A/N: You have to read between the lines when it comes to Shadow. By telling Cammy he would react to her death the same way he reacted to Maria's own, he was trying to tell her he liked her as well. He's just not one to come right out and tell a girl he had an interest in her. It's not part of his style.
Sonic lounged on the beach chair, looking up at the clouds floating by and the birds flying overhead. Tails watched him carefully, noticing how with each passing minute, Sonic grew more and more dark-faced.
"All right! I can't stand it anymore! I gotta have adventure! I gotta have excitement! I gotta run or I'll go bonkers!" he shrieked, punching his fists into the air. Knuckles sipped on a glass of lemonade as he kept one hand on the Master Emerald he carried with him.
"You've only been sitting there an hour. How can you get bored after only an hour?" he asked in exasperation. Tails giggled as he sat surfing the web on his notebook computer.
"That's the way he is, Knuckles. He's always on the go. Can't stay still for more than a minute." the fox replied as Sonic frowned and glared at his cast. "Sonic's never had a problem with anything keeping him from using his speed. Sorry, Sonic, but you won't be doing any running around the city for a long while."
"Man, this is boring! Tails, have you found that school yet?" Sonic grumbled. Amy walked out to the pool with an ice cream cone, followed by a waiter bringing several more cones.
"School? What school?" she asked, sitting next to Sonic and licking at her ice cream. Knuckles set the lemonade aside in favor of the cone the waiter handed him.
"Sonic's still trying to figure out where Shadow is, so he's got Tails looking for a list of Chao schools. He's planning on going to each one and asking if Shadow works there." he replied with a grin. "Do you know how long that will take with you wobbling around like one-legged kangaroo?" he asked the blue hedgehog.
"Ha, ha. Make fun of the cripple." Sonic griped and took his ice cream cone from the waiter with a nod of thanks. "I'm gonna find Shadow and figure out what he's been up to for so long."
"I got it, Sonic!" Tails exclaimed. "I found three schools in Station Square where Shadow could be working! Chao Trainers, Chao Elementary and Chao Kindergarten." He printed out the addresses and gave the paper to Sonic.
"Great! Let's go ask them right now!" he declared and wobbled off the chair to his crutch. Amy pouted and finished off her ice cream cone.
"Wait a second, Sonic! What about visiting Cammy? Are you just gonna leave her there?" she scolded.
"Aww! She's being taken care of. Didn't you hear the doc? He's calling her sister. Let's go find Shadow!" he protested and headed out with Tails and Knuckles in tow.
"Ooh! Sonic, you're a brat! You and Shadow, for leaving me tied up to a palm tree!" Amy yelled at them, but followed anyway.
Chao Trainers had never heard of Shadow, except for the news reports about a Sonic look-alike stealing the Chaos Emerald from Station Square's bank. Chao Elementary insisted that all of their aides were rabbits. The only school left on the list was Chao Kindergarten.
"Well, it makes sense. The Chao we found were drawing pictures for a school project. And none of the other schools had a Chao that looks like the one in the picture." Knuckles pointed out as Tails unrolled the childish drawing of Shadow, the Chao kids and a Chao with a pink bow.
"This drawing is of that Chao lady that visited Shadow in the hospital yesterday. We find her, we find Shadow." he said, "Isn't that right, Sonic?" The hedgehog nodded and knocked on the door of the school. The building was cute and friendly, all blue with green doors and windows and an orange colored roof. Leading up to the school was a yellow brick path and round shrubs lined up on either side of the path.
"Shadow works here? You'd think he'd pick something dark and spooky so he can hide in the shadows." Amy remarked, "But this place looks kind of nice and sweet." The door opened and Professor Chao looked up at them.
"Oh, hello! Are you visitors? Welcome to Chao Kindergarten! Where baby Chao learn about life and fun in a loving, happy environment! Please, come in!" the Chao greeted and let the group inside. Sonic and his friends looked around in the school as Prof. Chao continued. "I am Prof. Chao, the principal of this school. To your left is Nurse Chao's office. Next door is Ms. Chao's kindergarten class. In front of you is our bulletin board, and next to that is our supply closet. On the right is my office. Please enjoy your visit."
