"When I tied the ribbon and smiled, I felt like I'd become a new person.

That little courage became confidence, and I forgot about the time before I met you."

-Rika Komatsu, "My Sweet Heart"

Tears streamed down my face. Not even the brightest of stars could have cheered me up; I missed Shadow beyond anyone's recognizing. Even with all the colors swirling about in the sky when the sun sat, I never smiled like I used to. I thought I would have never smiled again; after all those years of fake happiness I felt, the only true feelings of joy I felt were associated with Shadow being with me. He talked to me, comforted me, and offered me advice, just as Cream had, but somehow the words he spoke to me were so much better. I had never seen him so friendly around anyone before; and he chose me of all people to talk to and care about.

But now it was gone; my happiness, my hope, my love, and my crush. They were all gone forever. How I would ever be my hopeful self again was beyond me. If I ever wanted a chance at it, Shadow had to be there. The only thing that remained was the place I sat in at that very moment: the roof that he and I had sat on together all those early mornings, watching the stars and waiting for the sun to rise and greet us to another day. He and I had been through so much together over the past month; I found his soft side and he found mine. We were destined for each other.

I had unimaginable feelings of hatred toward the military. They got in the way of everything, including this. If I had more time, maybe even a few more days, I would have been able to walk up to Shadow and admit all my passionate feelings for him, but no; they had to intervene and give Shadow such a restricted time to think things over. Knowing them, they probably forced him to join.

"It's not fair," I muttered between sobs. I wanted the military to give him back to me, to give back what they took away. What he said that morning before he left convinced me that he wanted to stay. And why wouldn't he? Everyone wanted him to. He could've done great things with us. From the stories I heard, Shadow was a fantastic, flawless fighter with Sonic and the rest of the team.

I wiped my eyes with my arm. I might as well suck it up and get used to it, I scolded myself. You had your chance and you blew it, and now you'll stay sad for the rest of your life. I needed to pick myself up and move on; it was obvious that Shadow didn't return the feelings that I had for him. He was just like Sonic after all.


I gasped, startled by the voice. Did I dare turn to see who it was? My secret hiding spot was blown, the same spot that Shadow found first, and I never wanted anyone to find it out. But before I could think anything more of it, my head turned towards the source. And what I saw stunned me, freezing my limbs to the roof and making my eyes widen through my hot tears. The figure was leaning out the guest room window, propping himself up with one hand with ease on the roof. I recognized the perfectly structured silhouette anywhere.

"S-Shadow…!" I exclaimed, my eyes overflowing with tears. I broke myself free of the trance, standing up as I cried vigorously. He got out of the window and swiftly made his way over to me. Without thinking, I threw myself into his arms when he was in reach, weeping like a child. I shook in his arms, gasping for air as he held me steady.

"Are you alright? You don't seem like yourself…" he asked me, overwhelmed. I couldn't reply for the longest time as I cried into his shoulder. He waited for an answer, but finally relaxed. His arms held me tightly, giving me a hug that sent chills of genuine happiness, the happiness I had been searching for, into my heart.

Finally he said something. "Amy, I'm sorry for leaving, really."

I took in a gulp of air shakily, still crying. I sniffed, holding him tighter. "It's okay…" I lied. I didn't want to worry him or make him feel bad for what pain he unknowingly caused me; and now that he was standing there with me, I felt no obligation to be mad at him.

"No, it's not." Shadow replied, trying to get a look at my face concealed in his black fur. He gave up trying to push me away and finally let me be with my crying. "My thoughts were so…wrong. I have never been so wrong in my entire life. I left after you fell asleep, ready to accept the military's position because I felt that it was the best choice from the beginning, but it being early morning and all, I saw the stars when I was standing just outside of the base."

I blinked, my sobbing coming to a screeching halt. The magical word, "stars" sprang right out at me; it was our word, a secret little word that no one else knew about. It had power within its sound when it was said, like a spell. I knew what was coming next.

"I heard your words in my head; what you said about me being a hero – though I feel odd saying it – was right." Shadow's voice got quieter, whispering into my ears like music. "I'm not a killing machine; I know what's right and what's wrong; and I understand who deserves punishment in this world and who doesn't. Fighting alongside Sonic and the others made me feel like a genuine being, but for some reason I chose to ignore it."

I wanted to say something, but, with my mind now fully connected to my heart, I did not allow myself to interrupt him.

"Thinking of not seeing the stars, or you, for that matter, makes me feel so wrong inside. It would be torture not to see you ever again." He gave me a small, tight squeeze. I returned it quickly, clinging to him a little longer than he did me. "I talked to Sonic already; he we discussed and decided that I'm staying here as a part of your team. And as far as I can tell, it was all because of you, Amy. Thank you for showing me the right way."

By the time he finished, I had calmed down, breathing evenly and not a tear in sight. Just his presence and being so close to me felt so right and gave me so much more happiness, drying every tear and fighting off any sadness that came in contact with me. It seemed so surreal, though, for him to be holding me so tightly and talking to me so much, let alone him telling me this exclusively. I wondered if he had told this entire story to anyone else other than Sonic and I.

"Shadow…is this a dream?" I asked. He sighed; I wondered if his voice was tired from everything he said.

"I should hope not. Why?"

I hugged tightly. "Because after years of faking joy, I think I actually feel happy right now."

Though I couldn't see him, I felt him smile. I felt the stars smile, too, and soon, my lips curved into one as well. He sat down with me, still letting me cling onto him like velcro. I knew he didn't like it, but for him to stay with me for just a few more minutes like that meant the world to me. The stars were gradually disappearing into the morning dawn now, satisfied with Shadow's return and our reuniting.

"Are you going to fall asleep now?" he asked quietly, yet monotone. The only thing that could have completed the moment was for him to stroke my quills.

Tiredly, I smiled. "How'd you know?"

"Experience." he chuckled.

I giggled, hugging him once more. I took a final glance up at the stars, where he was gazing up at and thanked the heavens for letting me hold onto my happiness forever. Before I closed my eyes into deep sleep, my heart felt warm, showing me its true love had been found.

Thank you, Maria, for letting Shadow know where he belongs. You were right all along; he really is a kind person. And on top of that, he's strong and brave, daring and attractive…

I was surrounded by sleep's gradual darkness.

And I love him.