Fading Reminder

Chapter Five: Earth Was Crying

The two hedgehogs walked outside of the one floored home. They shielded their eyes until adjusted while the sunlight decided to fire its rays to practically blind them. Shadow managed to scope out his surroundings curiously after he was accustomed to the light. He hadn't been out of the house until the night before when he visited the Doctor, and he hasn't seen the island from outside the guestroom during the daytime. The green hues darted out from the plant life almost like a painting. It all seemed much different compared to darkness; it was much more alive.

"Come on, this way." The blue 'tour guide' pronounced as he directed Shadow to follow him straight ahead, opposite of where they were standing.

Shadow followed without protest and began to walk beside his blue doppelganger. His head was downcast as he walked and his usual serious face had found its home again on the dark creature's lips. Sonic noticed this but decided to keep quiet about that…for now anyway. He was too busy recognizing the beauty of the island. Sure, he lived there, but it was rare that he actually took the time to really look. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Shadow glanced towards the other hedgehog, "yes." There was no emotion in his voice. He would have appreciated it a lot more if he hadn't been so occupied with the fluster going on in his head.

Why had Shadow even agreed to this? He shouldn't have ever come out here with this…faker. Why did he want to 'show him around' anyway? He can do this on his own time, he didn't need the company. Sonic wasn't helping him restore his memory at the moment, so why even bother? Maybe he should've just stayed back with the Doctor that night. With his emerald even! Why was he so stupid? He had the crystal in his hand and he returned it to someone who had just shoved it under a pillow.

The sound of rustling water in the distance had shoved him lightly back into the realization of what was happening. He had wondered where the azure hedgehog was taking him. Maybe Sonic set him up for all of this just to drown him out here. After all, Shadow did almost murder him, why not return the favor? How was he so sure this cerulean creature knew anything of his past? He could be making everything up just to screw with his head!

So why was Shadow still following when he could've left days ago?

"It's just over here." The two entered a clearing out of the trees, a slim river running peacefully between them and the opposite side. Shadow recognized it immediately as the place he visited last night. Sonic walked a little faster ahead of him but with more caution than before. He stepped over rocks and gravel as they rubbed together beneath his shoes. He was careful not to get too close to the water as he tried to approach his destination. He had always hated being in the water.

A glistening waterfall was directly in front of the two hedgehogs. It wasn't too large, but taller than they were. It flowed from the river above and descended into a crystal like blue fall, then crashed into the continuing river below. It was a beautiful sight. Shadow could not take his eyes off it as he gazed in awe. He hadn't noticed it the night before, he was must have been further down the river. Never could he remember seeing anything like this.

He began to feel guilty again. The exact feeling he had before when he watched this river the past night. He felt somewhat selfish for experiencing this without her.

Sonic began to approach the fall further, "I come up here to clear my head; usually when I am mad at Knuckles or something. The atmosphere helps me think for some reason." He stopped in his tracks as he realized he was talking to himself and his company was no longer following him. He turned around on his heel and noticed Shadow a few feet behind, gazing at the fall, seeming to be lost in thought. He grabbed hold of the ebony hedgehog's arm, "come on, will ya?"

The two approached the side of the fall. There was a tiny area that was just behind it that they could walk under. It looked like it was half of a cave that you could enter from both sides; one wall being the waterfall. The two walked beneath the rocks and the sun beams disappeared as they slipped into the shade. The noise of the water increased and it was heard all around them. However, it wasn't too loud to where someone wouldn't be able to have a conversation. Not that Shadow had planned on it anyway. Why should he?

Sonic noticed Shadow kept drifting away into his own little world. "What do you keep thinking about?" He asked curiously. He took a seat on the ground. It was pretty damp but he didn't mind. The water from the fall that was descending from above them sprinkled droplets of water at the two anyway.

Shadow shot Sonic a bit of a glare that seemed to read 'how dare you ask me that,' but he just shook his head and mumbled, "Nothing." He took a seat on a damp rock not too far from the azure creature. "Is there anything else you can tell me of my past?" His voice seemed dull and expressionless.

