"Sonic!" I shouted, shivering. One of my bangs smacked me in the eye, mstartling me enough so that I yelped. I fixed my headband, shoving the three quills back. I looked around me, squinting, trying to see anything through the sheet of rain that was coming down. The force of the wind made walking an effort and not being able to see had caused me to trip several times. My gloves and hands were cut, knees scraped, and elbows scratched up.
Looking around, I wondered just how I had gotten in this mess. One minute I had been chasing Sonic and the next… This. I rubbed my arms to help warm myself up, but it stung my hands. Wrapping my arms around myself, I started walking again. "Sonic!" I shouted again.
God, it was so cold… And this storm had come out of nowhere! "So much for 'clear, sunny weather' today," I muttered, scowling.
I glanced up, trying to see if there was any sign of blue sky. Cold water hit my eyes though, making me blink rapidly and look down once again. "Sonic the Hedgehog! I know you can hear me!" I screamed.
But I did not know. I could not hear anything except the rain pounding against the street, the wind whistling all around me. All I could see was that rain and a deep blackness that made me colder than the precipitation itself.
I took anotherstep, right into a puddle. With a short screech, I slipped and landed on my back, right into that puddle. Rain pelted my face, soaked my fur and skin even more.
Crying now, I slowly stood. My dress was plastered to my body even worse than it had been a few seconds ago. It was so uncomfortable… I could not take much more of this.
I took a deep, deep breath to prepare myself. "SSSOOONNNNIIICC!" I screamed.
I stood where I was for a few minutes, listening closely for any sign of him. At this point I would have settled for even Eggman to come around. But there was nothing.
Hugging myself tightly, I began to trudge along, watching closely for any sign of more puddles. I doubted I could get any wetter, but I certainly did not want to fall again.
Mustering up some of my usual cheer, I lifted my head. "Somebody has to come along sometime, right?" I asked the rain. "Of course. Sonic'll realize that I couldn't've made it out of this on my own and will come to help me."
Meanwhile… (Third Person POV)
"It's raining pretty hard, eh Sonic?"
"Yeah, it sure is." With a hard shake that sent water flying everywhere in the small diner, the hedgehog laughed. "I'm glad for it though. It got Amy off my tail real quick." He swung up onto abar stool, grinning. "Just warm me up some of that coffee, would ya?"
"Sure thing, pal." The squirrel moved towards the pot, flicking it on. "So pinkie was chasing after you?"
"Keh. Isn't she always?" He eyed the pies that were stacked up neatly nearby. "What kind you got that's any good?"
Following the hedgehog's gaze, the squirrel grinned. "All of 'em are good," he replied.
"Then I should get a slice of each, Switch," Sonic decided. "I'm starving."
When a sudden gust of wind rattled the diner windows, Switch looked up. "Huh… Do you think Amy made it out of that okay? It came on real quick."
With a glance out a window, Sonic shrugged. "Of course she did. Besides, she's always got an umbrella with her if she didn't."
"If you say so, pal."
Neither if them noticed a cloaked figure toss some bills on his table and walk out.
Meanwhile… (Amy's POV)
With yet another scream, I landed in yet another puddle. I stood up shakily with three rapid sneezes. Even if my umbrella had not blown away, I would still probably be soaked, I decided. After a few steps, I smacked into what I figured was a pole and hit the ground.
With a miserable sob, I drew my knees up and laid my head on them. But I made myself stand up soon enough. I would make myself sick like that, and who had the time to get sick? Using the pole for support, I pulled myself to my feet.
I was exhausted after fighting the wind for so long. I did not think it had been more than thirty minutes, but my legs were sore as if it had been hours since getting caught in this storm.
I had stopped calling for Sonic, having given up on him. He had probably seen the storm as a blessing, something that had gotten me to stop chasing him. Maybe it was time to stop doing that too…
In mid-sigh, I stumbled and landed hard, barely having time to put my hands out to soften the fall. My legs were slightly elevated, so I figured I had stepped off a curb without realizing it. I looked back and could not even see my feet.
Sobbing, tears mixing with the rain on my cheeks, I stood up again. I promised myself that the next time I fell, I would stay there until someone came to get me. I started walking again, not stepping back up onto the sidewalk. I did not want to chance falling off again. I figured it was safe enough. After all, I had not seen a car come down this road well before I had even seen Sonic.
A bright light appeared before me out of nowhere. With a scream, I scrambled back, tripping over the curb in my haste, and landed on my butt. With a choked sob, I drew my knees up, resting my head on them again. As I had promised myself, I was going to stay here. I was too tired to make myself get up.
The light disappeared, breaking my heart. Couldn't whoever had nearly hit me realize that I was in trouble and help me?