"I'm looking for somebody." Sonic told the little professor, "I think you know him. His name is Shadow the Hedgehog and he looks kind of like me, only black and red." Prof. Chao thought hard.
"Shadow? Yes, he works here." he replied, "Hold on a moment. Let me call the teacher's aide so he can get Shadow." The Chao took a deep breath and shouted. "Ms. Chao! Call the teacher's aide!" he yelled. The whole school exploded into wails and shouts as the classroom door and the nurse's office door both flew open. Nurse Chao ran out of the room, followed by an angry Demon Chao with a headache that had worsened when Prof. Chao yelled. Ms. Chao stormed out of her class.
"Now look what you've done! You've woken up my entire class! Have you any idea how long it took me and Shadow to put them all to sleep?! And when they fell asleep, so did Shadow! You woke them all up!" she scolded, "And for the last time, Shadow is the teacher's aide!"
"Shadow's here?!" Sonic exclaimed. Ms. Chao looked up at him, frowning.
"Yes, he is. Who are you?" she replied. Sonic introduced himself and his friends. "Really? Well, he's in the classroom. Maybe you can help him put the Chao back to their naps since your little visit caused them all to wake up and cry!" she lectured, flying up and poking him in the nose. "Shame on you for waking up children and a hungry hedgehog!" The group ran to the classroom and went in, looking for Shadow.
"Rock a bye baby, already! Please, go back to sleep!" Shadow wailed, patting Chao kids on the head with one hand as he rocked a cradle with one foot stretched out at full length. "Come on! I'm wiped out from giving you all baths after your last food fight!"
"Shadow? This is what you do for a living?" Sonic exclaimed in disbelief as Amy squealed and ran up to hug a Chao and rock it back and forth. Shadow blinked up at them and wailed just as loudly as the other Chao.
"And you still won't leave me alone! I'm hungry and tired and my arm hurts and I just want to live a normal life!" he wailed in the center of a crowd of Chao children. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles stepped carefully and gathered up Chao, trying their best to soothe them all and rock them back to sleep. The crowd began to calm down and the crying eased away, Shadow included. He sat on the rug in a sort of daze, listening to his stomach growl. "Why me? I had them all asleep until Prof. Chao shrieked again." he sighed and looked up at Sonic, who cradled a sleepy Hero Chao. "And why won't you leave me alone?" he asked. Shadow stood up and ran past him, "Everybody just leave me alone!" Once in the main hall, he jumped up, grabbed the string that was tied to the attic door, and pulled. He ran up the attic steps, then shut himself up in his room.
Sonic followed and looked up at the attic door, cocking his head in confusion. What exactly was going on? Shadow didn't normally act like that.
"Tails, can you pull down that staircase? I want to talk to Shadow." he told the fox. Tails nodded and hovered up to the string, pulling down the attic stairs. The group quietly stepped up the staircase to the attic.
Shadow sat on his bed, staring down at the clock on his lap. Omochao perched on the bedside table, watching him. The two of them were silent, just watching the still broken clock.
"Shadow?" Sonic called out softly. Shadow rubbed at an eye and focused on the clock.
"It's still jammed, Omochao. Is there something we're not doing right?" he asked, trying to keep his voice steady.
"It's broken, Shadow. It can't be fixed. You'll have to buy a new one." the robot replied.
"But I told you, Omochao. I don't have the money for it. I don't have anything. Nothing! All I have is a Chaos Emerald and that's not going to be of any help to me!" Shadow cried and threw the clock away, letting it crash to the floor as he curled up and trembled.
"This looks bad." Amy whispered to Sonic, "I can tell this isn't a good time to talk to Shadow." Sonic nodded and hustled everyone down the stairs again. "Hey, Sonic. I've got an idea. Let's go visit Cammy and see if she's well enough to join us. I bet we can cheer Shadow up!" Amy added.
"Are you sure?" Sonic asked dubiously. Amy nodded with a grin. "Well. Okay. Just so long as it doesn't involve setting Shadow up on a date with Cammy...." Sonic muttered. Amy made a face.
"Aw! Plan A shot down before it gets set up! No fair! Oh well. On to Plan B! Come on!" she declared and ran off. Sonic and his friends raced after her.
