People begged for it and I gave in...unfortunately. [FML] This is the long-anticipated sequel to Innocence, and though its quality sucks in my eyes, it might brighten your day if you try to read it. XD; The first part is alright, but the ending just...man, it's a train wreck. But I don't really care all that much-writing's my leisure, and that's that.
I don't own SEGA, duh, hello. Enjoy.
Both felt the hands of destiny slowly constricting their throats, their limbs, their minds…
The rose, her petals fell…
The shadow, his darkness cut through…
A black hedgehog sharply inhaled, opening his eyes wide. He sat up at a dizzying pace that sent his head for a whirl of reds and fuchsias, only adding more to the sickness he felt. Cold beads of sweat gathered on his crimson-striped forehead; he lifted a gloved hand to his temple, finally getting a grip of reality and swallowing his nausea. Another nightmare had haunted him in his sleep, he realized slowly. The same dream was repeated every night since the monumental day where his secret betrayal began.
There was that girl, with her locks of rose tainted with dark blood, her eyes sealed shut by death. He found her in an open, snowy field that was spattered with red as well, almost as if a battle had wrecked the entire area. Yet no other corpse was to be found; only the female hedgehog's. When the black hedgehog took hold of her shoulders, her head fell limp, and no matter how many times he called out her name, she would not respond.
God, the desperation in his voice. It was almost venomous to hear; he, as a strong, well-built and disciplined prince, should never have to use pathetic, weak stutters as he had. But ever since that day a week prior, he had let the desperation to save the very girl in his dreams transfer into his voice and thoughts. He never went a day without thinking about Amy; her quills, her hopeful smile, her cheerful and optimistic voice…and her innocence: her most attractive quality. It intrigued him and made his heart jolt whenever he thought of the time their lips touched for the first time. A foreign act to him, but he wanted to openly confess his caring and affection for Amy if something should have gone wrong.
And something did in fact go wrong; it had been too long. Far too long. He had not obtained the opportunity to roam Earth's decimated areas in search for the female hedgehog in nearly a week; he feared of the time he would be granted almost as much as his father.
Knocks at the door shoved him out of his thoughts abruptly. He smoothed back his quills in panic, going dry-mouthed as one of his brothers spoke through the black door.
"Yes…!" the black hedgehog stammered slightly on his innate language's words, but hoped that the door's intervention was enough to block his nervous tone.
"Father is waiting – he wants you in the main corridor at once."
"Ah…um…thank you!" Shadow tripped over his words at the sound of his parent's title. His father was normally tolerant of Shadow, and in fact, valued him over his siblings slightly, but Shadow had no doubt that he would destroy every cell in his body until he was no more if he found out about anything concerning Amy.
His father, Lord Black Doom, was the ruler and leader of both Shadow and his brothers; bluntly speaking, they were power-hungry aliens that lived by bringing planets and other races to their salvation. Shadow was the odd one of the group, simply because of his appearance. Black Doom and the others were black and red colored aliens, ranging from three eyes to none at all, two legs to none, whereas Shadow was a black and red hedgehog. He was of Earthly descent, yet his father never told him how or why. Shadow had been threatened into not asking about his origins so severely that he cringed every time he had a single spark of curiosity about them.
It was vital and essential for his survival to look calm and collected before Black Doom, for the leader was the definition of a perfectionist. He held Shadow to high standards and the hedgehog strived to exceed them. So naturally, Shadow had been cool and relaxed when talking to his father. But lately, it was becoming harder and harder to compose himself when his father was around. He could think nothing of the worst, if Black Doom had somehow seen he and Amy that one time. When, in fact, could Shadow tell Black Doom? Never? He could not bear to leave Amy behind; it would be fifty years before they would return. Being mortal, she would age, and with the current circumstances, she would perish long before they returned.
Nonetheless, the message sounded urgent, though, and he decided to ponder the dire situation later. Shadow needed to pick up the pace or he would be digging his grave deeper. After untangling the knot of sheets he caught himself in, he put on his slightly-worn cloak and smoothed his striped quills once more before opening his door. He always kept a spare cloak, and it was lucky for him, for he had loaned Amy his original to mask her scent from his brothers patrolling the area she was left in.
