Running Up That Hill
The sky was as bright as the sun. The blue sky and the white clouds passing by like cotton-candy, the birds were singing songs that seemed like lullabies, and the beauty of the hills away made anyone want to sing how beautiful life was. It was truly a perfect day to be outside, there was FUN written in the sky and hope that irradiated with the high sun. The soothing wind caressed the trees, making some leaves fall and hit the bright grass.
It was truly a beautiful day.
He hated it.
Shadow the Hedgehog frowned as he stood, leaning of a tree, and watched the beautiful picture. It truly made him feel sick; he knew what kind of day was this. The day everybody smile at life and feel the warmth of the loved ones. They go out, play, picnics, laugh, laugh and more laugh. Shadow despised everyone that had a 'wonderful' life.
It disgusted him.
He envied them.
Shadow sighed. Every day of peace meant more happiness in the eyes of people, but not him. How could he be happy when everything that had to do with happiness reminded him of her? The black hedgehog tried to run away from Station Square very time he could. Lately, no emergencies, meant no GUN missions.
Still, Shadow would like to be in a mission rather than stare at the world with 'happy' eyes. It was not his thing. Being happy was not his thing. It didn't fit his style at all, not him. He was not meant to be happy, and he knew it, he had learned it the hard way, I suppose.
He hated his life. He was working with the people that took his happiness, killed his best friend and father, and incarcerated him for 50 years. But then, times change, as Black Doom would have said. Life was full of ironies, right? Working for GUN, working with GUN. But he was comfortable working with them…ironic right? He was an enigma even to himself.
Either he was masochist or depressive.
Shadow the Hedgehog had tried again and again to leave his past behind him. He tried after he defeated Devil Doom, but it was useless, his memories still plagued him. He was too attached to the past to leave it behind, and he hated himself for that. After all he suffered, he wanted to leave it all behind, but he couldn't. And until he left the past behind, he couldn't carry on.
Some things are better forgotten.
He had grown to despise Black Doom, even if he was dead now. Yes, the alien brought his memories back, showed him the past. But at what cost? Pain. Shadow would have rather stay oblivious of what happened before than remember the things that hurt him so much. Memories can be treasures, or they could be pain, that depends on the situation.
He wanted to forget, but it would be selfish.
He felt bad just of thinking of forgetting Maria, she would never forgive him. There was no way out, he was chained to chains pf never ending agony. Was he? There must be a way out of suffering; there is always a way out of anything. A flaw in the plan. But what could he do? Leaving all behind him and carry on sounded an impossible task for the Ultimate Lifeform.
Shadow closed his eyes, if there was something that truly made him smiled and yet mourn was one of the last memories he had of Maria. Once upon a time, over 50 years ago.
"What would it be, to be down there?", asked an innocent girl of yellow hair and beautiful sky blue eyes. She was young, and pure. Her eyes showed purity long extinct in the present, and she had the most angelical smile anyone would ever see.
The girl stared down at the beautiful globe, planet Earth. So many stories of evil and good in that world and she wanted to go. She wanted to meet new people and visit every place possible. She wanted to go to the sea, it was a dream.
It was her dream.
"I know, Maria", murmured Shadow the Hedgehog as he stared down at the globe, as his friend, "I guess it would be wonderful."
Maria nodded with a smiled, "Do you think we would be able to go someday?"
The black hedgehog sighed, "That's a good question. Maybe someday, when you're cured."
The blond girl sighed, "I hope…that someday, you and I will go there, met new people and be happy."
Shadow lifted an eyebrow, "Are you unhappy here?"
"Maybe just a little.", admitted Mari as she took her seat and stared at the globe, "Just a little."
"Maybe I could take you to Earth, someday. We'll see its wonders together, nothing will hurt you while I'm around. We'll see the sea, and see the horizon", said Shadow with a smile.
A smile was drawn in Maria's face, "Thank you Shadow."
"You're welcome, Maria. I would do anything or you, my friend. If I'm correct, the sea is as blue and beautiful as your eyes. Maria…", said Shadow with a cheerful smile.
