Hold On by Skyblaze

Chapter notes:
Yes, I know it's been awhile.
Chapter Three - Cold Comfort

Chapter Three - Cold Comfort

Blood flows in the desert
Dark citadels burning too
Watch, Look over your shoulder
This one is strictly for you

Shadow opened his eyes slowly, letting himself accustom gradually to the bright sunlight filtering in through the windows, the unfamiliar softness of the bed beneath him...

And the raw shock as he stared into the onyx eyes of Sonic the Hedgehog.

There was little softness in those eyes. Much less of the easygoing good humour and mischief that Shadow was familiar with. These eyes seemed older, harder, and colder - as though this Sonic had led a much more brutal life that the Sonic he knew. There was deep distrust and suspicion in the eyes, and in the hard set of the mouth.

"Who are you?" Sonic asked abruptly. Shadow blinked at him, then offered the only piece of information he could.

"Shadow." He replied. Sonic drew back slightly, his face caustically disbelieving.

"Shadow? What kind of a name is that?"

Shadow tilted his head slightly, "It's the only one I have. My... past is something of an enigma to me."

Sonic snorted, "I'll bet," Another one of those penetrating looks, which Shadow returned calmly. Eventually, Sonic looked away, "How'd you get here, anyway?" Sonic asked a lot of the challenge gone from his voice.

Shadow carefully considered his response to that. Weighing up the best way to respond to that sharp question, finally he shrugged,

"I think I must have been transported from another world."

Sonic's eyes widened, "You sayin' you're an alien or somethin'?" Despite the harshness of the tone, the sound of Sonic's loose, flowing accent inexplicably warmed something in Shadow. Despite the circumstances, it was good to hear Sonniku's voice again.

"Not exactly." Shadow replied, at length, "There accident. I think I was transported from...another dimension."

"Well, that would certainly explain some of these readings." A female voice came from the doorway. Shadow turned to see a young female ground squirrel stood in the door, accompanied by a tall, nervous-looking walrus wearing a bright red cap. "Glad to see you're awake." The squirrel said. He voice was cool and confident, softly melodic and Shadow recognised it as the same voice that had spoken to him in the forest.

"I heal fast," Shadow replied cautiously, "But thank you for rescuing me."

"You're welcome." She said, moving over to plug her small hand-held computer into one of the larger workstations in the room. The walrus was unobtrusively working on one of the scanners, quietly taking readings.

Sonic chose that moment to step in, "He say's his name's 'Shadow', Sal."

"Shadow?" The squirrel asked with a quirk of an eyebrow, "It suits you," She said after a moment, "I am Princess Sally Acorn of the House of Acorn."

Shadow paused, unsure, "Apologies, but I have no idea how to address a Princess."

The Princess waved that off, "Just 'Sally' will do, and this is hardly a formal situation." She pointed at the platinum-furred walrus, "That's Rotor, and I believe you already know Sonic."

A smile tugged at Shadow's mouth wryly, "In a manner of speaking."

"It looks like he's telling the truth, Sally," The walrus - Rotor - said then in a surprisingly soft voice, looking up from his equipment, "His quantum signature is totally different to anything from this world, but I'd like Chuck to take a look at it when..."

Rotor was interrupted by the sound of a clanging bell coming from outside. Sonic shot outside, leaving everyone else in the hut staggered by his slipstream. Sally and Rotor followed him as rapidly as they could, leaving the somewhat bewildered Shadow stood in the doorway.

The source of the commotion became quickly obvious as Shadow saw two Mobians - a male fox and a female rabbit - carrying two obviously injured people into the clearing in the centre of the circle of huts.

"Sonic, Sally-girl," The rabbit said urgently, "There's a whole bunch 'o SWATBots attacking Westfold Village, they're burnin' the place to the ground!"

Sally immediately stepped in and smoothly took control, "Sonic, Bunnie, get these two into the infirmary. Antoine, you help me gather up the rest of Knothole - tell everyone to get hold of buckets and pans - anything that can hold water..." She continued giving instructions as Sonic and the rabbit came over to the medical hut.

The rabbit set her 'patient' on the cot that Shadow had just vacated, as Sonic struggled to pull down another cot from the wall without dropping his burden. Shadow quickly helped him, and the worked together in silence for a moment, settling the patient - a middle-aged woodchuck from the look of it - on the bed and tending to the most obvious of his wounds.

For both patients, it seemed to be mostly minor burns aggravated by smoke and dirt that were the major problem. Sonic and Shadow cleaned them as best they could, soothing the burning with cold water, then smoothing on a healing salve and wrapping the injury in bandages. Then the work was over, Sonic and Shadow stood staring at each other over the cot.

"Y'know, that was kinda eerie." Bunnie said suddenly. Sonic tore his eyes from Shadow's compelling gaze to look over as his friend.

"Huh?" He asked, puzzled.

"You two moved like y'all were psychic or something. Like you knew exactly where the other would be, exactly what they wanted without needin' to say a word. It was creepy."

The two hedgehogs looked at each other again, unsure, but some of the suspicion and hostility had gone from Sonic's eyes. Bunnie shuffled uncomfortably, edging towards the door and away from the unbearable tension between them.

Then Sally walked in, and Sonic's attention flipped from the dark hedgehog beside him to the admittedly beautiful squirrel at the door.

"Sonic, Bunnie," The Princess addressed them, "We're heading over to Westfold Village, I need you two to hold off the SWATBots until we can evacuate everyone."

"Sure, Sally-girl," Bunnie acknowledged instantly.

Sonic nodded, and moved to put a supportive hand on her shoulder, which she quickly shook off, "We've moving in five minutes - be ready." Sally moved to leave, Bunnie trailing her, Sonic remained, a trace of hurt on his face before he took a breath and assumed a cool, confident expression and moving to follow. Shadow frowned.

"Can I help?" The back and red hedgehog asked. Sally turned around and frowned at him, looking uncertain for the first time he'd seen. Sonic also turned and gave Shadow an indefinable look for a long moment, then looked over at Sally.

"I'll keep an eye on him, Sal." Sonic said.

At last - a chance to find out what circumstances were on this particular version of Mobius...and a chance to get to know Sonic, to fight along side him, all over again.

Shadow smiled.

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