Sonic The Hedgehog - Ups and Downs
How hard have you ever worked to be noticed by someone? What have you put on the line and shown to the world in the hopes that the one individual you want to see notices? Just what limits can an individual have before they're fed up with trying and either decide to invest their time elsewhere or push even harder for what it is they feel has to be theirs? Obsession and determination can be difficult to tell apart, more so by the person exhibiting these traits in the first place. Even if you achieve your goal you might find that it wasn't what you really wanted all along. While this can apply to anything in life it is all the more complicated when dealing with the heart. Do you push harder and believe in yourself without doubt or do you relent? If you're Amy Rose you double down your efforts and break through your obstacles with whatever method smashes the hardest.
The pink hedgehog mobian girl's life was a complicated and often exciting one. She'd found herself drawn into adventures involving her friends on many occasions, early on as a damsel in distress to be rescued by Sonic the Hedgehog. While the heroic blue figure touted as the "fastest thing alive" never hesitated to help her when in need he was quick to leave the moment danger had passed. Amy at first took this to mean he must have been shy with expressing his feelings and made the attempt to start their relationship for him. This didn't go as she had planned. Feeling that maybe she wasn't engaging enough as an individual and wanting to learn to stand up for herself, Amy began to take part in adventures alongside her friends as a hero against various plights of the world. To this end she'd earned respect for herself and the respect of the hedgehog she desired, but still not his affections beyond friendship.
Frustration wasn't the word for it, Amy had grown down right upset over her lack of progress in making love bloom between them. Her friends tried to encourage her to let the fixation on Sonic go and focus instead on other drives in her life. However Amy had few desires outside of Sonic. She loved her friends and shopping and trying new and popular things. She'd even gotten a taste for adventure and truly had fun while simultaneously saving the world against evil forces like the villainous Eggman. But while all of that made her happy it didn't make her feel fulfilled. She wanted someone next to her, holding her hand and sharing romantic moments together. She wanted to feel like the attractive woman she knew that she was. Sonic never discouraged, insulted or outright ignored her but he still declined to return her advances. Now Amy had a plan to possible catch his attention, despite the protests of other parties.
"I'm not so sure this is a good idea." The soft yet polite voice protested behind Amy. It wasn't the first time she'd made a comment along these lines and the hedgehog doubted it would be the last.
"It's fine, Cream. I know what I'm doing." Amy responded to try and quell her friend's concerns. At the moment her attention was drawn to her mirror as she was alternating holding a red dress with white polka dots over herself or a different purple dress that was more form fitting. The polka dot one felt cute but she worried it was too childish. While the purple one had a more adult tone but she didn't want to give the wrong impression on her intentions.
"But I don't understand how this is supposed to get Mister Sonic to notice you." Amy let out a sigh, trying to keep her cool. Cream meant well but she just didn't understand. The idea was possibly a bit beyond her years as the little rabbit girl was younger than Amy but she'd been on as many world saving adventures as the rest of the gang. Cream was an innocent girl but certainly not a slow one.
"You see Cream, sometimes to get a guy to notice you you have to let him know that he's not your only option. It raises the stakes and forces them to make a move if they don't want to get left behind." The young rabbit still had a sour look to her face about the whole idea being posed to her.
"But a date with Mister Shadow? Is that really a good idea? He's so mean and angry all the time."
"Shadow's not that mean. He's just... misunderstood." Amy might have been giving the guy too much credit but she believed Shadow was good at heart. It was true he often fought with Sonic in a sort of rivalry as they were both hedgehogs with similar skills and abilities. Though he'd come a long way from when they first met him as an enemy trying to destroy the earth for one villain or another due to manipulation or outright lies about Shadow's past. Unlike the rest of them he'd been made in a lab as part mobian and part alien of some kind. Amy didn't really know all the details as it was a sensitive subject and Shadow was already a moody guy. While the whole thing might have sounded pretty weird to be honest it wasn't the most unusual thing Amy had come across in her time. Not enough to dissuade her from a first date in any case.
"I still don't like it." Cream said as she sat on Amy's bed and held her pet Chao, Cheese, in her arms. The little blue cherub like creature cooed at her in its odd language that Amy couldn't decipher but Cream somehow understood. "Do you really like Mister Shadow?"
"I don't dislike him. But he's not the love of my life. We're just going on a date to remind Sonic that I'm a young, beautiful woman and deserve a little attention now and then if he wants to keep my interest."
"Does he want to keep your interest?"
"He better." Amy grumbled to herself. "Now which dress should I go with? Polka dots or purple?"
"I like your normal red one more." Amy thought about that, maybe Cream had a point. If she showed too much interest in this date Shadow might fall for her girlish charms. This was just for fun after all, no commitments.
"Red dress it is then." Amy returned her other two to the closet, letting them wait for a day they'd find their use. She was already in her normal attire and thought it certainly was cute enough to be seen out on the town with.
"Isn't going on a date with Mister Shadow just to make Mister Sonic jealous a bad thing? It sounds like you're just using Mister Shadow to get what you want." The young rabbit could be rather astute in her observations sometimes.
"It isn't bad, we're just dating for fun. This is something adults do every now and then to spend time with one another. When you're older you'll understand." Amy fussed with her hair a bit, making sure it didn't fall out of place. "Besides if Sonic has a problem with it, maybe he should start taking me out too." That was the plan after all. Shadow wasn't aware of why she'd set all of this up but that didn't matter. She planned to give him her undivided attention and have a good time tonight, everything would turn out fine.
"Do you think if you have a really good date you'll fall in love with Mister Shadow instead? Or maybe he'll fall in love with you? Maybe you'll have a wonderful date and realize you're meant to be together and get married?" Amy wasn't able to hold back the grimace that appeared on her face when Cream suggested something like that.
"I'm... going to be doubtful on that one." Once she was sure she was ready Amy began to head out to the agreed meeting place. She'd thought setting up a public place to get together might feel less intimidating than going to their respective homes. "Don't worry though, I won't make him fall for me too hard. I'm sure he's already stressed enough trying to figure out how to look cool when he arrives."
On the rooftops of a skyscraper, a hero is fighting for his life and the lives of others. Racing against time, there is a bomb before him set to detonate in seconds. Two wires exposed on the device, one blue and one red. Only one choice to make, one wire meant to be cut. The one that will save everyone. He has no support, his friends have all be separated. It's now or never. Raising the wire cutters up he closes his eyes and chooses the blue wire.
The timer stops. The day is saved. The robot is disappointed.
"All that build up and no pay off." A mechanical man complained from his sitting position next to the couch. "How do you have a bomb like that and not detonate it? Such a waste."
"It would have destroyed the building and the bad guys would have won." The black hedgehog on the couch explained, currently laid out on his side with the remote control for the television nearby.
"If they didn't want to blow up, they shouldn't have been under a bomb." Shadow rolled his eyes but kept watching the movie regardless of his friend's complaints. Omega was a rogue Eggman robot that had decided it didn't agree with its master any longer after it had been put into storage. Since then his primary objective had been proving he was the most superior robot there had ever been and doing so by utilizing every weapon it could cram inside or onto its body. While his focus was usually on finding the next target to lock onto, Omega was becoming more intelligent and interested in the world around him as his A.I. took in new experiences. He still loved firing guns and blowing things up in flames but now you could actually hold a conversation with him as well.
"Well we have a lot more guns and explosions to go through. That was Fight Hard. Next is Fight Hard 2, Fight Harder, Fight for your Rights, Fight Hard 5 Finger Punch, Fight Hardest and Double Punch."
"Human title sequencing is confusing to process."
"I agree." Shadow picked himself up off the couch to change the DVD out for their next cinematic adventure, as he did they were joined in the living room by a third member of their household.
"What do you think you're doing?" A woman's voice asked with a scolding tone as she eyed Shadow getting ready to place the Fight Harder DVD into the player.
"Watching a movie. Why, did you want to join in?" Shadow asked and dropped the disc in the player, though the female mobian bat didn't seem very amused with his offer. So Omega provided further information.
"Despite the odd title system we have determined it to be the next sequence in the franchise. I can provide adequate summary of the previous film if desired." Rouge still declined however and stood in front of the TV as the menu sequence for the movie began.
"Shadow, I hope you didn't forget you already had plans for today." The black hedgehog stared back at his jewel thief and part-time secret agent friend with disinterest, clearly more concerned with what was on screen behind her than what she was trying to say. "A date with a girl if you recall?" He certainly did, but proceeded to lack any interest in the subject as he returned to his relaxed position on the couch.
"Oh, that. I'm not going."
"What!?" Rouge shouted, looking considerably more upset than usual.
"It's a waste of time. I don't know anything about dating so why put us both though the misery. Not that I agreed to it in the first place." Shadow glared at Rouge but she didn't budge from her standing position. While many people considered Rouge's figure to be very shapely and enjoyable all Shadow could think of at the moment was he'd rather she put her butt anywhere else instead of in front of his movie. She crossed her arms to show she didn't have any intention of relenting. "Why does it bother you, anyway? Last I recall you two weren't the best of friends."