Sonic ran a hand through his blue quills. "Ya know, your memory isn't all we have to talk about. We can talk about other stuff besides." He was growing tired of repeating himself. All the two of them talked about was what happened a year ago when Sonic and Shadow were rivals and then saved the world together, blah, blah, blah. Sonic knew Shadow couldn't remember and he really wanted to help, but there is only so much he can take with repeating himself. What is the harm in discussing other things for just one day? Especially since the day started off so well.

"I want to be able to remember, hedgehog." His voice sounded somewhat colder, as if Sonic was insulting him by wanting to discuss other things.

"I know you do. I'm just saying, while I'm trying to help you with your memory we can get to know each other."

Get to know each other? Shadow didn't want to get to know anyone. He had one purpose with this cerulean creature, to restore a part of his memory. "I don't need to get to know you." He claimed bluntly.

"Oh come on Shadow! I know you don't want to stay miserable. There's a side to you that isn't this stubborn and you showed me that earlier this morning!" He smirked, "my fur is still a little sticky from that stunt you pulled back there. I know this grumpy guy here isn't all there is to you."

"I am not grumpy." He retaliated lowly, even though he knew he always was. Cheerful wasn't one of the few positive words in his vocabulary. He had reasons though. Not everyone had to see their only friend murdered before their very eyes. That goddamned blood seeped into her beautiful blonde hair from that bullet wound forced so viciously into her skull. Shadow's fist clenched at the thought. How he hated those humans.

"Yoo-hoo. Shadow?" Sonic waved a hand in front of Shadow's eyes trying to get his attention. He snapped his fingers a few times, "Come back, man. I'm losing ya!"

Shadow pushed Sonic's hand away, his attention back on the blue creature.

"How come you don't want to talk to me about why you keep drifting off like that? That's what, like the millionth time? I'll listen you know, I'm a good listener."

"How can that be?" Shadow practically spat. "You haven't shut up since you brought me to this island." His patience was really growing thin with this hedgehog. Why did someone have to pry so much?

Sonic looked disappointed mixed with a tint of anger. He wanted to see the playful Shadow he saw in his kitchen earlier. He didn't want to sit here in silence while Shadow kept drifting into…Shadow World. He was a talkative hedgehog. He really hasn't shut up since Shadow was on the island, so, why stop now? "Look, I only want to help you."

"Why? Why am I worth helping at all?"

"Everyone is worth helpi–"

Shadow interrupted, "you don't even know me."

"Yes I do. You just don't remem–"

"Right, I don't remember. So you're just like a stranger to me." Shadow didn't notice, but his voice level began to increase with each word he spit out in his deep voice. He was growing angrier than he normally would have in this situation. He was taking his inner anger at the world out on Sonic.

"Stop interrupting me, dammit!" The blue hero could not hold in his aggravation any longer. Here he was, trying to help, and this is the thanks he gets? He was half-tempted to go back to his house and just throw that Chaos Emerald in his face and tell him he doesn't want to see him again. But…Sonic wasn't like that. His good nature kicked in and he tried to hold onto that bit of patience he did have left. Besides, Sonic wasn't one to lose an argument. He sighed, "Then don't let me stay a stranger. If you just talk to me we can be friends."

Shadow abruptly stood up, turning his back to Sonic, "I don't need friends!" He folded his arms across his chest.

Sonic jumped up as well, "yes you do! You think you can be happy, hiding behind that tough exterior, hating the world and everyone in it? Why are you so afraid to let yourself be happy! If you keep this up, you're going to be one miserable hedgehog!"

"I don't care if I'm miserable! It's better than–" He immediately cut himself off. He didn't want to say anything else. He didn't even want to say as much as he already did.

Sonic looked at him, his emerald eyes flew from anger to concern in a matter of seconds. He almost got through to the stubborn hedgehog. "Better than…what, Shadow?" His voice had calmed dramatically, as did Shadow's.

