KHR + Ghost Hunter Starts

River

Summary: Gene awakens Flames in a river.

He woke up surrounded by water.

It was cold. Freezing.

Dark. Wet.

Heavy. The water weighing him down.

The pain. Which receded to adrenaline, the instant he realized where he was. Drowning.

Trying to swim. To get to the surface. Panicking as the waves knocked him back. And realized just how many bones were dead-weight. Under, and downstream. The current, too strong, too fast.

He didn't want to die.

Who did? But he didn't-couldn't leave Noll. Didn't want to leave his parents. They had deserved better than him and Noll. Didn't want to leave Lin, to take care of Noll, all by himself. Only to inevitably fail, because Lin wasn't as good a babysitter as a guard...

He had never fell in love. Never dated. There was never enough time. Never the right girl.

Had never learned Chinese. Had never climbed a Mountain.

He wanted to LIVE.

Who would take care of Noll? Make sure he didn't forget to eat, or overwork himself. Who would protect his twin? Make sure he didn't destroy himself, with his power. WHO'D CALM PEOPLE DOWN, WHEN NOLL INEVITABLY STUCK HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH? When Noll's lack of people skills and impatience lapsed into insulting.

He wanted to work on another case.

He wanted a first date. A girlfriend.

To laugh with friends, again.

To help Noll dodge his fangirls.

He couldn't die. Not like this. In the middle of nowhere. Not ever.

Water poured into his lungs. He couldn't hold his breath, any longer.

He had to live. To escape. To swim ashore. Possibly fight, whatever caused him to end up here.

Deep inside, a fire burned.

It resonated with the desire to LIVE. To get out of here, or DIE trying.

Something alien, and strange. Yet, so familiar. And he couldn't help but grab onto the feeling, With both hands.

Seal

Summary: The accident is faked. Gene is captured by Esrano and Sealed.

Cold.

Everything was cold. Freezing.

Gene was shaking. Shivering. The cold lingering through every inch.

Through the fog of his head. That made it so hard to think. Hard to remember. Hard to breath. Because the fog HURT in a way he never imagined. Like there was something split open, inside him.

Something that wasn't quite physical. Something emotional, instinctual. That had been broken, all the same. And now oozed.

They had taken away the fire. Had set the fire free, but then thought it was too much. So they took it away...

Only they couldn't. The fire was still there. A warmth in his chest. So natural, and needed, that no explanation had to be given. It just was (and wouldn't that drive Noll crazy). It was in smiles, on a good day. Because everyone was happy, and he couldn't help but care. In the kind, considerate way he acted with clients. It was the way he calmed Noll down with just a few words. The way he was so easily, so happy. And the way his smiles were so fake, on a bad day. Or lied, when the truth was so much less believable, and they'd fix it in a moment. The way he Raged when Noll was hurt, sweeping everything away like the tide, and scorching for good measure.

It was happiness and anger. It was care, and protectiveness. It was how he smiled, and laughed. How he responded to danger, fought and how he protected.

No one could take it away. Not anymore than the sun could stop orbiting the planets, or the moon could turn to cabbage.

They tried. They could block it. It couldn't be fully blocked, though.

There would always be a tiny bit of fire. Of embers, in his heart. Cut off from the rest. Like a gaping hole, broken and bleeding. Yet Gene couldn't help but focus on the feeling, love it, for the traces of warmth, it brought. Injured, and bleeding, because there really was only one fire. And it was like cutting off a limb to keep it in two. Without anesthesia. Only so, so much worse. Because it could never be fully separated. Because it wasn't physical, which could be ignored. But mental, and so, so deep. Yet it tried, so, so much, to keep him going.

Ordinarily, he would have tried to escape. But he couldn't bring himself to move, without someone making him. No Will.

What was the use?

How long had it been since he saw the world in colors?

Noll was calling him. Looking for him, and using their bond as a focus.

He could feel Noll's worry. Feel the fire that burned for him. That flared with worry, and pulsed with rage. That was so Noll.

Not him. Not the purple-blue-yellow. But the feeling made everything a little more bearable.