In the back of my mind, I heard a curse. At least I thought it was in my mind. I couldn't tell anymore…
Something dropped on top of me and I jumped a little. It was warm though, if wet, so I drew it tightly around me. Hands on my waist jerked me up, making me yelp with surprise. My eyes widened when they met furious red ones.
Without a word, he bundled me tightly into the warm thing he had dropped on me. He lifted me and got on a motorcycle, setting me in front of him. He took hold of the handle bars, twisted one, pressed onto the gas pedal, and the motor roared to life. I gripped the seat as tightly as possible when we jerked forward.
The wind lashed at me as we went, making me squeeze my eyes shut. When the bike jerked to a halt, I nearly flew off, but an arm came around me, keeping me in place.
Still without a word, he picked me up and darted through the darkness and the rain. We were in a doorway before I could even open my eyes all the way. Setting me on my feet, he twisted the door handle, and shoved the door open, pushing me inside.
He walked in after me and shut the door. "Stay there," he commanded.
I only nodded, shivering. So many questions were running through my mind and I had no idea how to voice them just yet. Why had Shadow saved me, where was he going, and, most importantly, where was I?
The light bothered my eyes a little, but I wanted to look around. In front of me was a staircase. At my right was a nearly bare living room. There was a single chair and a small side table next to it that faced a fireplace. There was wood laid in it, ready to be lit. Shivering, I drew the cloak tighter around me, wishing itwaslit. To forget the cold, I looked to the left, where Shadow had gone, and saw a long hallway. Vaguely, I wondered where it led. Maybe I would ask Shadow when he came back…
Then he did come back. With a blink, I studied him. He looked very annoyed at something, but at me? I was not sure. If he was, I could not understand why. He had not had to save me. I never would have accused him of being the one who had nearly run me over.
He walked past me, scowling, and went into the living room. He knelt in front of the fireplace and lit it. I stepped a bit closer, straining for the warmth. He flicked his eyes over to me. "Come here, Amy."
I came closer gratefully as he pushed the chair closer to the fire. When I was close enough he took away the cloak, and practically shoved me into the chair. "I'll get you something dry to wear," he muttered and strode from the room.
I relaxed in the chair after tugging off my boots and socks. I set my feet close to the fire, letting it warm them. The heat started to spread up my legs, and my eyes slid closed, absorbing the blessed warmth. My body and hands were still freezing though, so I slid my gloves off and leaned forward to warm my hands.
I still felt rather cold after that, so I shifted, about to remove my dress as well. With a blush, I recalled where I was and left it alone. I was tempted to put my gloves and shoes back on, but since I shivered at the thought I decided against it.
"Amy?" I looked up at Shadow and he handed me a large shirt. "That's all I have. Normally, I would go to your home, but I'd much rather not go out in this weather again."
I nodded once swallowing. "T-t-thank you, Sh-shh-shadow," I stuttered. My teeth were still chattering. Plus he was studying me closely, that furious look dancing in his eyes again. "W-w-hat's wrong?"
He shook his head quickly, as if catching himself. "Nothing. I'll be back in a few minutes. Just quickly change in here."
I nodded again, watching him until he disappeared down the hallway again. My fingers fumbled, but I managed to get the dress up and over my head. After a short debate, I opted to leave my bra and panties on. Once the over-sized black shirt was on and placed as low as it stretched, I scooted forward in the chair and leaned forward. The heat filled me, leaving me feeling tired and lazy.
Because I was listening for him, I heard Shadow step into the room. I smiled brightly at him. "Thank you for helping me, Shadow."
He nodded in acknowledgement of my gratitude. "I see you're feeling better." He walked over to me, holding two mugs. "Here."
I took one gratefully. "Thanks for this too." I sipped, scalding my tongue. Beaming, I looked up at him. "Hot chocolate?" I asked, taken aback.
"I didn't take you for the coffee type," he replied, sipping from his own mug.
"I'm not, but I didn't think you'd know that." I took another sip, taking more care this time. "It's good. Thank you." I held the mug with both hands, letting the warmth seep into them. I was still a bit cold.
He was staring at me again, I noted. "Shadow, please tell me why you keep staring at me like that. What are you mad at?"
He scowled. "Nothing."
I rested a hand on his arm. "I don't believe you. Are you upset that you had to help me?"
His eyes flashed. "Of course not!"
I cringed, looking into the flames. They seemed safer than his eyes at the moment. He sighed, but I didn't look back. I wrapped my hands around the mug again and tucked my feet under myself.
"I'm angry at that blue baboon, if you have to know."
Now I did look at him. "Sonic? Why?"
"I was at that diner on Third when Sonic came in, relieved that the storm had stopped you from chasing him. He didn't know if you'd gotten out of the rain, and didn't seem to really care."
"Oh…" I could feel another crack impale my heart as I looked away from Shadow. I suddenly felt cold all over again, and the fire in front of me did nothing to help.