"Nothing, I don't want to talk about it." He tried to keep that sense of cold in his voice that he had earlier but he couldn't. He felt the pain pushing through and he knew he was not the only one who noticed.

He walked further towards the waterfall, the tiny droplets of water flying into his fur. The scene beyond that was blurred due to the motioning water and it just looked…sad, like the earth was crying, much like how he felt inside. He closed his eyes, ignoring the questioning pair of green ones that sunk into his back. Why couldn't he look at anything without feeling that damn guilt? He felt so incomplete and…empty without her.

"Shadow..."

He felt a hand on his left shoulder where his practically healed bullet wound was. His ruby eyes opened slowly no longer filtered with anger but they seemed weak, like that barrier that Sonic was pushing towards was falling, and he hated feeling weak. But there was only so much more he could take. Sometimes he just needed to give in. He couldn't be strong all of the time, as much as he wanted to. A part of him actually wanted to open up, and that part began to surface.

He looked to his shoulder, at the hand that connected to the blue hedgehog. Sonic seemed so concerned and kind, like…he really wanted to help. Shadow felt almost compelled to tell him.

His voice was just audible over the water when he said, "I miss her."

Sonic listened with his eyes.

"They broke into the base without warning," Shadow began as his eyes directed themselves back to the fall. "Maria and I were with the Doctor and he was doing a few tests on me, just simple ones, as the alarm began to sound. Then we heard abrupt noises of some kind of pounding, and explosions at the far end of the lab. They were distant but it was loud enough to scare us.

"For some reason, Dr Gerald knew exactly what was happening, where as I was clueless. He grabbed my hand and threw it into Maria's. He said something to her that I couldn't hear but she seemed to know what to do. She knelt down in front of me and said, 'we need to run Shadow. Just follow me.'

"Dr Gerald looked at us both and he calmly assured us everything would be fine, and we left, running. That…was the last time I saw him." Shadow's eyes never left the crying water. He barely dared to blink. The whole memory played through his mind like a movie reel and he was the narrator. This was the only memory he had with such detail, the one he wished he was able to forget.

He continued, "We began running towards the connection tube that led to the main control room. Blinking red lights were flashing everywhere before our eyes due to the alarm. Every time I would look up at Maria, the look of terror began to increase the further we ran and the closer the noises had gotten to us, which were now gun fire, explosions, and screams of the people who worked on ARK with us. I smelled smoke and death approaching us quickly, but we were almost to the control room.

"We were practically at the end of the tube when the doors behind us opened and the sounds increased dramatically due to the open door. I looked back only to find humans and robots, all holding guns. They yelled but I just assumed it was something along the lines of 'stop,' but we didn't listen.

"When we reached the door, Maria had to type in a code to open it and that's when the gunfire started again. I was able to dodge the bullets, but a few hit Maria in her leg causing her to buckle over. The door slid open and I pulled her in with me as the door shut immediately behind us. I threw my fist as hard as I could into the controls that would reopen it, hoping to buy us some time.

"I…looked at her as the blood from her leg began to soak her light blue dress. I couldn't find any words, and even in all of her pain, and of the noise of the intruders trying to break in, she still managed to smile at me, trying to reassure me everything will be alright.

"I helped her over to the main controls and she pressed a few buttons. I wasn't sure as to what she was doing but when one of them lit up green, she bent down and hugged me as hard as she could, ignoring the pain that shot through her body more when she did so. I didn't want to let go. All of the noises, the yelling, and the gun shots that sounded from the opposite side of the door didn't matter, I just wanted to hold her forever because I had a terrible feeling I wasn't going to be able to again." His voice faltered a bit at the end of his last sentence as his inner pain tried to stab through his words; but it only happened once. Sonic was somewhat amazed that he could tell a story like this and not breakdown right before his very eyes.

