Awkward. If I were to describe the relationship between Shadow and I right now in just one word, I'd call it awkward. There really was no other way to describe it. "So... Good morning!" I'd greet him every morning time and again as I found that ebony hedgehog thigh-deep in the ocean, as stiff as a board and a makeshift spear in hand, hunting for our next meal. "Good morning." He'd reply just a bit too quickly to be natural, like he's been rehearsing this all morning in preparation for this greeting. Not once did he take his gaze off of the clear ocean. It was unnatural as heck, but it's what most of our mornings this week had been like. Awkward, quiet, and sometimes with a forced smile. That is pretty much what our conversations were like. And I could think of a few reasons why we were being like this. Shadow obviously stopping mid-confession for one, me giving a less then stellar response really didn't help either, and then followed the silent mutual agreement to avoid eachother as much as humanly possible. This lousy confession was driving us back apart, but neither one of us was actually doing something about it. Who knew working yourself past something like this could be so difficult? I've had several people confess to me so many times before. From Amy to complete strangers, I always handled it as delicately as I could. So why was it so hard for me to deal with it this time? Especially when I liked the person confessing to me?! Or maybe that's exactly it? Maybe it's because I return some of those feelings it suddenly became so much harder to deal with it? I don't know. I just don't. What I do know is what needs to be done. And that's where my lack of handling this situation comes in again and I realise I'm stuck in a loop. A very annoying and unnecessary loop and it was all my fault. Turns out I'm not always the hero everyone thought I was. "So what's planned for today?" I asked, trying to start a conversation and not disturb the fish getting used to Shadow's presence. "Nothing much actually. We have enough firewood and I'm taking care of food, so there's really not much to do today." Shadow responded not all that loud, glancing at me from the corners of his eyes for a moment. Turning his attention back to the water in front of him, the spear he held suddenly shot forward and impaled a fish right through its side. He's getting kinda like a pro in this. Deciding that Chaos Spears were far too messy and caused far too many casualties than necessary, this kind of accurate hunting was a skill he was now honing and he was doing it fast. It was honestly impressive. But this time he had caught a small one, just enough for only one of us. So he'd still be here a while to catch another fish. "'Kay, I guess I could, huh... Check if our shack is still bug-free?" I suggested in the most awkward way I have ever heard myself speak. Still, I was genuine with my suggested, but somehow Shadow took it the wrong way. As an annoyed sigh was released, I suddenly wondered what I had done wrong while also being reminded that Shadow has been reverting back to his old self. As in getting easily annoyed, being a general grump, and distancing himself from everyone. And by everyone I meant me as the population of this place was two. But out of all of them, there were only two things I could handle out of those three and it wasn't the last one. "Shad?" "There could be numerous venomous insects and arachnids in this place. Many of which we might not know and don't have an antidote for. So instead of laughing it off and making fun of my correct fear for these tiny monsters-" Losing that stiff posture he's been perfecting the last couple of weeks, he whipped around to face me and sorta yelled before I cut him off. "Whoa, whoa, hey! I'm not making fun of you! Where did that even come from?!" I couldn't help but ask in shock, putting my hands up in defense and wondering just how the heck he could ever think that I'd do such a thing. "Then don't make it sound so condescending and do it or just don't do it at all!" I quickly realized that this was an actual fight and it was continuing, though thankfully no actual punches were thrown this time, and I am honestly confused. "Okay, fine, I'll do it!" I decided to agree, figuring that it might get this over with before things got a little too serious. "Or you know what? Just don't do it, I'll do it myself later." Turning back around to concentrate on the fish again, though they were long gone now, Shadow had apparently ended this conversation as soon as it started and I'm still standing here and wondering just what that was all about. Sighing internally and placing my hands on my hips, I calmed down because letting my anger get the better of me really wasn't such a good idea right now. I wanted to know just what was his problem. "Shad, what was that all about?" I asked and watched him lose that stance again, figuring that he should probably answer. He didn't look back at me yet, though. "What do you