© Beloved Doll
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Sorry that the last chapter seemed a little slapped together at the end with Abraham jumping in. I needed some way to get him and Shadow to meet but not add in the drama. This chapter will be better, I promise.
One morning, Shadow is called away from Maria to meet up with some of the Arc scientists. The reason is unknown, especially since it`s so early in the day. Maria was not permitted to come, so she has had to stay behind. Abraham was nowhere to be found. So this left Maria to herself for a while. To pass the time while she waits for Shadow to return, Maria takes a walk around the Arc station. She takes her time and looks around as she travels. Her eyes trail along the walls and to the vents that are high up. Each vent is about 6 feet apart from one another to get good air flow for everyone.
Her walk around the station ends and so Maria returns to her room. It has become the meeting place for her and Shadow. It has worked out well that Shadow knows to go here after his training or after he has assisted Gerald with his work. It`s still unknown as to what her friend is doing or what is being done to him. She never gets to see the activities and he is not permitted to tell her what is going on. Then again, it seems like he is in the dark with what`s being done to him as well.
The wait for Shadow`s return isn`t long but it is long enough to allow Maria some rest. By the time he does return, Maria is energized for another day with him. As much as Maria seems happy to be reunited with Shadow, it would seem to him that he is even more thrilled to be back with this sweet angel of his. Maria takes a hold of Shadow`s left hand with her own two hands, gently of course, and looks up to his red eyes,"I hope this morning was good for you, Shadow."
Shadow allows for his hand to be held by Maria, only happy to feel her touch on him,"It was all right."
Though his deep voice conveys the feeling that everything is all right, but in fact this morning was not so well. Truthfully, today, Shadow`s only happiness is being with Maria. He didn`t so much like the work he had to do today for the scientists but there isn`t anything he could do about it. Now that he is with Maria, he is confident that things will be much brighter and happier.
"I have a new game for us to play."
Maria releases Shadow`s hand and walks away from him. Shadow slowly brings his hand back to hanging at his side as he watches Maria. She comes to a wall and looks up to the vent that is near the ceiling,"We can go exploring up there, maybe even play hide n seek."
Maria looks over her shoulder to Shadow,"What do you think?"
Shadow finally begins to come over to where she is,"All right."
Maria smiles, glad to see that Shadow is willing to participate. She turns back to the wall and stands on her tip toes, reaching up as high as she can wanting to grab the door of the vent to open it up. But she can`t quite get it. Shadow reaches up for the vent and is able to grab it without having to be on his tip toes. His taller height is the element for his success. He pulls back and the door pops right off. The opening is pretty big so the two of them could fit through just fine. At him opening the vent, Maria gives Shadow a sweet smile,"Thank you, Shadow."
"You`re welcome, Maria..."
Then suddenly Shadow wraps his arms around Maria`s waist and lifts her up to the vent. He knows she can`t reach it on her own so he will help her up there. The action is unexpected to Maria so she is surprised at first when he seemed to be hugging her. But his intentions become quickly clear. Maria grabs a hold of the side of the vent opening and tries to pull herself in. Of course, she can`t due to her very weak muscles. So, Shadow lifts her up higher, gently pushing her inside.
Finally in the vent, Maria crawls forward to make room for Shadow to come inside. To get himself into the vent, Shadow simply uses his incredible jumping ability to leap up to the vent and directly inside. Once inside, Shadow crawls up closer to Maria and sits down beside her as she, too, is sitting down. The vent is certainly wide enough and tall enough to allow them to crawl or sit down. They could even crawl side by side as wide as the vent is.
Maria turns to Shadow,"We`ll explore for a little bit and then play hide n seek. Ok?"
Shadow nods his head to Maria. Maria gets up into a crawling position and begins to move forward. Shadow does the same, crawling beside Maria. The both of them travel silently through the vents. First they go through the section of the vents that are in the sleeping quarters. Most of the rooms that they see through the vent doors are empty, which would indicate that everyone is working right now. When the vents take them to the cafeteria, there is more noise. The cafeteria has several people in it right now who are on a lunch break. Shadow and Maria continue their exploration of the vents, passing through the cafeteria and finding more areas.
