A/N: I suppose you're all wondering why it took so long to get this chapter up. Well, first, I got a new Knuckles Plushie and have been devoting many an hour to cuddling it. Oh, and I got writer's block as well. I know that some of you were expecting a longer story, but I figured the only way to prolong this is to add pointless dates and stuff that would make you all bored. Also, I'd like to thank you all for your wonderful support, so here's a word of advice: Unless you're really confident in yourself, don't try to write a story for a paring you don't like. Otherwise, it will turn into something I like to call "teh suck". (No, that is not a typo.) Learn from my mistake, people. Although you all seem to like this, I really think I can do better when it comes to Sonic fandom. So expect to see me around again sometime, just don't expect any more Rouge/Knuckles fics from me. And don't ask me to write any more. Because I won't.

Best wishes to all,

Raiegki Leviathan

Operation Seduce Echidna
Chapter Six: Broken

She did it. She did it.

"I did it!" Rouge cried as she gawked at the gigantic gem sitting ever so perfectly on a pedestal in her personal treasure storage vault. "Did that silly echidna think he could keep this jewel away from me forever?" She smirked. "I'll be the envy of every treasure hunter of the world. It feels so good to come out on top."

It felt good, so why was there something itching at the back of her mind? Something was annoying her right from the second she grabbed the emerald and ran.

Could this possibly be…guilt?

Impossible. Rouge the Bat, world's greatest treasure hunter/thief learned to suppress that stupid little thing called a conscience years ago. She had never felt guilty her entire greed-driven life, even as a little whelp she was never sorry for anything, never regretted what she did, never looked back. Everything she did was for her own personal benefit and she had no shame about it.

So, she did what she normally did when something went wrong.

She blamed someone else.

"This is your fault, Knucklehead!" She cried, pointing a finger in the general direction of Angel Island. She cursed his name until she fell to her knees trembling. "It's…your…fault…" Rouge sputtered. "I…I…hate you. I hate you!" She screamed. However, the more she blamed Knuckles, the weaker and more guilt-ridden she felt.

She would accuse him no longer.

She couldn't.

She was the one who played temptress, exploiting the echidna's loneliness, his gullibility, and his desire for freedom. And did she ever feel bad about it.

Angel Island had fallen into the ocean when it lost its power source, but to a certain echidna, the entire world came crashing down with it. Stunned by his failure to protect the Master Emerald, Knuckles had fallen into a state of depression and aloofness and felt little but self-pity and worthlessness. The one single task he was obligated to do he failed. Unlike she who got the best of him, Knuckles possessed a strong sense of pride, which was completely shattered when he allowed such a brazen female get the best of him. He should have known better than to trust one who came from the family who double-crossed both the fur and the feathers in the Battle between the Birds and the Beasts. [1]

His ancestors would never forgive him.

Were they alive, they'd ridicule him. Possibly exile him from the echidna tribe, ashamed to have him as one of their own. He got close to the enemy, and she stabbed him where it hurt most, and these were wounds that would never heal for years to come, should they even heal at all. To add insult to injury, his renowned gullibility had once again been one of the main factors in this defeat.

Knuckles wanted to curl up into a ball and die.

The sky was looking ominous as the rain clouds came rolling in at a remarkable speed. Their deep grey color reminded Rouge of Team Dark's assault on Eggman's flagship. She remembered Shadow mention something about bad omens, but the bat had shrugged it off as she didn't believe in such nonsense, though she did worry a tiny bit when she saw even that E-123 Omega was watching the atmosphere cautiously.

Now she was beginning to get a little superstitious. The sky was cloud-free earlier that day and she did not remember hearing about any upcoming storms. She almost wished Team Dark didn't go their separate ways so she could ask the jet-black hedgehog of what he made of the situation. Rouge had no idea why she was worrying about a little bit of weather, but her newfound guilt trip was smacking her upside the head and telling her that she had something to do with it.

"Don't be crazy!" She yelled to no one in particular. "You want me to go out there!? That's suicide!"

