"I can't believe you're going with them."

Sonic stared at the black hedgehog with something akin to disgust plainly evident on his face. Shadow had his back to him, head bowed and hands clenched into fists at his sides. The black creatures were retreating back up into space, having pulled back for some unknown reason. Now that Shadow had revealed he was going with them, Sonic had a fair idea of why that was happening.

"I can't deny it anymore, Sonic." Shadow's voice was barely a whisper, shaking his head as he turned side-on to look at his rival. "Professor Gerald created me to be something of a servant for them, with the promise he made to Black Doom. I can't deny it that I don't enjoy causing destruction and pain the way they do."

"Shadow..." The blue hero was silenced by a finger being placed on his lips, looking surprised as he glanced into crimson eyes. There was so much emotion hidden in those depths...how could Shadow believe he was anything like those black aliens?

"Don't say anything," he whispered, pulling Sonic towards him. "I made up my mind. I managed to convince Black Doom that he has no need for this planet...not yet."

When he had first laid eyes on the heroic one, something similar to a lost puppy had flashed through his mind. Yes; Sonic Hedgehog was a young pup, lost and alone in a cold, cruel world; battered and bruised from being pulled this way and that by others, never allowed to make his own decisions.

Shadow decided that when he returned – he didn't know when that would be but he knew he would – he would free Sonic from their idealistic views, free him from the bloody chains binding him to the ground and allow him to spread those ebony wings tainted with innocence at last. Sonic was just as much of a fallen angel as he himself was – both of them had fallen from grace in more ways than one and together...

...Together they could accomplish so much more.

Sonic's eyes widened as the black hedgehog placed a kiss on his lips, free hand wrapping around his waist and tugging him closer so their hips met, the other twining with his own hand. He hadn't been expecting Shadow to do this at all, the rational part of his mind screamed as he – after a moment's hesitation – sighed and resigned himself to the tongue that was probing for permission. Shadow hummed something that sounded like appreciation as he slipped inside, brushing gently against Sonic's own tongue before he pulled away.

Hm; was it just him or did Sonic look a bit disappointed? The arm surrounding the blue hedgehog's waist moved up, thumb and forefinger caressing the other's cheek as he let out a blissful sigh and closed his eyes, leaning into the caress. Shadow smirked a little before he pulled away, not missing the protesting whine from the other as he turned to go.

"Will I...see you again, Shadow?" There was an all-too-noticeable pink blush staining Sonic's cheeks as he wrapped his arms around himself, looking forlornly at the other hedgehog.

"Someday, maybe. Who knows?" He turned to face him, for once giving a true genuine smile. "I'll come back for you. Until then, wait for me won't you? Don't go getting yourself killed or anything."

This was getting too awkward for Sonic's tastes – must have been because of that kiss, he decided. He nodded, smiling sadly. "I'll wait." Shadow then disappeared, and he looked up into the skies of Station Square as the black-red clouds began to disperse with the Black Arms' leaving. "I'll wait forever," he whispered, unaware of the single tear falling from his eyes.

Even Angels Fall
Chapter I
Written by Takato Metallium
Plot: Based on the Shadow the Hedgehog game, AU, slash (Shadonic, Vecpio). Sonic's been waiting for him ever since he left with the Black Arms. Now Shadow has returned...and things will never be the same. DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T LIKE SLASH.
Disclaimer: I disclaim all rights to Sonikku-tachi. They belong to SEGA, Sonic Team, others. I only own these versions, the fic, the idea and not much else next to a Shadow plushie.

It had been five years, Sonic realised as he made his way through Westopolis' Central Park, pulling his jacket around himself tighter. It was winter and the city had just entered a cold snap last night so it was particularly freezing out today. Snowflakes fell from a sky that had once – five years ago – been covered in angry black and crimson clouds that heralded the arrival of the Black Arms.

Looking around, he sighed and sank himself into a park bench, hugging himself as he stared at the spot he still recognised as the last time he'd seen Shadow and when they had...kissed. He'd gone through countless relationships since then – with both males and females alike – but he had never actually slept with any of them. None of the kisses he'd shared with anyone else had been anything like the heart stopping one Shadow had given him before leaving; none of them had that 'special' air about them that made him think that, just maybe, he could be happy with them.

