Sword: Hellooooo peoples! Ready for a story?
We'll hurry up and do the disclaimer and get out of the way. All characters belong to Sega, the song lyrics in bold belong to Alan Menken and Disney, and we own the plot. Also, I own Pen and Sword.
Pen: Someone buy me. Or shoot me.
Sword: .44 or .38?
Pen:...Where did you get guns?
Sword: From a gun shop. Duh.
Anyway, I'm not exactly sure why we wrote this story, but it's been on my mind for a good while. So we hope you enjoy it.
It Must Have Been Heaven's Light
Shadow hated doctors. In fact, he abhorred anyone who wore a stereotypical white coat, smock, or uniform. All day and well into the evening, these so called "researchers and scientists" aboard the space station would poke, prod, and examine him. And at the end of each grueling session of having his personal space invaded nonstop, they would jot down whatever results they discovered and leave him alone, both in his room and in the dark as to what the purpose of it all was for. But what he could not stand the most was the vile antiseptic aroma that permeated the air and stayed with him long after he had left the room. He vowed that if he ever escaped the ARK, he would never even place himself near another doctor or scientist for as long as he lived.
He growled when one particularly annoying doctor flashed a light in his eyes, checking them for any abnormalities. But Shadow quietly complied to all of the directions given to him, lifting and lowering his limbs, following fingers, and the like. It was not like he could get away from any of it since all that was outside was the endless vacuum of space. And he was well taken care of since he was given enough food and his own room on the station. So it was a small, but vexing, price to pay. Besides, he could think of one bright point to each day. And unless he was mistaken about the time, she would soon arrive.
And right on cue, as one of the doctors placed their freezing stethoscope on the hedgehog's back and told him to take a deep breath, the doors to the examining room slid open for a young girl. Standing around a head above Shadow himself, her gorgeous, ocean blue eyes surveyed the scene and she pushed a strand of her golden hair out of the way. Crossing her hands and placing them on her pale blue skirt, she walked over to the table that Shadow sat on while a doctor placed a thermometer in the hedgehog's mouth.
"Hello Shadow," she greeted him politely, flashing her pearly teeth.
Shadow could not resist continuing to frown when he saw her happy face. As he own broke out into a smile as well, he nodded in reply. "Hewwo Maweeuh," he said through the thermometer.
"Please don't speak," one of the men instructed as he wrote on his notepad.
Maria patiently waited, observing the various testing equipment in the room while the doctors continued their examination. After what seemed like painfully tedious hours to Shadow, the men and women finally gave him permission to leave. He was all too glad to hop off the table and take his friend's outstretched hand. She took the lead, guiding them to a different part of the station.
After a few hours of playing together and reading in the ARK's library, Maria led Shadow to their favorite spot to enjoy their last daily activity. It was one of the smaller balconies on the station, just big enough for a small group of people. On it was a single table and a few chairs. The pair took their seats next to each other and watched the starry expanse of space.
"Any second now," Maria said.
The balcony gave them a clear view of the blue and green marble decorated with white swirls called Earth, since the space station revolved around it. But their attention was on the sliver of bright, yellow-white light that peeked around the edge of the planet. As minutes slowly ticked by, the source of the shine came into full view. Right behind the blue ball was the larger orange sun in all it's glory. The entire sight gave one the sense that daybreak had arrived and with the brilliant light, that it would be a bright and sunny day.
"I love watching this," Maria confessed. Shadow nodded solemnly in agreement. A few more moments of silence passed before she added, "It's almost like a heavenly light. It's so blinding, but so beautiful."
Her hedgehog companion cocked his head to the side at the strange word. "There's that word again. Heaven." He pronounced it slowly, putting emphasis on each syllable, contorting his face while concentrating on it. "I still don't understand what it means. Dr. Gerald uses it to describe stars, but you always use it in a different way."
She chuckled at his almost childlike naivety. He possessed physical prowess that could put any athlete to shame and easily understood new lessons, applying them to real world situations. He was even surprisingly smart and could constantly absorb new information. But despite all that, he still failed to wrap his mind around a simple concept that even a young child could understand.
"Well people say it's a place," she explained.
"You mean the stars?" he asked, pointing outside to the balcony's window.
"Well, yes and no. It's a place that some people think are in the clouds on Earth." She indicated the spinning white masses covering the lush green and deep, royal blue of the planet. "And others believe it to be in the stars or beyond them."