"That's so sweet, Shadow!", exclaimed Maria in happiness, "Have you been reading poetry books again?"
Shadow laughed, "Maybe. After all, poetry is the gate to the soul of the humble and hopeful. To suck the juice of life itself. To delight the ones around us, our loved ones. Oh, poetry of mine!"
Both of them broke laughing. The bond of those two was tight, never to be broken…
(End of Flashback)
Shadow closed his eyes at the memory, it hurt him. It hurt him knowing that he was happy in the past and unhappy in the present. It was painful, disgusting. But if there was any memory that caused him such pain it was the pain of remembering the moment she died before him. How she sacrificed her short and innocent life to save someone who was born to do evil.
How could she?
"Promise me, Shadow, that you will give them a chance to be happy.", whispered Maria as she felt the bullet wound her heart. She gazed at the Ultimate Lifeform with a smile on her face.
Shadow opened his eyes in horror as he saw her dying face. Shadow knew that there was nothing he could do, he was trapped in the capsule; Maria trapped him. She was trying to save him.
"Maria, please…", begged Shadow with tears running down from his eyes, "Please."
The blond girl shook her head, "There is no chance for me…"
Shadow hit the glass that surrounded the capsule, but not matter what he did, the glass was unbreakable. But Shadow had to save Maria, "Maria!"
In her last breath, Maria shed tears and looked at her friend, "Promise me, Shadow, promise me you will give them a chance to be happy…"
(End of Flashback)
Shadow refused to cry, no more tears. He promised himself that whatever happened, he would no longer cry. It was not his style. Nevertheless, sometimes tears would flow on their own and there was little Shadow would do about it.
"Promise me you will give them a chance to be happy"
Maria's famous last words, and the foolish Shadow almost broke his promise. After his release by Dr. Eggman, he swore revenge on all mankind. He deceived Eggman in order to find the Chaos Emeralds and plan to seek revenge, forgetting the promise, and almost firing the Eclipse Cannon and destroying the entire Earth. It was Amy Rose, a pink hedgehog, who reminded him of Maria's last wish, using the exact same words. After that, he sought redemption when he joined forces with Super Sonic to defeat his brother, FinalHazard, once Biolizard. In that climatic battle, he could feel Maria within him; fighting for the Earth she loved so much, and yet, never visited. He fought for her and for the sea. Sadly, the battle ended in tragedy, as Shadow fell to the Earth, losing his Super Power. The only thing that was left of him was his bracelet that ended up in the hands of the infamous Sonic the Hedgehog.
Or rather famous, Sonic the Hedgehog.
I should have died.
Unfortunately for him, and not for the world, he survived. Eggman saved him before he truly hit the ground, and began experimenting with him, eventually ending up making robotic clones of himself. Eventually, a flaw in the plan of Eggman appeared, a flaw called Rogue the Bat. The bounty hunter, GUN agent, appeared in an abandoned base of Eggman, and eventually woke up Shadow and Omega from their slumber. Shadow woke up with complete amnesia, not knowing who he was, not even his name, told to him by Rogue. Then, Omega, Rogue and himself formed a team called the Team Dark, seeking for Eggman. Rogue for jewels, Omega for revenge and himself for answers. The only answer he received from him was that the base where he was sleeping was abandoned because of Metal Sonic. Nothing relevant to him, not really. They stopped Metal Overlord, but in the end, he ended up as empty handed as he begun.
It was until the Black Arms tried to invade Earth. Their leader, Black Doom, appeared before him and told him that the 'Day Of Reckoning' would be near, and that he needed to find the Chaos Emeralds for him if he wanted to truly know his past. Deceived, Shadow did so, running into both 'friends' and enemies. He slowly began unlocking the secrets of the past, and the truth about his birth was revealed. He was Black Doom's son in a way, but his loyalty would be to the professor Gerald and Maria, always. In the end, Shadow reemerged in the shape of Super Shadow and defeated his so called 'progenitor', who turned into a beast called the Devil Doom, a fitting name. After that, The Commander offered him to join GUN, in apology for his bad treatment and for Maria's friendship. With not true cause of living anymore, Shadow decided that it was the only option he had left, so he agreed.