The arrive at one section where the vents seem to be like a maze and yet the area is quiet, reducing their chances of being discovered up here. This would be the perfect place to play hide n seek. Maria stops them here,"This would be great for hide n seek."
However, in this area, the vents are smaller in both height and width. Shadow has to crawl behind Maria, not beside as he had done earlier. Maria explains the game to Shadow,"Cover your eyes and count to twenty. While you`re doing that, I`m going to hide in one of the vents. When you`re done counting, come find me. Ok, Shadow?"
Shadow nods his head,"All right, Maria."
He`s finding this game a little more interesting than the ones they had done before. It`s active and it tests his skills. Wait, when has it become fun to want to test his skills? He hadn`t thought of that before...He quickly shrugs this off and doing as told, he covers his eyes with his hands and begins to silently count. Maria then crawls off to pick out her hiding spot. She is silently counting to herself as well so she knows when she is supposed to stop. When she reaches 20, she stops crawling and sits down, eagerly waiting for Shadow to come find her. She will stay as quiet as she can.
Shadow uncovers his eyes and looks ahead where he last saw Maria. In front there is an intersection of vents where there are three directions to go; forward, left and right. Shadow moves closer to the intersection and looks down each one. He tries to use his ears to see if he can hear where Maria might be. But she seems to be really good at this game where she is keeping silent. Shadow decides to go right.
A bit along this path, there is another intersection, but this time the choices are straight or left. Shadow chooses left and continues on. He keeps his ears open to listening intently to any sounds he hears. Still no sign of Maria, she is very good at this. Shadow can`t help but make a smirk at the challenge Maria has created for him. This will be very interesting. Shadow continues along the vents as quietly as he can as he searches for Maria in her hiding place.
Maria is hunched over as she sits in her hiding spot. The smaller vent area here does not permit her to sit up straight. She tries her best to remain still and keep quiet as these will hide her best. She begins to smile as she wonders whether or not Shadow will find her. She puts a hand over her mouth to hide the smile.
Within minutes, Maria feels Shadow`s arms snake around her and pull her back into him. Maria can`t help but laugh delightfully at how he shown that he has found her. She wiggles playfully in his arms as she laughs more. Shadow keeps his arms around her though and doesn`t let her go. But a smile draws on his face seeing Maria display her playful nature with him. He draws Maria up close to him with her back pressed against him. Shadow leans his head down so that his lips are to Maria`s ear. He whispers into her ear,"Found you..."
This seems to calm Maria as she ceases her playful wriggling when she feels Shadow`s warm breath touch her neck and hears his soothing, deep voice. She turns her head to look over her shoulder to Shadow. She is met with him giving her smile. A smile is returned back to Shadow but Maria`s smile is much softer and gentler. Maria closes her eyes and lets her head drop back into Shadow. Both of her hands unconsciously find their way to Shadow`s forearms and rest on them.
Shadow lifts his head back up and looks down at Maria in his arms. His smile lessens down to a smaller one as he feels the atmosphere turning into a serene one. He keeps his voice low and quiet as he speaks again,"Maria...?"
Maria slowly opens her eyes and tilts her head to look up to Shadow`s face. There is silence for a second or two before Shadow speaks again,"We`ll be friends forever, right?"
Maria widens her smile,"Right...In fact..."
She moves again, getting herself to a different position so she can turn a little to look at Shadow at a little more comfortable position. However, her hands do not move from their resting position on Shadow`s forearms as he does not cease hugging her. Maria continues when she is settled in her new position,"Let`s make a promise."
"Yes, we say that we will do something and then we will do it, no matter what."
"What will our promise be?"
"Let`s make a promise that we will go to Earth...And we will be there together."
Shadow leans his head down again, getting his forehead to touch Maria`s,"Ok, Maria...I promise...We will be on Earth together..."