mean?" Shad responded to my question with another question, even though he knew exactly what I was talking about. I'm just glad I didn't have a temper. Otherwise things might've gone a bit ugly. "Don't play dumb with me, Shadow." I said, indirectly demanding that he tell me the truth already. He shook his head, refusing the unspoken order. "I'm sorry. It was uncalled for and I should know better. I suppose I'm suffering from homesickness and that must be playing tricks on my mood." The darker hedgehog apologized as he had turned back around to look me in the eye again, figuring he at least owed me that much. I decided to accept it for now as he had been getting upset so easily lately, though not exactly this hostile before, but I knew something else was going on too. "I get it. Missing home sucks." I lowered my arms back at my side and Shadow visibly relaxed, glad to be left alone now. He didn't focus back on job yet, though. "Actually, there is something you can help me with." Shad stated, finally a bit more friendly. Holding the spear in both hands with the fish still impaled on one end, he left the ocean and walked to a pretty large empty place on the beach, where I followed him to. There was very little debris from the ocean like shells or seaweed, little to no plant life, it was pretty empty. It was here that Shadow came to a stop and looked back at me. "We need a signal. It's been three months already and we can't just wait around and hope rescue to accidentally stumble up on us someday." He said and I could see where he was gonna go with this. "You wanna try get someone's attention? Got a plan?" I asked, glancing at the horizon as if help could miraculously appear in the distance by just talking about it. "Exactly. I was thinking of using the surrounding stones to spell out S.O.S on the beach for helicopters to see or start a fire large enough to draw the attention of anyone passing by. If any rescue is searching this area or if there are any ships sailing nearby, they should see it and come for us." Shad replied and I think he was gonna go for the latter. We were definitely bound to get someone's attention this way! "Great! I'll start gathering as much dry wood as I can find!" I don't think I've ever been this excited to start a fire before! This must be the way pyromaniacs feel! "Meanwhile I'll somehow divide this fish for the two of us. I don't think I'll get another opportunity to hunt today." Shadow was clearly disappointed with the missed chance and I don't blame him. It wasn't like there was a supermarket left of the nearest palm tree to get a nice meal for two at. "Sounds like a plan!" I responded and got to work. Looks like we finally have a plan that just might work.
That was pretty much the way our morning was spend. I gathered the driest wood I could find and meanwhile Shadow prepared our breakfast. We ate that one small fish he managed to catch with some fruit on the straightest twigs he could strip and use as a skewer, and afterwards I continued with my earlier task while Shadow helped out now that he didn't really have anything else to do. We searched the beach, took our quest to the forest, we picked up all the dry and fallen branches, twigs, and leaves we could find. And with as much as our arms could carry did we always return to the same spot Shad had chosen and threw our load on one big pile before returning. The rest of the day was spend searching and collecting. We had some homemade lunch and dinner along the way, took a couple of breaks, finally checked our hut for bugs and spiders without arguing about it this time, and by the time the sun had finally started setting, Shadow figured our pile of wood was big enough. Well, it towered over both of us and any more wood we could only add by throwing it up on top came tumbling back down, so it would have to do. Using his Chaos abilities, Shadow set fire to a torch and hoped to use it to light up the pile. We were counting on the wind to help us along by stoking it up. Thankfully, it did help to get it going and it spread all throughout the pile pretty quickly. Before we knew it we had one large fire going. It was hot, it was massive, it was shockingly loud, it was a safe distance away from our hut and the jungle, and it was surprisingly incredible to see! "If this doesn't attract any attention, than I don't know what will." Shadow stated and threw the torch into the pile aswell, proud that we managed to get this done and so was I. "Yeah, if anyone at all passes through here, than they're bound to see this. There's no way anyone can miss this!" I responded, grinning at a job well done. I was more than confident this was gonna work. Once it reaches its full potential, every ship and chopper was gonna see that smoke for miles! "And now all we need to do is wait." Shadow stated, rubbing his hands clean of filth as he turned his back on the pile of fire and walked a little ways away from it before he sat down on the sand to enjoy this feeling of