This is the opening scene from my second Sonic Boom story, tentatively called The Master Emerald's Daughter. (Now available here: www.fanfiction.net/s/12459299/…
) In this universe, Shadow and Maria's roles are reversed--she is the Ultimate Lifeform and he is her guardian. She's just been released from stasis after fifty years.
Shadow pushed open the hospital doors and walked inside. Outwardly he was his calm, tough self--a sleek black hedgehog with red stripes on his spines, arms and legs. Gold bracelets ringed his ankles and wrists. His shoes were red and white hover skates. He wore a leather belt around his waist with several pouches on it.
Inwardly, he was a trembling mess of terror and joy. Maria was here, in this hospital. Maria, his beloved sister, who had been lost to him for decades.
He approached the front desk, treading softly on the polished floor, as if afraid of leaving tracks. "I've come to see Maria."
The receptionist was a red squirrel who looked him over carefully. "She's available for visitors. However, threats have been made against her. You're not working for Eggman, are you?"
Shadow stood rigid, muscles tense. Threats? Eggman?
He forced a smile. "I'm here to deal with those threats. And no, I have nothing to do with Eggman."
"Second floor, room 212," the receptionist said. "You're Shadow, aren't you?"
"She's been asking for you."
The black hedgehog strode toward the elevators, keeping his stride measured, confident, in control. Inwardly, he wanted to run and scream her name, kick down every door that separated them.
The elevator took an eternity to travel one floor. Shadow's soul stretched like a rubber band, tighter and thinner every second, in danger of breaking. The doors slowly slid open. He stepped out and made his way down the hall toward room 212. Walking. Projecting confidence. Head high, eyes forward.
The door was closed, the final barrier. He grasped the handle. If it had been locked, he probably would have ripped it off its hinges. But it turned easily, allowing him entrance.
The room was dim. A single lamp burned low on a bedside table. Maria, a human, lay in the bed, propped up on pillows, eyes closed, hands resting on top of the blankets.
Shadow's heart swelled until it threatened to choke him. She was really here. It wasn't a lie or a dream. After all those years of solitude, of piercing loneliness, of hearing her voice in his dreams - here she was. Alive. Breathing. Free of the stasis tube.
He crept to the bed, heart thundering, hardly daring to breathe. His eyes devoured her face. She was so thin, so much older than he had last seen her. Her wrists and hands were mere sketches of bone under skin. Her eyes were sunken beneath her brows, the cheekbones sharply defined. Yet a tinge of pink colored her cheeks. He touched her hand and it was warm. Health would return.
Shadow's fingers curled around her thin hand. She was really here. Really alive. He bent over her hand and kissed it, then pressed his cheek against it.
Maria's eyes opened. They were brilliant, vivid blue, bringing her wasted face to life. Power burned within them, and such violent, compressed, vivid life, it was as if she contained the entire jungle with its riot of plants and animals--growing, expanding, fighting for sunlight.
But the vivacity was tempered by love. As Shadow stared at her, he saw the tenderness in her face--the adoration he shared so deeply.
"Shadow," she said, smiling. "I knew you would come." She held out her arms.
He sat on the bed beside her and wrapped his arms around her, pressing his cheek to hers. She was real. Really here, not a dream. His heart hurt and hot tears stung his eyes. "Maria," he choked. "It's been so long."
One of her hands stroked the other side of his face, gentle and welcoming. "I've missed you so, dear one. The others couldn't tell me anything about you. Have you no friends?"
"No," he whispered, his voice barely working. "Don't ever, ever leave me again." The tears overflowed and cascaded down his face. The first he'd shed in fifty long years. Not since the day they had slid her into the tube, filled it with fluid, sent her to sleep in the hopes that it might cure her disease.
Maria wiped them away with a corner of the blanket. "Don't cry, Shadow." Some of his own pain resonated in her voice. "We're together again. Aren't you happy?"
He sat up, wiping his face, grinning like a fool. "Terribly." The pain inside him went on and on, threatening to become all-out bawling. Control it. Control yourself.
He sat with his eyes shut for a moment, breathing deeply, mastering the wild emotions.