Amy was walking around the ruins of Eggman's city of Metropolis, her wings drooped and dragging on the ground. Despite the baniks running around the city, she managed to find solace in the one place Zyx had left untouched. Even after she found Eggman lying dead at the open door to his Hazard Vault. It would appear his last attempt against Zyx was to unleash his most destructive and unstable robots.

The pink hedgehog was here for a second, more painful reason. Sonic had left her. He had become flat-out pissed. He had shouted at her. He had abandoned her. When she tried to reason with him, he had attacked her. He had told her plain and simple to stay away from him; to never come into his life again.

Can't be more out of his life than somewhere he would never come to again.

A flurry of these deadly badniks came up from behind some destroyed buildings. Before they were even fully revealed, Amy spun into a wingslash tornado, tearing through all ten of them as they just barely reached the apex of their arrival jump. They hit the ground and fell apart instantly, electricity sparking long before they started to fall. Amy's wings dropped suddenly. She was becoming some kind of destructive beast. And it was her own fault. Tears started to cloud her lower vision.

The sound of rustling metal emerged from behind her, and she tore the tears from her eyes and spun, raising her hands but leaving her wings on the ground. Suprisingly, Shadow raised his head, holding the red Chaos Emerald and what appeared to be a robotic core. His expression as though he had just recently been letting his own tears.

"Amy?" he asked. Notioning to her sagging wings, he added, "I'm pretty sure that can't be good for your wings."

"Shadow?" Amy called. Approaching him carefully, she said, "You look like you've been crying."

Shadow shook his head, giving a weak smile. "No," he replied. Turning away, he added sadly, "More like turning Silent Canyon into Silent Lake."

Amy actually reeled back. "What's wrong?"

Shadow turned back to Amy. "It's..." he started to say, attempting nonchalance, then closed his eyes and dropped his head. 'It's Infera." A tear flowed down his face as he continued, "She... she overreacted when I was watching you leave, and she ended up fighting me. She essentially awakened Dark Fire, tearing my Chaos and my heart apart and knocking me into the side of a cliff. Then she left me, leaving me to flood Silent Canyon." Tears had started to pool at his feet, and he turned away.

Amy laid a hand on his shoulder. "It's alright. But Shadow, ask yourself. Did she overreact? Or did you just do something that caused her to snap? What exactly did she say?"

Shadow opened his eyes and turned to her. "She... when I returned from Silent Canyon with her, you know I introduced her to you and the rest of them. The problem is that when I introduced her to Rouge, she started to get all sweet. Zyx killed her before my eyes, and Infera was there when I screamed. Then, when Blaze showed up, I was curious about her Sol arts. I'm sure you saw my shock, but Infera seemed to read it as anger. Then I was watching you chase Sonic towards Angel Island. That's when she snapped." He closed his eyes again.

Amy shook her head. "It's alright," she stated. "I know it may have looked like she was overreacting, but the truth is that she was just shocked that you met her, alone, and then suddenly showed up with all these girls. Although I was looking for Sonic at first, she thought you were going for me because Sonic was mad at me. And yes, she did misinterpret your curiosity about Blaze, but you should have explained that to her." She looked sideways at him for a short time. "She thought you died, didn't she?"

Shadow turned to her. "How did you...?"

Amy shrugged. "Part of the Dracon mutation."

Shadow shook his head. "Try not to say that. Mutation just sounds mean. But enough about me." Reaching down slightly, he raised one of her wings gently and laid it against her back. "Why are you here?" he asked, gently raising her other wing. "You hate this place. And furthermore, why do you look like Sonic just got killed?"

Amy dropped her head. "He may as well have," she replied as tears started to gather on her eyes. "He... he told me to leave him. On Darcain he told me to forget about him. And just now he told me to stay out of his life until I found a way to get your immortality."

Shadow's eyes widened. "He said what?" he asked, not mad but shocked.

Amy turned away. "He specifically said, 'You better start finding a way to get rid of Infera or Blaze. Because chase me again and you'll find yourself looking down on me.'" Then Amy burst into tears and failed to say any more.

The old Shadow would have left her alone then and there, warped out of there in a flash of blue. But this new Shadow, whose heart had broken for himself, didn't even think of it. Instead, he took Amy's head and brought it against his chest, letting her cry. Only after the tears had started to slow did he ask the question that was burning on his mind like Dark Fire.

"You really did love him, didn't you?" Amy nodded weakly, and Shadow closed his eyes. "If you really love him, then you should let him give his side of the story. And if he's too mad to speak, give him a chance to cool off before asking again."

Amy parted herself from Shadow's chest, but stayed arms length from him. "You think I should do that?" Shadow nodded, and Amy wiped the tears from her eyes. "Thanks, Shadow."

Shadow gave a smile. "He should be around Angel Island by now," he stated. "Good luck with Sonic."

"Thanks," she nodded. "Good luck with Infera."

"Thanks," he replied. He took a single step forward. "And this is for if neither of us works out."

