Categories > Games > Sonic the Hedgehog


by Purin 5 reviews

After the defeat of Final Hazard, a masked ball is held in celebration of Sonic's victory. Two visitors, in disguise, expose more to the other than had predicted... even more surprising was they on...

Category: Sonic the Hedgehog - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance - Characters: Shadow, Sonic - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2006-12-19 - Updated: 2006-12-19 - 6571 words - Complete

Disclaimer: SEGA gets the goodies. I don't. T-T

By: Jigglypuff in Blue Ribbons


Welcome to the Masquerade-Men became beasts, men became shadows, men became oceans, men became machines. Crocodile into alligator, alligator into crocodile. Reptiles sprouted wings, insects roared as Kings of the Jungle. Spiders spread silken wings as butterflies, butterflies dusted into moths, beetles polka-dotted to ladybirds, ladybugs snapping their jaws as stags, dragonflies creeping into colossal centipedes. A maiden greeted majesty, who in turn greeted housemaid. Hedgehog, Flicky, Squirrel, & Coyote bowed to the other, be they jester, peasant, alien or god.

Shrouded in a black domino, a stranger hid between chinks of glass and the laughter that permeated the ballroom, becoming one with the walls and closed by all worlds. A hood concealed the equally dark spines, a white mask to obscure the eyes and soul. The single other colors were the tan that marked his cheeks and chin, the occasional twist of lips should he spot-if rather ironic-bitter humor amidst the guests. White pure gloves adorned his hands like the mask to his face-plain wristbands fleshed out in the open, for the shadow had tossed his two rings across the marble steps of the ballroom, ready to be served by the juggling guests of the masquerade.

No matter how prickly the thorns, no wallflower was going to bloom alone.

The ebony rose was plucked the moment another black domino, he too in mask and hood, whooshed upon by, hovering near like an excited poltergeist. Silhouette greeted silhouette, like one waltzing with the reflection in the mirror-if the reflection were a bit reluctant. If anything, the second domino had to have doubled from the original, if he-or she-happened to be more... airy and light. He-or she-bore the same mask: his or her face was soft as peach, innocent as fawn, in contrast to the burdened tan of the stranger's. The gloves were identical and just as clean, not a ring or wristband in sight as this stranger took the puzzled spectator's hand into his-or her own.

"Who are you?" was the suspicious response. A finger raised softly over his lips, the second domino hushing in an indistinguishable whisper. He-or she gave a light tap-and a snicker-but the stranger growled lowly, backing away and shaking his head, not at all amused by his-or her foolishness. However, this perky double seemed to take no offense for it, brushing the cold reaction aside.

"Well, I can't exactly tell you who I am." That voice... it couldn't be placed with the whispers, but it was obviously energetic. "You've been here a while-even you know that, Shadow."

The spectator gasped, little sound coming out-he was too stunned to be annoyed, yet too stiff to be shaking. How did he know who he was?

"Are you...?" Did this person KNOW him?
"So am I. I'm also Shadow." A friendlier, warmer smile in return. "What do you know... we DO look alike."

"Shadow"'s mouth was still hanging slightly, astonishment and confusion thankfully concealed by a veiled face. Suddenly, he was pulled into the open, squinting to adjust to the bright light reflected off the chandelier above. Led by the hand of the other "Shadow", the two silhouettes emerged as fresh courtiers of the masquerade ball, the double flashing a toothy grin, and a possible wink beneath the paper face.

"Come on! Let's do it!"

There was definitely something peculiar about that masked hedgehog.


Shadow glanced and dove the other way, another Shadow flocked behind them. Shadow served Shadows and Shadows served the Queen, whose gown poofed with a sheen of satin splendor. A different Shadow frolicked with another Queen: the Queen of Spades. Jacks nodded beside her, Aces and Jokers juggling knives atop their star-studded balls.

A Quail clothed in apron garb and plaid dress curtsied by, as homely but ecstatic as the peasant could be. The pheasant's feathers clad in diamonds, clear spangles twinkling and passing the most brilliant reflections of rich coffee-brown and cinnamon beige, complete with apricots and holly-berry reds. An Ostrich strutted in sapphire gems, pretending she was a duchess of another continent-a prima donna perhaps, and FAR more superior to the silly pheasant next to her. The Quail chuckled to herself at those vain competitors, dusting her clothes and attending the hand of a sad-faced mummer to a waltz, who twisted his double-headed mask to a brighter countenance. She puffed her chest in a haughty, if undeniably royal stance; for the first day of her life, she dared to be simple.