No. Like it or not, Shadow had been – was – his chosen mate. He would never be happy with anyone else. That was something Rouge had said to him when she commented on his endless list of former boyfriends and girlfriends; the female bat had some insight into just what had happened the day Shadow left.

At least Amy hadn't been all that upset when he'd told her he thought of her as more of a sister than anything else. He often found himself at her place after a bad break-up where she would listen and offer comfort in the form of a tub of mint cookies-n-cream ice cream they both shared a liking for. She had a long-standing relationship with Tails now, going on three years actually.

Knuckles had finally decided to move down to the surface with the rest of them, having grown sick and tired of being alone under the duty his ancestors had upheld for generations. He still kept an annoyingly close watch on the Master Emerald thanks to a handy little viewing device Tails whipped up for him. According to Rouge, it was unpleasant as hell on a date but the echidna had become less paranoid over the last five years and was starting to leave the mini-viewer at home.

Eggman had given up the mad-doctor scheme. Yes; after all those endless years of cocky banter and fighting and whatnot, Eggman had admitted defeat and even formed something of a...friendship with Sonic's little group. He now owned a small 24-hour cafe in downtown Westopolis that the gang gathered to meet at sometimes and had hired on the Chaotix as staff when they weren't working a case – which was never.

Speaking of the Chaotix; Vector and Espio had revealed their relationship after Westopolis – formally a very homophobic city – had legalised gay marriages two years ago under its new mayor. The detectives were now expecting, thanks to one of Eggman's little cloning devices, and had legally adopted Charmy since the bee's own parents had died when he was a child. It was a rather strange family when you added Eggman to the picture, who had become something of a surrogate uncle to all three of them, and the atmosphere when all four of them were in the same room together gave a more 'homely' feeling to the cafe.

Sonic sighed and leaned his head back against the bench, staring up into the sky as though he expected something to happen. With Eggman retired, nobody had bothered to pop up and take his place, which left life as boring as it came. He was hoping – hoping with all his will – that this would be the year Shadow would come back and sweep him into his arms and tell him he was loved...

Oh yeah, he had it all planned out. He found it rather silly and just plain...girlie himself but it was pretty much all that there was to do around here. Amy had once said that that was how she used to pass the time when she had a crush on him and said it was just the way you thought when you were in love – no two ways about it.

"Sonic? What're you doing all the way out here?"

He titled his head forward and sat up properly to find Espio in front of him with paper bags in hand, looking a little concerned. The chameleon was dressed from head to toe in winter gear – being a cold-blooded reptile and all – and looked as though he was just heading back to the cafe across the park. Sonic shrugged and stood, hands in the pockets of his jacket.

"Nothing much, really. You know – the usual. What about you?"

"Groceries." He sighed, shaking his head as he hefted his packages. "Between the four of us, we're out of food halfway through the week. I keep dreading what it'll be like when the baby's matured enough to come out of stasis."

"How much farther along?" Sonic offered to take some of the bags from him, which Espio looked grateful for and the two of them continued the long trek across the park. The chameleon smiled the first genuine smile Sonic had seen in ages, a look of pure bliss on his face.

"Almost a month now. Eggman says it'll be a little more than that because she's not naturally born but Vector and I think we're ready for parenting, what with Charmy and all."

The blue hedgehog could tell Espio enjoyed talking about his future daughter, offering a congratulating smile. "Thought of any names yet?"

The other shrugged, moving his head in a 'so-so' motion. "Well, I've always rather liked the name Martina. Vector says I'm out of my mind for wanting to call our child that but it's gotta be better than 'Kneecaps'." He noticed Sonic's confused yet amused expression. "Knuckles' little brother. His mother called him Knecapeon Mace; they call him Kneecaps for short. It's about the worst name I've ever heard for a kid."

"I didn't know Knux had a brother." Sonic looked thoughtful for a moment. "For that matter, I didn't think his mother was still alive." He felt a little twinge of anger at being left out on such an important part of his best friend's life but figured the red echidna had his own reasons for keeping his family a secret.

"Don't tell him I told you this, but..." Espio sighed, shaking his head. "...Knuckles never mentioned it because he didn't want them to get caught up in the danger we all faced five years ago. I only know about them because I'm originally from Angel Island and have known him since we were kids. He's fiercely protective of his family – makes me wonder what he'll be like when he and Rouge finally get together."

Sonic chuckled as they finally reached the small cafe. "I don't even want to think about that. He'll probably rip our heads off if any of our kids upset his own."

