Maybe One Day
Summary: Espio is a Chameleon and a ninja, so he has many secrets, and Knuckles is getting closer to finding out one secret in particular. However, until he does, Espio will remain silent in the background, standing by his side.
Pairings: None really, unless you squint really hard.
Disclaimer: I don't own the series Sonic the Hedgehog or any character associated with this franchise.
Warnings: Espio the Chameleon is portrayed as female in gender in this story. I'm well aware that he's really a guy; I don't need to be informed.
AN: Hello everyone. I've decided to try another chapter to this story. Not sure if I should add any pairings, what do you, my wonderful readers, think I should do? I don't mind either way. Just let me know, ok?
Thank you very much; CleverPhoenix and GIGA-XISBASS for reviewing the first chapter. And again to everyone else who has placed this story on their fave and alert lists. I would appreciate it if you left a little comment about why you like this story, if you don't mind. That way I can improve on my writing skills and maybe incorporate more of what you like. Thank you so much in advance.
Someone was staring at her again. She could feel their eyes trying desperately to look through her, yet that glare was not from someone she was familiar with, instead they came from someone that intimidated her with his mysterious and intense power.
Why on Mobius, or anywhere else for that matter, was Shadow glaring at her, she simply could not fathom. But it was incredibly unnerving.
Everything about the dark Hedgehog intimidated her and oddly enough, infuriated her. He was cool and smooth in everything he did, making every battle he encountered appear effortless on his part.
No one should be that cool and calm all the time, especially someone who didn't train countless years as a ninja to keep their emotions in check. She was well aware of his circumstances of how he came to be, however one's past never mattered much to her; it was all about integrity and skill.
So, despite Shadow being infuriating and intimidating, she held a sense of begrudging admiration and respect for him as well; he was a talented warrior through and through.
But the way he was sitting at the other end of the board table, his elbows on the table in front of him, his hand folded immaculately under his chin as he blatantly stared at her really got under her skin.
She'd just wished that this meeting was over with already.
The day had started out normally enough. Espio had accompanied Knuckles to a meeting with the Freedom Fighters here on Mobius. She always accompanied him to such matters, not entirely sure why though. She's still glad that he would ask her to join him nonetheless. She was not one for long, sometimes heated conversation about the welfare of the Island and Mobius, but she was glad to feel useful, for that was all she ready wanted.
To be of some use to Knuckles.
He and Sally were doing most of the talking as Sonic was fidgeting rather boisterously in the background. She did not understand why Princess Sally insisted that Sonic accompanied her to such meetings; she knew that these seatings bored the blue hedgehog to tears.
She could somewhat under Sonic's boredom, for someone who wanted things done here and now, and as fast as possible, such talking's like this would be torture for the self-dubbed 'fastest thing alive'. He liked to get physically into the action, Espio herself sometimes preferring that as well.
However, the meeting took a turn for the strange when as they were about to enter the meeting room that they always entered when they were discussing important matter, when none other than Shadow the Hedgehog made an appearance. He just meandered into sight, strutting around like he owned the place.
He very clearly didn't, but no one had the guts to tell him otherwise.
Sally, the ever gracious princess, had invited Shadow into their meeting, hoping that he might have some input that will prove vital at some stage, yet expecting to be turned down as per usual. She was understandably shocked when he agreed to her request.
He still hadn't said a thing, though. Only a grunt of disapproval here or a small noise of agreement there, saying nothing that was remotely interesting.
Instead, he stayed unnervingly still in his seat as he studied her from afar; much like Knuckles did a few nights ago. While Knuckles was more curious and confused, Shadow's gaze had a sense of knowingness to it. Like he knew something he probably shouldn't.
And he's being doing that ever since as sat down in her usual position by Knuckle's side.
It was driving her mad!
She wanted so badly to confront the glaring hedgehog, tempted to embed a Kunai in his forehead, not that she would even get close to the powerful male; he'd kick her ass without breaking a sweat, she knew that fact quite well.
Still, that did nothing to quell the need to stop him staring at her.
Drawing a sharp breathe through her mouth, Espio startled everyone in the room by slamming her fist on the table and levelling Shadow with a glare of her own, one of which he took in without so much as battering an eyelid, much to her annoyance.
Sure, her glare wasn't the scariest thing to ever been known, but still; she didn't want the dark Hedgehog to think she was weary of him.
She was; she just didn't want him to know that.
Her sudden and very uncharacteristic movements brought an abrupt halt to the meeting, everyone immediately turning their gazes onto her, Knuckles looking at her in blatant concern. She knew that she lost her cool for a mere moment, never the one to strive for the centre of attention at any given time, but she was really irritated by Shadow's unwavering gaze upon.
"Is there something I can help you with, Shadow?" she asked as coolly and calmly as she could as she pushed herself to her feet.
