Nighttime was calm. The cold, crisp air enveloping Metropolis in a melancholy quiet. Well, quiet compared to more populated hours of the day. The whirring of cars going by was distant, a few blocks off. The metalic sound of his shoes clicking and scraping over the sidewalk seemed to be the loudest thing on the block. Most were in doors long before the sun went down, huddled behind barred windows. Aside from the severe temperature drop it just wasn’t safe. Crime had been running rampid for quite some time. While the Doctor retained a choke hold on the city, it was it’s inner most areas, right under it’s rulers nose, that was neglected by what could very easily be compared to robocops. Lawlessness went on without so much as a single badnik coming in to investigate. And even if they did, there were even fewer civilians who were willing to cooperate. Maybe that was how the Doctor liked it, keeping them all under his meaty thumb with fear and disconnect. As if the state of the economy wasn’t enough…
Work was scarce, even for an ageless, hybrid. After G.U.N. was dissolved, surrendering to the Eggman forces, much of the crew was discarded. He had only been spared on a whim as a memento of the Eggman lineage the Doctor just couldn’t bring himself to destroy him.
And so he ran.
Blending into the common and finding both comfort and shame in it. Even if this life were temporary, there was something unempowering about being spared. Being given the choice to live if only by showing his cowardice and continue in a world where he was nothing more than an ant on the hill. Whatever peace they found was only a veil they pulled over their own eyes. A form of denial that was only half formed, it’s transparency giving way to the bleak truth. Shadow surely found no rest in scraping by, and if he knew anything about his flatmate then neither did he.
Many of their comrades had been scattered, lost in action and after years without contact it was logical to assume they were dead. It bothered Shadow, scrapped over him more then he would ever admit. Amy was in poor health, and Tails upheld a job in the mechanics provence that was working him down to the bone. It was hard to keep up appearances and while he had always held them at an arms length, it was Sonic’s reactions that put him off kilter. The hollow way he laughed at their interactions. The wishful way he held them before departing. Shadow sometimes wished they wouldn’t come by at all.
But with his shoes clicking on the steps leading up to a complex. The weight of the day was settling there. The weight of how disproportionate his work was to the pay. Physically he could certainly take more, he hardly slept and could get along through a month with only a handful of resting hours under his belt. But it was knowing that this work was fruitless. That for months they had been behind on the exorbitant amount of bills, fees and taxes implemented on citizens. It was like a metric ton of lead on his shoulders. A few upper class areas still existed in the city but they're were reserved to humans. In fact Mobians were barely a step above full fledged segregation. And with Shadow, previously a government agent, now unemployed and Sonic having essentially no kind of financial ability. Well, it had been a rough year.
Today had been hardly any different from the rest of the month. He left the apartment before day break to visit a local source. One who handed out jobs under the table. Usually one time tasks that specialized in his line of talent. Intimidation, checking gang posts, doing stake outs that sometimes kept him away for a few days. He didn’t ask what his blue companion did while he was away, so long as there was some coin at the end of the month he couldn’t be bothered. Even with their history, the hybrid seemed more high strung than usual. Especially in light of his flatmates new interests. Containment had probably been the hardest on Sonic, without the freedom to be nomadic he had delved into more convenient past times. Expensive ones that often left him incapacitated; a liability.
Shadow rarely voiced his opinion on such things but he clearly didn’t approve. It made his gut twist to see the hedgehog act so uncharacteristically. No doubt brought on by a tab or a fine powder or what ever it was that he continued to find lying around their home. His expression twitched in irritation and he shook his head, untucking a key from the cuff on his glove. Willing away the thought as he pressed it into the lock and feeling it grind over the jagged mechanisms of the keyhole. A small unconvinced voice telling him to lighten up. At least he was home.