"I am not going to let you stand up some poor girl and break her heart." Shadow rolled his eyes and glanced away from Rouge. He turned towards Omega but his robot friend was currently facing the other direction and playing something on a portable gaming system he kept inside his arm for occasions like this. Omega didn't understand most things that life forms did but he did understand not to get involved with an argument if he could help it.
"I think we both know I wasn't her first choice anyway." Shadow grumbled and now it was Rouge's turn to roll her eyes, understanding what he meant.
"Are you actually letting your ego problem with Sonic get in the way of you going on a date?" Shadow clenched his teeth in annoyance over having his issues drug out into the open like that. He hated having to discuss his feelings on any subject, Rouge being one of the few he allowed to get away with it since she was one of his only friends. "I don't get why you're being such a baby about this."
"I don't get why you thought it was okay to agree to something like this for me? You didn't even ask, just telling Amy I'd pick her up today."
"I didn't ask because I knew you'd say no." Well she was right about that one. "Besides you need this." However she was wrong on that as far as Shadow was concerned.
"I need to entertain some girl all day and cater to her desires?"
"You need to socialize! I can't be there for you forever. One of these days you're going to have to be able to talk to people without me to act as your buffer." Shadow sat up now on the couch wanting to correct her but not sure how to go about it. Instead he crossed his arms as well to convey his seriousness.
"I do fine speaking for myself."
"During work, yes. Intimidating someone, comes natural. Being a complete jerk, it's like an art to you." Shadow's eyes narrowed at that last comment. "But you're going to have to learn how to live with other people some day, Mr. Immortal Ultimate Life Form." He wanted to be upset but Rouge had a terrible habit of being right most of the time. Combined with her looking out for his best interests it made it difficult to argue with her. He sighed heavily.
"Fine. It's only one of my precious few days off after all." Shadow complained vocally and stood up from the couch, the bat woman's face turning to a bright smile when he finally agreed.
"Good, now go get cleaned up real quick before you have to go. You smell like a gun range."
"I'm fine like I am. Let's just get on with it." Rouge raised an eyebrow at that suggestion and slipped her hand behind his head, expertly dodging the sharper points of his quills to reveal a bullet casing she'd removed from his hair. "Okay so something got stuck there the last mission, are we done?"
"Omega, some assistance please?" Rouge requested and the robot rose to his feet from the sitting position on the floor. With careful, mechanical precision he reached into Shadow's quills with sharp talon like fingers and produced four more bullet shells, a grenade pin and what looked like a dirty nickle he must have picked up while rolling around. Shadow glared at Omega as if he'd been betrayed but the robot responded innocently enough.
"I thought you were keeping them in as a fashion statement... I liked it myself." Shadow sighed and relented. It wasn't his fault, when you curled up into a ball and rolled on the ground to attack enemies sometimes you picked up stray trash in your quills.
After a very thorough shower, Shadow was getting ready to leave on his motorcycle for a date he really didn't want to go on when all he'd actually planned to do today was watch mindless action movies. Rouge was of course in the garage with him to be sure he actually left and Omega tagged along simply to watch if Shadow would go through with it. The bat woman was looking Shadow over as he hiked himself up onto the seat of his vehicle. "I really thing you should have worn something. A shirt or a jacket, anything to spruce yourself up."
"This is fine, it's a date not a presentation." Rouge sighed and shook her head.
"You really are hopeless. This is exactly why you needed me to set this up." Shadow audibly grunted in annoyance. "You have money, right? A girl doesn't like a cheapskate when she's being taken out." Shadow reached under one of his gloves and produced a debit card for his bank account. He didn't use it very often as the G.U.N. organization provided him with nearly everything he required, but it was nice to keep on hand. "What about cash?"
"I have the card, why would I need cash?"
"You have to have cash on hand, Shadow. What if you go some place and they don't accept cards or you need to leave a tip?"
"So I won't tip anybody."
"Just a ball of sunshine today, aren't you? Here, I'll lend you some for now." Reaching between her cleavage Rouge produced several folded bills and counted it out before handing it to Shadow, who was looking away embarrassed as he took the wad of money and slipped it under his other glove.
"Did you have to pull it out of there?"
"This outfit doesn't have a lot of pockets." Rouge said with an amused smile at his discomfort. "Do you know where you're going to take her?"
"I'll just ask her what she wants to do, should make her happy." Shadow could tell by the expression on his friend's face that wasn't the correct answer. He sighed heavily. "I don't know? A carnival? A movie?" Rouge didn't seem very impressed with his suggestions but the black hedgehog was losing patience with this game. "A street brawl?"
"That would be more your style, wouldn't it? Just try to be a gentlemen and be decisive. I know you're capable of that. Be sure to pay for dinner too, it doesn't look good for a man to have a girl cover her own meal on a date."
"I'm buying her dinner now too?"
"Well of course, a girl gets hungry when she goes out on the town. Now get out there and make me proud. I want to hear good things when you come back."
"Yeah yeah..." Shadow said and started his bike, pulling out of the garage and driving away from the military base to where Rouge had arranged his meet up with Amy. The remaining members of Team Dark watched Shadow drive off. Once he was out of sight Rouge made her way back into the house and Omega followed behind her like a curious, metal puppy dog.
"Do you believe Shadow will prove successful in his mating ritual with the pink hedgehog?"
"Doubt it." Rouge answered quickly. "I'll say this, I don't envy that girl tonight having to take care of him. It'll be a good learning experience though."
"If you believed Shadow would fail in this mission, why were you so insistent upon his participation?"
"Because now Mr. Gloom N' Doom is out of the house and I have control of the television." Rouge said, finally revealing her actual motivation behind this date. "Sometimes a girl just needs a day to relax, you know? Order me a pizza while I change into my pajamas, partner. We have a movie marathon to watch."
"Continuing 'Fight Hard' mission under new parameters." Omega said with an uplift in his mechanical tone once he realized his day got to continue as he desired. Rouge went off to her room to change into something more comfortable. Sure she really did hope Shadow had fun today, but either way he was sure to have an amusing story when she saw him later tonight.
Amy stood in front of a fountain in Station Square's downtown area. It was only a short walk from the bus stop and large enough to be easy to spot for anyone in need of an obvious land mark. Perfectly suited for her needs for today. She wasn't really sure how Shadow would be arriving and figured much like Sonic he'd just roll in at super speed on those weird jet-skate-shoe things he always wore. Being able to run super fast was useful in a variety of situations but she didn't intend to run around as if she was doing a work out or have her date carry her everywhere for people to gawk. If he did pop up on foot they'd either have to take the bus or get a cab. Were Shadow to have a problem with that he'd simply have to come up with a better solution. Thankfully for her that had already been arranged.
Roaring from down the street Amy could hear the engine of the black and red motorcycle the matching hedgehog was riding towards her. With little traffic on the road he maneuvered his bike towards the curb and stopped directly in front of the pink hedgehog who was smiling brightly at his method of transportation. "Am I on time?"
"Right on the dot." Amy said with more excitement than she'd intended and hopped onto the back of Shadow's motorcycle without awaiting his permission. She was still earning some glances from the local people near by but they were welcome compared to what she'd been dreading before. Thus far Shadow was earning points for showing up looking cooler than expected. "Where to first?"
"There's a theme park at the docks." Fair games and rides, huh? Not what she'd expected from the tough guy with a mysterious past, but she didn't have a problem with it. Honestly it had been a long time since she'd enjoyed something like that.
"Sounds good to me, let's ride!" Amy said with enthusiasm and wrapped her arms around Shadow's waist to keep steady, not noticing the sigh of relief Shadow made when she agreed to his suggestion. Once they were on the road they were flying and the sound of the engine made it difficult to speak without shouting but Amy didn't mind. Things were starting off well. She'd been worried that he would have choked at the beginning and not thought of anything for them to do. Thankfully he wasn't rendered too awe struck by her stunning good looks (as far as she thought anyway).
When they arrived and Shadow parked his bike she came to a sudden realization. "You don't wear a helmet while you ride your bike?"
"Don't need one." Shadow answered curtly.
"But what if you were to get into a car accident?"
"I'd live." Amy raised an eyebrow at such a sure response and Shadow took note of her body language. "I'm the Ultimate Life Form, a car accident isn't going to kill me. If anything I could jump off the bike before it crashed. Or just teleport." That was right, Shadow had some super powers that were even beyond what most of her friends could do that battled against Eggman. That lead her to another thought though.
"So you'd just leave your bike to crash and jump to safety?"
"I'd save the bike if I could."
"Hey wait, what about me? I don't have a helmet either and I can't just teleport."
"You could jump. I've seen you fight, I know you're strong enough." Shadow got a nagging feeling and turned his head to see Amy glaring daggers at him for that response. He realized informing his date she should jump to safety if there was ever an accident probably wasn't the most gentlemanly thing to say. "Or... I could save you."
"Before you'd save the bike, right?" Shadow's eyes nearly broke contact with hers at that question but he managed to keep himself solid.
"Yes, of course, without a doubt. Oh look, we're at the front of the line. My treat of course, just a minute and I'll pay." Happy to end that conversation as soon as possible, Shadow made his way to the ticket booth and purchased entry into the small theme park on the docks. He didn't know how long they'd be there for so he just purchased a pass for all day for both of them. When Amy was presented with her bracelet to allow her access to all the rides it seemed to soften her up from their previous conversation and Shadow felt thankful for the power of a few kind gestures on her temper. After that they were off.
