Little ShaDows

Chapter Twenty

Pulling her baked goods out of the oven, Amy Rose took in their heavenly scent with a deep breath. Ah, so warm, so wonderful...Was there any smell greater than that of fresh peanut butter chocolate chip cookies?

'You know, there's like a zero percent chance of him coming today.' her inner voice informed her.

'I'd say it's more 50/50.' thought the ever optimistic pink hedgehog.

'He's not going to come around in a matter of weeks, Amy. This is Shadow we're talking about.'

Amy rolled her eyes. 'It hasn't just been a matter of weeks. It's been a total of thirty-four days, eight hundred sixteen hours, and forty-eight thousand, nine hundred sixty minutes, not including today. If you ask me, that's more than enough time.'

'...You are hopeless.'

'Yep!' she agreed cheerily and set the tray of cookies down on the kitchen counter. She then spent a moment examining her handiwork.

'There's only a small chance, I know, but...it can't hurt being prepared.'

She smiled and nodded to herself, taking off her oven mitts. The idea of baking his favorite cookies every week came to her yesterday night and she had gotten to it this afternoon. Sure, if he didn't come she was going to have to eat them herself or give them to friends, but that was alright with her. She just needed to have a constant reminder of him around, something that bore a strong attachment to him. The pillow had lost his scent...

Her eyes watered. She shook her head, wiping them and chuckling. These days she cried much too easily.

The ring of the doorbell helped her shake off the sad feelings.

'Come on, Ames. Pull yourself together!' she chided while making her way to the front door. She undid the lock, turned the doorknob, and plastered a big happy smile on her face as her visitor was revealed. Her eyes met his.

"Amy." he said simply.

She shrieked and slammed the door shut.

ooOOoo

Shadow raised an eyebrow. He hadn't been sure of what to expect from her when she saw him, but having the door slammed in his face? That was...surprising, to say the least.

A minute later the door was flung open again, but before he had an opportunity to make a sarcastic remark about her actions, he found himself coming under attack, assaulted by a barrage of words.

"Hi Shadow, sorry 'bout that, you just kinda startled me so don't think anything bad like I don't want to see you or anything cos I do and I was waiting like I promised, but I wasn't expecting you to come back, not like right now, though I was hoping you would cos I made these cookies just in case and I thought, you know, just in case you came over I'd make some cookies, so I made some cookies and here they are! Do you want some?" She held the plate of treats up to him, huffing and puffing. He blinked, shocked at her outburst. But within the moment, he collected himself and nonchalantly picked up one of the delicious treats.

"Thanks..." he muttered.

"You're welcome!" Amy beamed a little too ecstatically. Her grin, coupled with her wide eyes and disheveled hair and clothes, made the poor girl look half-crazed.

"I baked them especially for you, you know, just in case you stopped by and all, so you can have as many as you want!"

Shadow stared hard at her. The intensity of his crimson eyes sent shivers through Amy and it required all of her effort not to tremble. She swallowed and decided to try for conversation.

"Um, how have you been?" she asked.

"...Fine..."

"Your arm is all better?"

"Yeah...Your ankle?"

"Oh, it's good as new!"

"Hm..."

She swallowed once more, struggling to maintain her smile. The nerves were seriously getting to her. Her stomach was performing somersaults and her heart was racing at a thousand miles per second. She felt the sting of tears in her eyes.

'Hold it together, Amy!' she told herself. She had to be stronger than this. What would he think of her if she were to break down right here in front of him? Would he see her as weak and pathetic? Would he walk away?

"Amy..."

Her eyes regarded him. His expression held a hint of concern.

"Is something wrong?" Shadow asked.

"Oh, no no. I'm alright." she lied, feigning a smile which didn't come close to reaching her eyes. "Would you, um, like to come inside for a bit?"

He looked away. "I have to get back to work soon."

"Oh...Wait, you work?"

"No, I sit around all day watching television and eating cookies." he deadpanned. She blushed.

"You know what I mean! You have a job? Like, not secret agent ninja, but a real, normal job?"

He raised an eyebrow. "I was never a secret agent ninja while working for G.U.N."

"You're not working for them anymore?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Because I quit."

"But why?"

"...I no longer desire that life." he said, gaze drifting off to the side. "I am no longer suited for it. Things have changed and I'm ready to move on from here..."

Her chest tightened. "You're...You're moving?"

"...Yes, I believe I am."

"Wh-Wh..." she paused, collecting herself. "Where to? Is it far?"

His eyes returned to her and the startling gentleness within them nearly caused her composure to crumble.

"No...it's not far. For a long time I didn't even believe the place existed, but two months ago I unexpectedly stumbled upon it. Because I didn't know how it would look or feel, for awhile I failed to recognize what it was that I had actually found. But now I know. There, in that place, is where I discovered a happiness unlike any other. And, until I return there, I can never be truly happy again. Amy, do you understand?"