"I was on my way to your house to make sure you'd gotten home safely when I heard you scream. I barely saw you in the rain, even with my headlight."
I waited for his apology for nearly running me over, but I suppose he did not feel one was necessary. "Why?"
He was obviously confused. "I beg your pardon?"
"Whatever for?" I murmured, looking back up at him. "Why were you coming to check on me?"
His eyes went carefully blank. "Because I had nothing better to do." That response was just a little too harsh and his eyes just a tad too blank for me to believe him. When I told him as much, he narrowed those eyes on me. "I won't be anyone's rebound," he muttered, turning away.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
He glanced back briefly. "You can stay here until the storm subsides and your clothes dry. You may want to lay them out flat so they do so quicker. I imagine you'll be more comfortable in your own clothes."
I would've responded, but his words seemed very final to me. It did not seem as if I evencouldrespond…
I got up shortly after he'd left to lay my dress out flat. The rest I just left alone; it didn't really matter to me if they dried fast or not.
Soon… (Shadow's POV)
I walked up the stairs, annoyed with her. And with myself. I had been so tempted by what she had unconsciously offered. I planted my fist into the wall as I went up, getting more annoyed with myself when a crack ran up the side. "Dang it," I muttered. "Now I'm gonna have to fix that…"
But at least it would keep my mind off her… Stupid Sonic… If the idiot had not been so damn bothered by the fact that Amy cared about him, he could have gotten her to a dry place when the storm had hit.
Then I would not have had to do so. It was much easier to resist her when she was mooning over Sonic than when she was in my house…in my shirt. I hunched my shoulders, forcing her image from my mind.
I went into my bathroom and dug under the sink for some plaster materials to fix the damn crack in my wall. When I had what I needed, I walked partly down the stairs to fix it, blocking all thoughts of…her.
But I could not quite do that. With a sigh, I sat on a step. It made me more comfortable to think of Maria than of Amy, which was a shame. I saw Amy quite a bit more, and the girl pushed her way into the forefront of my mind almost constantly.
With a low growl at my mental weakness, I stood and was startled to see her right next to me. She took a step back, apparently jolted by something, and nearly tumbled over the railing. I snagged her wrist before she could, but her headband fell, went unnoticed. Worry hardened my voice. "What is wrong with you? Are you a magnet for trouble?" I demanded.
"No, I just…" She looked down at her bare feet. "I'm sorry."
She was not looking at me, so I scanned over her, checking for any injuries I may have missed before. "You've scraped your knees."
She looked back up. "That was from earlier."
I raised a brow. Did she think I was too stupid to know that already? I certainly had not done it and I did not see where she could have done so in the house. She blushed a bit, noticing her mistake I suppose. "Do you have other injuries?"
She lifted a hand and pushed her quills back. "Nothing too serious."
I noticed the scratch on her elbow and when I turned her hand over I saw she had grazes all over it. "All these cuts could get infected," I murmured, lifting her hand to kiss her knuckles lightly.
As surprised as she undoubtedly was by the gesture, I dropped her hand. "Come with me." I turned and started up the stairs, leaving the other things where they were. I would get to the wall eventually.
Before I followed Shadow, I looked at my hand. Why were my knuckles tingling? Rubbing my other hand over them, I started after him. I winced a bit with each stair, my knees stinging. Squeezing my eyes closed and holding my breath, I continued walking up.
After a few steps, I heard a sigh and felt arms around me. "Why did you come up here if the stairs hurt your knees?"
"I was going to ask you something and…" I trailed off when he lifted me bridal style. I wasn't sure why I was so disconcerted by it. After all, Sonic had lifted me like this many times before.
Confused, I looked into his eyes. "What's what?"
He rolled his eyes and set me down as we were at the top. "What were you going to ask me?"
My eyes went blank. "Um… I don't remember now."
"Of course not." He gestured towards a room at the end of the hall. "That's my bedroom. Just wait in there."
I nodded and started towards it. I was kind of curious to see what his room looked like. Mine was filled with pictures of all my friends and just about everything we have done together. The bed was huge, covered with red sheets and tons of plump pillows. I doubted his room was anything like that, but Shadow was a strange guy. I was not quite sure what to expect.
I heard a muttered oath behind me. With my hand on the doorknob, I turned, curious. "Shadow?"
Something flashed in his eyes, but I was too far to really see what. He shook his head. "Nothing. I'll be in there in a minute."
I nodded, smiling. "Okay." I opened the door and walked in, closing it behind me. I blinked.Why's it so dark in here?I wondered.
"Oh!" With a soft laugh, I patted the wall, searching for a light switch. "Jeez, Amy, you can be so slow."
With the light on, I looked around inquisitively. There was a chair in here that seemed to match the big one in the living room. It was set in front of the fireplace, also like in the living room. My smile widened. Shadow liked his comfort just like everyone else on Mobius.