Cammy was sitting up and eating soup when Sonic and company arrived. They told her Amy's plan and she agreed to help. She stepped out of bed, dressed in some clothes Vanilla had brought for her and stuffed her Chaos Emerald into her purse. She wobbled for a moment, then regained her balance.
"All right. Do you guys have the money for it?" she asked as they walked out of the hospital. "It sounds like a great idea, but it won't be easy."
"We don't have a lot. Just enough for a few things." Tails replied, looking worried.
"That's all right! I've got plenty to spare! We'll pool the money and get started. I'll transfer funds to you guys. You can get everything set while I keep Shadow busy." Cammy said with a grin. She winked. "And I know just how to do it!"
Shadow dozed softly, resting up from chasing Chao everywhere. They had been exhausting and the Demon Chao scribbling on the walls gave Shadow more work to do. There was a knock on the door leading up to his room. He slowly woke up and looked around.
"Omochao. Who is it?" he mumbled. Omochao flew over and pressed the button to let the stairs down. He watched as a familiar green hedgehog bounced up the stairs with a smile on her face.
"It's Cammy!" Omochao cheered and Shadow bolted up in shock. Cammy danced her way over to him and laughed.
"Hi, Shadow! Miss me? I'm all better now! Thanks for helping me out. I know! Let's go out for ice cream!" she said brightly, "Just you and me! It'll be my way of showing you how thankful I am for your friendship and help."
"Cammy?! You're okay! That's great!" Shadow exclaimed and laughed. "Us? Out there? Sounds too much like a date to me." he pointed out slyly.
"Call it what you want, let's just go out and have some fun!" Cammy declared and winked at him, "Don't you get tired of being so serious and gloomy all the time? G.U.N. thinks the both of us died in that base explosion, so let's make the most of our freedom by pigging out on burgers, fries and shakes! My treat!"
"Sounds great! Go on, Shadow! Go and get something to eat so you don't wind up a skinny little hedgehog!" Omochao urged, laughing along with her.
"Well, it's been a while since I last ate anything." Shadow muttered slowly.
"You haven't eaten since Cammy gave you all that food in the zoo yesterday!" Omochao scolded, "Go eat!"
"Well, all right! Don't yell at me!" Shadow gave in and followed Cammy out of the school. As they walked down the path, Cammy looked back at the bushes and winked. Sonic and his friends saw it and nodded. That was their signal. They gathered up their supplies and rushed into the building. Omochao waited for them at the bottom of the attic stairs.
"It's about time! Hurry up! Shadow won't stay away from here too long. As soon as he's done, he'll probably try to warp back here!" he shouted and flew back up into the attic.
"Okay! Let's do this fast!" Sonic cheered and they headed up the stairs to get to work.
"Shadow, I've been wondering. At the hospital yesterday, were you the one who touched my face?" Cammy asked over lunch at a restaurant, "I swear I heard your voice near me." Shadow focused on his plate, suddenly very interested in the fries covered with ketchup. Cammy grinned and leaned back in her chair. "I thought so. So, were you talking with my sister? Did she tell you how horrible I am and what a lousy job I have?" she asked with a smile, "Or that I should have done the proper thing and gotten a sensible job and a husband? How about the fact that nearly all the doctors around the world know me by name because I keep getting torn up?"
"She mentioned it." Shadow mumbled, "I didn't know you had a twin sister. I thought she was you. She started screaming that I was some kind of killer." Cammy blinked at him and laughed.
"It's probably your coloring. She's paranoid, my twin. Mother raised her to be neat and nice and proper. The good girl with a family and a woman's job, hah! Luckily, Dad got to me before Mother's teachings sank into my brain. I learned how to be rough and tough, down and dirty, sneaky and sly, and most of all, to have fun with life!" Cammy exclaimed and looked out the window at the city, "There's so much wonder and mystery in the world and I want to experience it all. I want to find out about them, and figure out the secrets of the past."
"What exactly is your job?" Shadow asked, curious. Cammy blinked and looked at him, then blushed.
"I'm a legend hunter. I'm also a part time tomb raider, but only to donate artifacts to museums. Most of the time, I'm chasing down ancient legends and stories about the Chaos Emeralds and other myths." she answered and looked at Shadow's plate, "Shadow! You didn't even eat your food! You're starving yourself!"