However, Shadow kept staring at her, his sharp red eyes not faltering once as they followed her every movement. This caused Espio's hand to literally twitch, ready to make a quick journey into her kimono to pull out one of her trusty shurikens that were hidden within her clothing, invisible to everyone.
The tension in the room increased as the two silent warriors literally stare each other down, even Sonic himself staying quiet in the background, although Espio was certain that he was grateful for the distraction. If a fight should break out, he'll no doubt be the first to break it up.
Suddenly, a deeply irritatingly smug look appeared on Shadow's face and he made a cocky noise that was a half grunt, half chuckle.
Espio's hand gave yet another visible twitch as the stronger male took to his feet as well, he well being a head taller than her.
"I can see it clearly now," he said, his deep, husky voice easily echoing through the silent room.
"See what," Espio was quick to enquire, not liking his assuming attitude very much at this point. "If you don't mind me asking?"
If it was all possible, Shadow's expression turned more conceited. "Your hair," he replied simply.
Espio immediately and unwilling stiffen her posture, her heart seemingly missing a beat or three at those words. Did he just say he could see her hair? No one other than her own species and the Guardian after he learns to control his powers more readily could see past the illusion veil of the Technique.
But then again, Shadow was no ordinary Hedgehog, was he?
"My what?" she asked, trying to hide the shakiness in her voice, but failing as the black Hedgehog seemed to become slightly amused. He wasn't overly obviously about it, but she could see a tiny bit of humour mixed with intrigued in those bright red eyes of his, the ever subtle upturning of his lips in a smirk.
"Ah, Shadow?" Sonic's voice cut in; his tone heavy with confusion as well as concern as to why two usually quiet and somewhat docile teens were ready to have a showdown right here and now. "You really need to get your eyes checked. Espio is a Chameleon. He doesn't have any hair!"
Shadow, however, ignored his fellow hedgehog, keeping his attention firmly on the purple Chameleon before him. He could see clearly that his words left her uncharacteristically rattled.
"I really don't know what you're talking about," Espio managed to utter a response as she curled her hands tightly into fists by her sides. The urge to simply vanish and slip away from this confrontation was overwhelming, but she refused to back down now.
However, she almost jumped out of her own skin when Shadow suddenly appeared in front of her, his mouth close to her ear so they could converse with each other without anyone else over hearing. He had his hand that was curled into a fist, one of her long ribbon covered bangs in the palm of his hand as he rested it on her shoulder.
His intimidating presence made Espio feel slightly weak at the knees and his breath on her neck made a shiver race down her spine, but she refused to show that he bothered her.
He just grabbed some of her hair. He really can see through the powerful Chameleon technique!
"You need to be more aware of your surroundings," Shadow whispered to her as he gave a light tug on the hair he held in his grasp.
"You..." Espio stuttered, her eyes wide in blatant shock. She could just hear the noises from those around her, but paid them little mind, as she was far too busy reeling from the startling turn of events. "You were on the floating Island, weren't you?"
"So the moonlight on water reflects the real you," Shadow continued to speak lowly, not backing out of her personal space just yet. "That could be quite troublesome, am I correct?"
Espio felt her eyes narrow and her posture become tense once again. "You seemed well informed of the secrets I keep, don't you?"
Letting her gaze reluctantly weaken from the overwhelming sense of defeat, Espio let her eyes slip close and drew in a deep breath. "Was it my reflection or did you see me change?"
Shadow was silent for a moment, neither one of them wanting to be the first to back away just yet. "I had a hunch before I saw either."
Espio snapped her eyes open in disbelief. "What?"
A half chuckle escaped his lips. "I can see the real you; your hair and the clothing you wear, even that strange looking tattoo on your chest," Shadow said as he gazed over her shoulder, his eye immediately colliding with that of the Echidna's.
A smirk flittered across his lips when he could see Knuckles narrow his eyes at him, let had his head tilted to the side ever so slightly, seeming mulling over his cryptic words. His body language told an intriguing tale, though. He appeared ready to physically pull the two do them apart if Shadow so much made a threatening move against Espio.
How interesting. It seemed that the Guardian was starting to see what others couldn't as well. Not only that, but he was protective as well. His inner power could be formable if he learnt how to wield is properly.
"You do realize that you're the first female I've come across with black hair that doesn't have red or blue streaks through it," Shadow added.
Espio stiffened at the words. If was official, he really could see her hair. He was, unfortunately, not bluffing.
Hang on. Was that a joke?
"But it is awfully long," she found herself saying, her eyes narrowing in confusion.
"True," Shadow sniggered into her ear. "I guess that's the reason for your constant headaches."
Espio physically winced, realizing she just walked right into that one. He could see her grimaces of pain as well? How?
"It is forbidden for a ninja of my class to cut my hair outside of battle," Espio explained with a sense of reluctance, mixed with an expression of awe and disbelief that he could see so much.