While Amy seemed to enjoy herself Shadow found the rides boring for the most part. It wasn't that they were poorly made, he simply found it difficult to be thrilled by roller coasters when his daily life had him battling robots and performing deadly stunts while running at super speeds. But this wasn't for him, this was supposed to be for her. He still didn't see the point of it though as he felt disconnected from the dating experience. It was as if he was an accessory to her day out. Amy would chatter about herself, how much she was enjoying the rides and where she wanted to go next but for Shadow it was just time being filled. Rouge was going to get an earful when he got back to base.
When they'd exhausted the amount of rides Amy had desired to go on (finally), the couple found themselves walking past the midway games. Amy was glancing at the games and Shadow was sizing them up as well, wondering if any of them were something he might find entertainment out of. Though while he was spying on a game of darts where you had to pop a series of balloons on a wall Amy had wandered off to another booth. Shadow followed after the pink hedgehog to see her admiring a stuffed, plush Chao doll. "You want that?" Shadow asked her directly.
"I bet Cream would love it." So she was thinking of someone else when she looked over the prizes. That... impressed him actually. He was sure she was just looking to get what she wanted for herself. Reaching under one of his gloves Shadow approached the human teenage boy working behind the booth.
"I want to win that." Shadow thumbed up at the stuffed toy, but the teenager didn't even look up his way. Instead thumbing through a magazine while he worked at the booth. Thankfully he at least heard Shadow when he spoke.
"Gotta knock down all three bottles, bro. Five bucks gets you three chances." The disrespect wasn't appreciated but Shadow ignored his rude behavior and lifted his glove to pull out the wad of cash Rouge had given him. Shadow slapped five dollars onto the counter and the teenager produced three wooden balls in exchange for them.
"Would you like to try?" Shadow asked Amy and offered her the carnival balls for her to throw, the pink hedgehog smiling slyly as she took them. At least she wasn't mad at his dumb slip up.
"One prize coming right up." Amy said confidently as she threw the first ball and managed to hit the trio of bottles stacked like a triangle dead center. Though unfortunately it only knocked off the top one as the other two remained standing. "Oh come on."
"That's one." The teenager behind the counter said and earned an annoyed glare in unison from both hedgehogs. Amy reeled up and threw the next ball with more strength than Shadow had anticipated. There was a loud "thunk" as the ball hit the second bottle and it rolled off the table. They must have been weighed down heavily. "That's two, one more for the win." Amy grinned confidently as she threw the final ball and hit the bottle at the edge of the lip, making a smaller thunk and causing the bottle to tip but not fall over. "Oh, so close." The lack of enthusiasm was met with equal measure by Amy's agitation.
"Are you kidding me!? I hit that thing perfect! Is it chained to the table or something?"
"Five dollars, three balls if you want to go again." Amy put her hand out for another five dollars from Shadow and the black hedgehog sighed and gave her the money. It was pretty obvious she wasn't leaving without that prize for her friend. Slapping the money down in a manner very similar to Shadow's own earlier she was provided three more wooden balls and lined up in front of the next set of targets. Shadow noted there were only three stacks of bottles set total and thought if Amy missed he'd still let her go again if just to force this kid to stand up.
The balls flew, all in rapid succession like they were being fired out of a turret. The resounding sound of wood slamming against thick plastic rung loud enough to get a few passer-byes to look her direction. Once the assault had flown the top bottle had shot off the stack, the second rolled to the floor and the final one slid but didn't fall. Amy's eyes were practically burning. "This game is rigged!"
"Five dollars, three balls if you want to go again." If looks could kill that teenager would have hit the floor of the booth dead with the glare Amy had for him. Shadow however pulled out another five dollars and laid it on the counter.
"I'll give it a go." He said with surprising calm for having just been robbed.
"Shadow just... it's okay, we don't need to give this cheat any more money." Amy said feeling defeated but it didn't deter Shadow.
"Give me a chance." He said confidently enough for Amy to believe him. Walking over to the final batch of bottles Shadow tossed the first one and knocked over the top bottle much the same as Amy. Naturally the booth attendant chimed in with all the enthusiasm of someone that would rather be doing anything else.
"First one, right on target." Picking up the second ball Shadow gripped it in his hand and it started to glow with a green energy. One of the abilities he could do with the energy that allowed him to teleport was also fire said energy at a target with great results. An attack he named Chaos Spear to reflect the source of the energy and shape it took when he used it. Normally he reserved this kind of power for enemies he planned to thoroughly destroy but there were a few non-lethal tricks he could pull with it as well. Tossing the now glowing, wooden carnival ball it flew with enough force to break the remaining two bottles on the table. The second one flying off into pieces while the third snapped in half with the bottom portion still stuck to the table. The booth attendant looked up for the first time after bits of plastic bottle rained down onto the booth floor. "Uh... second one..."
"I think I win." Shadow said smugly and Amy was nearly jumping for joy seeing her date beat the rigged game.
"Well, technically bro the bottom of the bottle is still on the table, so..." Shadow held up his last ball and covered it in the same green glowing energy as before. "You know what, that's good enough. Here you go." Handing over the plush Chao doll that had probably never intended to come down from its hook since it had been placed up, Shadow took it and passed it along to Amy. Leaving the kid to clean up the aftermath of the game. Amy was giggling to herself happily and Shadow had to admit he felt good after that. Few things cheered him up as much as beating someone at their own game. Hot off that success Amy requested they ride the Ferris wheel as it was the last thing at the park they hadn't been to. He wasn't thrilled to get on another boring ride but Shadow felt good enough right now to go along with her.
Once they were in the Ferris wheel car it closed up and began to rise slowly to allow other couples to fill in the remaining seats before it would spin consistently for the ride. Amy was taking the time to look out over the water and see the sunset against it. The view was nice and it was a great end to their time at the park. She sat the stuffed Chao nearby, a tiny symbol of her victory against what nearly ruined her date. She looked across the car to see Shadow was staring out the opposite window, looking at the city instead of the sunset. His posture was slumped and his eyes weren't really focused on anything as he watched the skyline. "Um, Shadow?"
"Yes?" He asked just as gruff as ever.
"Thank you, for winning this for me. I appreciated you stepping in like that."
"Don't worry about it. Never liked anyone that takes advantage of people."
"I guess that's what was happening, even if it was just a midway game." Amy sat forward and crossed her hands onto her lap, tapping her fingers together nervously. Shadow took note of her behavior and sat up as well, crossing his arms and sitting up straight.
"You look like you have something to say."
"Well I was just thinking... I don't know a lot about you, do I? I've never asked before. Or maybe I never had the chance to ask, we don't usually see each other unless the world's in danger."
"Or you're preoccupied with-" She was sure he was going to mention Sonic but the name caught in his throat. "...with other things that are important to you." In a weird way she was happy he didn't bring him up. While Sonic was usually her favorite subject to talk about at the moment she didn't want him to make their situation even more awkward.
"Yes, well, right now it's just the two of us." Shadow raised an eyebrow and she wished she'd phrased that better. Did it sound too forward? She wasn't trying to make it a situation like that. Best to just keep going like nothing was wrong. "Soooo um, can you tell me about yourself?" Shadow's body relaxed a little more in the seat as he talked but his arms stayed crossed as if to put up a wall between them.
"What do you want to know?"
"I dunno, anything really. All I know about you is you work for the G.U.N. military and you hang out with Rouge and Omega. Do you have other hobbies?" Shadow was quiet for a moment as he thought and Amy was about to repeat the question to test if he'd even been listening when the hedgehog finally replied.
"I like watching movies." With the blandest answer Amy could have asked for.
"Well that's... nice, I guess? What kind of movies?"
"Action movies, usually. Omega likes those the most."
"You watch them with Omega? I didn't think robots would like movies."
"He eats them up, anything with explosions and gunfights." Shadow's arms dropped out of their defensive cross in front of him as he talked. "Rouge doesn't care much for them so we usually have the television. I don't think she likes T.V. much."
"You all... live together?" Amy wasn't surprised the robot lived with Shadow, they were in essence both guys and seemed to make good room mates with their jobs involving a lot of violence. But the idea that Rouge lived with him too was unexpected. She thought the jewel thief would have secured her own home and hideout a long time ago.
"Sort of, we all have a house on the base that was set aside for us. Omega and I really don't have any other place to live but I'm sure Rouge has some places she hides out at. But the base pays for our power, water and food so it's convenient."
"I guess that makes sense." The more she thought about it she figured it was okay, boys and girls could live together without there being anything romantic involved. Besides Rouge wouldn't have agreed to set up this date if there was something between them. At least she didn't think she would. That woman was hard to understand. Almost as difficult as the guy in front of her. "Do you like living with them?"
"It's convenient for work." Shadow replied and didn't elaborate further. Talking with him was frustrating but she wasn't going to give up just because he was playing it close to the chest.