A Platypus mimicked a Duck, quacking hello to the Chipmunk with a basket in her arms, clasping a carnation between his beak. The two black dominos bowed respectfully, the flower girl whose pink petals fluttered between her fingers. The second "Shadow" was assertive-his or her gloved hand opened to accept her gift, if careful not to reveal the arm beneath the domino. Her face beamed in shy but proud sunshine, the Chipmunk planted two carnations into his or her palm, blossoms pink with coquettish youth. The lighthearted double's fingers closed around them, but pinched one of the stems between thumb and forefinger, holding it out to his or her companion. "Shadow" gave a short nod: Keep it. It's yours.

The original "Shadow" did accept it, gingerly handling the carnation with almost an innocent air, like he were holding a rare china rose. The blossom held beneath his fingers, the first domino blinked oddly upon its frilled, silken beauty, each petal representing a strawberry quilt that splashed in waves at a time. He brought these mini-quilts to his nose, the satin-silkiness tickling him as he smelled all he could-a candy-sweet aroma touched his senses, leaving him to think of pink and strawberries and silk. Nobody had ever given him a flower before.

"Everybody! I would like to call for your attention..."

Every masquerader, every mummer, every costumed being hushed themselves as the chatter and laughter faded gradually like the echo of a sea shell. They waited for the short figure from on top of the steps-no doubt the host of the masked ball. The leader looked straight ahead, and the klank of the marble steps left the entire mansion empty-a white-gloved hand traced the knob of the staircase, otherwise dressed head to toe in a fiery vermillion robe. The face comprised of a hood and a skull, pale and speckled with red-be it paint or blood, and if the latter, dyed or real, nobody knew. But no one under ANY circumstance, messed with the Red Death.

"Thank you for coming! I hope you're having a good time." The Red Host lowered her head, nodding as if amused by the many white visages, with their masks, their makeup, their pointy noses, and their clown-caked facades. Jester hats jingled and bells that dingled were clasped shut, and the domino-clad ghosts huddled together like living pancakes from a bird's-eye-view at the staircase. Indeed, it felt more like a circus than a fancy ball, or to be more specific, a formal carnival, without the carousel or the roller coaster, unless you wanted to pretend they were there. It was like a casino, where people joked and gambled without coins or money. They feasted with an intoxicated joy at the festival of dreams, a place to be free where no other celebration would do-/this/ was the masquerade.

"But... I'd like everyone to be quiet for a moment, please. Do you know WHY we are here?"

A shimmer of gossip whispered amongst the mummers.

"Mmm... to party?"
"It's that Sonic guy, right?"
"Yeah, it must be Sonic!"
"Go Sonic!"

Aloft with excited murmurs, the Red Host cut her hand through the air for attention.

"Yes! We're here for Sonic." A smile wreathed beneath the skull, as if Death itself were laughing. "Once again, he saved us all, and we can celebrate by serving food and drinks and having fun. There's no chance Space Colony ARK will be crashing Earth, right? But you never know-this party has its fair share of surprises. If my instincts say right... then our famed hero is right here this very second!"

"But which one?" A hooded pink porcupine squeaked. A rush of chuckles flushed through, for she asked a good question: here and there, blue hedgehogs grinned amidst the crowd, like a ninja having duplicated himself. Red sneakers and green eyes followed the masqueraders at every turn, down to the last detail with white gloves, peach arms and muzzle and chest and stomach, and confident countenance. But the quills weren't always cerulean... sometimes they were green, as green as wild jungle-green could be. A purple hedgehog followed the corner, and there was a Sonic as scarlet as the Red Host herself; here an orange Sonic, there a pink Sonic, some with different chest colors and others with multi-plastered shoes. A rainbow of Sonics stalked the rooms in different spectrums, and any one of them... ANY of them, could be him.

"I'd like to see those guys have a race." A walrus quipped. "THEN we could tell which guy's the real one."

Chuckles and laughter choired their agreement.