There were a few pictures on the wall and on his dresser. Walking over to that, I lifted the one in the center. It was me and him, I noted. I had one arm slung around him and was pointing out something with my other hand. The stars, I recalled. I had had everyone over at my house about a month before for a barbecue for the comets. It had been beautiful and since Sonic hadn't waited around for the night show, and Shadow had seemed more sad and lonely than usual, I had stuck to him.
Running my thumb lightly over his face, I realized that the soft smile he wore was not aimed at the comets…But at me. With a puzzled frown, I set the photo back in its spot.
I turned, the bed making me gasp a little. It was twice as large as my queen size at home, black as sin, with a darkened headboard with a strange curvy pattern cut into it. Fascinated, I got on the bed and crawled up to trace my finger over it. It's a spiraled maze of sorts, I realized, grinning. I narrowed my eyes, determined to figure it out.
Meanwhile… (Shadow's POV)
I growled at myself, searching under the sink for some things to help Amy with her cuts. How stupid could I have been? What was I thinking, just letting her into my room like that? When she had turned and looked at me, my gut had twisted into nasty little knots. Then she had smiled…
I paused, pressing a hand to my forehead to settle myself. Now she was in my bedroom and, knowing her curious nature, she would probably go through all of my things. Or maybe her manners would keep her from doing that…
I sighed, standing up to go through the small medicine cabinet that was hidden behind the mirror. I scowled when I saw my mini first aid kit. Snatching it, I walked out of the bathroom, down the hall, and into my room.
The kit very nearly slipped out of my fingers. "What is she doing?" I whispered. Then, louder, "What are you doing?"
With a yelp, she quickly turned. "Oh! Shadow, you scared me!"
Her eyes were wide on mine and she was on my bed in my shirt.Oh dear ,what am I going to do with her?I shook my head to get rid of the erotic images that came to mind with that thought. "What were you doing?"
"I was, um…" She looked back at my headboard. "I was trying to figure out the maze…"
I blinked. "What?"
"On your headboard. It, um, looks like a maze." She drew her legs up, wrapped her arms around them.
I watched her movements, mind completely empty for a minute. "It is a maze," I murmured.
She cocked her head. "What?"
"I said it is a maze."
We stared at each other for a long moment before she looked away, nodding at my dresser. "I saw a picture of us. I placed it for that comet show last month."
I didn't have to look at the picture to know what she was talking about. "What about it?"
She shrugged. "I didn't know a picture of us had been taken, that's all. Who took it?"
"Tails gave it to me, so I'd say he did." I walked over to her and sat hesitantly next to her on my bed. I pulled some antiseptic out of the kit. "This'll probably sting," I murmured, spraying some on her knee.
She winced a bit when I laid a soft cloth over the antiseptic. "Will you talk to me?"
I glanced up at her, than back down at her knee as I cleaned it. "About?"
"Why were you smiling at me in the picture and not the comets? You never smile at me."
I wrapped her knee in a bandage. "Yes, I do."
"I never see you," she accused.
I spritzed antiseptic over her other knee. "Maybe I just don't let you see." Now the cloth was cleaning the wound. "Or maybe you're just paying too much attention to Sonic to notice anyone else."
I wrapped a bandage around her other knee, annoyed with myself. She seemed to bring that reaction out in me, and I didn't like it.
"Maybe I do," she whispered.
I looked up at her sharply, annoyed with her now. "Be quiet, Amy."
"No, I mean it! The only reason I paid attention to you that day was because Sonic had left, so I didn't really have anything to do."
I cupped her chin in my hand. "I said be quiet."
She jerked her head away. "I don't care." Tears were welling up in her eyes. "That's horrible of me to have paid so much attention to someone who can't even stand me, Shadow. It's absolutely horrible."
I placed a hand on the side of her face. "Amy."
She looked at me and I stared into her eyes. They were such a deep jade and glistening with tears. One spilled from her eye and I watched it slip down her cheek and drop away. "What do you want?"
The quiet, miserable question undid me. I could not stand to see such a happy person cry. I placed my other hand on the other side of her face, leaning closer. Her eyes widened a bit and her lips parted slightly. And that was it for me.
Calling myself a fool, I laid my lips lightly on hers. Her eyes stayed open, as did mine as I tasted her. Gently, slowly, I took the kiss deeper. When her tongue hesitantly touched mine, I nearly snapped. Her arms came around me, pulled me closer. Her eyes closed and she gave. Wow, did she give. I could not believe the warmth that came from her, the softness with only the hint of a sharp edge. The contrast drove me mad. It emptied my mind, but some part of me was aware enough to make sure that my hands stayed on her face.
The sensation of her under me had me snapping back to my senses, and I tore my mouth from hers. "Amy…" Whatever I was going to say died as I looked at her. She was panting, wide-eyed. I cursed silently. I could still see the tears in them.