"Alright then, why did you decide to work for G.U.N.? Didn't they give you a lot of trouble before?" Shadow's posture changed again at that question, his legs crossing and arms folding over his chest once more. If nothing else Amy was learning how to gauge his body language and reactions with each question. Which boiled down to various levels of "defensive" and "stand-offish".
"I had a debt to pay."
"To... to everybody. I caused a lot of problems, you were there for that. I needed to do something that would help someone." Shadow's body tightened up some more, clearly not comfortable with this question. Amy figured she understood part of the reason at least, what with the terrifying events of the aliens that invaded earth and tried to get Shadow to join their cause. In the end though he decided to help everyone instead, and it was that kind of behavior that made her think deep down he must have been a good guy. "What about you?"
"Yes. You. You go out of your way to help people when trouble arrives. So why bother when you're not getting a paycheck like I am?" She didn't expect to have her question turned around on her like that. Amy thought about the answer to why exactly she got herself caught up in dangerous situations one after the other.
"I guess I did it for..." Don't say Sonic. Even if that was partly true don't mention him. She could even feel Shadow watching her and waiting for that name to come out. "For myself."
"I don't have some kind of debt to repay, or any kind of great power or responsibility, you know? I mean I'm really just getting lucky most of the time when things work out for me on adventures. But before when I'd get in trouble someone else always had to save me. I started to hate that. I wanted to be able to stand up for myself and help others too. So I just kind of... fell into it." It felt nice to confess that to someone. She'd struggled with gaining her own self-respect for years but never actually said it out loud before. "I suppose that isn't as exciting as your reason, huh?"
"It's a good one." Shadow said. "Standing up for yourself and others because it's the right thing to do. Not everyone's as pure as that."
"Oh. Well, thank you." Amy said with a cheerful smile. "I don't know if you still feel you have some debt to pay, but I'm glad you're friends with us Shadow."
"Yeah... I suppose I am." Shadow looked away with his response and seemed to be uncomfortable in his chair. Amy couldn't figure out what she'd said that bothered him but at least he didn't seem upset. "Do you want to go to a movie?"
"After the ride ends? Sure! That sounds like fun." It was the only thing he'd said he enjoyed doing after all and Amy wanted to give a little back after he'd taken her out to have such a good time. Besides she didn't have to be home any time soon. May as well enjoy the evening to the fullest.
After hopping off the Ferris wheel and onto Shadow's motorcycle the couple was off again to the closest movie theater they were both aware of. Shadow had shared that even though he did like watching TV with Omega he had never actually gone out to see a movie in a theater before. Amy wanted it to be a good time for him so she decided that he could pick out the movie. Even though action films weren't something she normally watched the experience wouldn't be so bad. Besides if he enjoyed it then she'd have done something nice for him on this date.
Arrival at the theater stuck them in line to get their tickets, which was fine because it gave Shadow a chance to look over the movie posters and decide what he wanted to see. Since the concession stand was separate from the ticket booth Amy took it upon herself to get them some snacks. She hadn't eaten much today so when she came back from the counter it was with an armful of sodas, pop corn and candy. Shadow looked her pile of snacks over and retreated a little from the site of them all. "Well I thought you might be hungry too." Amy said innocently.
"Are you sure you want that much? Won't we be eating dinner later tonight?" Amy's eyes widened at the suggestion.
"You're going to take me out to dinner too?"
"Well, yes. Is that a problem?"
"No! No, not at all. I'll be glad to go." Amy smiled happily and walked with a little more bounce in her step. Shadow didn't seem to understand why she was so cheerful but it didn't matter to him. Things were working out pretty well so far. Once they were in the theater and had chosen their seats Amy set herself up to get comfortable and enjoy the film. "Oh I forgot to ask, what did you get us tickets to?"
"Some film called The Green Hills Have Eyes. I'd never heard of it but the guy that sold them to me said it was the most popular movie out right now. Sound familiar to you?"
"Oh. That movie." Amy gulped as she sat still in her chair. "Yeah, yeah I've heard of it."
"Is it good?"
"People seem to like it. Y'know, if you like horror movies." Which Amy didn't. Something about them always spooked her and she usually couldn't sit through one without screaming at least once. But she vowed to let Shadow choose what he wanted to see and she was going to sit with him and not ruin the experience. Her sudden stiffness wasn't lost on the black hedgehog though.
"I can ask for a refund and choose something different if you want."
"I'm good!" Amy said, raising her voice a little higher than necessary.
"Positive. Don't worry, everything will be just fine."
A little over an hour later two hedgehogs were exiting the theater together while the movie still played behind them. One looking ashamed of herself and the other annoyed through the mess of popcorn covering his head and stuck on his quills. "Sorry..." Amy said feeling humiliated.
"If you didn't like scary movies you didn't have to force yourself into one for my sake." Shadow flicked off several pieces of popcorn but managed to keep finding more. Amy had succeeded in covering him with the snack food almost completely right before they decided to exit the theater. Previous to that she'd managed to scare everyone else around her with a frightful scream and leave an imprint of her hand in Shadow's arm where she'd been gripping tightly ever since the monsters started to appear. Now that she was out of the dark theater the pink hedgehog had regained her composure but was still embarrassed.
"I feel so stupid." Amy said and kept her head down low. "And I made you leave the movie before it was done." Shadow wanted to be upset but his features softened when he saw how hard Amy was being on herself for causing them to walk out.
"It wasn't as good as they said it was anyway." Shadow admitted. "I've seen a lot of dumb movies but that one was just messy for cheap scares." Despite him trying to lighten the mood Amy still was looking depressed, obviously taking this a lot harder than he was. His body tensed, wanting to tell her to get over it but he could already see in his mind Rouge's angry face if she found out he made a girl cry on a date she set up. Forget about it, just push to the next thing on the check list. "Where did you want to eat tonight?"
"You still want to go out?" Amy said looking at him hesitantly.
"Yes, the movie didn't matter to me." That didn't seem to cheer her up either so it left him scrambling for how to correct that problem. "What I mean to say is you ruining the movie didn't matter to me." Amy's eye scrunched up as if she might begin to cry and Shadow panicked. "I mean I'm not mad at you! I just... I don't know what to say but I don't want you to be sad anymore and I want us to eat food." Amy's face went from being teary eyed to smiling and laughing lightly at Shadow's outburst. "What...?"
"That is the most straight forward way to try and cheer a girl up I've ever heard anyone say. 'I don't want you to be sad anymore and I want us to eat food.' That sounds like something you'd hear from a robot."
"Well I do work with one almost every day." Amy kept smiling and seemed to be over her embarrassment now. She was a confusing girl to predict, very emotional and sensitive, but also energetic and with a little bit of a selfish side. Not that he could complain too much, Rouge regularly reminded Shadow that no one else could work with him but her and Omega. Once the couple was out of the theater Shadow shook his head repeatedly to try and remove all the popcorn that had been stuck on his quills. It didn't work perfectly but he got most of it out.
"Can I help?" Amy asked and after being sure no one was watching Shadow relented and allowed her to clean him of the offending snack food. She quickly removed each of the obvious pieces and ran her fingers through his quills to find any others hidden a little deeper. "Wow, I really got you good with these."
"Hmph." Shadow responded, crossing his arms and hoping this would be over soon. Being covered in snack food was humiliating enough without a girl fawning over him like a fussy mother. "You're able to move your hands through my spines without hurting yourself?"
"Well I take care of my own on a regular basis, you know." Amy said proudly. "Besides yours are sharp but not that difficult to move through. They just curl differently." Shadow's eyes turned downward as he considered that. It was such a small thing to mention but it was refreshing. Usually he focused on what made him different from everyone else, rarely did he consider the similarities. "One is in here really deep. I just have to... there!" Amy said as she pulled her hand out, looking at the offending item that had been stuck in Shadow's hair. "Wait, is this a bullet shell?"
"Hm, thought I got all of those out." Shadow wasn't very bothered by her discovery, so Amy discarded it thinking it must not have been important. He did work on a military base after all. "Ready?" Mounting up on his bike Shadow started the engine and Amy hopped on behind him, getting used to this method of travel.
"You bet, let's just head into the city and stop wherever looks good." That was as good a plan as any to him. Revving the engine he took off into the street and began to drive.
The city lights surrounded them as they drove and Amy seemed to be taking it all in with excitement. Being out without having to battle monsters or evil robots gave you time to admire your surroundings and even Shadow had to admit it was a nice change of pace. So much so he began to drop his guard and relax more around her. Sure he never forgot that this was all still some set up done without his input, and Amy was probably more interested in what Sonic was doing right now than wherever they were headed. None of that mattered while they were in motion though. He could let himself be peaceful for a change.
At least he could have until the sound of multiple engines came roaring from down the street. Amy was looking back to see who was approaching but Shadow just kept facing forward. He'd run into a few motorcycle gangs in the past since he'd received this bike from G.U.N. For the most part they kept to themselves and even complimented him on his ride. But sometimes you ran into a bunch of punks that just wanted to cause trouble. He really hoped for the sake of tonight it wasn't the later.
Though when did things ever go right for him?
