MERRY CHRISTMAS HAVE A DRABBLE

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Verde slides away from the wall he had been leaning against, with a flutter of his white lab coat. All of the other Arcobaleno had been drawn close by their Cloud's distress, their Sun and their Storm's simmering Flames. They had been just as enraged and confused at the sight of the blackness falling from Skull's lips as the two of them had been.

So when Skull finally stops, finally collapses forwards, weak and gasping for air…

Reborn's arms catch him, pulling the Cloud backwards, lifting him up and bringing his limp form towards the couch. There is not even a thought to place him into his bedroom, out of their sight. No, they tuck him into the cushions, Lal and Colonello bringing water laced with their Rain Flames so that he will rest.

Reborn places a hand over their Cloud's throat and stomach, his Flames swirling to life as he hunts for any ailments. It is only after Skull is calmly resting on the couch that the other Arcobaleno turn their attentions to the bucket held in Viper's hands.

Verde holds his hands out to her, green eyes narrowed in worried curiosity as he speaks, "Viper, give me the bucket. I would like to analyze the contents so that we know exactly what was pumped into Skull."

Viper hands the bucket over to the scientist, and all eyes follow the greenette as he turns from the room.

He is not a nurse, not a doctor.

Verde is a scientist and that means he is best suited to figuring out what had gone wrong to begin with. He will leave the bedside manner to the others, the personal care. Let his contributions show in the background. In the diet that will spring from the knowledge of whatever had been in this bucket. In the Flame treatment Skull will be submitted to, in Lightning enhanced teas, and providing the missing knowledge the others needed.

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Reborn does not deal well with loss or unknown variables that could lead to loss. It goes against everything he had taught himself, all that he had worked for. He had not become the best on a whim. He had not chosen it for the challenge, no matter what he told people.

He had become the best for one simple reason: he never wanted to be forced to a role of hopeless bystander as someone he loved was killed, died, in front of him again.

(That was how he'd gone Active, and some days he still rages that he had not gotten his Sun Flames earlier. Maybe he could have healed-)

If he was the best, if people feared him enough, they would never touch those that were his again. If he was the best, he could help teach those that were his.

So watching Skull- who had become one of his own- hunch over himself and spew blackness, with no idea what was wrong, no ability to fix it…

Reborn is not happy.

Having to hand over the bucket to Verde to figure out exactly what had been wrong with someone under Reborn's watch was not pleasant either. All he had been able to tell with Sun Flames was that, whatever it was, it was poisonous, dangerous. Something meant to cause pain if not outright kill. Most of it had been aimed at both at once.

Wondering to himself if they had dealt with the problem here and now, or if still more slept in Skull's body...wondering if he could have done anything to help earlier if he had only been paying attention…

The curious thought Reborn tried to ignore- that wondered how long Skull had been dealing with this pain. His Flames had picked up older damages in his body, at least decades old, which was how he had known to tell Fon it had been done to him. No sane man would have pumped things like that into their system.

Now he is once again a bystander, as he waits for the one they call 'The New da Vinci' to pick apart what secrets slept in their Cloud's unknown past. Regardless of their rather short partnership, it's still just that, a partnership.

They're all in this together, as Elements being courted by the same Sky.

From a purely tactical standpoint, knowing what someone's triggers and health problems, be they physically, emotionally or mentally, was vital information.

Age, weight, height, place of birth, current residence, allergies, abilities, knowledge and talents. Left or right handed? Long range or close quarters? Something in between? What weapons? Flames? Allies, enemies, contacts?

The basic information about a person. Information he is lacking.

Reborn made a habit of learning these things about everyone he associated with, and the fact he hadn't- couldn't- learn these things about Skull without his cooperation prickled at his sensibilities. He was the best...and yet Skull still managed to hide himself.

Reborn stared at the door Verde had exited, his hands clenched at his hips. He had tried to gather information a subtle, gentler way he then he usually did, but it had failed him. Had resulted in a this situation, in which he had not had the information he needed to make sure those he worked with did not die.

Granted, Skull lived, but the point still stood.

Gentle and subtle was not working. When Skull had recovered, he would have to ask directly.

Reborn's eyes flickered around to the others hovering around the room, and he revised the thought as he took in tense stances and worried eyes.

They would have to ask directly.