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Warmer Memories

Written by Felicia Rondo, Edited by Cluster, Rated 18+

Summary: On a mission from G.U.N., Shadow is doing his best to bury the painful memories that were rising to the surface on what had become a wretched day for his mental health. Lucky for him, Sonic’s here to lighten things up!

Contains: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Reference to the Final Death Egg Emperor Robot Machine, Violence Against Masochistic Hedgehogs, and Biblical Tests of Patience.

You could say he was asking for it, but he wouldn’t. It was the only explanation, but Shadow knew if he called him on it he’d feign innocence. No one could be this dumb, Shadow thought, not even Sonic.

“So, y’think that big bad robot learned its lesson yet?” Sonic remarked, causing Shadow’s ear to twitch as he revealed his presence to the other hedgehog, “I figured it got the picture before you punctured his chassis with your entire fist, but hey! Can’t say you aren’t thorough!”

True, Shadow’s fist was lodged inside the chest of an already-nonfunctioning robot. Yes, he had hammered the newly-manufactured machine all but literally into paste. Was there a very good reason for it?

“‘None of your business,” Shadow replied, turning away and coldly pressing forward to his mission objective. With any luck, it would all be over with and ready to be forgotten before too long… but, judging by the blue hedgehog that invited himself into his peripheral vision, he was low on luck as always.

“Can I say something?” Sonic started, rhetorically.

“No,” Shadow answered, before he could finish.

“I never see you get like this with Rouge, y’know?” Sonic said, folding his arms behind his head as he walked along with him, “It’s like she can say whatever she wants to you and you never mind any of it.”

“Rouge usually speaks when she has something important to say, not for lack of having any inner monologue like in your case,” explained Shadow, “at any rate, I’m busy and not in the mood for pointless distractions.”

It was supposed to be a simple mission - get in, find whatever data had been left behind at the abandoned base, and get out. Idly, Shadow wondered if he could’ve avoided this run-in if he’d only moved quicker… but then…

“Aww man,” Sonic snapped his fingers and shook his head, still refusing to leave, “no one’s ever in the mood for pointless distractions!”

The crisp sound of Shadow’s hand clenching into a fist almost seemed to echo in the walls of the base. His fingers dug into the palm of his hands, and Sonic’s gut was looking more and more like a perfectly-adequate place to scratch the itch on his knuckles. With a deep breath, his fist unclenched and he resumed his scan of the area.

“Ahh, this place takes me back,” sighed Sonic, nostalgically, “I remember it like it was yesterday - Tails was field-testing a new gadget, I was cracking jokes and making all the robots laugh, and I think we finished off with a fight against the Egg Emperor!

“Or was it the Death Egg Emperor? Final Egg Emperor?” he questioned his memory, before chuckling, “Geez, why doesn’t ‘botnik just take all those eggs he has and make an omelet like a normal perso—HRK!” he groaned, as Shadow’s fist smacked the back of his head with all the tenderness of a concert piano falling from a two-story building.

“Inner. Monologue,” Shadow said to the yammering hedgehog, through gritted teeth, “You can have your thoughts there, where they can stay until you think of anything important, and then no one has to hit you,” he explained.

There wasn’t a response for a short while. Sonic just laid there, crumpled on the floor, looking pathetic. Part of Shadow wondered if he should’ve regretted it, if he had really done harm to his self-appointed pest… thoughts that were discarded when he heard that chuckle once more.

“I like to think no one has to hit me,” Sonic laughed, picking himself up off the ground and dusting himself off, “I do get hit a lot, though!”

“Truly a mystery for the ages,” Shadow rolled his eyes, before turning his back to the hedgehog once more, “now, if you’ll excuse me, I have business to attend to.”

At last, his gaze landed on a central computer. It seemed to have gone into rest mode, as the power LED lazily blinked off and on in the dim room. G.U.N. had already cracked the log-ins for Eggman’s systems down to 4 most-likely passwords at the time the base would’ve been active, so that saved him the trouble of having to guess it himself. Finally, he was getting somewhere.

Not wasting another moment, he took a seat at the desk and hit the ‘enter’ key on the keyboard to wake the computer back up. With unshakeable focus, he began to input the first passwor—

“I like to hit the spacebar when I’m waking it up,” Sonic remarked, standing beside him and watching the oversized screen come to life while inexplicably holding a mug of hot chocolate, “that or I give the mouse a li’l wiggle, y’know?”

“… When did you get that mug?” Shadow questioned him, momentarily too baffled with the shenanigans to be annoyed.

“Oh, this?” Sonic replied, turning the mug over so Shadow could see world’s most hateable hedgehog written on it with an Eggman logo behind it, “Ol’ Robotnik got it for me to mark 15 years of fighting each other! It was really sweet, I had no idea he cared!”

“No, I mean when did you get it just now?” Shadow sighed, before wondering aloud, “Why would he get you a mug if he…? Never mind, I really don’t want to know. I’ll just pretend you’re not here now.”