I rolled off of her, ashamed of myself. "You can take care of your hands and elbows?"
The quiet of her voice had me cringing. "Okay, good. I'll see if the rain's stopped." I stood and walked out quickly, not used to the feeling of shame.
He did not even look back. I wiped tears that had started to fall. So sure while he was kissing me.What is wrong with me? Am I destined to be alone forever?
I stood and walked over to his dresser to pick up the picture of us. I'd given up on Sonic in the storm, but would I have to give up Shadow as well?
I rubbed a hand over my heart. It had never hurt this much before. With a shudder, I silently wished that the rain had indeed stopped. I would put on my dress, wet or not, and walk home. Maybe I would not feel so bad if I got away from Shadow.
But he isn't in here, a nagging voice said.You are away from him. I shifted closer to the headboard, deciding that the maze would take my mind off him.
I wanted to punch something. I wanted to ram my head against the table I sat at until I bled. I stared out the window, watching helplessly as the rain battered the window. I hated myself for what I had just done up there.
"Shadow, you're a bigger fool than even Sonic," I told myself. I heard a door slam and walked out of the kitchen to see what it was. Speak of the devil…
The blue blur shook himself much like he had done at the diner earlier. " Who knew rain could be that violent, huh?"
My eye twitched. Remembering Amy's tears over him, I had to hold back the desire to cold cock him. "What are you doing here, faker?"
"Meh. I just wanted out of the storm, that's all." He grinned at me. "Plus, I figured you'd have some food."
"Not for you," I muttered. "Get out of here."
"Sheesh. Now you sound like Knuckles. 'Get offa my island. What are you doing here? Blah, blah, blah.'" His eyes darted around. "Oh sweet, you got a fire goin'."
Before I could stop him, he was standing in front of it. "So why are you testier than normal, Shad? Got a girl here or something?" He snickered at me, but I could tell the second he saw Amy's things on the floor. His face went white and his eyes huge.
He whipped around to gape at me. "You got Amy here?"
My eyes twitched again. "It's not what you think, you baboon. She never made it out of the rain, so-"
"Her dress is dry," Sonic pointed out.
My teeth clenched. "She's been here a while."
"Uh-huh…" He was slowly driving me to murder with that superior look in his eyes. "Where is she now?" His eye caught something and he bolted to the side of the stairs where he picked up her headband. "Upstairs, eh?" He grinned. "I bet she's in your bed."
Now my ears went flat on my head. "She was hurt. She's probably asleep."
"Riiight…Asleep… I bet she's pretty tired after the…ah…storm."
"Get out of here faker." I said coldly.
"Fine. See what I care." He left, mumbleling to himselfairs.. Then I saw Amy running downst
"Your dress is dry," he muttered.
I picked it up, grinned. It really was dry! I jumped once in glee. "Yay!"
Without a thought, I had Shadow's shirt off and was tugging my dress on. Twirling, I popped the hem up to its normal position. I tugged on my gloves next, snapping the bracelets on after that. With pursed lips, I glanced at my bare feet, than at my shoes. After a quick debate, I chose to leave them off. After all, the storm was still raging outside so I doubted I'd be going anywhere soon.
With an agitated sound, I shoved my hair back again. I needed my headband.
After a quick search around the room, I still hadn't found it.Maybe Shadow knows where it is, I decided and started up the stairs. "Shadow!" I called.
The hot water pulsed over my body, dulling all the aches I hadn't noticed earlier. At a sound, I perked my ears. Had I just heard my name? When it came again after a few seconds, I tensed. Was Amy in trouble? What could have possibly happened?
The bathroom door slammed open just before I shut the water off. "Shadow, do you know where my headband is?"
My eye twitched. That was it? That was all she needed? I heard a gusty sigh come from her and then, "Hello? Shadow, did you hear me? Or do I have to come in there so you can?"
The fantasies that question brought on had me switching abruptly to cold water. "I heard you!" I swallowed hard, the cold water not quite able to erase the images in my mind. "I'm just thinking."
I swallowed again, trying to keep my thoughts trained to her headband. I remember Sonic had grabbed it, but I had no clue as to what had happened to it after that. No, I did. "It's near the backdoor, Ames."
I frowned. 'Ames?'I thought.Did I just call her 'Ames?'I had never called her that before. It was such a…personal thing, a nickname.
She didn't seem to notice though. With a girly "thanks, Shadow!" she was out the door.
A few minutes later, I switched off the water and stepped from the shower, snagging a towel. As I dried myself off, I rationalized the situation I was in. Amy was still in my house, but she was surely out of my shirt now if her dress was dry. Soon, the rain would stop and she would go home.