accomplishment and the sunset. I decided to follow him before soon taking a seat next to him, crossing my legs and leaning back on my hands. Shadow was sort off sitting in the same position, though with a more straighter back as he just took more care of his spine than I did, which was pretty much the dumbest thing I could do. But that wasn't important right now. What was more important to pay attention to now was that thoughtful look present on his face. It made me wonder just what was passing through his mind right now. Breaking the silence might help me get to the bottom of whatever he was thinking of. "We should make fires more frequently. Our pyromania brought us back together!" I stated, which got a slight smile to appear on his muzzle and he nodded, but then Shadow quickly frowned again. "Sonic, listen... Sorry for snapping so much lately. It's just..." With a sigh Shadow failed at finishing that sentence. "Yeah?" I urged him to continue, an eyebrow of mine raising. He looked at me, kinda sadly so, but then gazed back at the horizon of shades of blue and orange and I was quickly reminded of the first time I had to admit to myself that I was falling for him too. That caused me to look away from him again, though I did take the occasional glance. "You should tell me what's on your mind. I actually hate how everything's become so awkward between us." I stated as I wasn't willing to let this conversation drop. If Shad has something to say, he better say it. "No, I don't want to argue anymore." Shadow shook his head, but I wasn't gonna let this rest. "Hey, no! Shadow, just tell me." While leaning forward with my elbows on my knees as I responded. When the darker hedgehog didn't answer, I decided to keep talking. "That wasn't the first time you've snapped at me either. Before I was apparently making you out for a wuss just because you're wary of the bugs on this island, you were getting annoyed whenever I tried to help out with something." I added, which helped bring a look of thought on his face. "It sounds kinda dumb, but it almost sound like you're trying to hate me. I'm not blind, Shad. And it's just the two of us here, we gotta have eachother's back." I finished and hoped my fellow stranded companions would finally tell me what's up and make life on this uninhabited and possibly unknown island more bearable again. Yeah, I wasn't being my usual goodie-two-shoes myself either as I did my fair share of avoiding aswell, but I had never actually gotten angry at him before. Another deep sigh left the other. I just hope that means he finally got something to say. "It's just hard for me to understand what happened that evening." He started and I could already tell he had a lot to get off his chest. "You admitted out loud that you liked me, or I thought you had. And lately you've been getting so worried so easily and for no apparant reason too. It made me believe we had this connection I was looking for, this spark Rouge told me about shortly before I left. So I suppose I was disappointed when that turned out to be false." Finally coming clean about the way he's been feeling this past week, it's making me feel kinda bad about it aswell. "No, disappointment isn't the word for it, more like confused. Maybe it's because I don't know people as well as you do, but I couldn't figure out why that evening went wrong as you seemed to know exactly where I was going. That, in turn, made me foolishly think that somehow believing you were playing me all along would make it easier for me to understand." Now that I'm hearing all of this it sorta made sense now. Well, it made sense if you knew Shadow. I didn't know what to answer now as I processed all of this new information. Obviously I hurt him with my 'that's what friends are for' comment from last week, though that was definitely not my intention. I should make this right, of course. The thought of Shadow actively trying to believe I was playing him for an idiot this whole time just because he didn't understand made me feel guilty for the way I reacted back then. Still... I don't think I'm ready myself. All this time I thought I was gonna be ready for it, that I was gonna handle his confession just fine, but now I had to figure it all out too. But I still should've just handled it better instead of giving him that half-assed reply. There was one thing I could tell him, though. "Shadow, you shouldn't ever think that I'm playing with you or making fun of you 'cause I'm not. My dumb mouth might not always say what I should be saying, but just know that I do care. Like a lot. It's just..." I wanted to reassure him, tell him that he was just seeing ghosts and that I do care, but now I found myself unable to finish that sentence. "Hard to figure it all out? I know it was for me when I first realised I felt something. You'd think the other person knowing would make it all the easier, but..." "It's totally not." While Shadow smiled in agreement and I just chuckled, we knew things were good