The first password didn’t work. Thankfully, he had three more guesses before an alert would automatically be sent out to the EggWeb Network. He could rely on G.U.N.’s team of experts to have narrowed down the doctor’s sign-in, he knew - one of the next three passwords would work.

Next, he typed in “Egg-M-pire.” Again, red text flashed on the screen to inform him the username or password was incorrect. Password number three, he typed, “300-IQ-Genius.” Username or password incorrect.

This next password had to be it. If it wasn’t, the whole mission would be canceled and the G.U.N. robotics division would be stagnant for another 4 months while the security team worked to decrypt more log-ins of Eggman systems. One more password remained, and it was one he hoped he could avoid.


Welcome, doctor,” the system said, as it opened the desktop up to him. Bitterly, Shadow shut his eyes for a moment as more thoughts he tried to keep down made their way to the forefront of his mind.

“Why d’you think it says username or password incorrect, anyway? Can’t it just say I got one or the other right so I don’t have to worry about two things at once?” Sonic wondered.

“… You’re still here?” questioned Shadow.

“I’m just saying! Happens to me all the time whenever I try to log-in someplace I haven’t logged into in a while!” Sonic replied, “I get so many accounts locked that way, it’s the worst!” He was saying nothing important, as always, so he could safely be ignored.

Sure enough, there were badnik schematics galore in the system’s data drive. Being the egotist he was, Dr. Robotnik didn’t bother to make much of an effort to keep his technology secret from others - because, of course, by the time they got their hands on it he will have moved on to far greater creations. His underestimation would be G.U.N.’s benefit.

“I wasn’t keeping track, anyway, but I got the mug probably somewhere in the ballpark of 20… no, 25 seconds ago at this point!” Sonic answered, “Tails just texted me that he finished the hot chocolate he was making for us so I just swung by, grabbed my usual mug, filled it up and came right back!”

Fascinating,” Shadow responded, in monotone, as he mostly succeeded at keeping his focus on the task at hand. Plugging the data stick in, he began the transfer and went to look elsewhere in the system for anything else he could get out of it.

Computers had become so advanced in recent years, Shadow thought. Even the state-of-the-art technology on the ARK was nothing compared to what the doctor would leave lying around in old abandoned bases. He had probably forgotten more high-level robotics than some of the world’s leading minds had ever learned.

A window popped up. Transfer complete. Pulling the data stick out of the computer, his work here was done - he had fulfilled the primary objective of his mission to the letter, as he remembered from the briefing…

“Though it’s been many years, our engineers have struggled to adapt salvaged Eggman technology after a certain point,” the G.U.N. operative stated, placing a stack of papers on the table Shadow was seated at, ”The rudimentary systems of his earliest creations have long since been cracked, but something changed after the turn of the century. His code becomes more complex, more… personal, almost.”

Shadow listened carefully to the man, while scanning the documents at the same time as though it were as simple as breathing. They went over a technological leap their experts had observed in the doctor’s robotics, between the years 2000 and 2001, as well as remarking on the stockpile of salvaged badniks G.U.N. had saved that all seemed to have originated from after that era began.

A glorified junk heap, in other words, if one has no way of adapting the technology without breaking it.

“We believe the discovery of his grandfather’s notes influenced the subsequent generation of Dr. Eggman’s robotics, and that the location we’ll be sending you contains data we can use to make sense of it all,” the operative concluded, “you are to get in, harvest the data, and get out. The sooner our internal robotics division has this data, the sooner we can begin to catch up.”

“Is that all? Anything else I might find there?” Shadow asked, breaking his stoic silence.

“As far as hostiles go, you may find a few outmoded robots on low-battery. It’s possible the central computer may also contain intelligence on previous military activity on the ARK, but nothing we don’t already have in our hands. All you need to do is get the badnik schematics - anything else is outside the purview of your mission.

“It doesn’t matter if you need to destroy a robot or two to get to the computer, but we’re counting on you to focus on the mission when you reach it,” the man emphasized.

“Focus on the mission…” echoed in Shadow’s mind. He scanned the desktop, searching the titles of folder after folder, before finally reaching one titled “Incident on Space Colony ARK.”

Shadow had been doing work for G.U.N. for a long while now, but one thing always remained out of his reach no matter what he did - by order of the Commander, no less. Any intelligence pertaining to the incident on the ARK, the day the military arrived, was strictly off-limits. At this point, after everything he had done for them, he couldn’t imagine why they wouldn’t trust him with the information.

When he opened the folder, a window popped up with folders bearing the names of all researchers slain on that day. He opened one and saw a small thumbnail for an image of the man as he was found, next to multiple text files going over his contributions to Project Shadow as well as his autopsy report. Without opening the image, he could already tell it was gruesome.

Leaving the folder, he scrolled further down the window. More names went by, organized alphabetically, while Shadow searched. There were two names listed under ‘M,’ but only one of them was a researcher.