Something made him glance over his shoulder down at his ankle. He lifted his foot, raising his charcoal garment delicately and squinted to see a small scar carved into his skin. Shadow grimaced at the memory of how he received it, as well as the amount of pain he went through. Shortly after appearing in the Black Comet, his home, from teleporting off Earth, he was confronted by Black Doom in question of where his cloak had gone. He thought up a stable lie, being that he had tripped and fallen into a puddle of mud, so he took it off and told one of the patrolling soldiers to hold onto it and return it after cleaning it. Shadow knew full well that showing himself without his cloak was frowned upon, and he was grateful that no punishment was taken out on him that time.
However, fate was not on his side that day still, for a small Black Hawk had silently made its way toward the Black Arms prince while he walked back to his room. It was highly attracted to the odd, sweet scent that Shadow carried after being in such close contact with Amy. In fact, the smell was appetizing, and hunger blinded the small creature. It fastened its tiny mouth around Shadow's heel, drawing blood, but as it tasted Black Arms genetics, it shrieked in fear and flew away before Shadow could do anything about it. The problem was, Black Hawks were known to bite with poison that stunned its victim with extreme pain. Even as the reserved, quiet hedgehog that Shadow was, he found the anguish unbearable; he could barely limp back to his room without letting grunts and whimpers escape his lips.
Had he not been a novice in the healing arts, Shadow would have had his wound closed and unnoticeable in a heartbeat. Instead, he struggled to stand the pain he had to endure in placing glowing hands on his wound and focusing all his energy on the one spot. He longed to ask his father for help, but he could never explain himself. Cannibalism never happened in the Black Arms; they were not desperate for food because all of them knew another planet full of meals was just around the corner. So Shadow's only option was to bear the pain and hope that eventually his constant efforts would pay off.
The end result was there before him; a week after being hurt by his own brother, and it was closed, not a drop of black blood to be seen. Yet it still throbbed and gave him pangs every once in a while, but he tried not to show his hurt around Black Doom. He may have not been a master in the arts of healing, but his progress in the mastery of falsifying was evolving quickly.
Lucky for Shadow, the main corridor was not far from his own personal room; about one hallway later, Shadow's crimson eyes beheld a cloaked hedgehog, almost identical in his own appearance, standing with his back toward Shadow. His heart missed a beat, causing his throat to go dry like it always had since that fateful day.
Shadow, despite his anxiety, quickened his pace so that he would waste no further time. Because he could not see the front side of his master, Shadow wasn't even certain of the mood his father was in; something to fear in itself.
"Father…" Shadow said strongly as he bowed, thankful that he didn't stammer that time. The hedgehog turned, dark red eyes glued on Shadow intensely. Shadow felt them pierce right through his body; another twang of fear. He knew full well that if and when Black Doom took the time to change into his hedgehog form, he was all business. It was his own method of getting on Shadow's level, reading his own actions better so that it would, in theory, intimidate his hedgehog son more. His heart pounded as he continued, "sorry I'm late. I overslept."
Shadow swallowed, grimacing slightly. Speaking English now meant something even more drastic. Even Black Doom's tone held a sharp anger. This was not good in the least bit. Shadow brought his head up, drawing his mouth into a fine line.
"Was there something you needed me for?" Shadow asked cautiously, picking his words as carefully as he could. "You wanted to speak to me?"
As soon as the two locked eyes – Shadow's cautious, slightly fearful ones and Black Doom's unforgiving orbs – Shadow's limbs went numb with fear. Black Doom narrowed his expression to a glaring, all-knowing anger; Shadow had a feeling where this was headed. He just wished his instinct was wrong.
"I did want to speak with you, actually." Black Doom spoke, his voice hypnotizing velvety with sparks of distrust. Shadow swallowed. "We haven't been able to talk for quite some time, don't you think, Shadow?"
He nodded quickly, wanting to avoid any misunderstandings. Perhaps his instinct was incorrect as he had hoped; there was still a chance of something going wrong, though. He was still clinging by a thread. Remaining on-edge and self-aware of his actions and words, Shadow accepted that he had to humor his father in this conversation of theirs.
"That's what I thought, too. You should walk with me and we can discuss innermost feelings, then…"
Shadow's shoulder suddenly felt a weight upon it as Black Doom pulled him forward. Shadow knew he didn't have a say in any of it, so he remained silent and walked the relaxed yet fast pace of his father. He looked to the side, uncertain of what to say as they exited the main corridor and entered a hallway. It seemed more of a constricted space than Shadow had remembered, especially now that he was so close to Black Doom. He turned pale. How he wished he had stayed in bed that morning.
"I never got to ask you what you thought about Earth last week; I apologize for that," Black Doom started, sighing. "So, how did you like it? Did you not feel it was better for those humans to live under our rule?"
The question was nearly identical to the one he had asked Amy…
"Some people really bugged me and I wanted people to make them stop being so arrogant, but I'm just sad about my friends…all my friends went out to fight, and I tried to help, I really did, but I just couldn't keep up with them all and they…"
They fell, he had finished for her. Amy's eyes after he spoke that one word appeared in his memory once more, causing Shadow to cringe. Why didn't he ever go back to check on her? He could have just snuck out of his room, out of his home just for a few moments just to tell her he was trying.
He nodded nonetheless, shoving the image out of his mind. Just think about it later, Shadow told himself. It's far too risky to be thinking about this now.
"My hopes is that you didn't see anyone out and around…humans, I mean," Black Doom continued, triggering more images of Amy to appear into Shadow's mind. Black Doom didn't seem to take notice. "Or did you?"
"No, of course I didn't…" Shadow lied as he latched onto his father's final words, falling back into his native language by accident.
"I'd prefer it if you speak English, Shadow. For privacy reasons." Black Doom interrupted, tightening his grip on the black hedgehog. Shadow winced slightly. "But that is good to hear. Stepping out of your boundaries isn't something you should be, nor something you normally do."
Shadow remained silent. All these things that his father was saying seemed to be filled with different meanings; he was saying one thing and meaning another. Or perhaps it was just Shadow's paranoia that was making it seem that way. He refocused his attention to the front, where he noticed they were exiting the hallway and turning a direct right. It was a path that was almost unfamiliar with him, most likely because it was off limits to him.
He stiffened, thinking only of the worst. Amy, I'm so sorry…!
"But I feel like you've been acting differently lately, Shadow…" Black Doom trailed off. "Is that true or is it my imagination?"
Shadow absentmindedly nodded, trying to shake himself out of the frightening, worst-case scenarios that he kept throwing himself into. He kept telling himself to focus on Black Doom's words, to analyze every change in tone or pitch, but Amy's memory proved to be far superior to his concentration.
"…Why…why are you helping me?"
It wasn't just innocence, Shadow realized. It was something else; something he had never felt before in his entire life. It was love – it had to be.
"So, clearly, I haven't been doing a very quality job in raising you, then?"
Shadow nodded half-way, but caught himself. Mistake. Big mistake. He tried to backtrack.
"N-no, you're…! You are a perfect father! Honestly, I really believe that; I'm just trying to recover from my tiredness from when I first stood up this morning…like I said, I overslept. I haven't been sleeping well, which is most likely the reason you have been noticing a difference in me lately. I apologize for any worry I have caused you…"
Shadow trailed off as he took note of where he stood now: in front of a door. It was a door that, unfortunately, Shadow had remembered since day one simply because he was so frightened of what lay behind it.
"Your secrets are not so well-kept as you thought, Shadow." Black Doom said, his voice suddenly dropping to a grim octave. Shadow's eyes widened at the change of voice.
He grabbed Shadow as the black door opened, shoving him in harshly and slamming it shut. Shadow swallowed nervously, a knot forming in his throat. The prison room, full of captives and hostages taken from dozens of planets, had been a place that he never wanted to venture in. Yet here he was, and he knew what was coming, but Shadow decided to play dumb in attempts to escape the situation.
"S-secrets…? Father, what are you talking about?" Shadow asked shakily, stumbling on his first words. Just from the way he spoke then, he knew that he was not going to get out very easily.
Black Doom crossed his arms, sending a dark and deadly glare at his son. "I know everything."
Shadow cursed in his head. How could he have been so stupid, to think that Black Doom, the ruler of the universe, had no clue as to what was happening? That was not to say that he wished it otherwise, though. Or maybe he did wish for him to know? Was there hope now? Shadow turned to the prison cells, eying them all down to the last one; they were all thick walled boxes with no windows, no hope for any person to escape. Could it be that in one of these sat Amy in a corner, begging for freedom?
"Everything…" Shadow echoed, deep in thought. He had a sudden, dangerous urge to ask his father for the girl's release, and he had troubles fighting it off. The hedgehog could just see and feel her in one of the cells, muttering his name with tears of fear running down her soft cheeks. He had to get her out; she was not accustomed to darkness, he knew.
"You want her out?" Black Doom asked with a sharp tone. Shadow unconsciously nodded, letting his newly-kindled heart rule his mind. "Are you certain, Shadow? Do you really wish for her to see the face that betrayed her by trying to mask her sweet scent with our own?"
Shadow could no longer fight his voice welling up in his chest. He turned, eyes widened with terror. "She told you…?"
"That she did, as well as your brothers," Black Doom replied angrily. Shadow stiffened at the thought of his brothers grabbing Amy and dragging her around like a rag doll. "She cooperates, that girl. It was nice to see that you affiliated with someone who knows just how deep she's gotten herself in. Just for that, I allowed her to keep your 'mud-covered' cloak for sentimentality."
The ebony hedgehog cringed at the lie he had told his father weeks before. Everything was falling apart now, his relationship with his father, his brothers, and Amy – the very foundation of every single element of love was crumbling, signifying an inevitable fall. He sighed, giving in, and let his hands fall to his sides. His crimson eyes closed, letting his head fall in defeat.
"I'm so sorry, father."
"Don't play the guilty act with me."
Shadow suddenly felt his quills grabbed and yanked backwards, causing a sickening yelp to emerge from Shadow's chest. His father knew how to make a point and drive it into one's head; Shadow prayed each night that he would never have to receive a hit or any sort of punishment from Black Doom, but on the very rare occasions, he had to live up to it. He knew that, but it did not make the pain any less unbearable. It commenced with a dizzying smite to Shadow's head.
"Limping around, assuming I wasn't looking–"
Shadow, temples throbbing, was spun around to make eye-contact with his father, and how he dreaded it so. In a blinding flash, he felt a stinging agony erupt from the side of his face. He snapped his eyes shut, attempting to silence any whimper or cry he had waiting in his chest.
"–trying to heal and cover up more than one scarring injury to yourself and our family–"
The guilt was heaved upon his shoulders as another sharp hit was given to his back, knocking the wind out of him. What he had done – keeping secrets and even speaking to Amy in the first place – had destroyed so many things. His family's reputation was on the line just because he had socialized and shared a simple act of love with a native from another planet. He knew he was never allowed to speak to females. Black Doom told him directly early on that females were just a waste of time and space.
"–while letting your insignificant imagination plan out an escape to see a female Earthling–"
The back of his head was met with another smite; surprisingly, no blood was drawn. Yes, he disobeyed. But he wasn't sorry…meeting Amy was such a blessing.
"–all while thinking that you could get away with it!"
Shadow met the ground with a hard thud; his salvation. Though he felt like digging himself into the floor, basking in its mercy compared to his father standing over him, Shadow found that he had little energy to even form a fist. The air felt like it was full of lead, choking his lungs and weighing down on his back, pinning him to the floor. His head was spinning, eyes clouded with stars from all the pain that his head took, and he could barely think straight. What was he here for? What were they talking about?
"Please, give me a min–"
From out underneath him, Shadow felt something lift his stomach off of the ground. He was violently flipped over onto his back, still gasping for the air knocked out of him. His executioner stood above him, blurring in Shadow's foggy eyesight. He cringed at the thought of it being his own father. Parents shouldn't have to punish their children in such a way, a voice cried in the back of his head. Granted, all the blood was left in his veins, but even then Shadow was, yes, frightened of Black Doom even more than he had been before. He had upset his father to unthinkable proportions.
"I could have done so much worse to you." Shadow's eyes shut once more as a weight was placed onto his stomach, driving him to near-suffocation. Every particle of oxygen seemed to avoid him, no matter how many breaths he took. "Remember that."
A final shove to the stomach, and Shadow was cut loose from his punishment. He coughed, not even close to attempting to move from his spot; the pain everywhere numbed his limbs as if he were frozen in a block of ice. Shadow could only stare up at the crimson ceiling, wishing to see the stars that he and his father once peacefully looked at before any of this chaos happened. Night's beautiful star-studded cascades of black always gave him such a sense of peace and tranquility. He wanted that feeling now.
"Why are you holding back…?" Shadow unconsciously spoke. Black Doom could have done so much worse, true. So why didn't he? Shadow had disobeyed him. It was treasonous. He should have been dead.
"Only because I know how it feels."