between us again and now that botched confession didn't matter as much anymore. Man, why is this so hard in the first place? Why are we making it so hard?! I used to be stable and mentally and emotionally sound. Now my mind and heart were doing all sorts of weird things and they were making me do weird things because of it. I didn't understand any of this. Heck, Shadow wasn't even the first mobian I've dated. So why was this suddenly so hard? Because of the time that passed? Because Shad's a good friend of mine? Because we're all alone on an island with no one to stop us and all the privacy and time a newly blooming couple could ask for?! That last thought made my cheeks heat up in embarrassment just thinking about it and they were the kinda thoughts that never filled my head before. Well, when it concerned Shadow, that is. Oh man, the imagery! "Uh..." Glancing back at Shadow I found him staring at me with an eyeridge raised and his mouth slightly agape, giving a typical look of confusion. "you're blushing... Are you having a fever?" He asked, though he was unsure. "Nah, I'm fine. Just forget about it." I was quick to shrug it away. This time Shadow decided to let it go too, probably figuring that'd be the safest option to take. Continuing to watch as the sun set slowly at the horizon, we could end this day with eased hearts now knowing that everything was finally resolved and we could go on with our lives on this now inhabited island. Once I figure out what exactly I'm feeling for Shadow, weither it's just a close friendship or something more, I'll be able to give him an answer someday. All I need is some time to think.
"Hedgehog Island!" Upon suddenly blurting out something as random as this, Shadow looked up with a deeply agitated look from his attempts at keeping the fire going, which has been dying for hours already. Still holding the torch in his right hand, the dark hedgehog turned his head to look back at me, not entirely sure he had heard me right as his face almost seemed to say 'excuse me?'. "Well, we gotta name this place something, right? And we're literally the only mobians here! Two hedgehogs! So 'Hedgehog Island'!" I explained my train of thought behind the name I decided to give the island, but Shadow wasn't really sold on this amazing idea apparently. "I suppose we should call it something..." He responded in an uncertain way instead of just agreeing like he should be doing. "What do you mean? It's great and it fits!" I replied, but Shad simply moved his attention back to the fire again and tried to keep it alive. "Glad you agree." I muttered underneath my breath before I gazed back at the horizon again. It was in the afternoon now in our fourth month on the affectionately called 'Hedgehog island' and we've been succesfully keeping the fire going for the past two weeks now. Well, successfully until today. Glancing back at the fire briefly I noticed that it was living on its dying embers as most of the wood we had been feeding it were ash now. Shadow has been fighting to keep it going, but we had a minor rainfall last night and because of that all the wood was wet. Wet and therefore useless. Growing frustrated, Shadow just barely stopped himself from throwing a Chaos Spear and possibly spreading the wood and ash everywhere. So I moved my eyes to look back at the clear blue water of the ocean, not really feeling like it was a good idea to approach the angry Ultimate Lifeform as he stood there cursing and threatening a wet pile of wood and its apparent mother. I should probably only get involved until he's calmed down a little. Yeah, that would be the safest thing to do. Speaking of our victory fire, however, things were not working out as good as we hoped. We've been keeping it going for the past two weeks with fresh dry wood until the rain inevitably fell, but so far absolutely no one has come for us. We've seen no ships, heard no choppers. We didn't even hear the occasional airplane we used to hear back home. Besides the lovely sounds of nature, it was generally quiet. Out of all the daily things in life, music was what I missed the most. Yeah, I had music on my phone in my luggage, but that thing died as soon as it drowned in the ocean after the plane crashed. And that brings me to the only reason that I know which date it is today, which is due to Shadow's surprisingly reliable memory. You'd think a guy who suffered from amnesia before would have some trouble remembering, but nope. It's because of him that I know it's been four whole months already. Since I left early June, that meant it had to be about September now. It's been so long. Giving up on the fire for now, Shadow sighed and threw the torch down into the still somewhat soggy sand. Frustrated, he ran a hand through his quills. He so desperately wanted to keep it alight in case help still happened to pass our island by, which has not been happening for two weeks straight already. Maybe it's time we give it a break? "We'll get it going