle the leaves bunched on the trees.
This place was far enough away from the city that no light pollution could trickle into the air. An open meadow overlooking a cliff side, with a small pond below. A single tree blossomed off a small island towards the center, it's petals seemingly glowing in the dusk. By now the cicadas and crickets had started their songs, and it wouldn't take long before the fireflies began their nightly summer dance.
Shadow the Hedgehog had found this small slice of paradise while out on a mission from G.U.N. He hadn't had the time to come back for quite a while. With recent riots and uprisings happening across the country, Shadow's schedule hadn't allowed any alone time. This personal time was very extremely rare, and he was planning to use the time to relax without any possible interruptions. He'd left his pager in his dorm room so that no sudden emergencies could interrupt the songs of the night. He'd taken off on foot, wanting to enjoy the night air.
Of all the beings he'd want to run into, Sonic the Hedgehog was not one of them. Many emotions flashed through Shadow's heart and mind as he started started to slow down from his run. Anger, jealously, annoyance, sadness, pity... It took Shadow a moment to clear his thoughts and sharpen his gaze on the other hedgehog, whose back was facing him.
Sonic was sitting with his legs spread out as he leaned back with his arms stretched behind him to hold him up. He sat a ways away from the cliff side, staying more towards the center than on the edge. He sat among the grass and sat around the wild flowers.
Blue ears swiveled as their owner heard the sound of hover skates cooling down. Sonic didn't turn to look at Shadow. Instead he kept his gaze forwards towards the horizon, which by now had started to become conquered by the deep abyss.
"Hey, Shads." Sonic broke the silence. His voice seemed smaller, as if it was carried up by the breeze.
Shadow rolled his eyes as he approached the other hedgehog. "Faker." The ebony hedgehog took a few more steps to stand next to Sonic, but still remain a few feet apart to keep the personal space. "Isn't it past your bedtime?"
Sonic let out a breathy chuckle. "You wish it were. I live free— no rules and no bedtime. You should try it sometime. Unless you have the early morning shift." he grinned cheekily. Shadow returned the grin with another eye role and a slight smirk.
"That's exactly why coffee exists," he responded.
Sonic responded with a hum. "Coffee? I could never get into that stuff. It smells amazing and flavored stuff is pretty good, but it makes me too hyper. Having your heart feel like you just did six sonic booms in a row while just standing still isn't a comfortable feeling."
"Maybe if you were more productive with your time instead of always waiting for the world to be saved, you'd understand the value that caffeine has."
"Mmmmmm... nah. I'm content with the way that things are now. Waiting for the world to be saved is an occupation itself." Sonic rubbed his nose with one of his gloved hands, still avoiding eye contact with the other.
Shadow watched the horizon for a few moments. He crossed his arms over his chest before speaking. "Are you content, though?"
That question chipped at the invisible barrier that manifested around the blue hedgehog.
There was a long pause. The background songs continued on, despite the sudden bombshell that had been dropped.
"I don't know."
Shadow took that moment to truly look at the other hedgehog while the sun was just a sliver in the sky.
Sonic looked tired. Shadow observed the way his rival's ripped-up ears and quills drooped, and the darkness under Sonic's eyes, which started to overtake the peach fur on his muzzle; just like the evening sky.
He didn't hold his upper body up up all. He strenuously relied on the support of his scarred arms to keep himself upright by locking his arms in place. His once proud, puffed out chest was curled in, making the scars and gouges there appear so much bigger.
To put it lightly, Sonic looked exhausted. Exhausted in both himself and in others. He looked as if he wanted nothing more than to curl in on himself and wave goodbye to the world. Shadow could sense Sonic's inner thread of emotional, mental, and physical strength becoming taut, he knew it wouldn't be long before it inevitably snapped.
The ebony hedgehog took the time after a while to silently sit down next to the blue hedgehog. He followed the other's gaze to the now dark horizon. Night had officially started its daily routine, and the timer before the sun returned would be re-wound. Shadow put his hands behind his head before he laid back in the damp grass.
Sonic's head was turned up the next time Shadow looked at him. The way his spines blew with the wind, it looked like he'd be swept away at any moment.
"Who's up there tonight?" Sonic asked.
Shadow narrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "What?"
"The stars," Sonic continued, "what constellations are out tonight?" After that he whispered, "I can't see the stars at night, can you?"
Sonic finally turned to face Shadow. It was then that he was able to see the damage that had been done. Once piercing emerald eyes now look straight through Shadow, with their brilliance dulled and muddled. It looked as if the other hedgehog had a star for a pupil, as its faded color seemed to bleed into marshy green.