Before Amy could respond, Shadow pulled her close and laid his lips on hers. The move was so sudden, so unexpected, that she didn't get a chance to fight it. Power seemed to course through them. Amy didn't try to fight it. She couldn't. It was too sudden.

Too soon it was over, and Shadow stepped backwards. His lips curved into a smile. "Farewell, Amy," he stated. Then he turned, vanishing in a flash of blue Chaos energy.

It was a long time before the burn of the kiss faded from Amy's lips.

Infera was standing at the cone of Ignited Mountain. The dark fire had cooled from her eyes, leaving a ring of ash around them, but she still held weak black embers on each finger. As the deadly volcano erupted, she split the lava, peering towards the shrine within the mountain. The shrine that had nearly cost Shadow his life. The feat that has first crushed her heart.

The act that she had never truly gotten over.

A powerful flash of blue emerged from behind her, and she turned, knowing only two people who could do it that strong. It wasn't the Sol artist, Blaze. No, of course it was Shadow, the red Chaos Emerald in his hand, the blue fading quickly and never holding connection. She raised black flames on her hands.

Shadow didn't speak for a long time. He simply stepped forward, peering into the volcano as it erupted again. When the lava faded, he held out the red Emerald and let it drop. Like a magnet to steel, the Emerald flew towards the shrine embedded in the lava with such precision it lodged itself into the brilliant-cut embession.

"What are you here for?" Infera asked accussingly.

Shadow didn't talk for a while; when he did, it was slow to come. "I should be asking you the same thing," he stated calmly. There wasn't the slightest hint of anger or frustration in his voice. Infera's eyes widened, and the flames on her hands seemed to weaken. Infera turned back to the volcano again, her eyes closed.

"I needed some refuge," she stated sternly. "Our little battle left me weak."

Shadow gave a brief burst of laughter. "You? Weak? That's almost hilarity."

Infera turned to him angrily. "Alright, enough with the evasive chatter. Why are you here?" Shadow sighed and held his tounge for a long time

"I need to talk to you," he stated finally. "Do not take me wrong. I just really want to know what's going through your mind. I won't take anything offensively," he added carefully. Infera's eyes closed, and she seemed to be thinking. Shadow turned to her gently. "What's going on in your mind right now?"

"How can I say this without calling you a whore," she said without thinking, then covered her mouth with her hands, the black flames trying to burn words that had already escaped. Shadow stepped back in a shock, and Infera reached a hand out. "No! Sorry! Damn it!"

Shadow just stared at her. "You... you really think of me like that?"

"No!" Infera shouted out, then. She dropped her head apologetically. "Sorry, I just..."

"Feel like your heart's been a pinata and beaten apart?" Shadow's metaphorical response caused Infera to raise her head in confusion.

"When did you start using metaphors?" she asked.

Shadow sighed. "I'm not sure. You're pissed, aren't you?" Infera nodded, and Shadow closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, but first I need to hear your side of the story. Just speak your mind, no matter how insulting it may seem."

Infera stared at him. "Really?" she asked. Shadow nodded. "Alright. What were you thinking?! First you nearly break my heart after the incident here." She notioned to the volcano as it erupted again. "Then you go total undead mode against Dark Fire. A few days later, you ask me to come with you and intoruduce me to a bunch of other girls after you leave me thinking that you're a lone wolf. Specifically, that Rouge bitch acts like she's your girlfriend or something. When Blaze shows up, I see you watching her carefully with something in your eyes. And finally, Amy chases after Sonic and you're peering after her. You make me feel like trash!" she finished with a shout.

Shadow didn't shout or argue or anything of that sort. "Rouge is a bitch," he acknowledged, "or rather was." Opening his eyes, he continued, "Now for the important matters. About my Chaos form: that was neccessary to defeat Dark Fire. Would you rather I let him continue to destroy Mobius?" When Infera didn't respond, he continued, "Second off, Rouge wasn't my girlfriend or anything like that. She's a flat-out bitch who gets all sweet should anyone without a girlfriend approach her. With Blaze, you misinterpreted it; I was curious about her Sol arts. And Amy has always chased after Sonic. I was just shocked at the speed she was getting to move at with her Dracon... transformation."

Infera closed her eyes and dropped her head. "And what about me?" she asked sadly, tears starting to form on her eyes. "What about Infera?"

Shadow brushed the tears away. "Infera is the one who stands out," he replied. "Her pyrokinesis represents her status. Do you know what the metaphor dark fire really represents?"

Infera opened her eyes faintly, tears forming again. "True love," she answered weakly.

Shadow raised her head, looking into her eyes and wiping the tears from them again. "True love," he agreed with a smile. "So I find it accurate that you should choose to hold the Chaos flame within you, for it shows your place in my life." And he locked her in a soft embrace that left her shocked.

After a few seconds she returned the embrace, and the two of them stood there like that for a long time. When they finally parted, there was a refreshed air between them. It wasn't hatred. It wasn't neutral.

It was love.

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