© Beloved Doll
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The next day, Sunday, passes by with no big event. Monday comes, starting another week of school for students. In the morning, as per usual, the Sonic Gang arrive at Cream`s house to pick her up to take her to the elementary school with Tails. Though, like Thursday and Friday, Shadow is absent from the group. Most likely he will be missing another school day. This would make day three of school he has missed. His recent behaviour is confusing to everyone. Cream keeps her promise to Shadow, though, not breathing a word to anyone as to what is going on with him. He wants to keep it a secret, at least for now, and Cream will uphold her end of the deal. When he is ready to tell everyone about Maria, he will tell them himself.
After Cream leaves to go to school with everyone, Vanilla makes her move and calls the hospital to try her luck at taking custody of Maria. She tries to pose that Maria was a missing distant family member. This route would mean that no one would come to the house periodically to check on Maria, which would make it far more possible for Maria to move on with Shadow later. If Vanilla just tries to step in as a potential foster family to Maria, there would be frequent check-ups that are unscheduled. It would not go well that if during any of the check-ups, they find Shadow permitted to be with Maria. It`s a difficult task and anything that goes wrong would cause the plan to fail.
The Sonic Gang and the teachers aren`t the only ones to notice Shadow`s absence from school. The Babylon Rogues have noticed this, too. They aren`t going to make a confrontation yet, though. They will remain low. The Babylon Rogues certainly aren`t stupid, they know that something is up and they want to find out what it is. Asking anyone in the Sonic Gang isn`t going to yield them any answers and a fight won`t answer their questions either.
Once the children are picked up from the elementary school as usual, the Sonic Gang head for the beach to spend the day at. The teens discuss their slight change in plan of what is to be done about Shadow and his sudden change in actions. While that is going on, Cream turns her head to the side and takes notice of Shadow`s presence beside the hospital as what is becoming the norm for him at this point. Cream smiles, though most likely, he hasn`t noticed it. She makes a mental note to herself to visit him on the way back home.
The Sonic Gang`s time at the beach, Emerald Coast, goes on uneventful for the most part. Everyone either plays in the water, relaxes on the benches or finishes their homework. The entire gang spends the entire day here, even a little into the night. However, they can`t stay too long. Tonight is a school night. So, when the time is right, the Sonic Gang leaves the beach for everyone to go back to their individual homes or apartments.
Once she is out of sight of everyone, Cream makes a detour towards the hospital. She plans on giving Shadow a visit. But when she gets there, he isn`t anywhere to be found. Cream looks around at the trees next to the hospital but cannot find him among any of them. A little disappointed, Cream decides to go back home. Perhaps she could visit Shadow tomorrow? Maybe then she would be able to see him.
The reason for Shadow`s absence in the park, though, when Cream comes to find him is that he is already in Maria`s room in the hospital. After he has checked on Maria`s progress papers and finds that she is receiving medicine to help her with her disease, Shadow leaves more money that would pay for a month`s worth of it. He also reads the progress papers to check on how well her wounds are healing. Seems like that is doing well. But she has yet to wake up from her comatose state. When her wounds are well enough, though, the hospital will be sending her home with someone, whether or not she recovers from her coma. Shadow can only hope that the hospital sends Maria with Vanilla.
After all of that is set, Shadow sits down in the chair after setting it beside Maria`s bed. Looking her over, he can see that the hospital nurses are still doing well in caring for and grooming Maria. They have continued to turn her over occasionally to prevent bed sores and give her baths to keep her clean and still change her bandages. It`s the most he could expect the hospital do for her.
Looking to Maria tenderly, Shadow reaches a hand up to the bed and slips it underneath Maria`s slender fingers. With her fingers curled lightly over his own, Shadow lifts Maria`s hand up, looking to it for a moment. Then his gaze shifts to her face. She looks much better than what she did when he rescued her from Eggman. Thinking over Vanilla`s suggestion to keep talking to her, Shadow`s thumb lightly rubs Maria`s fingers as he thinks over what he could say to her next. He closes his eyes a moment as he thinks it over. Getting an idea of what to say first, Shadow re-opens his eyes, looking to Maria`s delicate hand that is draped over his own. He keeps his voice to a near whisper as he speaks to her,"You would enjoy Earth, Maria...It has changed some since the photos we have seen of it but it is still mostly the same. There are forests, beaches, mountains...You would love it-"
Shadow cuts himself off suddenly and his eyes widen a little as he looks at Maria`s hand. Staring at it, Shadow watches Maria`s hand attentively. Then he sees it. Maria`s delicate fingers are beginning to move a little. Her index and middle fingers raise a little then lower back down over Shadow`s hand. Shadow`s mouth opens up a little as he watches this small sign of movement. Once her fingers have settled down on his hand as they were a moment ago, Shadow can feel her fingers shaking a tiny bit. He turns his head to look to Maria`s face,"Maria...?"