It would be simple to forget the kiss in that short span of time, I assured myself. It would be simple to forget how soft her body had been…how it had strained against mine in simple pleasure…how eager and curious her mouth had been…how giving and warm…how wonderful she had tasted…
When I realized I was standing in my bathroom, the towel hanging limply from my fingers, a half-smile playing on my face, I had to shudder to rid myself of my thoughts.
"All right, maybe it won't be so simple…"
"What won't be?"
Startled, I snapped my head up, taking a step backwards. Amy was in the doorway, watching me with a curious expression. "How long have you been standing there?" I demanded, more embarrassed than I think I had been my entire life.
"I guess a few seconds, but does that really matter? I want to know what you were thinking about. It made you smile and space out."
"Uh…"'Uh?'my mind shouted.Think of something, you buffoon!
But I could only stare at her blankly until a realization dawned on me. I was in a very vulnerable, exposed position. With a strangled sound, I moved forward, slamming the door in her face. "I'll speak with you in a minute!"
"Well fine then! Humph!" Obviously miffed, I heard her footfalls quiet as she stomped down the hallway.
I leaned against the door, panting. I staggered a few steps over to sink heavily onto the toilet lid. "Dang it, Shadow! Pull yourself together!"
After regaining most of my composure, I tugged on my shoes and gloves, clipping my rings on with quiet clicks. It bothered me a great deal to find my hands and pulse rather unsteady.
All at once I realized that my pulse was never steady when I was around Amy. I was always uncomfortable near her, yet completely at ease. I also tended to notice small, unimportant details about her. The way her jade eyes would light with laughter moments before the jubilant sound could be heard. The way she would smile at even the smallest of kind gestures.
With a shaky breath I thought, "Was I in love with Amy Rose?"
I looked up when a knock sounded on the door a second before it opened. "Shadow, I just wanted to…" She trailed off, worry filling her eyes. "Are you all right?"
When I couldn't find the breath to respond, she came closer and knelt at my feet, taking my hands gently. "Shadow?"
And it hit me. I had finally reached the bottom of that bottomless pit. I loved her. I wasinlove with Amy Rose. My heart hammered in my chest, all the blood drained from my head, my mouth went dry, and my mind echoed with one painful question.'Now what?'
"Oh my gosh! Somethingiswrong!" He looked as if someone had just smacked him right where it counted with a frying pan. I hopped to my feet, scared to death. "Oh, Shadow, are you sick?"
I pressed a hand gently to his forehead, placed my other one at his wrist to check his pulse. It was going haywire, but there wasn't a fever. That was a relief.
This was his second time trying to speak. I looked into his dazed eyes, wondering what could possibly be wrong. "You what?"
"Move!" I dropped my hands, hurt by the sharpness in his voice.
But I recovered quickly. How dare he? I was only trying to help, after all! He didn't have to shout! "Fine! But I was only trying to help!"
I turned in a huff to leave, but he snagged my arm. "Amy…Wait."
I glared, prepared to tell him just what he could do with that request. But there was something in his eyes. "What is it?" I murmured.
He stood slowly, his eyes never leaving mine. They were unreadable yet… My heart skipped a beat as my anger was fully replaced with a curious excitement that coursed through me like lightning. Was he going to kiss me again? I shivered in anticipation as his hands rested on my hips, drawing me closer with the slightest encouragement.
Our bodies brushed, our lips a breath apart. I didn't know what was going through his mind, but he stilled, tensed. As he started to step away, I went with impulse and closed the distance.
For the second time, power rocked through me. The muscles in my legs went to jelly and they buckled. His fingers dug into my waist, pressing me tightly against him. But I didn't feel their bite, only him.
The heat, that slightly desperate punch that left me with no choice but to give. Whatever he wanted, whatever it was he needed I would find some way to get for him. When I was hiked up to my toes, we were pressed center to center, heat to heat. My gasp was swallowed by him and I could hardly stand all the emotion that poured from him.
My arms tightened around him, bringing him impossible closer. What could this be? The simplicity of a kiss had been thrown into a spiraling chaos of wants, needs, and something deeper. It was just out of my reach, but so close. There was so much in this kiss, I wonder if it could still be labeled as one.
When I thought I would burst from it all, my head fell back, breaking apart from him. His eyes were filled with everything the kiss had held. Desire, need, and…that something extra. But what could it be?
But even as I studied the red depths, they clouded with unmistakable shame. He set me down, but I refused to let him step back. "Why do you regret that?" I whispered. I knew he still wanted me, but… I ran my tongue over my bottom lip, still able to taste him. Could that desire possibly be one-sided?
"I don't," he answered. His body was tense again and there was… Could that be panic I saw in his eyes now? Strange. I had never noticed how expressive his eyes were before.
"Don't lie to me, Shadow. Please."
His eyes darkened. "I refuse to take advantage of this situation. Let go of me."
