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[personal profile] shichahn
Title: Taijitu - Unity in Duality
Characters: Maria Robotnik and Shadow the Hedgehog
Rating: Totally G
Summary: One cannot have black without white; nor can one have white without black. To speak of them as two separate forces that act on each other would be incorrect; rather, they are pieces of one whole.

"Yang cannot exist by itself; it can exist only when it is supported by yin. Similarly, yin cannot alone manifest itself; it can manifest itself only when accompanied by yang."
- Shao Yung, Huang-Chi Ching Shu, 11th cent. CE

She awoke to something warm and heavy lying across her chest: a languid, lithe form covered in black and red fur, which seemed to be preventing her ribcage from expanding to the extent she would have liked. He would have to move. Shame he looked so comfortable.

"Off, you," Maria scolded gently, and shoved at the hedgehog, who merely shifted away from her hands slightly with a grunt. Oh well. At least she could breathe now. The girl watched as one eye opened, revealing a deep red iris which regarded her with a look of sleepy curiosity for a brief moment. But soon, the eyelid drooped shut, and Shadow went right back to sleep.

A quick glance at the clock next to her bed revealed it was nowhere near time to get up yet. 3:28, the LED shone; red in a sea of black, as were the streaks of crimson fur on the hedgehog before her.

Her situation certainly was unique, she thought. Most girls her age probably had a companionable pet of some sort, like a cat or a dog - the animals, not the people, of course. Something that was friendly, cuddly, and not terribly bright, that would play with its owner and curl up at the foot of the bed. Instead of any of that, Maria had Shadow. He was prickly in more ways than one, intensely stubborn, and not terribly playful. To his credit, however, he was sweet, and fiercely loyal. He was no pet, for that would simply be insulting to him. No, he was more akin to a younger brother - one who insisted on draping himself across her chest in the middle of the night, apparently. She was willing to bet that didn't happen with most siblings, especially ones given the option of having separate beds. She couldn't remember the last time Shadow had slept in his own sheets.

So many things were already threatening to tear them apart in their short lives that neither was willing to stray far from the other. Maria was ill with a disease that had no known cure. One that would claim her life before she'd even had much of a chance to live it. And Shadow was being trained as the military's latest weapon, destined to be sent to them for their own use at the moment they decided they wanted to take him. Perhaps that was part of why their relationship was a little tighter than was usual for siblings their age. Even in their sleep, the two were side by side, limbs entwined, one on top of the other in a messy pile of dark fur and blankets and quills and pale skin. Maria had woken more than once to find that in his sleep, Shadow had snagged himself on her quilt and ripped a hole in it with those curved blades that grew off the back of his head and shoulders. Grandfather had once worried for her safety, afraid that some night those quills might accidentally slice her skin or even blind her, but Shadow's intentional habit of laying across her in a perpendicular fashion had saved her from such an incident. Those quills were well out of the way. The only times she'd ever found him with his head under her chin, or on her shoulder, he was already awake and waiting for her to join him.

Yes, she knew she was incredibly lucky. Who else could say they were as close to someone as she was to Shadow? They were like that funny Chinese symbol, with the white curled up against the black. Yin and yang. Opposites in so many ways, yet part of one whole. Maria couldn't imagine life without Shadow, not anymore. He'd only been with her for two years, and yet it felt like he had always been there. Before he had come along, what had her life even been like? What had she ever done without him? It seemed unimportant in comparison. She had wandered the corridors of the ARK alone, with the exceptions of the few scientists who had time to babysit her, and the handful of other children who had been allowed near her when it was certain they weren't sick. Grandfather could only spend so much time with her, when he had so much important research to do. In six years, she had spent more time alone than most girls probably ever would in their lifetimes. That was how it felt, anyway.

But then Shadow came to join her life. Born from a glass cylinder in Grandfather's laboratory with the body of an adult and the mind of a child, his wonder and curiosity had rekindled something in her that she had been afraid she might lose if she spent much more time staring out at the sky. For the first time, she had someone with whom to share her love of that lonely blue sphere below, with its swirling white clouds and patches of land. She had always found it a little bit funny, that the continents looked so abandoned by day. Their greens and browns were beautiful, but they looked empty, floating alone in the wide sea. It was only when the colony was on the dark side of the planet that it came to life, with a million tiny lights shining through the darkness like so many stars in the sky.

Upon seeing that for the first time, Shadow had told her she was one of them. A point of light in all the black. He'd said it and smiled so sweetly that Maria had thought she might cry right then and there.

Instead, she had placed her hand over his beating heart, and ran a finger through the white fluff that sprouted out of the middle of his charcoal fur.

"You are too," she'd said.

He had brought so much to her; had shown her so much love and so much hope, when she had been alone and afraid for her future. She had someone to live for, now, and she would have to make the most of her short time with him, to give him all the love she could so that after she was gone, he would have more than enough to fill the gap left by her absence. Because regardless of her uncertain future, he would outlive her and everyone else she knew. And he would be lonely after she was gone, just as she had been before he had arrived. Luckily, she had a lot of love to give.

7:30. She hadn't even realized she'd fallen back to sleep, when she was awoken by her alarm. Red on black. A similarly-colored hand shot forward and shut off the alarm before she could get to it.

Feeling a little sorry for shoving at him earlier, Maria reached down and stroked the fur along Shadow's back. He responded by stretching a little, then relaxing limply with a sigh. For someone so active, it was cute how lazy he could be at times, she thought. Her fingers worked their way to the nape of his neck, under those deadly-sharp quills, and before long she was rewarded with a gentle purr and a subtle smile from the dark hedgehog. It was one of his few weak spots and she knew it well.

"Maria?" His deep voice reverbrated against her belly.

"Yes?" She smiled. He looked like he was in heaven.

"Never stop doing that," Shadow sighed. He groped blindly for her free hand, and she took the searching palm, giving it a squeeze. Coal black fur and dark tan skin intertwined with her own pale fingers.

"I won't."


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May 2014

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