again later when the wood's dry, don't worry." I told him, shooting him a smile as I placed a hand on his shoulder to pull him away from his current source of anger. "Sonic, we have to-" "Yeah, yeah, but we'll get to it later. Can't light up wet wood, can we? You're supposed to be the smart one out of the two of us!" I keeping a strong grip with an arm now around his shoulder, I pulled him back to our hut and Shadow obediently followed, sighing deeply as he really did not want to abandon it for a moment. But at least he wasn't so stubborn and tried to fight a losing battle. "I just really thought it was going to work. You saw the massive smoke signal it send to the sky! How could nobody have seen it?!" Shadow's been getting worked up over that too, he was just because more audible about it than I was. We did count on our signal to work. We had a lot of hope set on it. With no way of getting out of here ourselves, rescue was our only way off this island, but already it didn't look like that was gonna work either. All we could do was keep the fire going and hope someone might stumle up on it someday. "Yeah, we both did, but it probably just needs more time. In the meanwhile, how about we get back to scouting Hedgehog Island? If we're gonna own it, we might aswell know it, right?" I suggested and watched Shadow bend over and grab the half of the melon he had been trying to eat for his brunch. With the rainfall we had slept in for once and when it stopped near lunch, Shad had cut a melon in half for us to share. We were pretty much starving now that we missed breakfast. It was while trying to enjoy his meal that he suddenly noticed the smell of smoke was missing and looked over to see our mighty pyre dying. Dropping the melon, he went sprinting over and I only followed when my own brunch was finished. Now it's been at least an hour of Shadow trying in vain to light it back up and his meal was now covered in bugs. "Filthy insects." The insult left him and he quickly threw the piece of fruit away, right back into the jungle it had come from. "Wow, that was an awesome throw! You were wasted at G.U.N, you should've totally joined a baseball team or something!" Once again I tried to lighten the mood, which was an attempt that didn't go as well as I would've liked. Shad was still pissed off. At the fire, at the weather, at the bugs, at my constant attempts at keeping things happy and cheerful. "Listen, Shad, I can't say this enough. That wood will dry, we'll find other food, and though it rained, it's gonna be another hot day just like every day before it! So don't be such a grump about it and enjoy having your own private island!" Not wanting to see him so down, I tried to cheer him up again. Shadow turned around to face me, his arms still crossed in front of his chest. "I suppose it's true. I just wish things didn't always have to be so difficult." He admitted and isn't that what we all think sometimes? "Yeah, it sucks, but nothing that's worth it comes easy, right? Neither will our rescue." Offering him a remaining piece of my half that I had been keeping at hand just in case. "I suppose that's true." The darker hedgehog replied, taking the fruit from me with a slight smile etched on his lips. That way he had at least something to eat, not that the Ultimate Lifeform would be all that bothered by something as puny as hunger. But he was coming around again, something that I liked to see. "You know what we are supposed to do now, right? We leave for the jungle and enjoy our very own private Hedgehog Island." I suggested, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. With huff Shadow shook my arm away and looked up to me. "Okay, now you're just trying to get me to say 'Hedgehog Island', aren't you?" He asked, amused by my attempts. "Well, you did just say it. In my book that's a victory!" I stated, earning myself a soft chuckle from him. "But okay, you win. Let's explore... Hedgehog Island." This time it didn't roll of his tongue just as smoothly as it meant giving in, but he called it that either way. "Great! Let's get going!" With that important discussion now taken care off, we could finally move on to other stuff.
My goal for the rest of the day was to cheer Shadow up, keep him from worrying over our signal and relax a little. There was little he could do about it until the wood dried anyway. But that required a sacrifice to be made, one that I had never imagined I'd ever have to make. It was one that made me feel like maybe it was a better idea to stay and set fire to wet logs or waste another whole day building a different pyre and probably finish by the time our original one would be dry already. It was one that made me regret not taking the chance to run across the ocean and possibly drown somewhere along the way. I, without thinking of the consequences, suggested we could go back to the lake we had been avoiding and finally see what our 'monster' was all about. While I could kick myself for even thinking of