"And there are supposedly angels there?" Shadow questioned. "Which are, um, pretty people with wings who protect you?" he finished, quoting the explanation she had given him almost verbatim. He was having trouble recalling it since the sun was now hitting both of them with it's rays and, to Shadow, bathing Maria in it's so-called heavenly glow. If he did not know any better- and he was still a bit skeptical after she had denied it- he would have sworn there was something angelic about her.
"Yes," she responded joyfully, glad that he remembered their last discussion on the subject. "And if you live a good life, you can become an angel when you die. Or so they say. Though I like to believe that it's true."
He grunted a reply, not sure if he believed it or not. He was deep in thought on the concept until they were interrupted by two scientists, one male and the other female, walking out onto the balcony. They were so enraptured with each other and laughing like school children that they did not notice the younger girl and her friend until Maria cleared her throat. The adults were startled out of their bliss, but that did not detract the man from keeping an arm wrapped around the other. They apologized, rather flustered by their display of public affection, and scampered off elsewhere, leaving the two alone once again.
"That was Dr. Crowe and his wife," Maria explained to Shadow, who was perplexed by the previous scene.
"Oh," he nodded in slow understanding. "So they show their love, I think, by hugging and kissing like that?"
"Yes." They both pricked up their ears when they heard a dull bong followed by eight more identical ones coming from the intercom nestled in the corner of the balcony. "Nine already?" Maria said in disbelief. She stood up and pushed her chair in. "Where does the time go? Well, we better get you back to your room."
Sighing dejectedly at the day having to end, Shadow agreed and followed suit. However, his mind was elsewhere as they traveled the long, winding corridors back to their respective rooms. He constantly went over not only the conversation they had just had, but the couple who had walked in on them as well. It was not the first couple he had ever seen, but it was one of the few he had noticed something different about. There had been some aura about them that he would have attributed to marriage had he not seen it on unmarried couples and some people who were merely friends as well. It was almost as if he could sense the aura and, at certain times, he could swear that he saw it. He wondered if he should ask Maria about it, but before he could, she called his attention to the fact that they were standing outside of his room.
"Good night Shadow," she said, bading him farewell with a wave and a kiss on the cheek. He visibly blushed as she headed for her own room.
"Good night," he choked out. "Maria." He loved speaking her name. Deciding he would wait until tomorrow to bring up his inquiry, he opened the sliding door to his room and walked in.
It was a dark, modest bedroom. Quite perfect for the brooding hedgehog actually. The single layer bed was shoved into the corner, just beneath a small window, and there was a table holding a few books and surrounded by two chairs. Of course the only ones who ever used them were Shadow and Maria. The only other noticeable thing in the room was the second window, much larger than the bed's, that looked out onto the station, the Earth, and the rest of the galaxy. It was a sight to behold and it was where the hedgehog would stand and reflect on the day's events each evening, such as he did now.
The majority of it would be spent dwelling on his time with Maria, which he found to be slightly ironic. The scientists and doctors would spend all day testing and teaching him, but it seemed as if it were all for naught. Instead, he would replay the discussions he had and activities he did with his friend. Or at least what he supposed was a friend. Shadow was unsure what to call her, but that term was the most appropriate. And did they not behave as friend normally do? Were they possibly best friends? Or were they something else entirely?
In the midst of his musings, the hedgehog spotted Dr. Crowe and his wife on the same balcony Maria and him had been on before. It came as no surprise to Shadow, as he frequently noticed couples go there to be alone or friends sitting at the table and laughing, chatting, and having a good time.
"Just like Maria and me," he muttered.
There was one difference between the couple there now and many of the others that showed up on the balcony. They still had that same, strange aura about them that he sensed. Shadow had noticed it on a few other couples and some good friends as well in the past. But he still could not fathom what it was exactly. As he kept watching, the sun slowly passed nearer, shining onto the two lovebirds as they kissed and fawned over one another. It was almost as if the aura mixed with the star's rays to create a...
"Heavenly light?" Shadow thought aloud, using Maria's comparison of the sun's brilliance. He nearly laughed at the concept, but he was unable to come up with any other explanation that satisfied it. Recalling the knowledge he had gained from the lessons given to him, the closest he could guess that it would be was love. But did that not happen only for couples and not friends as well? Or was there another kind of love he did not know about? And then another notion struck him. Did Maria and he have the same sort of glow when they were together? And if they did, was it platonic or something more?
Embarrassed and blushing a crimson color to match the tips in his quills at the idea, he continued his spying, letting his eyes wander between the sun and the couple, who now looked as angelic and heavenly as Maria had. He let his thoughts tumble out, figuring that if he said them aloud, he could make some sense of them.
