Shadow walked along the streets, not looking at anyone trying to go by unnoticed.
He'd helped Sonic save the planet, but it didn't seem as though the general populous was ready to accept him yet. He didn't blame them, he was really nothing more than a living miniature weapon of mass destruction after all. There wasn't anything left for him, he'd protected the planet, just like he promised. Maybe it would have been better if Super Sonic hadn't caught him and had let him fall to Earth.
Shadow shook his head he refused to think that way, Maria wouldn't have wanted him to think that way. Maria would have wanted him to be happy, but he didn't know how to be happy anymore. His time with Maria had been his happiness, now she was gone. He knew no way to be happy but being with her.
Shadow knew that couldn't be the only way to be happy, none of these people living today had even met Maria, but they were happy. He turned into a street that was a lot less used than the one he'd just been on. He hated to admit it but he was hiding from the human's eyes. They didn't seem to be able to keep from staring at him. Was he that strange looking? He looked a lot like Sonic, Sonic didn't get stares like that.
A scream distracted him from his thoughts, and before he even realized what he was doing he'd found the source of the the yell. A young girl was on the ground and someone in a hurry was racing around the corner.
He went after the runaway first, knowing easily who was the offender and who was the victim. He didn't even have to attack the guy. Shadow merely stopped in front of him and the guy freaked out and dropped a bag before running off in another direction. He picked up the bag and assumed that this was the target of the theft. He decided to let the guy go, he didn't really have anything to do with the guy, he wasn't fond enough of the government yet to hand him over to the athorities, and all Shadow could really do was scare him or kill him. He'd already scared him quite a bit, the only other option was far to extreme. Shadow sighed that's what he was, extreme, over the top , and not in a good way. There was no middle ground.
He shook this off, willing the thoughts to go away. He took the bag back to the girl.
When she saw him she looked surprised.
"You're not Sonic." She said, before he could give her her bag back. Shadow's gaze fell to the floor. He felt like he'd been slapped. He tossed her the bag, which she didn't catch, and turned to walk off. "Oh, wait. That's not what I meant. I meant to say thank you, I'm sorry." Shadow stopped but didn't turn around. "Oh, don't think that I would rather have Sonic here, please. You just surprised me that's all, the only one I've ever seen move that fast was Sonic, so I thought you were him. I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it, happens all the time." He turned his head, fully intending to give her a fake smile. His plans were halted though when he got a good look at her, only one thought went though his head.
The girl looked just like her, he searched and searched and finally found a difference, this girls hair had more of a curl. He sighed with relief as he found the difference, she looked at him with a worried look on her face.
"Sorry." He looked away, embarrassed that he'd stared at her.
"It's okay." She smiled. He noticed she was still on the ground, he walked over to her going to help her up. She didn't accept his hand and he slowly lowered it.
"Are yo hurt?" He asked regretting his near swift exit.
"Not really." She said she looked over at a chair that was turned over a few feet away. Shadow looked too, but did not recognize what he was looking at.
"What is it?"
"My wheelchair. I can't walk." She answered not shy about it at all.
"So you are hurt."
"Not right now." She looked at him as though he was a child, he didn't mind. Maria used that look when answering his questions also.
"I don't understand."
"My legs don't work, they haven't in a long time. They don't hurt. I can't feel them at all actually."
"I'm paralyzed from the waist down. I was born that way. I don't mind, though it makes things hard at times." She looked back at the chair.
"What does it do?" He was walking over to the chair now.
"It allows me to move around, it has wheels on it and I can go just about anywhere in it."
Shadow flipped it back over easily, it clearly wasn't going anywhere anymore. It was more bent metal than chair now.
"Oh no." She said quietly, clearly not meaning for the Ultimate Life Form to hear her.
"I don't think it works anymore." He tried rolling it but it fell over again. "Where do you need to go?" He asked her, walking back towards her. He began to pick up the things that had fallen out of her bag.
"I have to go home." She answered, not sure how to get there. Shadow handed her the bag.
"How do you get there?"
"Normally I'd wheel myself there."
"No, I mean the directions."
She told him the directions and he repeated them back to her word perfect.
"Do you mind if I carry you?" He asked her politely remembering Maria teaching him that he shouldn't do thing like that without asking.
"Oh, I don't know I'm pretty heavy. I'm almost a teenager now."
Shadow laughed. "Does that mean if I can do it you don't mind?"
"Well I wouldn't mind, but you really shouldn't. You would probably hurt yourself."
His smile didn't waver as he knelt in front of her and put her arms around his neck, careful to keep his spikes from poking her.
"Oh!" She exclaimed as he picked her up easily as though she was as light as a baby.
"Will it bother you if I speed up?" He asked politely, she shook her head she was shocked that he could carry her and hover on his skates at speeds that made top speed racers green with envy.
Before she knew it he slowed down, more gently than he would have on his own, and stopped right in front of her house.
He placed her on a porch swing on her porch and knocked on the door. He turned around to leave when he heard her mother heading for the door.
"Shadow, you aren't going to stay? I'm sure mom would love to have you over for dinner."
He smiled, "Thank you, but I don't eat."
"Oh you don't? What do you get energy from?" She asked, strangely intrigued by the alternate life form.