suggesting something like this, Shad's mood brightened up very quickly! Having wanted to check the lake out again, he immediately took the lead as we returned to the home of this elusive creature's lair. So that's where we headed. As we walked, I listened to Shadow talking in the background, making all kinda assumptions about the black shade. Like how it lived, what species it could be, if it was stuck in the water or if it could come on land aswell. Yeah, that hedgehog has really come around since our heart to heart two weeks ago. Things weren't as awkward anymore and that helped in making our stay bearable. Our hope got punched in the gut by rain, don't care if that doesn't make sense, but we at least still had eachother to count on. That was best done without arguing. Still wished I managed to cheer him up without involving water, though. "It shouldn't be much farther now." Shadow stated as he looked at the bark of a tree, staring at the carvings made very recently into the bark. Shad's been trying to develope a system. Either one of us could get lost in this vast jungle, Hedgehog Island was very big, by placing certain landmarks in certain places, like a type of carving into a tree, we'd know where, for example, the lake was. He'd write those carvings in his book and hoped that would help us stay navigated. It was quite a chore! That was also something he started keeping himself busy with back when we were putting some distance between us. He had already made a carved path to the lake, to that boar cave, that cave with the deceased lovers, and this one area that was pretty reliable when it came to fruit. So yeah, he's been busy. "Water, a lake, oh goodie!" I probably said that more sarcastic than I was supposed to as I followed Shadow when he continued to walk ahead. "Oh, it'll be fine! I'll do the swimming and searching for a creature. You can go ahead and sunbathe for a little bit." The other hedgehog said as he pushed a branch away, nearly getting a full face of leaves when his hand slipped. With a curse he walked on while I made no attempts at keeping a chuckle from slipping. But as the shimmering water of the lake peeked between the trees, my eyes were ready to pop out of my skull when I suddenly noticed a bug clinging onto the back of Shad's shirt. It was... honestly scary as all hell... No, it wasn't an insect, was it? It looked like it had eight long legs or were two of them pincers? It was black in colour and about as long as a finger. It kind of looked like a scorpion too, though I doubt it was one. Shadow stopped out of nowhere and his voice trailed off. "Sonic, what is that on my shirt?" He asked after he took a deep breath as he could feel something crawling up on his back. "I don't know what that thing is, but it should probably be killed by fire." I tried to keep the mood light, knowing Shad's absolute disdain for anything with more than four legs. I remember this one time when we all went to this one tropical resort last year when our two G.U.N agents finally managed to get some time off and come with us on a trip. We had gone to this really nice place with a beautiful white beach, a hot sun, a dense jungle with exotic wildlife, comfortable luxurious resorts, where they could cook us some delicious meals and mix the best drinks, and plenty of activities for an adventurous guy like me to do. It was honestly a great time for all of us. It was already late when we had arrived and so the first things we did was getting to our rooms to leave our bags and settle in before going down to the best local restaurant recommended to us by the resort's staff for some dinner. We had a great time while we were there! We talked, we joked, we laugh, got Shad to crawl out of his shell a little, it was awesome! But then Shadow, after unpacking his stuff before leaving for dinner just like the rest of us, had suddenly outright refused to go back into his room and would not tell anyone why. Instead he had stubbornly waited outside of his room in the hallway for Rouge to return from her 'not-date' with Knuckles before he dared to tell anyone. It was only then that we found out that the hedgehog would not go back in because there was a spider in his room. Boy, did we laugh. Like any good friend would, of course! The Ultimate Lifeform afraid of a itty bitty spider? Ridiculous! Except Rouge paled at the sight aswell when she had come back with some paper towels to pick it up after squashing it and had to alert the staff instead, who had called pest control because that 'itty bitty' spider turned out to be the size of a dinner plate. Anyway, that was the night we had all discovered the ebony hedgehog's apparent disdain for creepy crawleys. Which wasn't too surprising. After all, these weren't things he'd come across in a sanitary place like the Ark. He only ever learned of their existence on accident during his first year here on Mobius and it's been a scary journey of learning ever since. Now it's been a good couple of years