"So many times out there, I've watched a happy pair of friends and lovers in the night." Dr. Crowe and his wife, tired from the day or from just standing on the balcony, departed while Shadow continued to speak his mind. "They had a kind of glow around them." And peering closely, there were still traces of that glow hovering around the table and chairs. Or maybe he sensed it more than actually saw it. Or maybe it was all his imagination. Whatever the case, he still reached the same conclusion."It almost looked like heaven's light," he said.
Growling in frustration at going around in circles, Shadow turned away from the window and headed for his bed, figuring that he could perhaps sleep on it. Once there though, he was stopped by the small shelf hanging above it. It was nailed to the wall, a little sloppily, and obviously not part of the original room's design since the red, jutting wood stood out from the pale, yellow wall. It held a few knick-knacks- gifts from Maria and Dr. Gerald- and his favorite picture of the girl and himself. In fact, it was the day they first met.
It had been exactly two weeks after he was created. Shadow was housed with all the other experiments and the only people he had the pleasurable company of were the scientists and Dr. Gerald. On that day, his creator had come into the laboratory not with any colleagues, but with his granddaughter, whom the hedgehog immediately perked up at her presence. He was curious who the lovely person could be. It was also the first time he sensed the aura since it surrounded both Gerald and the girl.
"I knew I'd never know that warm and loving glow," Shadow said, continuing to reminisce on the memory. "Though I would wish with all my might that I could. They seemed so happy."
And it was true. Maria had been enthused and fascinated by all of the doctor's experiments. Eventually, they had reached his cage, which was a bit larger than most, but not by much. Only enough to accompany a small cot and a plate of food. She had squatted in front of it while Gerald explained what Shadow was. But she just focused on the hedgehog himself.
After a few minutes of staring at each other, Maria finally introduced. "Hello. My name is Maria. What's yours?"
He studied both their faces before clearing his throat of the built-up phlegm of disuse. "Shadow," he answered simply.
"Nice to meet you," she replied. And then Gerald had taken away both her and the mysterious glow when they left the lab. But not before Maria had begged the doctor to let the hedgehog out so that she could take a picture with him. Reluctantly, Gerald had agreed and once the picture was taken, it was back into the cell for the ebony animal. Maria had promised that she would visit him again and that they would become great friends.
Shadow was unconcerned and leery of her proposition. At the time, he believed he would never see the girl again. And he also thought that whatever that wonderful aura was would never be a part of him. He assumed that no experiment such as himself was ever meant for that light, or heaven's light as he now knew it.
So it can be said that he was quite surprised when she visited him again the next day and every subsequent day after that. And whenever she could not make it, Gerald would let Shadow see her or they would find some way to get in touch with one another. Eventually, she had convinced him to give the hedgehog a room of his own instead of the cramped cage. And Shadow was all the happier for it.
He was quite thankful that he had made such a friend in a dismal place like this. Until that point, he had always thought he would live and die seeing nothing but that cage and those doctors. "But suddenly an angel- or as just someone who looks a lot like one," he said, reminding himself that she had denied association with the heavenly beings, "has smiled at me. And kissed my cheek without a trace of fright." He rubbed his coarse muzzle where she had planted a chaste peck. Trivial to some maybe, but it meant the world to him.
Deciding that it was late, and he would dwell more on it tomorrow, Shadow yawned and let his thoughts wind down. He climbed into his bed, rumpling up the well-made blankets. "I dare to dream that she might even care for me," he said as he fluffed his pillow. "And as I let these dreams take flight," he let his head fall like a rock onto the pillow and turned to face the window, where the sun was beginning to shine in and cover his room in that strange, but now welcoming aura, "My cold dark room seems so bright."
The light invaded more of his space, almost as if welcoming him into it's fold of people already ensnared in it's warm comfort and accepting the hedgehog as one of it's own. He closed his eyes, enjoying the heat as he envisioned Maria and looked forward to their time together the next day. And even though he was still unconvinced if it was all his imagination or truly empyrean in nature and if Maria's views were unfounded or not, he chuckled softly, settling his questioning mind on one issue. "I swear it must be heaven's light."
A/N: I kinda lost control of this one. I had it all planned out in my mind.
Pen: Like that would do any good. Sword! Be careful with those!
Sword: Let's have a rootin', tootin' time pardner!
Pen: I am getting out of here.
As I was saying, it seems to me that I may have cut it short at the end or perhaps throughout the whole story. It sounded much longer before writing it. Anyway, let us know what you think. And let us know if we should change the category to something else as well because I'm not sure where to put this one at.
Sword: *shoots out the light* Oops.
Someone get a new bulb!