The chameleon turned to him, smiling a little. "Knuckles isn't like that. Not really. Why don't you come in for a while? It's freezing out there." He noticed Sonic's wavering expression. "C'mon; you helped me with the groceries. The least you can do is let me offer you a free hot chocolate."

"Hot chocolate sounds good right now, actually. Thanks." Sonic sighed, pushing the door to the Eggman Cafe open with his body and letting the other enter first before stepping inside himself and closing it with his foot.

"Three sugar and two heaped teaspoons of hot chocolate, right?" Espio asked as he looked over his shoulder at the blue hedgehog, setting his lot of groceries on the counter and stepping up to the beverage machine. He had long ago memorised the group's drink preferences but waited to receive a nod before starting while Sonic took a seat on one of the counter stools.

"So where's everyone else?"

Espio looked at the clock before thinking. "Charmy's in school right now and Eggman should be in the garage working on something. Vector...I don't know, really. He's normally around here. Probably snoozing on the couch out back in front of the TV." He glanced over his shoulder again at the hedgehog. "Since the cold snap last night, we figured no one would really be out so we closed up shop for the day."

Sonic laughed a little, linking his hands so he could rest his chin on them. "You'll make a great mother." The chameleon stuttered a bit with wide amber eyes, which made him laugh harder. "Sorry, sorry. Couldn't resist saying that."

Espio shrugged as he handed the mug of hot chocolate over, his embarrassment over and done with. "Someone has to worry about them. Might as well be me." He watched Sonic drink for a moment, sitting himself down behind the counter. "You were waiting for him again, weren't you?" Green eyes looked at him from behind the rim of the mug and he jerked his head in the direction of the park. "Out there. You were waiting for Shadow again."

"Is it that obvious?" He sighed, setting the mug down and looking forlornly into the murky brown liquid. "I just..." He shook his head, looking away. "I really believe this is the year he'll come back. Something...in my soul...something clicked into place when he kissed me back then. Like the final part of my life's puzzle was being connected to the rest. Get what I'm saying?"

The chameleon stared for a moment before rubbing his temples and muttering something to himself. "It's impossible. No one's ever been able to really find the one they're destined for... Not even Vector and I..."

"What are you talking about?" Sonic raised an eyebrow, once again taking a sip from his mug as he studied his frowning companion.

Espio looked at him as he started to put the groceries away. "Everyone and everything on this planet is destined for one and only one other. People spend their entire lives searching and they never find their other half. Not even Vector and I are each other's true pair. There are those few – those very lucky few – who find their chosen mate before they die."

He blinked, looking confused when realization dawned on him. "Are you saying...that Shadow and I are...?"

"It's all part of the grand design." Espio waved a hand as he interrupted, continuing to talk as though Sonic wasn't there. "We all have a mate somewhere out there; most of us just can't be bothered to try and find that special someone. You, Sonic, are different. You and Shadow were compatible right from the very start."

"Wait, wait, wait." Sonic put down his mug and waved his hands about, making the other stop and look at him. "Since when are you such an expert on love and stuff?"

The chameleon had the decency to blush lightly as he realised he'd been babbling, scratching his cheek in embarrassment. "Ah...well, my mother was a fortune-teller sorceress. She left her things to me when she died and I...read through them when I'm incredibly bored. Lately they've just seemed so interesting..."

The hedgehog shook his head, taking another long sip of his hot chocolate to calm down before continuing. "Never mind. Forget I asked."

The door of the small cafe took that moment to open and Espio turned around, ready to comment that they weren't open and kicking himself for not flipping the sign to CLOSED when his eyes widened slightly. Noticing Sonic's currently vacant expression that told him the blue hero's mind was elsewhere, he leaned over the counter to tap him on the shoulder, making Sonic jerk his head up with a questioning look on his face. Turning in his seat to follow the chameleon's pointed finger, he found himself taken by the shoulders and kissed by whoever it was who had just entered the cafe.

His eyes trailed over what he could see of the newcomer, his face scrunching up in surprise as he saw jet-black fur and crimson streaks in wayward quills. The kiss was over before he could respond and his fingers were linked with those of the other's hands. "Sh-Shadow?" he whispered, eyes widening as a smile curled on the other hedgehog's face.

"I told you I'd be back for you..."

End of chapter one