Shadow lifted his eyes and watched the hills, all his vengeance desires were gone and yet he couldn't be happy, it was a chain of agony that was tied to him. He knew he could will the pain away, but he didn't have a strong will like others. He was strong and weak at the same time, ironic, again.
Sometimes, the Ultimate Lifeform felt weak, alone. That was his flaw, he trusted no people, he was still depressed and he tended to be aggressive and violent. Destruction was his therapy out of sorrow and loneliness, his relaxing technique. Not very good for others, but still, destruction make him feel good with himself. Still, he wished there was something else that would make him happy. People that cared about him.
The Sonic Heroes considered him a friend, but he couldn't see them any more than acquaintances, he did not really saw them as friends, just as occasional allies and sometimes a rock in his shoe. Yet, there was something about them, something special, but somehow Shadow didn't want to see that specialty…whatever it was. He was an outcast, a lone wolf, and that wouldn't change.
Let them be, they have their things and I have mine.
Then Shadow felt what could have been a comforting breeze, a soft wind that caressed his face, a wind that felt good. Maybe too good. It wasn't a normal breeze, it was familiar.
Shadow sighed. Ugh, it's him…
The blue hedgehog, worshiped by many, appeared in front of the hedgehog labeled as 'The Ultimate Lifeform'. He had that annoying smile in his face and eyes full of joy and adventure spirit. Shadow frowned at the smile of his 'acquaintance'. For him, Sonic was just an annoying pest that would bug him every time they found each other. Sure they were allies, but in Shadow's opinion, he wasn't a 'friend'.
Sonic and Shadow were opposite poles. Everything one had, the other lacked. In Sonic case, it was a good thing he wasn't like Shadow, and for the dark hedgehog, it would do some good have some of the properties the hero had. He wasn't just famous for saving the world constantly; he was also famous for his cheerful, laid back, extroversive, charismatic personality. Shadow, having saved the world a couple of times, was kind of famous, but not well liked because of his introversive, loner, quiet and sometimes volatile personality.
"What do you want?", asked Shadow coldly, trying to look away.
Sonic stepped beside him and leaned himself to Shadow, placing his elbow in Shadow's back, "Fancy running into you here, huh?"
Shadow pushed Sonic away from him and frowned once again, "I wouldn't call it 'fancy'."
The blue hedgehog giggled, "Well, I would, I mean, we rarely talk to each other outside the 'save the world, kick the bad guy's butt' business. It would be nice to have some friend to friend chat."
"Is it that, or you have nothing else to do?", asked Shadow, raising an eyebrow.
Sonic let out a laugh, "Maybe both."
The blue hedgehog sighed and stared at the hills, "Beautiful, aren't them?"
"Do you really want my opinion?", asked Shadow with a frown.
Sonic smirked, "I wouldn't ask otherwise."
"How deep", said Sonic with a laugh.
Shadow looked at his 'acquaintance' and sighed, "What were you doing running in here, anyway?"
"Green Hills gets kind of boring sometimes, besides, I still need to get in shape, y'know? I need to run to keep in line.", said Sonic proudly.
"You run all day long, for God's sake!", exclaimed Shadow exasperated. The talk wasn't getting them anywhere.
Sonic smiled, "Well, here's my personal motto: Sonic's the name, speed's my game!"
Shadow sighed, "Whatever."
The blue hedgehog sighed as well, "Gee Shadow, you're less talkative today, not that you're talkative at all but still…"
"I've got some things on my mind.", said Shadow, looking at the sky.
Sonic smiled, "You always have something in your mind."
"I think a lot, unlike you", said Shadow with neutrality.
Sonic pouted mockingly, "I can be a deep thinker!"
The blue hedgehog lay down in the grass and enjoyed the soft wind that caressed his face, "Don't you like this peace?"
"With you here, I would hardly call this 'peace', said Shadow.