Maria`s facial expression is a little different. It`s slightly scrounged up, like she is struggling with something. This concerns Shadow. He leans forward, down closer to Maria`s face. His head tilts to the side a little,"Maria..."
The struggling expression settles down. Maria relaxes. Finally, her eyes slowly flutter open, though only half way open. As her blurry vision focuses and becomes more clear, the first thing she sees is the person she has not seen in over half a century, Shadow. Everything about his face is still the same as she remembers last of him, even his hair colour and style. Maria`s mouth curls into a small, tired smile upon seeing him. Her fingers curl and grasp Shadow`s hand tighter, though it still feels like a very gentle grip. Feeling as though she might be in a dream, Maria speaks. Her voice comes out very quiet, down near the level of a whisper. It is a bit breathy as well, making her sound exhausted. It sounds this way as her voice had not been in use for decades,"Shadow...?"
Shadow`s own facial expression relaxes down to a calm and content look. He inches his head down closer to Maria`s,"Yes, Maria...I`m here..."
Their foreheads touch gently. Maria contently closes her eyes while Shadow`s are looking directly to her face. Letting a soft sigh escape, Maria feels the comfort of Shadow`s presence with her. She thought she had died when GUN invaded the Arc. She was shot, right? Or did Shadow save her somehow? True she shot him to Earth via a pod but Shadow is quite a miraculous person, he must have found some way to do it. Then Maria decides for herself that someway, somehow, Shadow had rescued her. Her smile widens a little at this thought and her eyes slowly re-open to half way. Immediately her eyes direct themselves to looking at Shadow. He looks straight back to her with their forehead still touching.
Tuesday comes just as Monday has with Shadow`s absence from school continuing. It worries the teachers, even the ones who weren`t thrilled about Shadow being in their class. They ask Sonic and the others in the Sonic Gang since they are the only ones that really associate themselves with Shadow but they all lack an answer. None of them have a clue as to what is going on with Shadow. The most they know is that he is hanging around a hospital, but they don`t know why. He won`t speak a word about it to any of them.
On the upside, the hospital has made the discovery of Maria`s wakening from her comatose state. The nurses and doctors are excited of this turn of events and remove the feeding tube from her. They won`t have to spend as much time on her as she can move around some to prevent bed sores herself but still needs a little assistance with bathing herself. By this day, Maria has enough strength to feed herself, luckily. She is given a specialized, strict diet due to her condition of NIDS. Her wounds are still healing but they are doing well enough where the doctors are wondering if they should send her home tomorrow or today.
Maria is very friendly towards the nurses and doctors that come in to see her. She is feeling a little shy but she doesn`t let that stop her from holding conversations with them or letting them examine her. Once the examinations are done, the doctors leave the room to talk among themselves of which day would be best for Maria to go home. In the meantime, a nurse comes in, bringing a meal for Maria`s enjoyment. It would be her first real meal that she can eat in decades. Maria thanks the nurse and begins to eat, albeit slowly, as the nurse leaves the room. The door closes behind her as she leaves. With the door closed and left to herself for a while, Maria pauses with holding a fork inside of her mouth, innocently looking to the window that shows her the outside world.
The tree that is beside the hospital building is still there. It`s thick amount of leaves provide a lot of darkness within itself from the sun`s rays. Anyone below the tree couldn`t see through it. But despite that darkness, Maria can see Shadow sitting there on a branch, watching her from the tree. He`s leaning against the trunk with his arms folded in their famous fashion. One leg is over top of the over, with the right ankle resting on top of the left. Maria smiles through the fork she is holding in her mouth. After looking to her hidden friend for a while, letting a thought pass her mind, Maria turns back to eating her meal.