"Chaos." He answered turning back towards her as her mother opened the door.
"Helen? You're back early, and you brought a friend. Hello there." Helen's mother smiled at him.
"Why don't you come in, Shadow." He looked awkwardly at Helen who beamed at him. He sighed he really didn't have anything better to do. He picked Helen back up and brought her inside.
"Helen what happened to your chair?" She asked just realizing it wasn't there.
Helen told her the story as though it was a grand adventure, picturing Shadow as a great hero and just in general embarrassing him with her praise.
Her mother, like any other mother checked her scratches and put ointment on them. Helen must have noticed Shadow's interest in what her mother was doing because she explained everything to him.
"Haven't you ever seen someone get hurt before?" She asked, knowing he was no stranger to humans.
"Yes, but I've never seen them get better."
"Oh," She thought about this. "How do you get better Shadow?"
"I don't know, I've never been injured before."
"Really? Wow you must be really strong." Her words and her look embarrassed him again.
"I've had people protect me."
"You are very lucky to have so many people willing to protect you." Her smile was supposed to make him feel better, but it only made him sad.
"They shouldn't have been protecting me, I should have been protecting them. That is why I was created. I have no other purpose."
"At least you have a purpose. I'm only here because mommy and daddy wanted a baby. You were actually created to help people. You're luckier than you think you are."
Shadow thought about that. "I suppose you're right. Thank you."
"No problem." She was happy that he finally smiled back.
"I have dinner ready if you're hungry Shadow. I always make extra because Helen loves bringing surprise friends home." Helen's mom said proving Helen right earlier.
"He doesn't eat mom." She said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. Shadow hid a laugh.
"Oh. I didn't know that, how odd."
"Shadow isn't odd, mom, he's very cool." Helen told her causing Shadow to blush.
"Of course. I'm sorry. Helen would you prefer to just eat in the living room, it would be easier than having you come to the table."
"Sure." Helen answered and her mother left the room. "What did you mean when you said chaos?"
"The same energy that powers the chaos emeralds, only the chaos emeralds are stronger."
"You can create the same kind of energy that the chaos emeralds create?"
"Yes, in a much less powerful form. I create it at a much slower rate too. That's what these bracelets are for." He pointed to the rings on his wrist and ankle.
"What do they do?"
"They store any extra energy I create. While I am active I normally don't create as much as I use, but when I am not I created so much that it would go to waste. These rings store the extra energy I make while I am resting, so I can use it while I am active. The thing is that since I have been sleeping in suspended animation for fifty years I have much more stored energy than I can use on a regular basis. That is why when Sonic an I used chaos control on Space Colony ARK I took them off, that allows me to use all the stored energy at once. Even with all the energy I stored for fifty years it still was only barely enough. Thus why Sonic had to save me from falling to Earth." Shadow spoke easily with her, he was surprised how the words came out, he hadn't been able to talk to anyone like this since Maria.
"Wow! That's amazing, thank you. It must have been very hard for you."
"I promised my friend that I would protect your planet. No matter what."
"Do you mind if I ask you a few more questions?" She asked as her mother brought food out, Shadow helped her carry it.
"Not at all, though I can't promise an answer for all of them, I don't even know much about myself."
It was well into the night before Helen fell asleep listening to Shadow. Most of her questions had been scientific. She told him that she had never really liked science until she started talking to him, she said he made it interesting.
Just before she fell asleep though her questions got a bit more personal. He didn't know why he did it, but she now knew how similar she looked to Maria, as well as the fact that sometimes he still heard her voice. She told him that was because Maria was still in his heart, looking out for him. He really liked that idea.
He left the house feeling lighter than he'd felt since he'd finally fulfilled his promise to Maria.
He ran, just to fill the air in his face, he didn't use his hover skates, just to feel the ground below his feet. Before he realized he was heading there he stopped in front of The Thorndyke Mansion.
He wasn't sure where to go from there, Sonic and Chris had both invited him to stay with them, but he'd refused.
What if it was to late? And even if they were willing to allow him to stay, it was late at night was he willing to stand there till they woke? What would he say to them?"
"Shadow? What are you doing down there!" Shadow heard Sonic say quietly, knowing that Shadow would still hear him, from the attic. Shadow was going to reply but Sonic continued. "Don't just stand there, you're going to give Ella a heart attack, get up here."
Shadow gave him a surprised look that he just ignored, Shadow thought for a moment before jumping up to the window Sonic was holding open.
"It's about time you showed up." Sonic yawned and walked around the other still sleeping bodies. "We made you a bed." Sonic kicked a pillow next to the bed he lied down on. Shadow didn't lie down, Shadow looked out the window. He understood now what made people happy. He looked at Sonic, who had already fallen asleep.
"Thank you, Helen." He said in the general direction of her house.
He knew now that happiness comes from the people you care about, that care about you. Maria made him happy, because she was his best friend. Helen made him happy because she was so kind to him, and loved to smile. Sonic made him happy because of the trust the blue hedgehog had in him.
If Sonic wanted to become friends with you he did, whether you tried to have him killed or were merely picking flowers for him.
He had to work hard to reciprocate that trust, and even harder to deserve it.