The road he was on had two lanes each for traffic going either direction and the pair of hedgehogs found themselves surrounded quickly. On his right two humans, a man and a woman, filled the lane while on his left a hog road up on a hog. That is to say a male mobian pig driving his motorcycle was unnecessarily close to Shadow in his lane while they drove. He could see sitting behind the pig was a female mobian lizard. Shadow didn't have time to turn his head but behind him to round out the gang was a male mobian bear and hyena. Six members in total, five bikes altogether. If he wanted to race past them it would have been simple but with Amy on his back Shadow didn't want to risk it. He'd hoped they'd lose interest in them and pass by but that proved difficult as they came upon a red light. Grumbling to himself Shadow came to a stop and the gang around him did as well.
"Nice bike you got there." The human male on his right called out to Shadow, standing up on his own to look it over.
"Thanks." Shadow took a moment to look theirs over as well and discovered it wasn't what he'd been expecting. Their bikes didn't look like anything he'd ever seen before, and a lot of them had mismatched colors or poor paint jobs covering their exterior. In fact with all the odd parts it was starting to look like something he recognized. "Interesting ride."
"Like 'em?" The pig on his left asked, sounding proud of himself. "Put them together myself. All from parts we found lying around that nobody wanted anymore."
"That so? If I had to guess, looks like they came from Doctor Robotnik's badniks." Badnik was the common term for the robots Eggman regularly used in his attacks on various targets. They looked somewhat childish on the outside but if you underestimated them they could cause some damage. G.U.N. went out of their way to recover any broken robots Eggman left behind, Shadow figured the parts these guys had stolen must have been from some place Sonic and his friends had cleared out. That hedgehog never cleaned up after himself.
"Guessed it right! That fat old man always leaves good stuff lying around. Be a waste to let the dump take these parts. So me and my boys ride in style."
"Style. Right." This had to be the longest red light in history, Shadow felt. He wasn't interested in a conversation.
"That's a nice bike you got too. Where'd you get it?" Shadow's grip on the handle bars tightened when they began to eye his motorcycle.
"Company appointed." Shadow answered and earned a round of "Ooooh" from his audience.
"Looks like we got a wealthy Company Man, boys. Aren't you impressed?" They all laughed together and Shadow felt a great desire to just blow their bikes to pieces and ride off. However he was trying to keep it cool, not like he could just fly off the handle when he was supposed to be on his best behavior. Amy meanwhile was sitting back with her arms crossed and a frown on her face, annoyed with the chatter around her. The human girl on her right in particular was staring her direction and Amy glared right back.
"Can I help you with something?" The pink hedgehog finally asked, sick of this already.
"Just wondering if Company Man here with his Company Bike was babysitting for the night? Isn't it past your bed time?"
"Excuse me!?" Amy shouted and suddenly stood up on the back of Shadow's bike, surprising even him when she popped up to get slightly taller than the girl she was yelling at. "You think a couple of brats on pieced together bikes from Eggman's leftover junk intimidate me!?"
"Amy..." Shadow said trying to sound stern before she got herself in trouble. But it was too late for that. The lizard woman on the other bike taking a turn in antagonizing the girl.
"Tell you what little girl, why don't you and Company Man hop off that bike and let us take it for a ride? I'm sure his insurance could cover it." Okay they were really starting to work Shadow up now, but somehow they got Amy to fly into a rage first. The pink hedgehog putting her hands on Shadow's shoulders to lean forward and get closer to where the lizard woman on her other side could hear.
"I am not a little girl! Now if you all want those heaps of scrap metal to stay in one piece I'd suggest you get moving." Shadow had thought he was intimidating when he was angry, but Amy was very clearly ready to smash their bikes into bits. The gang of bikers might not have been aware of what she could do but Shadow had already seen her smash a fair share of robots with that hammer of hers. Before Amy could follow through on her threats though the bikers behind her spoke up.
"White's a good color on you!" The bear shouted at her with a laugh.
"Shake that tail for us, girl!" The hyena followed along with obnoxious laughter. Amy realized what they were referring to and dropped down quickly on the back of Shadow's bike, realizing she'd been giving everyone behind her a show of what was under her skirt. She didn't know whether to be humiliated or enraged. Anger was winning out though as Amy held up her hand and her larger hammer appeared out of a puff of pink smoke. Shadow didn't know how she did that but when the hammer came out things were getting serious. Once she drew her weapon they drew theirs, five guns made of similar mismatched materials and components taken from destroyed badniks. Things were getting serious.
"Get off the bike and we'll let you and Pinkie go free. What do you say, Company Man?" Their hog leader asked with his gun leveled on him. Shadow weighed his options, looking around their would-be muggers. Despite the circumstances Amy hadn't put down her hammer, ready to jump off the bike and take the fight to them. Shadow watched the rest of the cars at the four way stop and made his decision.
"Amy, put your hammer away."
"What!? Are you actually going to give your bike over to these rude, obnoxious-"
"Amy! Put the hammer away." He could feel her shaking with anger behind him but she did what he said, releasing her hand and letting the hammer disappear back to where ever it had come from. The gang laughed in triumph, their pig leader very proud of himself.
"Smart move. Now get your red highlighted butt off my new ride."
"Just a second." Shadow said and held a hand up to the gang leader.
"What? What do you mean-"
"Wait wait... wait..." Shadow said as he watched one of the last cars make its turn, the stop light finally turning green. "There we go. Alright, you're fat and your girlfriend is ugly. Grab on, Amy." Shadow said as he hit the gas and Amy managed to put her arms around him at the last second, the couple racing off down the street. The biker gang sat there dumbfounded for a moment before realizing they'd been insulted and gave chase.
Shadow had a lead on them and his bike was a good deal faster than the motorcycles they'd pieced together from left over parts. Though he didn't push himself as fast as he could have gone for safety's sake and his passenger. Not that she appreciated it. "You should have let me whack them."
"They had five guns on you and you had a hammer." Shadow countered while keeping an eye on the road.
"I've gone up against worse. Couldn't you have arrested them or something?"
"I'm a special unit with the G.U.N. military, not a cop. But... yes, kind of. They're not allowed to pull guns on soldiers and get away with it."
"So why didn't you?"
"Because I was trying not to get you caught up in a brawl in the middle of the street."
"I can handle myself in a fight."
"I'm not doubting that just... why do you care so much anyway?"
"They looked up my skirt and made jokes about it!" Amy snapped loud enough to send a shiver through Shadow.
"You're the one wearing such a short dress."
"I look cute in this! You should be more appreciative of it." Shadow grumbled to himself, wondering how a simple date turned into a race through the street. He didn't have time to dwell though as two of the bikers managed to catch up with them. It was the pair that had been behind them before, the bear and the hyena. They began to close in on Shadow, looking to sandwich them in and most likely try to knock them off the bike. Shadow wondered if he'd actually have to resort to violence in dealing with a couple of punks, but as they got closer Amy was the one that took advantage of the situation. Her hammer appearing in hand with a puff of pink smoke and swung with great force.
Despite being on a moving vehicle and using just one arm she accomplished her goal. The hammer collided with each of their bikes, leaving a large dent and pushing them both off the road to make emergency stops. "Serves you right you perverts!" Amy shouted back and Shadow was beginning to wonder just how violent this girl was.
"Not really, their bikes were still in one piece." Shadow smiled, it was an answer he could support. Shortly after there was an odd, electric sound as beams of light passed by them at high speeds. The couple looked back to see the two human members of the biker gang following along after them and firing those odd weapons that were made from the converted Badnik parts. Trying to force them off the road was one thing, but firing weapons at them directly was too much for Shadow to ignore.
"Children shouldn't keep dangerous toys." Hitting the brake Shadow slowed himself down rapidly on the bike and let the two bikers pass him up. While his tactic had surprised them the look on their faces slipped from confusion to elevated fear when they saw his hand glow with green energy. "Chaos Spear!" Directing his hand outward Shadow hit the human girl's gun with a blast of energy, shattering it into several pieces that went scattering along the road. Seeing the weapon fall apart in her hands was enough to convince her that she should retreat. Once abandoned the human boy followed along as well, getting as far away from the hedgehogs as he could.
"That's that! We're really lucky there's so few cars out tonight." True, had the streets been more crowded that could have gotten messy fast. "Uh oh, looks like we still have company." Shadow looked back to see the hog boss riding up towards him after his gang had been dispatched. He let himself slow down to allow them to catch up. The hog had his gun in hand but didn't look very confident in using it after they'd dispatched the rest of his gang.
"You really want to do this?" Shadow asked over the speeding pavement. His opponent didn't look like he did, but kept his weapon raised.
"Just get off the bike!" He shouted at Shadow and the black hedgehog held up a hand that glowed with green energy to illustrate what would come next. The hog's female passenger was less intimidated by Shadow than her boyfriend though.
"You stupid kids better give up now before we knock you onto the street!" She practically hissed at them but it didn't faze either of the hedgehogs. In fact Amy was feeling a little cheeky herself.
"What's that? Sorry, I can't hear you back there. You'll have to speed up." Maybe it was childish, but when Amy said that Shadow hit the gas a little more and pulled ahead of them to force the hog to push his bike harder. "I think all that weight on the back of your bike is slowing you down!" If Amy's goal was to infuriate their pursuers she'd done a good job with the lizard woman, the female biker all but breathing fire as she screamed back at Amy with a string of obscenities. Even if her words couldn't actually hurt Amy she still had an alternative.