"What? Oops. Sorry." Shadow muttered and ate some of the food quickly. "There, happy now?" he asked, "And what do you mean by rough and tough, down and dirty? Girls aren't supposed to be like that. They should be delicate and whimsy."
"Don't forget sneaky and sly. And wouldn't you like to know?" Cammy purred, giving him a coy look, "Besides, delicate is for the nice girls. They let themselves get led along by other people. I like to take charge." She gave him another wink and went back to eating. The two of them finished lunch in silence.
"Sonic, you're not doing it right! Stop aggravating your leg and try calling for pizza. This is taking longer than we thought. While you're at it, call Cammy and tell her to stall Shadow a little longer. We need more time!" Tails shouted as he tightened the screws on the broken clock. Sonic made a face and grabbed a nearby phone.
"Man, I hate broken legs! What's Cammy's number again? Oh, yeah." he muttered and dialed the number. "It's not my fault the stupid table tipped over. Where did Shadow get such a cheap thing anyway?"
Cammy dug into her purse as Shadow sat back on a park bench, enjoying the warm sun. Whipping out her phone, she put it to her head and listened.
"Cammy here. Talk to me!" she greeted. She listened, frowned, smiled and nodded. "No problem. It'll be a pleasure. Trust me. He's in good hands. My hands." she purred slyly. She hung up and put the small phone away.
"Who was that?" Shadow muttered, too lazy to open his eyes.
"A friend. Here's an idea. Let's go to a movie! They're showing Chao in Space 2 at the Megaplex!" Cammy exclaimed and pulled Shadow up, "Come on! Let's go check it out!" They raced off to see the movie, buying Sonic and his friends another couple of hours.
Tails looked up from fixing the television as Sonic came wobbling into the attic again. He looked worried.
"Sonic? What's wrong? Is everything okay?" he called to his friend.
"I'm worried about Shadow. I don't like the way Cammy said she would deal with him. I think she's up to something." Sonic muttered.
"Worrywart! Cammy and Shadow will be fine. Now help me with these flowers. I want this room to look nice for when he comes back!" Amy declared and put a vase on the new table Knuckles brought in. He was sitting on Shadow's bed, drinking lemonade and resting for a bit. The plan was going well, all that was left to do was finish things up and wait for Shadow to return from the outing.
The movie ended and Shadow grew a little suspicious as Cammy suggested a visit to a mall.
"What's going on? Why are you dragging me around the city?" he asked, "Why didn't Omochao come along? What's up?" Cammy smiled at him innocently.
"Why, Shadow! What do you mean? I'm just trying to show you a good time, that's all!" she replied and laughed.
"You're up to something. You're keeping me away from the school." Shadow told her, suspicious, "You're keeping me from going home. What's going on? What are you doing?!" He stepped away from her and looked around. "I'm going home right now! I'm gonna get to the bottom of this!" With that, he raced off, running for the school. Cammy ground her teeth in frustration and pulled out her phone. After a few rings, it was answered.
"Sonic?" Cammy asked.
"Nope. The name's Knuckles. What can I do for you?" the voice on the other end replied.
"This is Cammy. Bad news! Finish up quick, 'cause Shadow is on his way in! That attic room is his home, and he's running there as fast as those air blade shoes can carry him!" the green hedgehog declared.
"What?! Why didn't he warp?" Knuckles exclaimed.
"He didn't bring his Chaos Emerald with him! And he probably forgot I had mine with me! You've got a few minutes, so wrap things up and get out!" Cammy barked and cut the line. She stuffed the phone in her purse and went chasing after Shadow.
"Shadow's on his way! Shake a leg, people!" Knuckles yelled out as he ran up the stairs. The group worked harder to finish their surprise. Unable to help much, Sonic was content to stand watch at the window. Omochao was outside, waiting for Shadow so he could buy more time. After another few minutes, Sonic could see a black blur zip up to the path. Omochao flew to meet it and the blur stopped. Shadow stood talking with Omochao on the path to the school.