He paused. He knew full well what he would find if he clicked through - every bone in his body dreaded the thought of it. He had spent so long trying to forget, and yet… he dragged his cursor over the folder. He hadn’t seen her after she sent him off to Earth in that escape pod. He just wanted to see her agai—

“Whoa!” Sonic yelped, as a splash of hot chocolate hit the computer and fell through the air vents, right as Shadow was about to click on the folder. The digital display began to tear, numbers flashed all over the screen, before finally freezing on that window - leaving whatever he would’ve found in that folder out of Shadow’s reach.

“You idiot!” Shadow growled, before tackling the other hedgehog to the ground and smacking him across the face. Sonic let out a pathetic whine afterward, which only provoked Shadow to throw another across the other side of his face.

“How could you be so reckless?!” snarled Shadow, hitting him over and over again, “Are you so foolish that you didn’t think to exercise the slightest bit of caution!?”

“Sh-Shadow…” Sonic coughed, his eyes more serious than any other time he had seen him that day, looking back at Shadow, “… we both know you weren’t gonna find anything good in there.”

He froze, his fist raised in what would have been another punch, and his eyes widened as the blue hedgehog’s words sunk in. It wasn’t the stupidest accident ever made. He did it on purpose.

“You… you…!” Shadow yelled, tears welling in his eyes, before unleashing another onslaught of punches. His vision blurred, but he could still make out that look in Sonic’s eyes. Of all the annoying looks that hedgehog made, this one seemed to be striking a nerve somehow.

No matter how many times he hit him, Sonic kept looking back at him like that. It was getting to him.

“Why?! Who gave you the right!” cried Shadow, his once-enraged fists weakening to nothing, “Who are you to deny me what I have every right to know!” He raised one last fist into the air, only for Sonic to catch it, “… Why would you take her away…” he sobbed.

“She’s gone, Shadow. Seeing whatever was on there was never gonna change that,” Sonic answered, feeling the other hedgehog’s fist unfurl as he sobbed on top of him, “I’ll watch you take a robot and twist it into a steel pretzel - heck, I’ll even let you smack me around if you want - but I’m not gonna watch you hurt yourself.

Pushing himself off of Sonic just enough to meet his eyes again, Shadow sighed and rolled off of him. He hated that he was right, he hated that she was gone… and he hated this feeling he had, deep in his chest, that if he let go of the pain he would be letting go of all he had left of her.

Tears continued to flow down the sides of his face, but his cries were beginning to soften. He laid like that on the ground for a bit, with Sonic beside him, but eventually the blue hedgehog propped himself up by his elbow and looked over at Shadow.

“Did she have a favorite thing to eat?” inquired Sonic. When Shadow looked back at him curiously, he elaborated, “Maria, I mean…

“You hadn’t brought her up in a while, but you clearly still think about her, so… what did she like to eat?”

Shadow stared at the ceiling, closing his eyes and trying to picture it in his head. He went back to before those last moments, before her sacrifice, and remembered his sister. She was very thin, due in part to her condition, and he rarely saw her eat.

“I just need to forget… I was doing so well…” Shadow frowned bitterly, his eyes threatening to well up again before Sonic took his hand and gently laced their fingers together.

“It’s okay to remember the people we loved…” Sonic smiled, brushing the back of Shadow’s hand with his thumb, “but there’s more to the past than the pain, y’know?”

Shadow looked down at their joined hands, gazing at it curiously, before giving Sonic’s hand a squeeze and shutting his eyes once more. He looked further, further than he had allowed himself to in a long while, until he found a dinner table. The researchers that so often hovered around Maria stated that lean proteins were good for her, and before long they even left the table so Maria could enjoy… her plate.

“Baked beans,” he answered, as the freshly-cooked meal glowed in his memory, “baked beans were her favorite. Of the few things she was allowed to have, she liked baked beans the most.”

“Want me to fix some up for us?” Sonic asked, picking himself up off the ground once more and pulling Shadow back up with him.

“… Only if you’re heavily supervised,” Shadow answered, letting go of the other hedgehog’s hand and going to grab the data stick with the badnik schematics, “knowing you, I worry you’d burn your house down if I didn’t keep a close enough eye on you.”

Still, the gesture did touch Shadow. Maybe doing something nice to remember her wasn’t so bad of an idea. Maybe there was another way than the path he’d taken after all the dust had initially settled. Perhaps, against all odds, it was possible he had underestimated the blue-quilled hedgehog.

“Aww, you’re worried about me!” Sonic exclaimed, ruining the moment, “That’s so sweet!

No, he really was just stupid, Shadow decided.

“I’ll be there at 4,” he told the blue fool, “try not to burn anything before I arrive,” he remarked, with a soft smile, before leaving him with a jab to the shoulder.

Yow! Heyyy…” Sonic whined, though Shadow could hear the smile on his face even with his back turned to him.

In Shadow’s defense, he was asking for it.

The End.

Originally-published on April 3, 2024

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