Sonic chuckled, "Shadow, my friend, you should relax for once."
"With you here, I can't", said Shadow looking at him with a frown.
The blue hedgehog, for once, sighed exasperated, "I know what you're trying to do, but you're not going to 'annoy me' away. Ha! I'm that smart and cheerful."
"Listen Sonic, your company doesn't exactly makes me happy, so go to hell, move your little ass!", said Shadow with a dangerous look. Doesn't this thickhead ever shut up?
"I'm just trying to have a deep conversation with you!", exclaimed Sonic with a frown as well.
Shadow snorted, "Everything that comes out from your mouth is anything but 'deep'."
Sonic sighed, "Listen Shadow, I'm going to do my 'good deed of the day' and bring a smile on your face, wherever you like it or not! I mean, you only smile when you're kicking someone's butt."
Shadow grimaced in annoyance, "Well, I'm going to kick yours if you don't get out of my sight in the next 5 seconds! 1."
"Come on, mate."
"I know what's next, 6!"
"Get out of my sight, you blue pest! Now!"
Shadow sighed exasperated and massaged his temples, "You're not going to leave me alone until I listen to you, am I right?"
The Ultimate Lifeform sat beside him and sighed, "Ok then, talk. I'll pretend that I am listening."
The blue hedgehog sighed, "Shadow, I only want to be good friends with you; I've known you for what, 2 years? And you still don't want to get close to any of us. Why?"
"I'm not interested in being your friend, Sonic.", said Shadow coldly as he lifted a knew and leaned his arm over it.
The hero frowned at the antihero, another ironic pun. As it was said, they were opposite poles. It wasn't out of boredom; Sonic really did want to talk to him. Shadow never let out what he was feeling, that was not healthy. He knew Shadow didn't considered him a friend, even less the others, but the blue hedgehog was determined to change that, he would not let Shadow live a miserable life, not after all he's done for them, "Shadow, come on, can you for once unfroze yourself?"
Sonic sighed, "Why are you so afraid of letting out your feelings?"
"I'm not afraid of anything!", exclaimed the black hedgehog as he gave Sonic a dangerous look once again, "I am not!"
The blue hedgehog knew he had to be careful when talking about and with Shadow, "Shad, I know you are…deep down…"
"You don't know me at all, pest!", exclaimed Shadow again with poison in his voice and a look that said 'watch your mouth'.
Sonic sat up and looked at his acquaintance seriously, something uncharacteristic of him, "I do know you Shadow."
"If you knew me so well, then you would know that you're about to 'dance in fire'", said Shadow with a stern look.
Sonic shook his head, "I know you so well that I know that you won't really hurt me, Shad."
"Try me, and stop calling me 'Shad'."
Sonic pouted, "Fine."
There was an awkward silence for a minute. Shadow was getting more uncomfortable at the presence of Sonic. The Ultimate Lifeform had never felt so unprotected; it was like he feared that a conversation like this would come. How was he supposed to kick Sonic if the latter just wanted to help him? Shadow was mean, but not evil, not anymore.
"Shadow, why don't you want to be a friend of us?", asked the blue hedgehog slowly.
Shadow looked down, "Friends are only a waste of time, and heart."
Sonic shook his head, "You know that's not true, I know you know better."
That was it, Shadow was about to punch Sonic in the face but instead, growled in anger with poison in his eyes, "Listen to me, if you're going to talk about Maria, you must be really careful of what you're going to say next!"
The other nodded, "Listen, Shadow. You might not like what I'm about to say but…you must carry on…"
Shadow turned away from him, "You don't know how I feel."
"You're right, I don't. But that doesn't mean I don't understand.", said Sonic solemnly.
Shadow was angry, "Why did you come? To make me feel more miserable?"
"I've come to help you, Shadow.", said Sonic with a serious look, yet with a faint smile.
"I don't need help, jackass.", said Shadow with rage.
Sonic shook his head, "Yes, you do Shadow."
The black hedgehog knew he was cornered, "Fine. Tell me what you want to say."