and Shadow was standing in front of me, trying not to tremble as he could feel the thing slowly crawling upwards. I felt a slight spike in Chaos energy, telling me that he was ready to turn around and start throwing Chaos Spears in the hopes of hitting something that could very possibly be venomous. And I don't think he was gonna see where he threw those things either. "Sonic..." Shadow's fists were clenching and shaking from the effort. I could visibly see the cold chills running down his spine. "Hold on, Shad, I'll get it off." I suppressed my chuckling, deciding to keep snarky comments for after I get the weird bug off of him to lighten up the mood then. "Be... careful." Almost afraid to move, he stood there frozen in place, eagerly awaiting the moment I'd finally smack it away or something. So that's what I did. Standing directly behind him and with little thoughts for my own safety, slapping it away is exactly what I decided to do. Like an idiot, of course. In a span of just a few seconds did several things go as wrong as they could've possibly gone. I did get the insect off, but in doing so got the thing to latch onto my hand in a panicked frenzy, it crawled up my forearm in some vain and stupid attempt to get away from me, I yelled 'holy crap!' out loud for the first time in a long while as I tried to hit it again, except that pissed it off and got it sink its stinger into my skin. Yup, I was a complete idiot and it all went wrong in just a sonic second or two. And all because I had to be a macho who don't need no twig! It actually took me a full moment to realize that I had been stung, Shadow staring at me from over his shoulder as soon as he heard me freaking out and had seen me get stung by the thing. "Fuck!" I didn't curse often and especially the f-bomb was rare to hear me say, but that was the first word that came to mind when this terrible burning came from the sting almost instantly, the unknown insect letting go and running off into the bush. "Sonic!" Worry quickly took over as Shadow turned and wanted to grab my arm, which I kept out of his reach as I felt like his very touch would hurt. "No, I'm-I'm fine! It's just... Damnit!" I don't think I've ever felt this much pain before. In my life I've broken limbs, got burned a couple of time, bruised several ribs, I even died at some point at the hands of one half of a god! But nothing hurt as badly as this before. Death probably didn't win because I remembered very little of that exact moment. Within seconds did this burning pain take over my entire arm, throbbing the worst around the area of the sting. It felt like it was gradually becoming worse with each heartbeat. I've been stung before. Of course I have, I'm an idiot and that's just what we do, we get stung a lot. But no sting has ever hurt this much before. That whole limb was burning something fierce by now! At this point I even collapsed to my knees, holding that limb close to my chest as if that could help lessen it, my teeth clenched onto eachother as suppressed cries left. My threshold of pain had never been all that low, it was actually pretty high after all I've been put through with my weekly heroics, but this was definitely pushing it. "Sonic, if you'd just let me take a look!" Shadow's patience was wearing thin as he kept trying to reach for my arm to take a good look at it. Kneeling in front of me, he finally succeeded in grabbing my wrist to pull it towards him. Finally in his line of sight, he could inspect it closer. My whole forearm was growing redder and swelling up. Every inch of it felt tense and hot to the touch. Particularly the sting wound itself was pretty bad. Still, though it looked pretty worrisome to me, Shadow breathed an immediate sigh of relief. When he insisted on checking my mouth, my pulse, my breathing, and then asked me if I was feeling dizzy next, he seemed to be relaxing a little more. It's almost like I could see his own pounding heartbeat calming down. He decided to inform me of exactly why that was. "So far it doesn't seem like you're having an allergic reaction to the sting. That is already a good thing." He told me, smiling slightly while I was still in a whole world of pain. "Okay, fine, no allergies! What am I gonna do about this pain?!" I didn't really get how lucky I probably was for not having an allergic reaction to what was pretty much an unknown species of whatever that was with no hospitals nearby. Shadow seemed to be the most knowledgeable out of the two of us when it came to everything survival, medical, and science. So it was to him that I searched for an answer. "Ah man! I always thought I was too much of a man to cry, but I really want to bawl right now!" I hissed, my fists clenching until my sharp claws drew a little blood in my palms. Damnit! Screw spiders! Fuck insects! Every damn scorpion can go right to hell! Whatever the damn heck just stung me, I hope it burns and dies in a fire! "Sonic, please, calm down." Shadow was being the very