I only tightened my hold, rising up to my toes slowly. It was a purely provocative gesture and I knew it. Still, I was fascinated when panic danced in his eyes again. "Advantage of what situation?"
"Damn it, Amy." He began looking around anxiously, desperation mixing with the panic. "Release me now. I mean it."
"You're afraid," I realized.
His eyes zeroed in on mine and he looked like his regular self again: bad ass and aloof. "What?"
But he hadn't fooled me. I knew I was right. "Youareafraid!" I laughed, giving him a smacking kiss. "Is it me you're scared of?"
A single brow lifted. "Is that a joke?"
I stuck my tongue out at him, thinking quickly. "I know you're frightened of something though…" I wetted my lips, enthralled when his eyes followed the gesture. The desire that flared in them was quickly banked, but I noticed it.
I pursed my lips, thinking. "Dang it, Amy! Stop being…"
I cockled my head, confused. "Stop being what?"
He looked away. "Nothing…"
"I am not nothing!"
He looked back sharply, his fingers digging into my hips once again. "No, you're not."
Then I realized it. "You have feelings for me!" The panic returned to his expression. Pleased at myself, I beamed at him. "So what are they?"
"Not everyone expresses emotion as easily as you," he retorted. I pouted. "Oh wow," he muttered, staring at my mouth. Shadow finally slid from my hold and bolted from the room.
Curious about his reaction, I followed the trail of dust he'd kicked up, still pouting. My heart thumped painfully in my chest when I got to the top of the stairs. He had his now-dry cloak on and his hand on the doorknob.
"If you run you're no better than he is."
Even from where I was I could see his hand clench. We both knew who "he" was. "That was uncalled for, Amy." He looked up, furious. "And completely out of line."
"I know," I whispered. "I know, but it kept you from leaving."
"I still can." He looked away to glare at the door. "I should go. It would be easier if I left."
"I don't understand. Easier to do what?"
"It would be easier to resist you," he admitted after a long pause.
"Oh…but…" I fisted a hand loosely, brought it to my chest. "Why would you have any trouble resisting me? I'm not anything important…"
My back was against the wall almost before the words were out of my mouth, his hands digging into my sides. I felt it this time and it hurt. "Don't you ever say that about yourself again." His eyes seared mine, barely restrained anger burning in them.
"Shadow…Shadow, let me go. You're hurting me."
Instantly he released his hold, fisting his hands at his sides. "Damn it all…I'll apologize for that…I…" He shook his head, taking a step back. "I have to get away from you so I can think."
He had the front door open before I could even think of a response. "It stopped raining," I realized.
"Indeed." He looked up at me. "I suppose I should take you home now."
"No!" I took a hold of the banister. "Not yet. Please?"
He frowned. "Why not?"
"Umm…" I only wanted to stay because I wanted to be close to him, but I doubted he would accept that answer. So what else could I… Oh! "I still haven't figured out that maze!"
He only rolled his eyes. "Be sensible, will you? I still haven't figured that damn thing out yet."
This discouraged me a bit, but I really just wanted to stay. "Maybe… Maybe we could do it together?"
Was she out of her mind? Work on a silly maze together? Together onmybed? "Have you taken a complete leave of your senses? It's just a maze." All alone with her…on my bed…There were too many images going through my mind, none of which had anything to do with something as innocent as a maze. I highly doubted I would be able to stand being in my…On!On my bed with her in my current state of mind.
"Oh, please?" Those sparkling jade eyes of hers were eager, twisting my gut into nasty little knots. "It's really bothering me Shadow, so we have to!" Still, I hesitated. Could I really trust myself?
I watched her turn around with a huffy breath. "Fine. When I solve it, I am not going to give you any hints!" Nose snootily in the air, she strolled down the hall towards my bedroom.
I looked outside, fully intending to waltz on out and leave her. But… I sighed, closing the door. I just couldn't resist her. The temptation was just too great. Knowing I would regret every step, I started up the stairs.
I went down the hall, forcing myself to take my time. My head was shouting at me to leave. To turn around and run until I forgot all about her and the love I knew I felt for her. If I ran long enough I could surely talk myself out of that particular feeling. But as strange as it was, my body wasn't listening to my head.
I turned the doorknob slowly and opened the door. I took one step inside, saw her, and my head emptied, forgetting all about leaving and forgetting her.
Amy sat on the center pillow of my bed, nestled right in front of the headboard. Her feet were tucked under her so she could lean forward easier, I supposed. Her arms were folded under her breasts, her brows drawn together in concentration. The sexy little pout that made me want to nibble her mouth still graced her face.
She began leaning forward as if she saw a potential path, but sat back again with an unintelligible mutter a moment later.
When she leaned forward again, I saw what she was going to try. "I've already tried that path."
She tossed a haughty look over her shoulder, the pout gone. "And…?"