"He's here! Hurry up!" Sonic yelled. Amy stuffed flowers into the vase and fluffed the pillows. Tails finished the television and turned it off. Knuckles crammed the last few packages of food into the refrigerator and closed it shut with some difficulty. "Are you done already? I think I'm growing a beard over here!" Sonic declared loudly.
"Okay! Done! Hide!" Amy shouted and they scattered to hide in corners of the room. Just in time, as the staircase was pulled down and Shadow came bouncing up the steps with Omochao right behind him.
"You and Cammy were in on this, Omochao! What were you planning?!" Shadow shouted and came to a dead halt, staring at his room.
Everything was either new or completely fixed! New blankets and dishes and tables and chairs. The clock and TV were fully repaired, a miracle in and of themselves. The refrigerator looked packed with food and the whole place looked nice and clean. A vase of flowers on the table made the room smell fresh and nice.
"Omochao! What did you do to my room?!" Shadow yelled and everyone popped in, laughing.
"Surprise!" they shouted and the black hedgehog looked around at them in shock.
"Sonic? And the others? You did this? Why?" he asked. Sonic limped up to him and rapped on his head.
"'Cause we wanted to, lamebrain! We wanted to cheer you up, so we fixed your place up. It's the least we could do for you." he replied.
"It was my idea!" Amy butted in and giggled. She winked slyly. "So, how was your date with Cammy?" Shadow blushed and shook his head.
"It went okay, and it wasn't a date. Just lunch and movie, until I figured she was up to something." he answered and blinked, "Wait a second. She was in on this, too?"
"Of course! Some of my money went into this project!" Cammy declared from the stairs. She finished climbing them and stepped up beside him. She winked at him. "Besides, getting you out of the way was fun. We should do it more often."
"Only if you catch me." Shadow told her flatly. Cammy shrugged.
"Sure, play hard to get. It's no problem for me. I caught up to you a bunch of times before. I can do it again!" she laughed, "Deal! Every time I catch you, we go on a date!"
"Why do I suddenly feel like I've been suckered?" Shadow mumbled. Sonic shook his head and motioned for him to lean to him.
"It's because you were, Shadow. Watch out. Women are tricky." he whispered to him.
"I heard that!" Amy scolded.
"So, how do you like our present to you?" Sonic exclaimed, changing the subject quickly. Shadow smiled and nodded.
"It's great. Thanks. It'll help me get better grips on my life." he replied.
"Well, while we're here...let's party!" Knuckles declared and the unanimous cries of 'Party!' decided it.
A few hours later, Sonic and his friends had to leave for the apartment building where they lived. Knuckles had to get back to Angel Island before Tails' new Floater device choked and dropped the island without the Master Emerald to keep it up. Tails had offered to give him a lift home. Shadow waved to the group as they headed down the street.
"It was great, what they did for me." Shadow murmured quietly with a small smile as Omochao floated near him and Cammy stood next to him. She nodded.
"Friends are wonderful, Shadow. Learn to make and keep them. Don't close your heart because of tragedy. Maria, whoever and wherever she is, would have wanted you to live on, for her and for you." she told him and looked up at the stars in the night sky. "Time for me to be getting along. My plane leaves in the morning." Shadow looked at her in surprise.
"You're leaving Station Square?" he asked with just a hint of sadness in his voice. Cammy grinned at him.
"Nice to hear you care. Yes, for a few weeks. I'm going to continue research overseas. I hear there are some temples there dedicated to the Chaos Emeralds. There may be some useful information there." she replied and stretched her arms over her head, yawning. "Well, I'm outta here!" she declared, then twirled and planted a kiss on Shadow's cheek, catching him off guard. Cammy winked at him. "See you 'round... Shadow the Hedgehog." she whispered and took off down the street, laughing. Shadow shook his head and rubbed at his face.
"Crazy woman." he muttered and grinned, "But at least I can Chaos Control again if she gets too close."
"Not in that condition, you won't!" Omochao scolded, "Come on, Shadow! It's bedtime! You're not warping with that messed up arm and all that kissing is just making you look funny! Let's go!" Shadow saluted him and laughed.
"Whatever you say, Omochao!" he declared, "Tomorrow is another day for you, me, and the Chao of Chao Kindergarten!"