"Oh, but Sonic isn't our only hero tonight." The Red Host commented. "Another hedgehog... another one quite like him, was the wind beneath our hero's feet, and gave everything he could so we could celebrate at the ball tonight."

"Really? Then who is he?" Shifting glances hobbled among the guests, eyeing each of the many Sonics suspiciously. "Is he here?"

"He can't come," The Red Host responded simply. "Because he's dead."

There was another choir, but this time not from the people... A copper bell moaned its melancholy, hollow notes, haunting the mansion like the prayer of a church. The air of the festival was empty, a graveyard fogging the wine glasses and pitchers of ice water. An icy, monotonous clang started the countdown: one... two... three... it was like a specter wailed its final anguish, joining with other souls quiet, but forever at a sea of apathetic unrest. The 12th bang hit the masqueraders hardest, and its echo lingered longest, a heavy weight in their chests until the dead silence was broken by the Red Host.

"There was another hedgehog, and he helped Sonic-by sacrificing himself." A solemn dread pervaded the room, the Red Host hinting anger-perhaps hurt, in her speech. "Did you see those lights around the ARK? There were two of them, weren't there? But only one made it back..."

"Who was he?" It was the second black domino.

"No one will ever know." A dark response from the Red Host. "The world will dress like Sonic, but what about the other hedgehog? No one could truly be him... he was unique. Could Shade and Shadow stand in the middle of the room?"

For the first time since the earth transformed into existence, the silhouette had become independent of its partner. The Phantoms, the Reflections, they all stepped forward like wraiths, huddling in a black circle and recognized before the Host. The second black domino stood far more stiffly than everyone else-teeth clenched and a hiss nearly drawn, his or her eyes burned in a building grudge at the Host; it was as if the second "Shadow" were seeing Red-the Red Death.

"We'll never see-or hear-from him again, and his true identity, shall I say it, is shrouded in shadow. He's here for one night, inside each and every one of you, the Shadows. The Phantoms, the Dreams... the Memories. No matter how elegantly or simply dressed, you come as a representation of Him-for all he's done for us. I wish you all to have a good night-but don't forget our heroes."

The only "Shadow" not crowded with the others was the first domino-head hung low and staring at the ballroom floor. When he did look up, it was at his partner there, and the miraculous transformation of his-or her frame of mind that settled in this carefree mummer. Talk of death was an instant reaction for anyone, be it discomfort or comprehension. But he or she... the second mummer separated from the world, and all that existed was himself or herself in a black atmosphere and a white silhouette that stretched across oneself. He-or she, had flinched, if hearing a grotesque whisper from the Red Host before she left:

"There was never such thing as a shadow; it's impossible to create what never existed in the world."

The mood of the masqueraders was still insecure, but gradually picked up again, until the banter, the gossip, and the general sense of whimsy and bizarre hilarity returned. The Shadows dispersed and blended or followed others once more in the ballroom-only the second mummer was still, head pointed diligently to where the Host once stood, arms limp and gloved hands balled into weak fists. The first black domino, up until now considered the colder and more uptight of the two, approached his mysterious partner, if for the first time spoken willingly to him or her:

"Are you all right?"

It was a silly question, but at a masquerade, with most or all the facial features plastered away, you had to rely from whatever body language you could. The second "Shadow" snapped to attention, turning toward the first domino with fists still clenched and falling by his-her sides.

"M-Me!? Oh, don't be kidding... that stuff doesn't normally bug me. Death, I mean! That guy... the Host never said HOW he sacrificed himself, right? Really, maybe he isn't... you know. He could be out there somewhere!"

The first domino raised an eye in skepticism. Just then, he spotted a violet-clad jester, leaping across the crowd and winking at the two, bells by his feet ringing like Dreams-and he himself represented many, many Nights.

"Listen. We should go over there, where the purple jester is."
"Aww! You make this party sound like a mission or something. Ever relaxed before?"
"Humph... then why not you?" A smirk-the first sincere smile of the entire evening. "Aren't you supposed to be leading me?"
"Then we'll follow that jester!" A pumped, bouncy answer. "C'mon...! We're not finished yet! There should be some cake left... last one there is a rotten egg!"
"Hey! Come back here!"