Shadow bit the inside of his cheek until he tasted copper.
"Did... it hurt?" Shadow knew he shouldn't have said anything, but it just slipped off his tongue in the moment.
The blue hedgehog wrapped his arms around his knees, but kept his neck stretched out. "Mmm... yeah, I think so. Well, it sorta happened so fast. I think I had so much adrenaline at the time that I wasn't really aware of anything. So it could have hurt, or it might not have."
Shadow grit his teeth. "If you want revenge-"
"Nope, stop right there. I don't want revenge." Sonic interrupted Shadow. "I never said I wanted it. I've... had some time to think... some time to put myself in other people's shoes. And I guess I understand where it's coming from. I mean, we're walking, talking animals with powers that exist only in their fantasy. We single-handedly proved to them that there is life outside of this planet. We brought a maniacal scientist who is dead-set on ruling the world to their only home, and they're afraid. Afraid of us, afraid of what we could become, and afraid of what we brought," Sonic started stating. "The majority of humans accept us. It's a minority that don't, and an even smaller number who wish to remove us with... violence."
Shadow absorbed this information in his head. He'd previously wanted revenge on humankind. Between being created by humans and for what humans did to Maria, he'd never truly forgive them. His frustration is justifiable. However, punishing those uninvolved was cruel. It took a long while before Shadow's mindset started to shift from his previous mindset. Even now, he sometimes finds his thoughts slipping.
"I'm... sorry," Shadow murmured out. He wasn't sure why he was apologizing. He wasn't usually the one to do so.
Even without looking at his face, Shadow could tell purely by Sonic's voice that he was smirking. "Don't sweat it, Shads. It's... it's not like that idea hasn't crossed my mind before. I'm still... I'm still learning to adjust. It's kinda hard when you're used to be good at everything, and suddenly you're not good at anything."
The darker hedgehog merely hummed. "So... what's it like?"
As if the world could have stopped, it felt like it did in that moment. The breeze died, and the crickets stopped their songs. It made Shadow feel very, very small.
"Hmmm... well, for starters, it's very dark," Sonic said stretching out. I get occasional blotches of light every once in a while. Tails seems to have ruled out it merely just being Chaos auras. I guess he's flashed some super bright lights into my face, and I was able to respond to some of them. I assume you heard about the aura stuff?"
"Your echidna friend mentioned it to me after we ran into each other a few weeks ago. He asked me if I'd ever experienced it."
"Yeah, it's weird. It's like sleeping with my eyes open. The shapes and stuff never go away, even if my eyes are closed. I haven't been getting a ton of sleep because of that." Sonic rubbed his nose sheepishly. "There are some colors. For the most part, everything is just a sorta transparent white. I can see the outlines of things, but not the details inside that."
Shadow didn't respond, and just listened.
"For example, there's been a blue light sitting next to you this whole time."
Ruby eyes widened. Shadow felt his blood run cold but his skin turn hot. His heart suddenly jumped a mile where he sat. He tried to form words, but nothing would come out. Then he felt a sudden calming warmth spread across his body, as if he was holding one of the Chaos emeralds in his hands.
"It looks like it's protecting you, Shads."
With this, Shadow promptly stood and balled his fists. He ran his hands through his quills a few times while breathing hard. He stayed like this a few minutes, before forcing himself to pull his composure back together. He cleared his throat. "Is there any way to fix this?"
Sonic nodded, looking straight through Shadow. "Yeah. It's nothing going super can't reverse. It's just a matter of bringing all the emeralds together, first." Sonic turned to look back at the sky.
Shadow sighed before turning o face away from Sonic. "Well faker, good luck," he paused, "and thank you."
Sonic waved his hand in the air as if to say 'don't sweat it.' Shadow started on the trek back. Just before being out of earshot, he took one last look at the blue hedgehog. "And Sonic?"
Said hedgehog swiveled his ears to catch Shadow's voice among the breeze that has picked back up.
"Orion's watching over you tonight."
Just a dumb little one-shot situation between Sonic and Shadow I've had in my phone notes for a little while. It was fun to work on when I couldn't sleep. Is it OOC? Mayhaps. But that's w/e.
I'm also attempting to upload this from my phone, so I'm not sure how formatting is. If it's garbo, I apologize. And if it's not, there could possibly be more one-shots, as well as faster chapters of GUTODD :eyes: