Can't believe I hadn't published this up here yet! Yeesh! XD It's been...at least four months since I wrote this. Egad.
A story is...in the works right now and it's highly recommended that you read this first. Kind of explains Shadow's feelings a little more on the whole "dad's dead" subject...and believe me when I say these feelings play a vital role in this upcoming story.

I made this in hopes of finding Shad's limits in terms of emotional turmoil. I like to make him...react a little more to things, especially to the ending of ShtH. Because Lord knows I hate how accepting he is of his parentage at the end of that game. XD Hopefully I didn't make him TOO OOC. If I did, please let me know. I want to improve. XD;;

So like I said! Read this, and then hopefully I'll get that new story up and running asap! Thankies!
-Laz


Exhaustion robbed Shadow's lungs of his breath. His chest burned as he tried to steal it back, his legs leading him forward in an unknown direction, toward an unknown destination.

He is dead, Shadow reminded himself. His stomach lurched at the thought. Earth can live in peace now.

It had all gone by so fast, and he doubted his memory of what occurred. Yet Shadow still felt the lingering sting of reality, and he longed to escape civilization for fear of its poisonous influences on his mind. His personal time was sacred to him these days, especially now that he was in the process of recovering from amnesia.

Black Doom is dead, he chanted in his head. It was over now. He was ready for his shoulders to lack the weight of the world's fate, but the relief never came. Why? His memories had returned. The black aliens were finished. Humanity survived. He could live freely without the nagging feeling of someone watching his every move. Still, something was preventing himself from breathing easy.

His knees gave, and he sought the sanctuary of a nearby tree for support. His breathing was uneven and shaky as his limbs quivered with a foreign sense of weakness and questioning; had he done the right thing by killing him? It wasn't his choice, was it?

Shadow had thrown the last Chaos Spear that ended it all. Everything happened in an instant. He went from being an innocent hero desperate to protect the Earth to a patricidal criminal in one bright flash; his life changed in that second, and it sent shivers down his spine.

The black hedgehog was strong, though. He knew it, too; so why was he feeling so irresolute? Why were his emotions so conflicted with each other? He should have felt glorious about his victory over a seemingly-impossible feat. He knew what he was fighting for, and he wasn't about to back down from his decision to save humanity. If Black Doom had to die, Shadow thought, then so be it. He would tear down anyone in his way.

But Sonic and his friends…they were so proud and excited. They thought Shadow was in the right.

Truth be told, he hated seeing their overjoyed and relieved faces, hearing the applause from down below Shadow after Black Doom was out of sight. He, too, believed he had the same feeling of relief and joy, but something deep inside of him made him hesitate to smile and celebrate. They would expect him to stick around and wait for the paparazzi to arrive so they could sugar-coat the situation. He had saved the day after an unexpected turn; humanity was eternally grateful for his selfless deed. He was the Superman now, destined to protect the Earth yet again from another impending disaster. Everyone would turn to him now and cry for help. Newspapers would be begging for interviews; children would want autographs.

It made him sick just thinking about it. He was no hero. He was a heartless murderer who had no place in glory's bright lights.

Knowing this, he did not stay long enough for anyone to grasp his hands with praise. Before his super form vanished, he fled the scene for the silent tranquility of a nearby forest. He needed time to think…or was it to mourn an inessential death? No, it was not that. This death had a purpose; conflicting ideas and emotions built up to the grand and final battle. Both of them knew that one had to die. If Shadow died, Earth would die along with him. If Black Doom fell, the Black Arms fell with him. Either way, one plan to either kill or save Earth would be set into motion after the deciding moment. The question was, who was to die?

The answer was clear. Shadow managed to survive. Black Doom was not so lucky; yet he didn't understand why. He was much more experienced than Shadow; he possessed so many more talents and abilities, so many more years of wisdom and understanding of how things worked. His death was because of a small hedgehog who experienced nothing but death and bloodshed and didn't know how or why things worked the way they did. Something was wrong; Shadow was the underdog, the runt, the scrawny little pest that Black Doom had so often called him to be. Shadow didn't feel just in the situation; perhaps that was why he felt the way he did.

He pushed himself off the support of the leaning tree, feeling a burst of strength in his body that charged him forward with a brisk walk. He took steps toward a small trickling noise, and, ears perked, he found a small stream of water flowing quietly. Shadow swallowed the knot in his throat as he knelt beside it.

The water, so surprisingly and almost blindingly clear, acted as a mirror to him as he peered over the edge. What a mess he was, he realized as he stared at himself. He had taken his share of blows from Black Doom's super form, and they were anything but light. Scratches covered his face, his ebony quills frayed, and he detected a wound to the side of his head that had leaked blood down the side of his forehead. He lightly touched it, wincing at the slight contact as a sting grew to a dull ache that spread to his entire skull.

Shit, he thought. Every single word that was spoken to him before he commenced the fight echoed in his head. It wasn't his blood; it was Black Doom's. These weren't Shadow's wounds; they were his.

He shivered, bringing his hands down to his arms, hugging himself. He was losing himself when he shouldn't have. He was thinking about things way too much, Shadow thought, shaking his head. Sure, his origins had been revealed to him; that was what he wanted, after all. Things couldn't be changed, even though he wanted them different. Shadow had to accept it; he was a part of Black Doom, and he was a part of Shadow.

Yes, he thought. Things had happened for a reason. They engaged themselves, took their strengths to their full potentials, and had at each other like animals. One came out on top; the other fell. Destiny had her own choices, and Fate placed his bet on the winner, favoring Shadow over his biological father. But that blockade sprang up once more, knocking Shadow's acceptance of the recent death to the ground, shattering it once more.