The blue one nodded, "Shadow, answer me this. Do you care about someone?"
Hard question, Shadow wasn't prepared for that. He couldn't sort out his own feelings, even less focus them on a person. Of course he cared about some, but he had a pride to keep untouchable.
"Rogue.", that was Shadow's only answer. It was true; he did care about Rogue a lot. She was the only person he considered a friend, someone who truly cared about him and the other way around. If there was someone he could rely on, it was the batgirl.
Sonic nodded, "How much you care about her?"
The Ultimate Lifeform thought carefully before answering, "She...she is like my sister."
"Wow, that's deep. Tails is like my little brother. Man, I really love that kid.", said Sonic happily.
Shadow raised an eyebrow, "How much?"
The blue hedgehog sighed, "I've known Tails since he was a little fox. Since I met him, I knew I would always care about him, I was meant to protect him. We love each other as siblings, even if we aren't. I will always care and protect Tails, and I know he will do the other way around. We are that kind of friends, true friendship. Of course I'm best friends with Knuckles, Amy and Cream, but Tails will always have a special place in my heart. Is that how you truly feel about Rogue?"
"I…", began Shadow. He was confused; he knew Sonic's friendship with Tails was more than special. He knew he didn't felt like that way with Rogue. Rogue was the only person he truly cared a bout and yet he didn't felt like his feelings were strong enough. He had heard the batgirl speak how much he meant to her, but many times Shadow would never reply, even if Rogue had freed him from the capsule in Eggman's base and aided him always. It was true that the Ultimate Lifeform was so scared to get attached?
Sonic sighed, "Don't answer if you don't want to."
"No, I…I don't think I love Rogue that much.", said Shadow in shame. After all they've been through, still he didn't cared about Rogue that much?
The hero sighed again, "Guessed as much."
Shadow frowned, "Sonic, why don't you just…go away? It's useless to try."
Sonic smirked, "Maybe not."
The black hedgehog was now really annoyed, "You are trying to make a rock laugh! I have no heart, ok? I only care for Rogue and in a really limited way. You're not going to change who I am, you're not going to make me as lovably as you are. I hate myself, and you're not going to make it any better!"
"Of course I can!", exclaimed the blue hedgehog with hope in his eyes, "You don't have to be miserable for the rest of your life!"
"Watch me", replied Shadow. Why did he push the hero away? Shadow knew Sonic's intentions were pure and kind, but Shadow felt vulnerable when fighting heart to heart.
"Shadow, do you care about Amy?", asked the blue hedgehog, and once again Shadow lowered his guard. Amy. The Ultimate Lifeform once again felt confused. Believe it or not, Amy Rose was the one that caused Shadow an epiphany in the battle against Biolizard. The pink hedgehog muttered a phrase that made his heart do a 360º spin.
"Shadow, please, give them a chance to be happy."
After that, Shadow shed a single tear as he remembered Maria's last wish, and joined Sonic in saving the world from the falling Space Colony Ark. Shadow might not remember that always, but he owed Amy that much. After all, Shadow promised Maria AND Amy to save the world and fulfill the promise.
The Ultimate Lifeform would always remember that, and Amy. He sighed, "I forgot about her, but you're right. She did something meaningful to me, and I owe it to her, but I don't know if I actually care about her at all. Drop it, Sonic."
Sonic looked down, "Just one more question."
"Do you care about me?"
Shadow's eyes opened wide. Now, that was an unexpected question, and hard to answer. Did he cared about Sonic the Hedgehog? Did he felt at least something for him? Shadow didn't know how to answer that particular question. He had never really talked with Sonic outside battles, but now. Shadow did was grateful with the blue hedgehog regarding the final battle with Final Hazard. And even after his return, the blue one has been really faithful. No matter which path he took, Sonic was reliable. Shadow realized he cared about Sonic, if he didn't, he wouldn't have aided him in battling Metal Overlord.
The Ultimate Lifeform sighed and swallowed his pride, "I do."
