Chapter Eleven: The Fortress of Ultimate Darkness

Chapter Eighteen: Unimpeded Love

Shadow gently flew over to Knuckles, and helped him to the Master Emerald.

"Try and seal the porthole on my cue" Shadow told the weary echidna.

Knuckles nodded, too tired to care anymore that someone he hated was giving him instructions.

Shadow then approached the place where Mephiles had stood before his destruction;

A large, orb-shaped flame hovered there. It roared faintly at Shadow.

"Not so tough now, eh Iblis?" Shadow mocked, and used Chaos Energy to grab Iblis and hurl him into the hole.

"Knuckles, now!" Shadow ordered.

Knuckles gathered up his remaining energy, and sealed it shut, the task much easier than opening it.

Shadow nodded: all was in order now.

Silver, Blaze, Espio, the G.U.N. agents and Omega, meanwhile, had finished their opponents. Shadow flew over to them.

"Well fought, Shadow" Espio said with a ghost of a smile. "I couldn't have done better."

Silver nodded in agreement. "Let's just hope that's the last we hear of Iblis" he said exasperatedly.

"Amen" Shadow said without expression. "Now come here; some of these guys need medical attention."

Everyone rushed over to Sonic, Amy, Rouge and Knuckles. Sonic was hurt the worst, and they patched him up as best they could. Amy insisted she come with them and watch over Sonic.

"Well, I dunno..." a G.U.N. agent (trained in medicine) said. "He'll need plenty of rest..."

"No... it's alright" Sonic insisted. "I'd like her there... we need to Ouch spend time together anyway, eh?"

Amy smiled at him, and hugged him gently.

Shadow just rolled his eyes.

Rouge was okay, and Knuckles just needed some help to be escorted out from his exhaustion.

Shadow had nearly forgotten Tails, and spoke to him over the comm. "Tails?"

"Yeah?" the fox asked.

"It's over; we've beaten Mephiles" Shadow reported.

"AWESOME!!" Tails exclaimed over the link, making Shadow flinch. "Is everyone okay?"

"Sonic has some broken bones, but he'll be okay. Other than that, we're all just tired" Shadow answered.

"Okay. Oh, by the way, we beat the Egg Fleet!" Tails reported.

"Really?" Shadow said, not sounding as pleased as he really was by this news.

"Yeah! It was awesome; I hacked into a dozen different ships of theirs, and took control of them by using a copy of the signal they were all obeying! Then, while they occupied the other ships, our fleet caught them off guard and decimated them! Only about ten escaped! Then, the ships returned in time to defend a sneak attack from some Black Arms fortresses, that-"

"Yeah, yeah, that's great" Shadow grumbled and closed off the link.

Rouge was still there, staring into the night sky. She faced Shadow and smiled.

"You did good, Shad" Rouge said, walking up to him. "Maybe even your best."

Shadow smiled back. "You weren't bad either" he pointed out.

"I'm never bad!" Rouge said teasingly.

They both looked up at the sky as it became brighter and the stars began to fade from the sky. Shadow put an arm around her and Rouge rested her head on Shadow's chest.

"I love the night sky" Rouge said in a soft voice. "There's so much more to it... it makes me feel like I'm looking at the most beautiful diamonds in the universe, and I can look at them whenever I want..."

Shadow smiled down at her and gently ran a hand over Rouge's hair. The hedgehog still gleamed with his Super Energy...

"Rouge, I wanna show you something..." Shadow whispered.

"Hmm? What?" Rouge asked curiously.

"Hold on" Shadow said, and picked her up.

"Shadow, what-?" Rouge had time to ask before Shadow flew into the sky at high speed.

At first, Rouge was shocked, but got used to the feeling and started laughing in joy as the air rushed past her and knocked her hair back.

Then, they were above the planet's atmosphere, and Rouge almost gasped at the sight before her.

Stars where everywhere, and the planet before them glowed... and Rouge could still see the details... the mountains they'd just left...

"Ever looked at the planet from this distance?" Shadow asked.

"Well... almost, on the ARK, but not quite this close... yet so far..." Rouge admitted.

She was silent, and then said; "...It's beautiful..."

Shadow nodded.

"Very beautiful..."

But Rouge realized Shadow was looking at her, not the surrounding scenery...

Rouge smiled, and she moved for his lips.

Shadow leaned forward as well, and they kissed.

Shadow cradled Rouge closely, holding her firmly yet gently.

The kiss became passionate; the two lovers explored each other's mouths, enjoying every moment of their shared, fiery passion.

Finally, they broke the kiss, and looked each other deeply in the eyes.

Rouge nuzzled Shadow's white chest fur, and purred.

"Shadow... I think I'm about to fall asleep" Rouge said, her eyelids becoming heavy.

Shadow gently stroked Rouge's cheek.

"Then sleep, Rouge" Shadow said soothingly, lovingly. "I'll fly you home, my jewel... my love..."

Rouge blinked. "...Love?" she whispered.

Shadow nodded, never more certain in his life. "Yes. I love you, Rouge" he said sincerely.

Rouge smiled at Shadow. "After all we've been through together, Shadow... I love you too, I'm certain of it..."

Shadow kissed Rouge's forehead, smiling, and flew her home.

Shadow took Rouge's house-key from her pocket, locked the door behind them, and carried Rouge to her room.

She was already fast asleep.

Shadow smiled at her, and his Super Energy finally depleted.

Shadow gently lay Rouge on the bed, and tucked her in. Then Shadow removed his fire-skates, and crawled into bed next to her, and embraced his new official lover.

Rouge subconsciously put an arm around Shadow and snuggled up to him.

Shadow returned the embrace.

"Good night, my love" he whispered, and fell asleep in a loving embrace.