The pink hedgehog was trembling, shoulders shaking and hands quivering so that the cookies rattled about in their plate. Her eyes blinked repeatedly, desperate to keep the tears in check. They were losing the fight.

"I-Is that what you came to t-t-tell me? That y-you're leaving?" she squeaked.

Shadow frowned. "Amy-"

"No, i-it's fine. It's alright. If you're hap...happy there, then I'll...I'll be happy for you. But I won't st-stop waiting, Shadow. I'll be here. I'll...I'll always be here. S-S-So if...if you ever want t-to come visit, just know I'll be...I'll be..."

The tears broke free. She couldn't do this. She couldn't be strong. When she had first seen him she thought her prayers were being answered. Her hope had soared. But he wasn't here to tell her he would die before he ever left her side again. No, he was here to tell her the exact opposite of that. He was leaving! And she couldn't understand it. She had believed that the only place where he had ever known true, genuine happiness was here, in this house with her. Had she been wrong? Was there really someplace else, someplace away from her that brought him happiness?

She honestly believed the sorrow would strangle the life out of her heart.

The plate of cookies was suddenly gently pulled out of her grasp. Amy's distress was too great for her to realize what was going on, even when she felt strong arms envelop her in a warm embrace, her own arms automatically encircling his torso. She sobbed into his chest, soaking the fabric of his t-shirt with her tears.

"Amy...you can be as dense as the Faker at times."

Ignoring his cryptic words, her crying continued.

"There's a box in my pocket. Pull it out." ordered Shadow.

The volume of her sobs lessened a bit.

"Amy, I need you to get it now. I have to get back to work."

She said something, but her muffled words were incomprehensible.

"Speak up, Amy."

She removed her face from his chest and spoke once more. "Which pocket?" she asked miserably.

"Front right."

Sniffling and keeping his body wrapped by one arm, she reached into the pocket of his jeans and jerked out a small, velvety black box. Lips pouting, she eyed the thing like it was her worst enemy.

"That's yours if you want it."

"What is it?" she snapped, angry he had so rudely cut short her crying session.

"A question for you to answer."

He ended his embrace and grabbed her arm which still held him, removing it from himself but not letting it go afterwards. Amy looked up at him quizzically.

"I'll come back at 6 for your answer." he told her.

"My answer?"

"Yes."

"At 6?"

"At 6."

She sniffed. Something major had just happened. This was obvious. What exactly was it? She hadn't the slightest idea. But he was coming back and knowing that lightened her heart a tiny bit.

Their eyes locked and Shadow was not afraid of the siren residing within her emerald green sea this time. There was no danger of drowning in those waters. It wasn't a sea of death, but of life.

He smiled. An honest to goodness smile. Amy's knees almost buckled.

"You will be here." It wasn't a question.

"I'll be here." she answered anyway. "Sha-Shadow..."

"What?"

She swallowed. "You're...You're wearing clothes."

"I know."

"...You look cool."

He smirked. "I know."

They stayed there for awhile, neither one wishing to break eye contact. The words were on the tip of Amy's tongue. She could feel them, the way they popped and sparked like firecrackers. Her lips began to part. Her heart rose to her throat. She was ready to say it. This time she wouldn't hold back. She started...and then stopped. His eyes had halted her tongue. Her world was swallowed by crimson fire. Blaring out the softest whisper, that fire blazed strong and touched softly. She felt the pulsing warmth, flames throbbing in time to his rabid heartbeat. Those eyes hid nothing. She peered into them and understood. Soundlessly, he spoke the very words she had waited so long to hear.

Amy closed her lips. Her eyes glistened with new tears, but they weren't unhappy. She inhaled and summoned all of her strength, all of her emotion, and all of her being and with this...she shouted those words back to him, loud and soundless. Shadow saw. And he understood.

"At 6." he repeated.

"At 6." she echoed.

He released her arm slowly, reluctant to leave. It was time for him to go, though. He would be late if he stayed any longer.

So, tearing his gaze from her, he turned and walked off the porch, still holding his cookie. Amy stood frozen, tracking his every move. He got on his motorcycle, the engine rumbled to life, and he left without a wave or a last look at her. She didn't mind.

An eternity passed. She finally remembered the box in her hand. He said it was a question she needed to answer...

She smiled. In that moment when he held her and she had buried her face into him, his scent had been what filled her thoughts. It was odd, and yet it wasn't. She loved that scent. Without a doubt it was the best scent in the whole wide world. So warm and comforting, the smell of...

'Magic...'

...(The End)...

To every reader and reviewer a hundred thank yous for your support during the writing of this story. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm going to miss this...but I am happy.

Thank you all.