The feast was a pleasant one as expected, and for once time had lost all contact. The two dominos were together since the start of the festival, but more than ever didn't dare leave the other behind. What started as an acquaintance between the social butterfly and reclusive moth undergone metamorphosis into mutual guests of flight. The first "Shadow" found himself warming up to the celebration, a fuzzy sort of peace around dinner he'd go as far to describe as "tolerable".

Typically, everyone removed their masks at feasts, so as the first "Shadow" gazed over the room, it was like he were dining with entirely different guests. There were only a few Mad Hatters, and only halves of March Hares... where were the Mice and their Tea? Several still maintained their identities, including himself and the second black domino. One didn't need to put down their mask if it solely covered the top part of their heads-all you needed for eating was your mouth, after all.

As the buffet served food and drink, his selection was frugal in contrast to the mountains of dishes other masqueraders had, but was fanciful and modest all the same: fruit and a salad. The second black domino had more or less the same, with two cookies at the edge of his or her plate. Sprinkled with crystallized pink sugars, the second "Shadow" grinned placing her-his carnation beside the sweets. The first domino, however, continued holding his carnation by the fingers until setting it down somewhere clean, sipping ice water while he listened to his partner hold conversation.

"My friend's gonna wish he'd been here!" Among the babble. "He loves grapes, and he'd go any length to get some! He's good at finding 'em, too... World's Greatest Treasure-Hunter! Though on bad days, if he can't find any fruit, he'd sit by an anthill and collect ant heads-thousand's enough for a meal, he says. Also actually pretty healthy for ya... like raisins...!"

The second mummer sipped a little wine now and then with his water, which explained his or her tipsy behavior at times (sometimes rushing as he or she spoke, occasionally so quickly to the point where it was wholly incomprehensible). Yet, the first "Shadow" couldn't help but be intrigued by that masquerader the longer he heard him-her talk. Foolish, definitely. Not to mention impulsive at best. But he or she had seen more than his-her carefree nature suggested; the second masquerader was anything BUT ordinary.

"Hey... want this?"

Shaken from his thoughts, the first black domino turned toward his partner, who handed him a tiny plate with the last cookie.

"I can't eat another bite! So-you can have it."
"No, thank you. I'm not hungry."
"Aww, but-!"
"I don't like sugary food."
"Well, okay... just didn't want it to go to waste and all."

From that, the first mummer sighed. Why did he-or she, have to act like such a kid?

"Fine." He replied, holding his hand out. "Seriously, you're-I spoil you."
"One bite?"

The second domino grinned, satisfied with the deal. Cheeks radiating pink with warmth, he-she crossed fingers and watched his-her companion, expression unchanging as the cookie was placed between his fingers. With a "Humph", he munched into the cookie, the crystallized sugars already melting in his mouth. Not bad, he supposed... better than expected. He downed the sweetness with more water, giving a thoughtful glance at his companion, who smiled right back.

"So, whatcha think?"
"That a yes or no?"
"Hey-one bite, remember?" A finger for the single numeral.
"One bite..."
"That's all you need." A wink.


Dominos were a common costume for the masquerader; to the point of being defined as a "default" outfit. They weren't particularly extravagant, and no one took much notice in a domino-clad mummer-the precise reason they were common in the first place. One could still dress up for the masked ball, but at the same time, not draw attention to themselves and keep hidden if they wished. Black and white dominos were everywhere, like rabbits. Some blue, but none red-except for the Red Host, no one was allowed to wear crimson completely. The domino was simple-who would suspect one?

There were Soldiers. Toy Soldiers, Tin Soldiers, One-legged Soldiers. Soldiers who caught fire, Soldiers who danced with Ballerinas, Soldiers who did both (in no particular order). There were Military who made sure the masquerade didn't go awry, or rather TOO awry. There were Military who spent a little time each with the Sonics & Shadows of the ball; those same Sonics & Phantasms were never seen the rest of the night. No one noticed.

The first black domino was watching a green Sonic and a policeman, supposedly engaged in polite conversation. Both were still wearing their masks-the hedgehog was typical enough, and the man had on his usual navy garb. Two dreams shared by two different people: to be Sonic the Hedgehog for a day. To be an authority figure and a crime-fighting agent for a day. To be something they could never have. To be respected. To be someone without having to be something they're not.

One of them was telling the truth. The other was lying.

Fingers. They were pointing in various places, at himself and his companion. There's a couple of them over there, sir...