Those two words drew a smile in Sonic's face, "I knew it, Shadow. See, you have no heart of stone at all."
"Is that supposed to make me happy?", asked Shadow with sarcasm and raising an eyebrow.
Sonic nodded, "Yeah, because you DO have a heart."
"Yeah right, it's a really little heart then. You're not going to make me happy, Sonic.", murmured Shadow.
"Well, Shadow, you asked for it. Time to take drastic measures.", said Sonic, and that made Shadow lift his guard again. What is this jackass planning?
Sonic stood up and…hugged him? As soon as Sonic embraced the dark hedgehog, Shadow felt his face heat up in embarrassment, but also, he felt something he hadn't felt in a while, not since Maria. He felt warm in his heart.
The blue hedgehog pulled back and gave Shadow a reassuring smile. Shadow was stunned, "Why did you do that?!"
"Because, Shadow, you're my friend and I care about you.", said Sonic smiling.
Shadow looked down in shame, "Sonic, I…"
The blue hedgehog smiled, "Tell me Shadow, does this phrase has some special meaning for you? 'Give them a chance to be happy'."
The Ultimate Lifeform gasped, amazed, "How did you…"
"Amy told me that the moment she muttered those words, you shed a tear and promised to stop the Ark from falling. Does that phrase has a special meaning for you?", asked Sonic slowly.
Shadow felt his eyes water and looked down, "Those were…Maria's last words, her last wish. I promised…"
Sonic looked at him with soft eyes and placed his hands over Shadow's forearms, "Shadow, Maria was good person that wanted everyone to be happy, including you, especially you. You already gave mankind a 'chance to be happy', now it's time you give yourself a chance to be happy too."
The Ultimate Lifeform gasped and shed a few tears. Sonic was right. He did gave mankind a chance to be happy by saving them from FinalHazard and Devil Doom, now it was his turn to be happy. Maria wanted this, his happiness. He's been to busy weeping over the past and yet he didn't really listened what he needed to listen. He's been blinding himself and being foolish. He might have been created with evil, but he was good. That was a reason to smile, right?
Sonic's a fool. A good fool. A friend. I'm so idiot…
"But Sonic, I was created by evil...I…", began Shadow sadly.
Sonic kept his smile intact, "That doesn't mean you're evil, you've proven yourself as a good person more than once."
Shadow smiled, "You're right…"
I've been a fool, how could I not see it? Sonic's right, I do deserve to be happy, that's what Maria wanted. I'm going to try to leave my past behind me, for Rogue…for Sonic…for Maria…for my friends. Then, flashes of Knuckles, Amy, Cream and even Omega appeared in his mind, they were waving at him. And Rogue, the batgirl that was his true friend. Shadow felt a genuine smile being drawn in his mouth. And Sonic…
"You're right, Sonic."
Sonic nodded, "Oh, and one last thing."
The blue hedgehog smiled, "Only one with a pure heart can achieve a Super Form with the Chaos Emeralds. And since you can, that means you're pure at heart after all."
Shadow nodded with a smile, "Thanks Sonic."
Finally, Shadow the Hedgehog felt truly happy, all this time and he was so blind. But now he would start over.
Sonic smiled, "So, Shadow, what about a race running up that hill?"
Shadow nodded and smiled genuinely, "You bet, friend."
"You do know you're challenging the Fastest Creature Alive! Right?", exclaimed Sonic cheerfully.
Shadow smirked, "Well then, I'm the Ultimate Lifeform."
"Well, then let's do it!", exclaimed Sonic happily.
Shadow then softened his eyes and gave Sonic a quick squeeze in the shoulder, "Thanks Sonic, my friend."
The blue hedgehog nodded and returned the gesture with a smile, "Welcome Shad."
They looked at each other and smirked, "So…"
"Ready", began Sonic preparing to run.
"Set", continued Shadow with a smirk.
With that, the two super sonic creatures began their race, with the sunset in their background. Finally Shadow the Hedgehog will give happiness a try. He won't be the blossom of happiness for one day to another, no, it will take some time, but this was a start…