definition of calm while I was pretty much losing it, placing his hands on my shoulders. I wasn't just in pain, but I was absolutely angry too. Seeing Shad so relaxed made that a little bit better. And then I saw another side to him that I never knew I'd ever see from him. I've known him to be caring since being stranded here with him after that plane crash four months ago, but this was almost... motherly. "Come on, up on your feet." With a strict grip on my other arm did he pull me up on my feet and forced me to come along with him towards the lake, though I wanted nothing more than to curl up, roll on the ground, and weep from the pain. I could only follow him and sit back down again on the shore, which is where Shadow decided to strip himself of his black top. By now I was ready to do the same. The burning was making me sweat profusely and I just felt like throwing everything off to try and combat this heat. "It'll be fine. I can't quite qualify as a doctor, but I do know enough to be sure that you're not having an allergic reaction. And I think I do know how to help relief you a little." The hedgehog spoke back up again after stripping off his top and soaked it in the cool water of the lake, wringing all the excess water out, before kneeling in front of me again and pressing it down on the area of the sting. "There. That should help." He claimed, giving me what I could only call was a comforting smile, his attempt at lightening up the mood. And he ended up being right. That pain was nowhere near disappearing, but the relieving cold did help against this horrible burning that bullied me. I could actually release something similar to a breath of relief myself. "You're right. This is so much better." I dared to grin again too as the chill was a massive help. It felt like I was regaining my sanity again. "However, I don't know how we can expect your body to react to this sting. For some insects and arachnids a fierce pain can last for a couple of minutes and for others it can take from half an hour up to hours with the pain coming in waves." He told me, leaving me to finish up for him. "So we basically have to play the waiting game." So I stated and Shadow nodded, giving me a look of sympathy. To say I wasn't looking forward to finding out exactly which delightful path my pain would take was a bit of an understatement. "But don't worry too much about it. Many people may underestimate the sting or bite of something so small, but I don't. I'll be here every step of the way. If you need someone to curse and shout at or punch when the pain becomes too much, than I'll be right here for you." He had this gaze in his eyes that I couldn't look away from as he talked. It was soft, genuine, the complete opposite of that ferocity I first came to know years ago. It was doing strange things to me. I think maybe because this caring, almost motherly, nature was a side he wouldn't dare show anyone but me. There are no doubts in my mind, not even his most trusted allies knew of this side. It drew me even closer to him. "Or if you simply need someone to sit here and hold your hand, that's fine too. I'll be here, no matter what, no matter how long I have to wait. I promise." This wasn't just about the sting anymore, of which the pain was acting up again. He tried to make it seem that way, but it wasn't. It must've been this newer side to him shown right now and made audible by his words that was the last straw. I hadn't seen this with Amy, not with one single fan that claimed to love me, with no one. This was what I had been looking for in a mate, in the one I'd spend the rest of my life with, all this time and I never realized it until now. I could honestly not control myself. I was ready. "Hmm?!" A hum of surprise left the ebony hedgehog when I grabbed his face with both of my hands and pulled him closer to kiss him full on the lips without another thought, without hesitation. The pain was flaring up again, but I didn't care. All that mattered to me right now was finally replying to those feelings he's been having, the same ones I didn't respond to weeks ago. Shadow did so too. Placing his hands on my upper biceps, he reluctantly deepened the kiss, not sure what else to do with his lack of experience. So he did what his heart told him to do and that was to carefully return it. When we eventually broke away, Shadow gave me a wordless 'thank you' for stealing his first kiss with a simple look of gratitude. "Should've done this ages ago." I stated, trying to fight my way through this wave of pain. "Yes, I agree. We've been here for so long, you should've gotten stung already." He responded, chuckling along with me before he hesitantly dared to start another kiss himself, capturing my lips with his and all I could do was answer to it. It's been four months by now. It took a plane crash, an uninhabited and unknown island to get stranded on, and a possibly lethal bug attack, but finally we were together and I don't think I ever wanna let go.