"We have to leave."
"What? But we're not-"
"We can't stay. Someone's looking for us."
"What's going on...?" There was a cut cry of exclamation as the first masquerader took his or her hand and stood up to begin leaving the table.
"Right now, act like there's nothing wrong and act as you were before. I'll explain everything later."

The first "Shadow" led his companion down the hallway, by means of vanishing between the crowd and losing the Soldiers. To go upstairs was suicide-/someone/ was bound to notice you. Hiding itself was ridiculous, and there was a Military gathered at the front door. There had to be a window, or a balcony or a place to escape somewhere...!

"Hey! What are you doing back there!?"

"Shit...!" the second domino whispered. To make things worse, they were caught at a dead end-it was like they stepped inside the room of a haunted house during a thunderstorm. All color was sucked with grays and browns, save for the blood-red curtains and dusty-greens of leather-bound books packed tight in their shelves. A helmeted man marched behind them, carrying a rifle that was anything BUT makeshift.

"You have breeched beyond the mansion limits; masqueraders are forbidden to leave the ballroom." The soldier cocked his gun, pointing it at the dominos. "I'll have to ask the two of you to come with me."
"Why?" The second mummer blinked. "We followed the rules up until now."
"I wouldn't get too cocky... you wouldn't want to be in any more trouble than you already are."
"Already have."

The second "Shadow" grinned affirmatively at his or her companion, clasping his or her hand upon his.

"Let me take care of this, okay? Just hold on tight... no questions asked."
"You can't be-AUGH!"

Before the solider could question them further, there was a flash of black-then nothing. Baffled, the man gaped and stuttered as his eyes darted about the room, turning around and crying out only when the two of them were already far behind. Audiences of masqueraders gasped and jumped and yelled out in shock, a dark blur blazing from nowhere like an outbreak of the plague. The military shuffled themselves, readying themselves to break its streak-again it escaped, again roared a ruckus. What was that? What was THAT!? Yet no one was hurt. Only the Red Host seemed to know what happened; from atop her perch, she was the last collected soul of the entire ball. She drew back her hood, letting loose her long blonde hair. The young girl held her mask in front of her, her wise blue eyes piercing through the chandelier.

"I guess they wanted to come after all."

Nobody had seen the Red Host ever again.


"...You can't be!"

The first domino backed away, incomprehension screaming from his eyes. The second "Shadow"'s hood flipped through their escapade, azure quills falling free and spiky-the blue hedgehog turned to face his partner, lifting his mask and exposing perky-green eyes.

"Looks like GUN never gives me a break, eh?" Sonic flashed the classic grin. "No matter what I do, it's like they always want me for something-huh?"

It was his turn to stop frozen-the cobalt one's mouth hung in a gasp, his partner's hood also whooshed back, quills sticking out in all directions like fire-and darker than his costume and hood put together. The ex-domino unmasked himself and set it aside; to Sonic, it was no different than watching a maggot-hosted corpse tear his face off.


The black hedgehog shot a lethal vermillion glare-his eyes like thieves in the night. Thoughts of betrayal, rancor, and vengeance seethed through them, seeking victims wherever they find. Caught in the center of Red's Frown, Time was over for the Condemned Blue-but they were both "Shadow"s. And he spoke.

"H-How did...!"
"If it isn't the most clever coincidence..."

How dare he. How DARE he. He lives... he LIVES. Him, the hedgehog who had him convicted. Him, the hedgehog who was his rival-his enemy. Him, the hedgehog who tried to kill him. Everyone. Him, the hedgehog who would've brushed it off like it were nothing.


There was a twisted garble of words; of names; of exclamations; of insults, if recounted by some irksome remembrance that left both of them sick. They had been pitted against each other for a short time, yet it felt like they had fought for generations like an inherited grudge for half a century. But at the masquerade, where they were dressed as anonymous silhouettes, anonymous lies-they were different people with opposite lives. They were partners, they were companions... they were friends. The real Shadow, the real Sonic-they'd become partners too, hadn't they? Perhaps... even friends. Friends too late.