The possessive purple, that didn't want to admit it cared, even as it Raged on his behalf. The raging red, that swirled in a frenzy of fury, and love, and hate, and so, so many emotions. That was buried beneath the more collected electric green, which now crackled threateningly.

He was begging. He could feel it in Noll's growing worry and fear. He couldn't help it-no Will to hide the pain, even for Noll's sake. And it hurt so, so much.

-What can I do?- Noll asked.

Bring the Fire back. Please. It hurts, so much.

-What fire?-

He remembered the fire. Could never forget the moment. It felt like an eternity. The purple, mist-like fire. That hid behind the others, distorting their flames ever so slightly. The tranquil blue, that soothed. That made everything seem so simple, so easy. The yellow that twisted, and twirled, and glowed like the sun. Joyous, and energetic. That brought a fire to his step. A rage to his heart. A lie to his tongue.

Like the mist, after a rain. Early in the mourning, with the sun starting to shine. Everything seems so simple then, because it's the beginning, and you have the whole day ahead of you.

It had only been a few seconds, But the colors, the feelings were engraved on his mind. The way everything seemed brighter. Clearer, as the world seemed so simple, so vibrant. He would escape, return to Noll, or DIE trying. The flames, which were both him, and not. The rightfulness, the naturalness, of the fire, as they danced across his skin. How easily he had used them. Nothing like Noll's chi. They came to his call, an instant, and that was that. It was instinct, to weave the purple into deceptive monsters, and flowers. That fooled even reality, into believing they were real. Instinct, to slow all the criminals in ways that caused them to trip, or allowed him to dodge. Instinct, for yellow to flare, blinding the room. Purple. Yellow. Blue.

The minute the fire broke free, he knew nothing would ever be the same again.

They took the fire away.

There had been a conversation. He hadn't been paying too much attention then, lost in the feeling of Flames. Then, following, lost in the feelings of loss, and pain. Even now, he couldn't concentrate on their words. Something about the dangers of keeping a Flame-Active, and suicide rates? Hehe. How were the two connected?

The world had gone cold, and colorless. Something inside him had broken, and twisted. That even now, was crying out. How his thoughts had warped. Had slowed, becoming heavy, and simple. His feeling distorting, warped. Most emotions dulling to nothing... But this heady, desperate need. Please.

-Gene...-

Oh. He was transmitting that to Noll. Oh well.

Please Noll. Please.

There was nothing Noll could do. But Gene didn't care. He wanted the comfort. Wanted the purple-yellow-blue to slip back into his heart.

He didn't care what happened. Couldn't. He just wanted the fire back. The warmth in his soul. The pain to stop, and cold to leave. Please.

Even now, the small embers that were left, burned. Trying to burn with rage. Trying to greet Noll's fire. Trying to protect itself, with illusions, and tranquility, and the scorching of the sun. Trying, and failing, because there just wasn't enough left.

He couldn't live like this. Wouldn't. What was left of his fire raged against the thought. Against giving up...

But it was so. So. Hard to try.

OOO

Reborn looked into the eyes of the captured civilian.

The young Flames of a newly Flame-Active. Hidden, and blurred by the Seal. He could almost be mistaken for a civilian. But Reborn was no ordinary Sun. And he knew it was nothing compared to Tsuna's Seal.

He couldn't take the Seal off here. The kid was dead weight.

"Follow me, if you want to live." Reborn asked/ordered. His Flames pulsing in a way that made the meaning unmistakable.

Come with me, if you want your Flames back.

The kid followed.

Tsuna would like him.

ooo

Gene was a good student.

Just as difficult as Dino and Tsuna. Just as caring. Had twice the sense, when it came to second chances, but that was natural. Not everyone was as willing to forgive as Dame-Tsuna.

Self-preservation was worse than either. Worse than Reborn cared for, in a possible successor.

It might have been the Seal. Any Flame-Active would rather die than have their Flames Sealed... Come to think of it, could that be a reason Tsuna was so friendly to people who tried to kill him, but not Iemitsu or Timiteo?

