Rifted Redux

An Old Friend

Over the years, he had slowly accustomed to Earth's various terrains. From the windows of the ARK, he had observed the mysterious planet with his dearest friend Maria. Earth had appeared so vastly complicated then. Now Shadow maneuvered through the twilight forest with ease, the trees diminishing until he neared suburban territory.

He picked up speed and found his way into the city of Night Babylon, a few-minute commute with his acceleration. Hardly anyone was out so late at night. The air smelled fresh of rain, the wet streets reflecting colorful arrays of light from the city. The chilly autumn breeze he experienced in the forest was captured by the buildings. The air became still, and accompanied with Shadow's natural quietness, the world seemed to be silenced. Normally, this part of town was awake with partying and blaring music at night, and Shadow thought it strange for the city to be so uneventful.

He breezed down the sidewalk, glancing at the city's bright advertising signs. He had never truly understood why his friend could live in such a place, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized just how opposite they were from each other. Shadow preferred solitude and a quiet place to think, while she thrived on public attention, especially from men. True, their friendship was strange. From the beginning, things were never simple between them. Once two lone individuals working for their own ambition, they were now close comrades, rivals at times, but despite it always covering each others' sixes. The city's silence kept him alert, and he couldn't help but feel someone was following him.

His natural paranoia, it seemed, would never die off.

This was unwise, he thought to himself.

The military wasn't exactly fond of him, and had occasionally attacked him simply out of their fear of his power. He knew there were GUN informers positioned in most big cities where crime was most likely to occur. Night Babylon, with its prominent gambling, was no exception. He had been in hiding from society for months; standing out on the streets paved by mankind's hands was nothing less than mercilessly ironic.

However, he would not go against his decision. This was the best and only choice.

The hedgehog continued on.

Tapping into his memory of the place, the stroll did not take him long, and before he knew it he was standing in front of Club Rouge, the residence of his companion. It was late at night, but he knew her well enough to know she most likely would be awake. He thought of simply breaking in silently as he normally did, but something compelled him to knock.

Another strange action, he scolded to himself.

Time began to tick away, with Shadow growing impatient, being his normal indignant self. Without any second thoughts, he positioned himself on her roof, a place he usually went with thoughts on his mind, or an urge to be alone. The nocturnal view of Night Babylon was still the same as always- just the way he preferred it to be. He remembered how calm his life was when he resided here, then realized what always made him leave. His conflicting emotion would have to be put to the side for now; he had already traveled this far into human society.

Below on ground level, he heard an unsure voice muffled on the other side of the door, finally responding.

"Who is it...? I'm closed for the night..."

"Just an old friend is all," he called down from the roof.

The ebony hedgehog couldn't help but smile at hearing her voice again. Upon finishing his sentence, the door swung open. Shadow unceremoniously jumped off the roof, landing right before the ivory bat. If she was scared out of her mind that a stranger had just landed out of nowhere in front of her, he wouldn't have known. He hardly had the chance to look upon her, for he was nearly knocked off his feet by her welcoming hug.

The fluttering motion in her heart ceased when sudden anger began to surface. She had heard so much from the media since the destruction of the Black Comet: Shadow possibly having a renewed hatred for mankind, him being so distant due another scandalous alliance with Eggman, scurrilous beliefs of him being responsible for a variety of crimes.

Seeing Shadow, her first instinct was that he had run into trouble, and needed her assistance. For the most part, after all, he was all business, and wasn't like him to show up for visits for the heck of it. Whatever the reason, he felt he had to do things on his own. Rarely did he ask for assistance; it was even rarer he thanked someone for it. Occasionally, she wondered why he acquainted himself with her. The possibility of being used stung at the back of her thoughts, although there was always a stronger emotion to suppress that. Here he was now, after months of communicative lacking, at her doorstep.

Rouge the Bat's brief anger subsided. The rarest smile of sentimentality came to her face. It was like a recap of their past of singularity, an odd friendship molded straight from each other's trickery. Shadow, sheltered from the conventionality and culture of this world, terrified of social interaction, had somehow befriended the seductive government agent, who loved to tease and provoke him, secretly wanting nothing more than a person to trust her. She tightened her grasp on the hedgehog and gave in to her pride.

"Shadow you dumbass..." she said in a relieved tone, inconsistent to her insult.

"Enough of this," he said to his comrade, trying to sound serious, but a smirk accompanied the response.

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