"Wait-wait a minute. Just what is going on here?"
"Just thought I'd ask the same thing," Sonic frowned. "How did you get here? How did you survive? What-"
"What were you doing at the ball? To stoop so low as to dress like me?"
"For god's sakes, it's a DOMINO! Do you expect me to go as myself!? And be hounded when everyone knows I'm the real guy?"
"You could've chosen another color." The black hedgehog hissed. "You said for yourself you were a Shadow."
"Why did you impersonate me?"
"Answer me!"
"I-Look, I didn't want you to die! You've tried to kill me and everything, but I didn't want you dead!"

The real Shadow recoiled, as if smacked by something hard. He scowled, puzzled but at the same time competitive, and his lips curled into a cynical grin.

"You... missed me."
"Well-I don't wish death on people. And you did a good thing in the end."
"Because I was with you..."

Sonic backed and kept himself wary, but the black hedgehog's voice was already trailing off, like another heavy weight pounding on the Ultimate Life's chest, like he were trying to say something sinister he didn't at all really mean.

For all the people back on Earth...

"Hehe... after all that happened with me, nothing meant anything to you? Between us?"
"So you're saying, you went to the ball as me... because you idolize me?"
"I'm a hero to you now? Because I've died?"
"NO! Shadow, this is-! That's stupid! Me!? As-oh god...!"

But Shadow already bent like a broken doll, shivering with a soft chuckle, and Sonic realized no amount of protests would stop the rising sound. A sardonic laughter gradually resounded from the dark double, like an observant raven shaken by one's own fate. The louder it echoed, the more it gutted the blue hedgehog, a cruel hilarity he had the misfortune to hear, like a gravestone humiliating its own name. He swallowed in grit, swallowed Shadow laughing; at him. But what did he have to feel guilty for?

"You STILL think I'm a hero? Well Sonic, I'm alive. What do I mean to you now?"
"Shut up about this stupid 'hero' thing! You never WERE a hero! And I don't need you!"

Shadow was still. Finally, he uttered darkly:

"You must be out of your mind."

"Out of my mind!? Well excuse me, Shadow! That I couldn't tell the difference between you and a regular guy in a suit? You're mad at me for thinking it wasn't you!? Oh, OUT of my mind. How does that explain you falling from Space Colony ARK, frying up in Earth's atmosphere and somehow staying alive, huh? Since you're obviously so high and mighty, and-"
"Shut up! I'm-I'm sick of you! You may be Sonic, but to me you're nothing! How does it feel being off your high chair, Sonic the Hedgehog!? That not everyone worships you like the conceited bastard you are!?"
"Like YOU'RE any better, Mr. Ultimate Life-Form! Flawless Existence, whatever the hell you call yourself. I wish you stayed dead!"
"And I wish you stayed in the capsule Eggman trapped you in and exploded in space!"
"50 years obviously wasn't enough, was it? I hope GUN catches ya again!"
"If you keep yelling, we'll have that opportunity. And they'll arrest YOU again." The black hedgehog raised an eyebrow. "And this time, for a crime you've actually committed."

The blue hedgehog grit his teeth, a growl in his breath as he readied another retort. His fists shaking, he finally uttered a phrase that seemed only TOO weak...

"...I hate you. I'm leaving."
"Good. That'll be the first useful thing you've ever done."
"I'm not doing it for YOUR sake!" Sonic already begun to walk away, shooting a finger at his double. "We can stay on this roof all night if we have to!"
"Go ahead. So long as you keep to yourself, hedgehog."
"Ha! That'll be easy! I'll do it!"
"Then go."
"I am!"
"GOODBYE, hedgehog."

Shadow sighed, listening to the footsteps of his rival-which apparently didn't go fast enough.

"...Aren't you leaving yet?"
"When you're not distracting me!"
"Humph! The sooner the better, then."


Sonic stormed completely to the other side of the roof, leaving Shadow to brood and huff irritably on his. Meanwhile, GUN continued to search far below, trucks and alarms blaring about the city. Sonic picked the spot well; they were SO close from where they originally came, that the soldiers would have the ex-dominos right beneath their noses... only to walk right on by, believing they were far away. The hedgehogs were in no danger. Which left them less time to worry about being caught, and more to think about other matters.

The mansion was still nearby, but like it were a fuzzy memory instead-a fairy-tale castle manifesting in intoxicated minds. The magic itself was imaginary-who would believe Cinderella was once a peasant, who gained metamorphosis to meet the ball, and disappear by the 12th hour? As far the dreamers were concerned, they never recalled two black mummers leaving behind a glass slipper.