Shadow longed to sit up, to look at his father more closely. How could he have ever felt the way Shadow had? Black Doom should have never felt affection like he felt…not after the way he had been treated over the fifty years he had existed. His father was so closed-off to the idea of love, so unfeeling and stiff to any idea of affection, that there was no possible way for him to have loved at one time.
But was it possible?
At that very instant, the black hedgehog's ears received the startling, yet comforting noise of a thud and a creak; a door being opened. She was here, Shadow thought, his throat growing dry in anxiety. Amy was there, sitting in that prison cell that once held her captive. The air must have been refreshingly cold to her after being in such a tight space, he imagined. Was she claustrophobic? She came off to him as fearful and cowardly when they first met…God, the things she had to go through to get here!
"You have a visitor." Shadow's father spoke harshly. Shadow winced at the thought of her sitting in the dark – the cold, terrifying blackness – all alone. He couldn't protect her, he realized. How could he have never known she came here?
The door creaked as it slowly opened, coming to a halt after mere seconds. The black hedgehog attempted to roll to his side, but did not prevail; he could only wait as the moments ticked by. His ruby eyes cast to the direction of where the prison was – where Amy was – and he held his breath. Then, he saw the tips of her pink wilted quills emerge from the black cautiously. More and more she showed herself, but she was clearly hesitant. Her fears had grown in the days she had sat inside.
"Amy…!" Shadow exclaimed softly, still recovering the air that had been lost. The rose hedgehog suddenly perked up as she recognized the source of the voice. She gasped.
Those bright emerald green eyes, full of life and prosperity, stared at Shadow, nearly lifeless because of his own actions. Amy tried to get to her feet, but tripped over the ebony cloak, falling to the ground. She picked herself up quickly, scrambling and crawling over to him as he struggled to sit up. She grabbed his hand that lay over his stomach, squeezing it as hard as she could. He caught her as her mouth began to form the question as to how he was like this.
"I'm so…" Shadow coughed, managing to pick up a heavy hand and set it on her shoulder. "…so sorry…I got us both in huge trouble. I should have never…"
"Shadow, it's okay, really," Amy said, tears filling her eyes. "I wouldn't be alive if it weren't for you. Please, don't feel like it's your fault."
"It is, though…" Shadow shook his head, "it is my fault. But I'm glad you're safe; I've been thinking about you day and night since we parted last. I feel terrible for not fulfilling my promise to you in that I'd return. I apologize."
"Shut up!" Amy threw herself on the hedgehog, now dumbfounded. "Don't say things like that! You and I were destined to wind up together, one way or another! It doesn't matter how we made it here; we're here now and that's all that matters."
He gained the strength to sit up, and as he attempted to, Amy pulled his abdomen up to assist him. Shadow smiled, placing a hand on her head, realizing what she had said was true. Everything had worked itself out; they were together after days of separation, and though he felt guilt that he never saw her once after he left, things seemed to be alright now.
Out of the corner of his eye, Shadow noticed his father start to leave the corridor. He was shocked; without any warning? Was there no other consequence for Shadow? It was so unlike him to be okay with something that went against plans. He called out for him, grabbing his attention.
"Father, is that it?" Shadow asked in disbelief. "You are just going to let me go without another word? What of Amy?"
"Take her as a pet or a slave of some sort." He said, casting a glance over his shoulder. "I'll let you deal with the pains of affection on your own. Sooner or later, you'll feel them; that alone will be your punishment."
As the cloaked hedgehog exited the chamber, Shadow watched in awe. He still did not understand his father's reasoning behind it all; was it a crime for he and Amy to be together?
"'Pains of affection?' What does that mean?" Amy asked curiously. She didn't seem to be fazed by the slightly threatening tone they received. Shadow mused for a moment, but ended up scowling at the door, overcoming his urges to adhere to his father's every word.
"I…don't care. I won't let my father's ambiguity make things difficult for us." Shadow vowed, setting his hands on Amy's shoulders. He felt rejuvenated, as if new life had sprung into his very soul, and he wasn't about to let it go. "Please, though, Amy. You still feel the same way about me as you did before, don't you?"
Amy smiled, placing her hands on his. "Of course I do, Shadow. I love you more than life itself."
"Then we'll spend our lives together for an eternity, despite what anyone says," Shadow's forehead touched Amy's. She sighed quietly, closing her eyes as she brought her lips up to his.
"Together at last…"