"She held onto me and kissed my forehead. Her eyes welled with tears as she looked at me for what seemed like the last time. She pushed me forward, I fell back, and she hit the green light on the panel, using the control station to support her weight since her leg was unable to do so. She was getting weaker; she was losing too much blood.

"The glass closed around me and I was encapsulated. I yelled for her. I knew what she was trying to do. She wanted to send me to earth, but I didn't want to go, not without her. The door burst open and I heard muffled demands to halt through the glass but my eyes never left her. She said…" He struggled to think, he could never usually remember what she had said to him. This part of the story was usually clouded in his mind.

Sonic placed his other hand on Shadow's opposite shoulder, turning him gently to face him versus the waterfall. "Think Shadow, what did she say?" His voice was soft.

Shadow didn't lift his eyes to look at the concerned; instead he kept them cast down in deep thought, trying desperately to remember her exact words. "She said…'for all…the people who live on that planet…give them a chance…to be…'" He looked up, towards the emerald eyes staring back at him, "'happy.'"

He turned back towards the fall and Sonic's hands dropped from his shoulders with his movement. He was so clouded with anger before that he couldn't remember her exact phrase. Every time he thought of this, he would usually stop and think of how much he wanted to murder all of those humans who did this to her. Now, he could remember those words from her very lips, he could picture it so well that it had to be right.

He continued, "After she said that, she moved to press another button to eject me from the space colony. I noticed a man raise a gun to her from the corner of my eye and I yelled for her one more time but it was too late."

He began to struggle with his words now but didn't attempt to stop, "The bullet…was shot through her forehead and she…collapsed to the floor instantly. A river of blood began seeping out from her skull, and her blonde hair turned crimson. I…looked into her once kind eyes that turned empty and lifeless as mine filled with tears of sorrow and hate. Then I…blacked out. I can't remember what happened afterwards."

His eyes were still fixated on the falls as if doing so would hold back tears. Only one slid down his cheek, over his expressionless face, but nothing more. He had never remembered that much of the tragedy before. His thoughts of it were usually just of her being murdered. The blue hedgehog popped into his mind. Had he helped in someway? He didn't really do anything, but he is the only one who had ever seemed so concerned about him. He said he could help return his memory, but Shadow didn't think he could help him with that part of his memory loss. This was odd and he couldn't put a finger on the reason to why he remembered.

"Shadow…"

The dark creature turned and looked at the blue one. Shadow's single tear was barely noticeable since both of their faces and fur were trickling droplets of water from the fall. He didn't say anything, he didn't know what to say. He just waited for his listener to speak now.

"I know you've been through a lot, and I know you have difficulty trusting others from what had happened. But, I honestly want to help you move on and find happiness again, but you can't do it alone, no matter how much you think you can."

"You remind me of her." He said immediately, almost interrupting Sonic. It hit him. He knew why he was able to open up to Sonic, why he didn't leave when he had the chance, why he didn't take the opportunity to try and murder him again…Sonic had a heart like Maria did.

Sonic was taken aback slightly and looked at Shadow somewhat confused. "What?"

"Maria. You're kind like her. She had a pure heart and wanted to make people happy, just like you are trying right now with me." He turned away from Sonic and directed his eyes to the falling crystal water again. "I'm ashamed now that I murdered all of those people. That's not what she would have wanted…How could I have been so blinded with such anger before?" He let his head fall. He actually began to feel that hatred again, but now it was towards himself.

Sonic wasn't sure what to say, which was a first, but he was never one that people turned to when something was emotionally bothering them. Everyone thought of him as the "jokester…" never taking anything seriously, but no one can be like that all of the time. He mentally kicked himself as the silence between the two became awkward. He tried to get something out, anything, "uh…"

"Thank you." Shadow said, looking up. His crimson eyes mirrored hurt but somehow relief shown through. "For not giving up on me."

Sonic smiled, and patted his friend on the back, "no prob! What are friends for?"

Shadow returned the smile. Friends? Yes, this could be the start of something interesting.