It was awfully arrogant of her to think that she could hide herself so well and not have anyone discover her secret on their own.
"I see," Shadow murmured as he lifted his hand from her shoulder and pulled it away slowly, seeming letting her invisible hair run through his palm, hiding a smirk when Knuckles followed his movements as well, his brow creasing further. "Interesting."
Espio swallowed thickly. "What do you want?"
Shadow casually flicked his gaze to look into her face, his face back into his usually blank expression. "I don't want anything from you," he said rather sincerely.
But Espio found that very hard to believe.
"Then why are you doing this?" she asked as she took a step to the side, placing a bit of space between them, yet still speaking lowly so no one else could listen in into their conversation. She was literally on eggshells. Shadow had always been unpredictable at the best of times, who knows what he could do now.
She wanted Knuckles to learn of her gender on his own, not by someone blurting it out.
"I just wanted to see you squirm for a moment," Shadow said with a smirk as Espio literally bristled at his words. "You have nothing that I want or need."
Oh, how Espio wanted to slap him right about now! She could handle him wanting something from her, but to cause her to feel frazzled like this because he thought it was interesting? Now that was incredibly annoying!
Momentarily taking his eyes away from her, Shadow turned his gaze back to Knuckles, who easily matched his stare before turning his attention back to Espio. "It got the guardian thinking, though, didn't it?" he added for good measure.
Espio felt her heart practically leap into her throat when Shadow's overwhelming presence suddenly left her side and she grasped the board table with her hand. "Knuckles..." she whispered more to herself than anyone else.
There was this feeling of dread in his chest now, although she's not quite sure why. She thought she would be pleased that Knuckles had grown strong enough to see through the illusion of the Facade, and yet she felt nervous all the same.
What if...he didn't take too kindly to her hiding herself away like this, ultimately away from him? He had always been a loner in his younger years, not trusting anyone. Would he feel betrayed that she kept something so significant away from him?
The thought of no longer being by his side made her feel sick.
"Hey, where you going, Shades?" Sonic called out as the dark Hedgehog began to leave the room, seemingly had his entertainment and was no off on his own again.
"Don't call me that," Shadow simply replied back before opening the door and disappearing from sight altogether by sprinting off into the distance.
"Jeez, what was that about?" Sonic muttered as he scratched the back of his head in confusion.
"That was quite strange, even for Shadow," Sally commented with a slow nod of her head. She then turned her attention back to the purple Chameleon who was now leaning against the table as if in a state of shock and a sense of concern flickered in her eyes.
"What did the two of you talk about?" she asked gently, her concern growing when the ever attentive Chameleon gave no response. "Espio?"
Sharing a look with his princess, Sonic shrugged and made his way quickly to his side. "Hey Esp!"
Espio literally jumped at Sonic yelling of her name and she shook her head to clear it, inwardly berating herself for the current way she was acting. "What? I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"Are you alright?" Sally asked softly with a hint of understanding in her eyes. "You look pale."
"It's nothing," Espio quickly replied, reverting back into her courteous, much calmer manner. "I've got a headache. Do you mind if I was able to take a quick break for some fresh air? I apologize for the disruption I caused. It won't happen again."
"Not at all," Sally said as she gave a dismissive wave. "Don't worry about it. You're welcome to visit the medical room if your headache bothers you."
Espio bowed her head in a sign of gratitude. "Thank you," she said before turning her attention to Knuckles, silently asking if he was ok with her taking some much needed time out.
She would like some time to herself, but if he needed her for something, she would be more than happy to put her own needs aside and help him with anything.
However, Knuckles was silently looking at her, his posture appeared tense with annoyance; whether it was directed at her or not, she wasn't sure. His eyes were narrowed ever so slightly as if he was deep in through, yet appeared confused nonetheless.
Did she just stutter? Shadow left her more frazzled then she thought was possible. She always knew that one day Knuckles would learn of her facade, it was evitable, yet she could her heart rate increase with each second that Knuckles blatantly stared at her.
"Knuckles?" she asked again, this time more calmly.
At the second calling of his name, Knuckles seemed to snap out of a trance like state with a quick shake of his head. He blinked at her for a moment, seemingly startled by something before giving her a very suspicious look. But that look held a sense of concern as well as something else she could not quite put her finger on.
Jealousy...? No, that can't be it.
"Yeah," he said slowly. "I'll find you before we leave for the Island."
Espio managed to hide a wince before nodding her head in a sign of gratitude before hastily making an exit. A nice, hopefully uneventful walk in the fresh air will do her some good and help soothe her frazzled nerves.
She didn't know whether to be annoyed that Shadow brought it upon himself to give Knuckles a little head up or slightly grateful that he did as now Knuckles' own inner strength will grow stronger. Still, one thing was certain; Knuckles is going to be studying her much closer now thanks to that little comment about her hair.
Either way, though, she's going to curse that infuriating Hedgehog until the day she dies!