That no one in particular was pretty persuasive.

"I'm going to regret this." She muttered, stretching her wings.

"I can't believe this!" Rouge screeched, flapping against the strong gales as droplets of water attacked her body ferociously. "What in the world convinced me to go flying in this weather!?" As if in response to her outburst, a strong gust of wind rushed by and sent her into a tailspin, setting her back a few hundred feet before she could regain herself. She fumbled her cargo, the Master Emerald, and nearly dropped it. She sighed and wondered what devilish being possessed her to do such a stupid thing. Not after what she went through to claim the Master Emerald.

Higher. She needed to get higher. Above the storm if she could.

But nature wasn't about to let her off so easily. Even though it didn't seem possible, the squall was starting to intensify as lightning struck around the bat and the rain came tumbling down with even greater force. She flapped hard, fighting with all her might, though even all her secret training couldn't prepare her for all this as fatigue began to surge through her blood. The storm took advantage of this opportunity as it sent her into another tailspin, where the bat was lost in the fog.

A waterlogged bat trudged up the old steps towards the chamber where she knew the echidna was hiding. She panted as she heaved her freight along with her. When she finally made it to the top, she set it down gently in front of the red, yellow, and grey shoes of the male.

"You again!?" He growled, baring his teeth like a savage animal.

"I nearly died to get here!" Rouge pouted. "This is how you greet me?"

He ignored her. "Have you come to torment me, you sadistic succubus? Haven't you had enough? You've taken everything from me. What more do you want!?"

"How dare you call me a brutal, demonic whore!" Rouge snapped, towering over him and pointing a finger at him, causing drops of water to fly into the echidna's face.

"How dare you deny it!?" Knuckles scoffed, not the least bit intimidated by the bat's aggression. "I didn't know you could stoop so low as to make me believe that I could live happily, and then slam me into the ground. And now you want to kick me while I'm down?"

"It's your fault because you're so freaking gullible!" Rouge exploded.

Knuckles' eyes grew wide and narrowed in unspeakable anger when he grabbed her wrist and forced her down to his level.

"And do you know why I am so gullible?" He hissed into her face. "Do you?"

Rouge clenched her teeth and glared at him hatefully.

"I've been alone almost my entire life. When you live by yourself, it's difficult to tell who can be trusted and who can't, which is why I have such poor judgment and can stupidly trust those who mean me harm." [2]

Rouge looked uneasy and tried to get free of his grasp, but no avail. However, the struggle was pointless when the echidna released her willingly.

"You've won. Go ahead, take your spoils and go. I won't try to stop you."


"What?" He questioned, lifting his guard.

"Do you not listen to what I say?" Rouge turned her nose upward snobbishly. She then stood up and started towards the exit. "I told you before: I don't want the Master Emerald." She waited for a reply. She got none. "So take it."

"…This won't fix much." Knuckles said quietly. "I will never be able to trust you ever again. Not even after this."

"I don't expect you to." Rouge answered. "But keep in mind, I might change my mind and come for it again."

"Do what you want."

"Gladly." Rouge smirked as she took the first step down. Then she stopped, and looked back over her shoulder. She did a fast about face, and ran back towards the echidna.

"What are you-" Before Knuckles could finish his demand, the bat grabbed him for one last kiss. When she finally let him go, she left as quickly as she came.

Knuckles sat there, touching the spot where she kissed him for the last time.

[1] – The Battle between the Birds and the Beasts is an old Aseop fable in which the birds and beasts fought. The bats always sided with whoever was winning. The war ended in a stalemate and bats were banished by both sides to the night, explaining why they are nocturnal.

[2] – This idea on why Knuckles is so gullible was created by xXShrinerXx, the author of Crimson Act during a roleplay I'm doing with her.

A/N: As far as endings go…I really don't feel satisfied by this one. I tried my best, so feel free to complain about it. I'll try harder in my next Sonic fics to write better endings, and heck, better fics period…I must say this one was a disaster. Next time, I think I'll stick to couples I don't feel awkward writing about.