Shadow placed his hands in the water, feeling the small shock of the cold against his warm, blood-stained hands. It was strangely soothing, working its natural magic on his worn gloved hands, and he steadily began to ease out of his tense posture. His muscles ached and grew heavy, nearly causing the hedgehog to fall face-first into the stream due to his lack of strength. He drew his mouth into a fine line, bearing the pain.

Finally, he lifted his hands out of the water, bringing them to his arms, crossing them. He looked back at himself in the water, trying to convince himself yet again that things were going to be fine, and that what he did was justified. Shadow's tattered appearance said otherwise, however, and it irritated him. His hands went back into the water, coming back up abruptly and casting water into his face. Shadow gritted through the pain that cleaning his scratches brought, continuing to wash his face as if there were no tomorrow.

"You are nothing but a failed experiment…"

He was perfect, and he would always be perfect, Shadow sighed, trying to jam his lost pride back into his head. Feeling his hands grow dry, he placed them back into the water, catching his breath from the sting that engulfed him.

"Come, Shadow, and die along with these humans!"

It was done, Shadow scolded himself, and he wasn't dead. The cool liquid ran down his face and dripped off his chin. That was the end of Black Doom; he was no more. As soon as he cleaned himself up, he would stand up and walk away and begin a new life. He vowed that he would, or so God help him, he would dwell on this trivial matter even more until he went insane.

He heaved a sigh of relief and discontent, rubbing his eyes aggressively and letting his hands fall from his face. His crimson eyes opened and stared back at the water flowing beneath him. The black, dried liquid was still cast on his face, scratches still visible. Even after the vigorous washing he did…

Shadow frowned, dipping his hands into the water and going at it again. He looked at himself once more, but saw no change. His heart beat faster, increasing with each second. He panicked. Why were his wounds not coming clean? Shadow splashed more water onto his face, washing his hands directly into the poor, blood-ridden waters of the little stream in desperate attempts to stop the madness from engulfing him.

Was it a hallucination, or something real?

"Dammit…!" he cursed, voice cracking. This situation was tearing him apart slowly, starting from the inside. His mind was already deteriorating. He had seen death before; why was this any different?

Shadow gazed up at the orange-painted sky helplessly. He began to truly wonder what it felt like to be breathless, trapped in a permanent darkness just as Black Doom was. He let his head fall back to its place. Leaning over, he dug his hands into the ground for stability and closed his eyes. The water gave off a cool, pleasant aura that seemed to beg for Shadow to become one with it.

He pondered.

But didn't go through with it.

He sat back up, his eyelids falling halfway. How lonely he felt…even after defeating his sworn enemy, he felt so alone. To be near someone – someone who would never judge him or treat him like an item or just another experiment, or someone who would appreciate his existence – was his true desire in this world. It was, so far, going unfulfilled.

Suddenly, Shadow's crimson eyes caught something; a beam of light – one that was not too far from where he sat. It summoned his attention, and he gave into it quickly. The hedgehog turned to his side, setting his hands into the dirt and leaning forward for a better view. Unable to gain much sight, he crawled toward it, finally able to identify the piece of metal.

His breath was trapped in his lungs. Eyes widened, he found his hand reaching out in front of him, grabbing a spiked crescent-shaped metal. A chain sourced from it, trailing down to the ground and to another end. His stomach sank, twisting itself into a fearful nausea. He swallowed the knot in his throat as he held the decoration in front of his face. The sun gleamed on the tarnished gold, reflecting light onto the broken hedgehog. This was Black Doom's; there was no doubt.

He stood, looking around in a frenzy. As disgusting as it sounded, Shadow had to find his corpse, otherwise he would never be at rest. He found a clue to a probable event – something terrifying that he dared not even think of – and he needed to prove himself wrong. He started forward, finding a strange strength boil deep inside of him, beginning his search.

"Black Doom!" he cried out in desperation. His voice was full of anger and anticipation; he was so mixed about the alien's demise, it startled him.

He left no place unsearched, but came up with nothing. There was no pool of blood, no remains…

That was the part that frightened him the most. He was gone. Black Doom was gone without a trace. Shadow suddenly felt helpless, uncertain if his enemy was even dead at that point. After doing so much to him, Shadow would definitely be dead if he ever saw that tyrant again.

He had never felt fear in his life before; not like this. He hadn't felt such panic, weakness, and shock in his life either. Perhaps, he realized, their relationship was causing this aftershock. Shadow had seen human fathers and their children and saw how strongly they held onto each other. He gazed down at the talisman sitting in his hand, frowning at the deep, rich red gem in the center. This entire war had spoken novels about Shadow; he began to see his old family in a different light. Gerald had called him "son," true, but it wasn't technically accurate now. Maria was always seen as his sister; but now, it didn't seem so.

He had killed his own father, and his own family.

Shadow closed his eyes as a calm breeze caressed his ebony and crimson quills, forgetting the pain that had been inflicted upon him within the past week. He had caused irreversible damage to his view on the peaceful life he lived fifty years ago simply by letting his thoughts roam freely.

Shadow the Hedgehog sank to the ground, clutching the talisman close to his chest, letting tears of sorrow run from his eyes after holding them back for so long. He was the one who prevented the weight of the world from lifting from his shoulders; it was he himself who took the reins of his own life and decided where he was to go. For years, people had decided things for him – who to be with, what his destiny was, where he was to live, how long he would stay in one place before moving onto another.

It was all up to him now.