Two O'clock in the morning: 2:00 A.M. Save for the city, the world was quiet. Everything had been noisy and bright inside the masked ball; color was unavoidable, and the mummers were insomniac as 5-year-olds refusing to go to bed. Skyscraper headlights and the droning of the highway blurred with another, and in a remote area of the apartment, a dark sky lingered above, silent and neutral. Despite the vivacious blare maxing itself from city electronics, stars defied their barrier and faintly dotted their place in the atmosphere.


Sonic sighed, blinking as he recalled everything that happened that night. How hectic earlier events seemed, compared to the tranquil nothing that was happening now. The blue hedgehog stretched, peach arms popping out from beneath the domino. It's getting a little stuffy in there, he thought. Now that the party's over...! He stopped suddenly, feeling a hard stem between his fingers. Puzzled, he shifted about and moved his hand in front of him to see what it was. The azure one gave a small snicker: A carnation, eh? A little smushed, but a little perking up should do. His fingers fluffed the petals, smoothing them out like bows and ribbons, until the flower was rigid and became its own again. There. Good as new! Taking a deep breath, Sonic clutched the pink flower tightly, tense but the aroma pacifying him as the blue hedgehog turned around and stepped ahead.

Shadow never moved. The dark double hunched over, lost in highway and thought. His fingers gingerly stroked a carnation: a memento from that night. He closed his eyes, the cheer and applause ringing through the petals like the opening of a seashell. He could almost taste the fruit again, breathe in the pastries, drink in the euphoria of the lights. But what did it matter now? It's over. The ex-domino would think no more of it.

The carnation slipped through his fingers, a strawberry jewel plummeting in the ocean depths of the city.

The black hedgehog's eyes widened: blossoms of pink fluttered his vision, and it had to collect him a few seconds that indeed, that someone holding another flower in front of him. His hand reached out-only for the carnation to be pulled away. He turned around, seeing another flash of black nearby.

"You know that flower girl we met? She worked so hard into growing these, ya know... You wouldn't wanna lose a gift like that, right?"

The blue hedgehog offered the carnation in Shadow's hands, which his double more than gratefully accepted. He still said nothing, holding the pink bloom to his chest like a strawberry in a field of licorice. Sonic took the opportunity to seat beside him, the two ex-dominos looking over the edge of the city.

"Hey, I just thought I'd apologize." The blue hedgehog said."I-"
"You know, for those things I said. That I didn't need you, that you weren't a hero, that I wanted you dead-"
"Well, I apologize too, then. I shouldn't have said the things I said either."
"It's no problem." Sonic grinned. "Either way, we're both alive right?"

Shadow was quiet, and between the two hedgehogs, there was a mutual agreement.

"How DID you survive anyway?"
"...I don't know."
"Okay, how about something easier. What made you want to come?"
"To the masquerade?"

The black hedgehog closed his eyes in thought, bringing the carnation to his nose. He inhaled the sweet scent, taking the aroma to put him in a calmer, more peaceful state of mind. His head filled with reminisce, soft images of dancing bears, chandeliers and glittering glass-and a beautiful angelic face that smiled beneath the mask of death.

"I was hoping to see her."
"The Red Death!"
"You know, the one who hosted the masquerade. She... was someone I used to know."
"What happened?"

The dark doppelganger lowered his head, closing his eyes in solemn acceptance.

"She wasn't real."

Her lips curled in a melancholy kindness, as a black domino tentatively reached for her hand-only to go right through her, like a mirage in a desert. A skull bore through his soul, and the Red Death left him broken to bleed. Between them both, they were dead-but only he was bound to the world of the living.

"You wanted to see her again, didn't you?"

Shadow was again silent, like a still winter had begun to snow around him. He clutched the flower harder, like it had become dry, brown and withered, but wanted to hold on for memory's sake. Shivering in the domino, the black hedgehog fell numb as the following whisper passed his lips:

"I wanted her to forgive me."

The dark doppelganger hung his head, ignoring Sonic as he reached and held his shoulder.

"No Shadow... forgive me."

His ears stiffened, and Shadow glanced at the blue hedgehog in disbelief.