"Give me that!" Shouting at the Hog driving the bike she pulled his gun out of his hands and fired it in a fit of rage. Luckily she missed the bike completely. Unluckily she hit the front of the street they were riding on with a single shot that knocked a manhole cover right off the pavement and into the air. When the metal cover went flying the Hog gang leader made evasive maneuvers and drove off the road and down another street to avoid an accident. Shadow would have been thankful for this if the sewer entrance she'd exposed hadn't been directly in front of himself and Amy. When the tire hit the opening at high speeds it dipped just enough to collide with the lip of the hole and send the bike and its passengers through the air. Shadow was reminded briefly on Amy's question earlier about why he didn't wear a helmet.
Time seemed to slow down in that moment as his bike went soaring and he sprung off of it with his legs. If it hit the pavement it was without a doubt going to be damaged badly, even with the reinforced armor and parts applied to it from G.U.N.'s own private garage. There weren't any pedestrians on the road so no one's life was at risk. But a glance over head revealed that Amy was flying through the air farther above him and in a few seconds would collide with the street as well. She could probably land on her feet if she regained her composure fast enough. Maybe... possibly...
"Chaos Control." Shadow spoke as his body disappeared in a flash of light, appearing next to Amy and grabbing her around the waist. In another flash of light Shadow used his powers to warp them both onto the sidewalk, away from the street and danger. They both stumbled as their momentum carried them several steps before stopping altogether on their feet, Amy looking around and realizing she was no longer on a crash course with the hard pavement. Lower her arms she felt Shadow's hands still gripped around her waist and felt her cheeks get hot when her eyes finally met his.
Was this a moment? Something special? He just saved her life, it was natural for him to continue holding her afterwards. Maybe not for this long but still... why did she feel suddenly warm by this embrace. It must have just been the excitement of the chase and the near crash they'd been a part of. Her emotions were running wild and confusing her was all. He was still looking at her though, still close. She had to say something. Thank him? Anything, she just had to get words out. "Shadow, I-" Those words were cut short as the sound of metal scraping against stone rang out through the street and over powered everything around them. Shadow's embrace left Amy as he ran over to where what was left of his bike had landed, looking down at one of his few possessions in life sitting in a heap. "I... I screwed up so bad."
Somewhat under an hour later Amy was sitting at a booth in a diner, a glass of cherry soda with a red straw on the table in front of her. She'd ordered it a while ago but hadn't taken a sip, instead preferring to stare at it while she was lost in thought. The diner wasn't bad but this was hardly the place she'd pictured dinner would be spent tonight. After a few moments Shadow joined her, having returned from the service garage across the street where they'd brought his motorcycle in after the accident. The accident she caused as far as she was concerned.
"They said it shouldn't be too difficult to repair, it was mostly the front wheel that was damaged. I'll have to fix or replace some of the other parts when I get back to base but it should still run."
"That's good." Amy said quietly as she tapped her straw, not looking up. Shadow raised an eyebrow at the lack of response from the girl.
"I know it's not what you expected but this was the only place to eat nearby." Amy realized Shadow was watching her mope and sat up straight.
"No! No it's not that, this isn't bad I just... you know..." She clasped her hands together on the table and sighed deeply. "I'm sorry I ruined your bike."
"You? You didn't ruin it, those punks on the road did." While it was true they were the direct cause of the accident Amy still couldn't shake her part in all of this happening.
"I'm the one that made them so angry." She said shakily. "And I'm the one that teased that girl until she shot at us and caused the accident."
"They were already shooting at us." Shadow corrected, opening up the menu for the diner. "We're lucky things turned out as well as they did. No one got seriously injured." He was so calm and pragmatic about the situation that it actually made Amy upset.
"But... but I asked you to come out tonight and things turned into this. Right after that mess with the movie and now you're paying to get your bike fixed and it's just I'm really mad at myself!"
"You don't have to be." Shadow said calmly. "I'm not going to get angry at you if that's what you're waiting for. Besides I don't spend my paychecks on anything other than food and detailing my bike. This isn't going to hurt me any."
"Okay..." She said and tried to calm herself down. "I don't know why I get so upset sometimes. I wish I didn't." Shadow closed his menu and looked across the table at the pink girl with the green eyes that shook now, threatening tears. Maybe she was right that some of this was her fault but he didn't have to let her sulk in that. At least she was responsible enough to admit her part in things which he thought was an admirable trait.
"You're not alone." Shadow admitted. "Rouge often tells me I can angry over things without thinking. I'm um... usually not as calm as I am right now."
"Oh? You're not upset at what happened?"
"Well if I see those punks again they're going to be sorry. But there's no reason to get angry over something that couldn't be helped." Shadow thought it over a little deeper and came to a realization. "I think that I'm... usually more mad at myself than I am ever at other people."
"Yourself? Why's that?"
"I don't... deal with failure very well." That was an understatement but telling her he lashed out when things didn't go right wasn't something he wanted to say out loud. "I'm supposed to be the best at what I do. I was literally made to be superior. So anything that goes wrong feels as if I'm not living up to the one thing I was supposed to be." He didn't know how to phrase it without also dredging up the fact he's a living weapon made for the benefit of some alien invaders. Reflecting on the past can be weird sometimes. "Maybe that doesn't make sense to someone that wasn't put together in a lab." Shadow realized with that one sentence why he got along with Omega so well. Even if Amy couldn't share in that kind of experience his feelings seemed to get through to her.
"I think you're selling yourself short." Amy said bluntly and it confused Shadow for a moment.
"Calling myself superior and "Ultimate Life Form" is selling myself short?"
"It's limiting. Think about it, you're only considering the parts of yourself that were made to do something. You're more than that now, aren't you? You have a house you live in and make personal decisions and work on motorcycles and watch action movies. Weapons don't do all of that."
"Omega does half of those." Shadow said and couldn't stop a small smile from appearing on his face.
"Well just because he's filled with weapons doesn't mean he's just one either." Amy countered and smiled back. It was an uncomfortable feelings, opening up like this to someone. But it felt nice too. It was just a shame Shadow didn't know how to continue it, tapping his feet lightly on the tile floor and sitting awkwardly in silence. Mercifully the waitress saw he'd returned and came by to take their orders. Once their requests were made it was easier to get back to conversation. "So um... what did you think of the date so far?"
"You mean between the motorcycle accident, being covered in popcorn and terrorizing a biker gang and some kid at a carnival booth?" Shadow asked jokingly. "Not bad."
"Well this is... you know... the first one I've ever gone on." Shadow waited for a reaction, to see if she'd laugh or tease him any but she didn't look as if she planned to comment on the fact. "I don't go out a lot between work. So it's had its ups and downs."
"Like our quills." Amy said suddenly and Shadow stared at her in confusion for a moment before looking at her hair. It then dawned on him that her quills curved downward, like a normal mobian hedgehog's would. While his curved upward at the ends due to his odd genetics. "Ups and downs."
"Yeah, I guess so." Shadow said with a little amusement. "Though maybe you should have yours going up while I have mine going down. It may fit us better."
"Think I'd look cute with a style change?" Amy asked with a wink and Shadow had to look away for a moment. The gesture with the smile somehow caught him off guard. "I'd have to grow them out for that kind of look though. Besides I think they're the right way on us both. You need more 'ups'." It was an interesting way to wish him better things in the future.
"You feel you need more 'downs'?"
"Maybe I need to slow down sometimes." Amy said and it was her turn to look away now with a shy smile. "I'll admit that I don't really get to do this sort of thing a lot either. Go out... with a guy, you know? So it's nice to get a chance to spend time with someone."
"Really? Considering what I've heard about your hobbies, I thought you spent time out like this a lot."
"Just what are you implying there?" Amy asked with narrowed eyes, Shadow seeing a spark rise in her similar to when that gang confronted them.
"Not what it sounds like. Just that you and another guy went out a lot."
"Oh. Yeah, well..." Amy stopped and chose her words carefully. "We do hang out together a lot but never really... like this." It occurred to Shadow he didn't really know a lot about the details of Amy and her legendary crush. In fact maybe the stories of her chasing Sonic had outlived the reality. "I love being with my friends and all but we're either together as a group or off dealing with something crazy. Usually Eggman. It's never one on one like this. No one usually slows down for me, you know?" He knew. Or maybe he just thought he knew. Shadow had to remember this wasn't something he did often and didn't want to interpret things the wrong way.
"I guess I never took the time myself to even consider doing something like this before tonight."
"It's nice, huh?" Amy asked cheerfully with an infectious smile that made Shadow relax at the sight of it.
"Yeah, I think it is." It was very nice and relaxing. Even fun at times. Something he would consider doing again? He had to wait and see how it all played out, or if she'd actually want to do this with him again. Their food arrived soon after and the couple decided to enjoy their dinner. Amy had ordered a tasty looking salad that was garnished with raisins and berries. Shadow had picked what had to be the greasiest sandwich on the menu and was currently enjoying the taste of it. Amy seemed bothered by the sight of the thing but was enjoying her meal.
"I don't know how you can eat that."
"What's wrong with it?" Shadow asked innocently, not sure why she'd be against it.