"And…" I drew the word out as I moved closer to her. "It didn't work." I unhooked my cloak, dropping it unceremoniously on the chair.
"Humph." She turned away. "I could've guessed that."
"Then you shouldn't have said 'and,' Amy." I sat next to her, keeping my eyes trained on the headboard.
"I thought you were leaving."
I glanced at her, quickly looking back at the maze. She was pouting again and now I was on my bed with her. I very nearly groaned at the torturous situation I had placed myself in. "I chose not to," I finally managed.
"Why?" I shrugged, unable to answer. When her hand touched mine, I nearly jumped out of my fur. "Shadow, please tell me why."
I could not. I just could not say a single word to her. I was nearly bursting with love for her and was very frightened that if I opened my mouth to speak, it would all pour out. That would be a humiliation beyond any other.
I had already told her that I would not be anyone's rebound. That still held true, but… She had been worried about me and not Sonic. Maybe I would not be a rebound…
"Shadow?" I looked at her. "You don't have to tell me. I was just curious." She took my hand and pointed to another path. "Have you tried that way yet?"
I could only shake my head.
"Then let's try it." She started trailing her index finger along the groove, stopping when she couldn't reach any farther.
I shifted to continue the path. It eventually came out to a dead end. "It didn't work," I murmured.
"Okay… What about this one?"
I wasn't sure how long we worked on that damn maze. It seemed like several hours had passed, though it could not have been more than one. Her thigh would occasionally brush mine, sending my battered system into haywire once again. She'd link her finger with mine when she would get excited. "I think this might be it!" she would whisper.
It never was, yet Amy never seemed to lose her confidence. I found myself leaning closer just so I could catch her scent. It was simply soap, but it was mine. And it was her skin. It was certainly dangerous for me to do, but so irresistible.
Finally we both caught sight of something. It was a path we had tried before, but there was a split in it that intrigued us. It led all the way over to the left side of the bed, then criss-crossed over to the right edge. Where I could no longer reach she would take over and vice-versa.
It was rather pleasant to lean over her, letting our bodies brush. The most exquisite of torments.
Her back was to me at the moment so I studied her, letting my thoughts roam where they would. Her soft gasp interrupted my fantasy and she turned her head, smiling widely. "It worked, Shadow!"
I shifted closer and looked over her shoulder. It had indeed worked. The maze was solved… Now she would probably go home…
The maze was solved. Now he would probably take me home… I let out a quiet sigh. I didn't want to go home…
I could feel the warmth of his body just behind me and if I leaned back just a little bit… Maybe I could get him to kiss me again. Or…
A soft blush pinkened my cheeks when a new idea popped into my head. Or maybe I could kiss him. It was an interesting idea, but how would Shadow react? And why had he been upset after kissing me in the first place?
I wish he would tell me, but he hadn't said much at all…
I leaned back against him, flicked my eyes up to see his go blank. His jaw slackened a little and I bit my lip. It was either kiss him now or he would probably shift away.
What was she doing? What was I going to do about what she was doing? Her dress had virtually no back and I could feel her soft fur against me.
My heart hammered, my eyes darkened. I wanted to kiss her again so badly, but I knew it would be a mistake. If I did I was desperately afraid it would go beyond that. I was desperately afraid that when it did I would hurt her. I did not want to hurt her. I would kill myself if I hurt her.
Her head was tilted, her lips offered. It was too much for me to take. How could I…? My thoughts ended abruptly as my brain imploded inside my skull. Her mouth was on mine, giving me a soft, sweet kiss. My heart seemed to melt inside my chest.
As she deepened the kiss, I turned her, slid my hands into her hair. She was warm, soft, giving. The heat I had come to expect had dulled to a warmth no less potent, no less intoxicating to the senses. I could hardly stand it.
I broke away. "Amy…" There were tears in her eyes. My heart twisted. What was wrong? What could possibly be wrong with her?
"Shadow, I…" She looked down, then back up, her eyes clear and determined. "I've never wanted anyone this way before."
I could no longer breathe. That quiet statement had undone me. "I don't want to hurt you…"
I watched her hand trail up to the clasp at her neck that held her dress up. "You won't. I trust you."
I heard a quiet click and held my breath as her dress fell. I kept my eyes on hers, my hands in her hair. "Amy…what are you…"
"I love you."
The words slid from my ears straight to my heart, the breath I had been holding came out on a quiet gasp. She loved me?Me?
"I know I've chased after Sonic for so many years thinking I loved him, but… But I don't. I didn't think you'd believe me, but I had to tell you."
"Amy." I slid my hands to her hips, a soft smile on my face. "I love you too."
Her eyes went wide and she threw her arms tightly around me. Deftly, I laid my lips on hers. The storm outside may have passed, but the one inside of me and the one I could feel inside of her was just beginning…
We were just beginning…