"I left you to die! What kind of guy would do that anyway!?"
"Sonic, don't be ridiculous-!"
"It's true! It was the two of us, against the Final Hazard, and both of us could've made it back to the ARK... I was strong enough. You were strong enough. I believed that when we got back, we could've been buddies, you know? We'd fight a lot, but it's no big deal-it's not it's like it'd make any difference anyway. We put each other through a lot of shit-I don't deny it. But when we worked together, and we held hands, it was like... we..."
"-Were friends."
"Was that why you...?"
"When you fell toward Earth and I couldn't do anything about it, I felt like I stabbed ya in the back, you know? Considering what's happened to you and everything, the last thing I wanted to do was be the next person to betray you."
"...You were the only one who was there at the ball."

The black hedgehog sighed, fumbling in his domino to look for something.

"Take this."

It was as if Shadow offered the moon to his double-a chewed, crescent moon shimmering in pink crystals. Sonic stared at the half-bitten cookie in his hand-the one he gave him. He looked up at his doppelganger, the face stern and resolute.

"It looks like you need it more than I do."
"N-No Shadow. It's yours."
"Sonic, please. Take it."
"It's my present to ya, you know." The blue hedgehog shrugged.

The ebony double sighed again, breaking the cookie in two.

"We're sharing. Okay?"

The azure doppelganger was given his piece, to which he stared, then smiled and nodded.

"Okay! Sounds good to me!"


Sonic yawned, stretching his arms then wiping the crumbs off his face. A content smile warmed his countenance, pleased with the treat he was offered. Shadow chewed the final bite, a neater eater than his double. Almost grudgingly, the black hedgehog admitted:

"It's actually really good. I'll give you credit for that."
"Sounds like you're getting softer!" the azure doppelganger laughed. "For someone who doesn't like sugar, that's quite a start! Hey, look up there."

If the city could blind the stars, nothing could frighten the moon. It hung a broken thing, battered by space and ripped apart by the Eclipse Cannon. Yet the moon gleamed nonetheless, bearing its barren scar as a ruby badge of honor. The hedgehogs stood, gazing thoughtfully at the spectacle. The blue hedgehog grinned and nodded, like he were watching a shipwrecked boat sail proudly without fatigue among the sea.

"Mmmhmm... life goes on. What do you say, Shadow?"

The black hedgehog was broken from his daze as a hand held him by the shoulder, and warm lips pressed upon his. Eyes shot wide open, the dark double attempted to squirm away and yet... he felt himself grow heavy, and he surrendered himself to the other hedgehog's touch. He tasted of sugar-god dammit, he didn't think he could take this much. Again, he attempted to pull away. Again, the other pulled him back. Somehow... he didn't mind the sweetness anymore. Either way, he tasted the same to him.

He wished he didn't share his cookie.

The hedgehogs separated, Shadow panting lightly before he regained himself and stared at the azure double in confusion.

"What was that for?"
The blue hedgehog snickered. "You looked out of it for a second there."
"Not funny."

A mischievous smirk crossed the dark double's face, and with a cry from Sonic, pulled him back for another kiss. Neither of them rejected the other's presence, a sigh of inner satisfaction droned in the back of the blue hedgehog's throat. The black doppelganger's hand brushed his cheek, lifting all the way to a plastic surface-Sonic's mask slipped gently in Shadow's grasp, which combed down and pressed against the azure double's back, wrapping him in embrace. The hedgehogs' lips parted, Sonic providing a warm grin before returning.

Like a snowflake, the mask fluttered to the floor. It was a shell, but like any you find on the beach, you could put it to your ear-and listen to a story.

The End

A/N: Well! Took me almost an entire year to finish this. XD Started this in March, but I had to fight depression during a lot the months, so that's a bit of a setback. Not to mention this is also one of the most difficult fics I've ever written: I've seriously never had so much Writer's Blocks on one fic before. :o I also had to rewrite the ending around four times because they kept being rushed and crappy. XDD;;; Well, better than nothing right? Right. At either rate, I was inspired by "Phantom of the Opera" and Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of Red Death for this fic. It was originally gonna be a short little snippet about either Amy or Sonic inviting Shadow to a dance during a masquerade ball, but since I found masquerades so interesting it seemed like a waste if I just reduced the idea to a drabble, so I decided to put more detail into it, and well... there you have it. XD Hope you guys liked!
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