"It looks like I'd gain ten pounds just putting a bite of that in my mouth. I know you do a lot of physical activity but doesn't it slow you down eating greasy stuff like that?"
"Not really. My body processes all kinds of foods the same without most negative side effects like excessive fat storage. Essentially I can eat whatever I like and it doesn't alter my body type." Amy's grip on her fork tightened to a ball and Shadow saw a look of anger in her expression.
"I kind of hate you right now." Amy said through gritted teeth. "Every girl on Earth would love that kind of ability."
"Comes hand in hand with being an alien hybrid monster put together by a scientist in space." That description eased the flames in Amy's eyes when she realized the cost of his one super power she wanted above all others. Not teleportation or shooting energy blasts from your hands; eating whatever you like and not gaining weight. Women were hard to understand. "Besides why does it matter to you? Your body looks fine as it is." Amy actually dropped her fork on the table and picked it up quickly, blushing in embarrassment.
"Oh? Oh really? Well um, thank you for noticing. I uh... exercise a lot and try to eat right." Was she trying to act cute? Maybe. Either way it was fun to see.
"Well I guess I'm glad Rouge talked me into coming out tonight."
"Wait, you weren't going to come out?" Shadow's eyes got wide when he realized he slipped that one out. Biting into his sandwich he chewed to buy himself a little time in trying to figure out how to answer her question.
"Well... no. No, at first I wasn't going to do this."
"Oh. How come you changed your mind?" He could have said Rouge forced him out of the house. That was the truth for the most part, but if he'd actually resisted there wasn't anything she could have done to make him leave. So why did he come when he'd been sure the night was going to be boring and awful.
"She made me realize I needed to interact with people more. You were willing to ask me to do that and saying no would have been unfair to you. I needed to give you a chance, even if I was uncomfortable trying something new."
"Was I really that scary, Shadow?" Amy asked teasingly.
"Well you've proven you can have a bigger temper than me when you're angry." Amy's cheeks puffed at that statement and she was about to angrily correct him when she realized what she was doing and sat back in her seat. Shadow smiled smugly at her.
"Don't think I'll forget that just because you complimented me earlier." Shadow placed his hands up in surrender and Amy cooled down afterwards. "But thank you Shadow, for spending tonight with me. I do really appreciate it."
"You're welcome. I was surprised you'd asked me though." Well really she'd asked Rouge to ask him but that was besides the point. "I was under the impression that you were only interested in dating one man." Amy looked down at her salad uncomfortably when he mentioned that and Shadow regretted bringing that subject up almost instantly. But once it was put out there it couldn't be taken back. So with their cards on the table Amy played hers next.
"Well... to be honest you weren't the first guy I asked." He knew that was the case. How could it not be? "But I decided to turn to you instead because..." it hung in the air, heavier than anticipated. Obvious to everyone but still hard to face for some reason. Especially for her. "Wow I really am a selfish brat."
"I wanted Sonic to notice me." Amy confessed. "I thought that... I thought if I was out with you, specifically you, that he'd take notice and pay more attention to me. That somehow it would make him jealous I guess? I don't know, it was so stupid. It's so selfish and now I'm saying it out loud and I realize that Cream was right and I was just using you and you don't deserve that because you're really a nice guy. You don't deserve to be treated like... I'm sorry." Amy stood up at the booth and Shadow raised next to her just as quickly.
"It's not like I didn't think it when I agreed to this." He'd made peace with this possibility long before they'd begun their date. That it wasn't something she'd invested herself in, that it was just for playing around. He hadn't thought her intentions had been so premeditated when it came to Sonic but after everything that had happened it still didn't bother him that much. Amy however felt differently.
"That makes it worse!" Amy blurted out and ran out of the diner, leaving Shadow standing there and the center of attention for the other patrons. Was he supposed to chase after her? She was so upset and it was over something she'd done instead of him. He'd completely expected the opposite to happen tonight if anyone was going to be upset. Sighing heavily the black hedgehog sat back down and leaned his head on his hand, grumbling to himself.
"What would Rouge tell me to do?" She'd understand how to handle this situation, but she wasn't here and Shadow had to figure out how to navigate this on his own. Should he leave it be? Clearly she was upset and his presence just made it worse. But that felt wrong. Raising his hand Shadow asked for the check. He still needed to get his motorcycle back.
Sitting at a bus stop on a nearly deserted street Amy Rose awaited the vehicle that would take her home from the disaster of a night she'd set up herself. She didn't know what she had been thinking. Maybe that Shadow would turn out to be as gruff and rude as he appeared and that their date would play by the numbers and just end. That way she could have bragged about going out without having to feel any kind of commitment whatsoever. But things didn't turn out that way at all.
Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise but as it turned out, Shadow was a person. He had feelings of his own and was actually nice when he wasn't brooding or upset. In fact she'd enjoyed spending time with him tonight, even when things had gotten crazy or out of control. She'd become so comfortable with him that before she knew it they were confessing things to one another and now she let it slip that she'd just been using him. Cream was right, it was wrong to ask him out just to make Sonic jealous. In fact if she'd just posed it as two friends spending time together there wouldn't have been a problem at all, it would have been just that. But she had to add the romantic element to it because of course she did and now it was all a mess.
She needed to apologize to him later. Not tonight, she couldn't bring herself to face him but some time in the future. How? A gift with a card maybe? Something that said "I'm sorry for using you to make another guy jealous". Do they make cards for that sort of thing? Maybe if she got him a box set of movies that he liked it would ease things between them. At least she learned a few things about him from tonight before it all went down the drain. Now here she was riding the bus all the way back home from even farther away than where she started. Who knew how long it would take her but she was willing to accept that as punishment for her decisions.
Or she would have if the sound of a familiar engine didn't roar as the motorcycle it was attached to came around the corner. Amy sighed a little and waited for his arrival, still feeling like a complete fool for her outburst at the diner. She didn't know if he'd be mad at her or just done with everything that had gone on but she was ready for the worst. Shadow came to a halt in front of the bus stop where Amy sat and parked his bike. Reaching into one of the side compartments of his motorcycle, Shadow walked over to the bench and sat down next to her on her left. He held up the stuffed Chao doll that they'd won at the carnival. "You left this behind."
"Thank you." Amy said and took the doll into her arms. It was soft and plush and provided her something to hug onto while she was feeling crummy. "Sorry I left you there at the diner."
"You don't have to apologize for that." Shadow said in response, neither of them looking at each other. Each instead finding it easier to stare forward at the street lights and homes along the road. "Besides, I should have went after you when you left."
"You didn't have to."
"But I should have, right?" Shadow asked, seeming unsure in his decision. "I had to pay for the meal and get my bike back but... I probably should have chased after you right away."
"I shouldn't have put you in that situation in the first place." Amy sighed and kept a tight hold of the plush toy in her arms. "That was pretty humiliating." Shadow fidgeted with his hands between his legs, letting some silence hang between them. She wasn't sure how he'd reply but Shadow had surprised her repeatedly tonight.
"It's fine." He finally stated. "You don't have to be upset with yourself over what you did."
"But it wasn't respectful to you." Amy said as they danced around the issue without actually saying it outright.
"So what." Shadow replied and got Amy to turn and look at him in surprise. "We all thought it before this happened. Everyone could see what was going on. You'd have to be fool not to understand why this happened." Could he really just feel that okay with her comparing him to Sonic the way she had? Essentially using him as a stand in to try and make the blue hedgehog jealous?
"Then why do it? You're not a fool."
"Because why not? I enjoyed myself more than I expected." She had originally thought him to be more prideful about it then that. And maybe he was and was just swallowing his pride at the moment to talk with her. She wanted to respect that.
"That doesn't make it okay though." Amy replied, now looking up at the stars. "But when you mention it, I had a good time too. I'm glad that tonight happened. Maybe not everything that happened but I'm still glad because I got to know you better."
"Sometimes you have to compare things to realize which one's superior." Amy rolled her eyes and couldn't stop her grin from crossing her face.
"Now that's the confident Shadow the Hedgehog I expected."
"You're very sure of yourself as well." Shadow replied. "In fact so sure you don't hesitate to admit when you've made a mistake."
"It's called humility. Us regular mortals that aren't Ultimate Life Forms need it from time to time."
"I guess even superior beings could use a dose of it now and then."
"Way I see it, we're not that different. Just a few small things about us. Ups and downs, here and there. Close enough to be friends I think." It was then she felt the touch against her side. So light that she'd almost missed it entirely. Shadow's hands had released from the tense grip they'd had on one another and his right hand drifted closer to her. She didn't know if it was an invitation or not but her own hand released it's hug on the Chao doll and fell into place in his. His body tensing up when he felt her palm lay against his own. Her fingers curled around his hand and his did so in return after a moment, their eyes meeting now. "Thank you for a fun date."
"Y-yeah. Thanks." It wasn't the cocky response she expected but maybe that wasn't his style. That was fine though, he managed to be kind of cute in his own awkward way. "If you'd like I can give you a ride home."
"On your bike again? Yeah! That thing is fun to ride." The couple stood up together and got in a final squeeze of their hands before releasing the grip. It had been just a short while but something about it was special. Like it made everything that happened today feel okay. Shadow was ready to mount up on his bike when the sound of familiar engines echoed down the street. "You can't be serious." Despite all probable odds being against it Shadow and Amy watched as the familiar gang of hooligans on pieced together motorcycles came rolling down the street and stopped in a line in front of where Shadow had parked. While Amy felt this had to be the worst timing possible Shadow didn't seem bothered, instead loosening himself up and cracking his knuckles as if he were very eager to see this happen.
"Looks like we found the two lovebirds again." The hog boss said to his crew, his gun already drawn along with three others of the remaining gang members that had them. "Nice to see you again. Step away from the bike and we won't just shoot you down."
"Do it anyway." The lizard woman on his bike said angrily. "Better yet, let me do it. Pinkie has it coming." Amy narrowed her eyes and hugged her Chao plush tighter, ready to fight if it came down to it but not saying anything as she remembered her outbursts got them in trouble last time. Shadow however wasn't just calm, he had an eager smile on his face and spoke up.
"Looks like you fixed up those bikes pretty quickly." Shadow said and motioned to the two that still had damage in their chassis where Amy had pounded them with her hammer. "I'm impressed." Despite the compliment the hog boss wasn't any more friendly with him now than when he arrived.
"Be impressed somewhere else, my girl wants your bike for insulting her and I think that's fair. So if I see your hands do that weird green glow crap again we'll start shooting. Now back off easy."
"And if I don't?" Shadow asked sternly.
"Then I'll have to say goodbye." The gang raised their guns up, ready to fire but Shadow didn't back down.
"Well then I'd have to say Chaos Control."
"Heh, what, is that supposed to scare us? What's chaos..." The gang all stopped and looked at their hands in confusion as their guns had all disappeared.
"It's a little thing I say that helps me focus when I want to stop time." Shadow said looking over one of the guns, the whole batch in a pile on the ground in front of him. "Looks like you fashioned this out of the Doctor's insect type badniks. Interesting re-purposing, however..." Shadow raised his hand and fired a chaos spear at the ground, shattering the various weapons to pieces. "They're even more poorly constructed than his machines."
"What the heck are you!?" The hog shouted at Shadow, furious at being disarmed so easily but Shadow wasn't shaken.
"I am about done with this." He replied with a cocky tone. "G.U.N. special agent Shadow the Hedgehog. As a member of the military defense force of the United Nations I hereby claim seizure over your vehicles under the terms they are constructed from the machines used by the terrorist Ivo Robotnik, A.K.A. Doctor Eggman. As there is no impound facility to house these vehicles I'll be exerting my authority to have them decommissioned effective immediately." Shadow let out a breath. "There, all the legal junk is done. Amy, if you wouldn't mind?"
"Gladly!" The pink hedgehog said as she lined herself up next to the biker gang and raised her giant hammer above her head. Seeing her intent the gang members quickly dismounted their bikes and fled while Amy ran down the line and easily broke their mismatched motorcycles into pieces. Metal parts flew in all directions as she reveled in her payback and Shadow took a step back from the destruction."
"Our... our rides, man. You trashed our rides." The hog boss said in disbelief, the entire gang looking heart broken at having lost their claims to respect and power in a moment. Shadow approached them now once Amy was done having her stress relief.
"Next time don't try to rob a G.U.N. agent. Or anyone else for that matter, scum. Now technically I'm supposed to arrest you for what you've done, but as stated before there aren't any detention facilities near by either, so..." Shadow raised his hand as it glowed with the green chaos energy they'd seen him use before. Terrified the gang took to their feet and fled down the road as fast as possible. Once they were out of sight Shadow released the energy and let it fade away harmlessly, turning back to Amy who held her hammer on her shoulder with pride.
"Is it okay to let them run loose like that?"
"Whatever, they're harmless now. Besides the paperwork to actually arrest them would have been a nightmare." Shadow hopped up onto his motorcycle and offered for Amy to sit behind him. "I have more important things to do anyway."
"Well now, looks like you know what to say to a girl." Amy said cheerfully and hopped onto the back of his bike, riding off into the night with him.
Some time later Shadow had made his way back onto base and pulled into the garage of his home. He'd spent his entire day out of the house and it hadn't even been related to work. Furthermore he'd spent it with another person besides his friends, and a girl at that. On a date. If you'd said all of this was going to happen to him the day before he'd had laughed at you before throwing you out of his home. Yet he felt really good about himself right now. Wouldn't Rouge be surprised, assuming she was even home.
Walking into the house Shadow made his way into the living room to find Omega sitting next to the couch exactly where he'd been earlier that day. He was even in the middle of a movie that by Shadow's guess was either Fight Hardest or Double Punch. The change in Shadow's plans apparently did not effect Omega's day, complete with his movie going partner as Rouge was laid out on the couch on her back. Asleep and wearing over-sized pajamas with small diamonds all over them it looked like she'd made good use of his spot while he was gone. Noticing his arrival Omega paused the movie with the remote. "Welcome back."
"Thanks, looks like you guys movie marathon-ed without me, huh?"
"Affirmative. Rouge continued 'Fight Hard' mission in your absence until she'd filled herself to capacity with pizza and lost consciousness." He should have been annoyed that they went and stole his plan but really tonight had gone too well for him to be upset. "Did you obtain success in your mating ritual with the female subject?"
"Please don't call it that. Things went well enough, better than expected."
"You've exceeded parameters laid out for your expected success."
"That a fact? Wait till I share the news." Shadow strolled over to Rouge and nudged her gently with his hand on her shoulder. The bat woman slowly opened her eyes to see Shadow above her and yawned loudly while stretching out on the couch. Swinging her legs around she pulled herself up into a sitting position and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.
"Mmm... hey Romeo. How was your night?" Shadow sat down next to her once she was up, stretching his own legs out from the long ride back home. Before he could answer her question though Omega was there to helpfully provide data.
"He has exceeded your projected analysis for success in the mating ritual."
"You can't just call it a date?" Shadow asked sounding annoyed.
"The word date can mean various definitions from a mark on a calender to a brown fruit meant for organic's to digest. I do not wish to create confusion." It was getting difficult to tell when Omega was doing things like this because he thought like a robot or if it was just on purpose to annoy them. Rouge however was more interested in his results.
"So impress me, how'd the date go?"
"Oh it was terrible for the most part." Shadow said and even Omega looked surprised by the answer, as much as a metal face that doesn't change could. "I had to terrorize a carnie, got popcorn thrown on me at the movie theater, was involved in a street race and a gang brawl, ate some greasy diner food and had to stop and get my bike fixed at an all night garage."
"Well that's quite a night. So all of that happened, buuuuut?" Rouge asked with a smile.
"I... had fun. I guess." Shadow replied and Rouge couldn't help but giggle. "What?"
"You are so awkward it's adorable. Did you take her home after you both terrorized the town?"
"Right after the street fight actually."
"What a gentleman. Did you get a good night kiss?" Shadow looked away from Rouge's question, wondering why she had to always dig at the embarrassing things first.
"No, of course not. It was just a date."
"Oh?" She asked even more curious. "Did you two hold hands?"
"That... isn't important."
"Oh my! Omega, did you hear that? He's making physical contact with people now. Our little boy is growing up so fast." Omega tried to process her statement with the information he had on dating rituals as best he could.
"Did that constitute as Shadow reaching first, second or third base? I did not hear where the baseballs came into play." Shadow audibly grumbled at them both.
"Keep pushing me and you're not getting any more details." Rouge was smiling too wide to be bothered by him turning grumpy on her. She sat closer to him and nudged Shadow's side with her elbow.
"Come on now, I'm just teasing you. So are you going out on a second date?"
"Maybe... we'll see."
"Well look at you, quite the charmer. So there aren't any problems with her hanging around Sonic in the mean time, right?"
"I'm sure she had some concerns on having to settle for spending her time with the second best hedgehog. But now she's been on a date with me, so there's no reason to settle for second best any longer."
"Now that sounds like the 'Ultimate Life Form' that I'm familiar with." Rouge gave Shadow a wink and stood up from the couch. "I think I'm going to head to bed, thank you for keeping me company today Omega."
"Participation in movie viewing mission was appreciated." Omega replied with the closest thing to a compliment outside of admiring someone's gun he could provide. Before Rouge rounded the corner towards the bedrooms though Shadow called out to her.
"Hey Rouge... thank you."
"Happy to help." She called back and left the living room. Shadow took his normal comfortable position on the couch next to Omega.
"Want to finish up the marathon?"
"You're coming into the mission late. Will you require a briefing before we begin?"
"Sure, lay it on me."
"The explosions stayed consistent through each film in terms of size and property damage. As far as my assessment of plot progression and acting quality can determine, these parameters have consistently declined." And that was it, Omega had covered what he decided were the essentials in knowledge for watching these movies so late into the series. "Shall we proceed?"
"Why not, I've been in a couple wrecks today. Watching a few more won't hurt." Maybe he'd gone on a disaster of a date, managed to damage his motorcycle and was getting to see the majority of the worst movies in a franchise, but that was all okay. Tonight had been a good night. Maybe in the future a special lady he'd gotten to know could provide him with some more.