Still, Gene never complained about spartan training, or chaos. No matter what he did, or how callous, strange or cruel. Gene always had this thankful, long suffering smile..

Reborns hunch was right.

He looked on, smugly, as Tsuna fussed over Gene.

"Are you warm enough?" Tsuna asked, fiddling with the jackets. So many, many, layers of clothes. All buttoned, or zipped. So many layers, Reborn was getting warm, just watching them. Then giving Gene a big hug, before going to the mittens and gloves.

"Dame-Tsuna, stop. Before my new student is too weighed down to move."

Or a heat-stroke. But Reborn had a feeling his old student wouldn't accept that as a possibility. Despite the very real risk that could happen, given the number of warm clothes indoors. Even in winter, Italy wasn't that cold.

"I'm just helping my new little brother get comfortable." Tsuna stated, with a glare. A look that was a little too offended for just a nickname, and light reproach...

...And Tsuna was reading minds again.

"Hyper Intuition isn't mind reading, Reborn." Tsuna stated, with a huff. Concentrating on getting three mittens, and a couple gloves, on Gene's hands, at the same time. It would be noticeably difficult, if Tsuna didn't get the next larger size. "You taught me that."

There was only one thing Reborn could say to that. "... Gene is the older one."

"And I have seniority, as your former student." Tsuna continued, not missing a beat. The 'so that makes me the older brother' thought, loud and clear.

"I don't mind." Gene admitted. Pulling the coats close, just to lean into the heat. And into another hug, from Tsuna.

Which was logical. Seals could manifest mentally, in multiple different ways. Loneliness, cold, self-hatred, fear. There was a reason Seals had such high suicide rates.

Summary: Gene is Chrome.

Notes: For those who think Nagi's parents are particularly stupid to do this... well, they are, and that is mostly cannon. This is the name universe where they deliberately denied medical treatment to their daughter. Without thinking of the social, and possible legal implications. For those to think this is an unrealistic depiction of the medical field... Well, it's not like the doctors that treated Nagi in cannon were particularly competent.

Courts can order treatment for minors and patients not mentally competent. Despite parents, or parents objections, if it's judged in the patient's best interests. It makes for a good story, but not very realistic.

Nagi's parents should not have been able to get away with that. The fact that they did... Well, it doesn't inspire faith in the medical or justice system. Either the doctors were incompetent, or they deliberately withheld treatment for some reason (probably for the cost, or they didn't want to transplant that many organs to one person).

"Memory loss isn't too unexpected..." The doctor started, with plenty of reservations. "This is a traumatic event, that wiped out over half his organs..."

"So what's the problem?" Nagi's mother demanded, impatiently.

"Are you sure this is your daughter?" The doctor asked, once again.

He knew he shouldn't. He should trust the parent's word, but...

"This doesn't look like the minor in the files." The doctor stated. Yes, that was what the bad feeling was, that made him question the parents' truthfulness about whether this was really their child, or not.

"We just wanted to support our child!" The woman yelled, with fake tears. "She- well, wanted to be a he!"

"And we didn't want to deny our daughter the right to choose!" The ex-husband, the father chimed in.

"We really should run some DNA tests." The doctor stated. "Just to be sure."

"I'm not paying for it." The woman said, flatly. "This is our child."

"Well, if you're sure." The doctor hesitantly gave in. "But you really should keep something like that on file."

"Well, we thought that the clinic who did the treatment would add it to the records."

"Yes, that is something anyone would assume. However, in the future, use a more reputable business. Any proper medical establishment who does that kind of work, will make a note of it onfile." That crisis solved, the doctor went on to the next subject. "Now... for Nagi-san's surgery..."

"No."

"But, ma'am, this is life threatening injury. She-He needs multiple organ transplants."

"We'll talk about it."

"And did the previous doctor review the risks of gender change, before their mid-twenties?"

OOO

"Um. Doctor Oliver Davis?" The voice on the phone asked.

"Yes?"

"This is about the body found in the river."

"Yes. When can our family make arrangements?"

"Well, about that. The body found at the scene is not Eugene Davis."

"What?!"

"DNA test hasn't come in, yet. However, we can confirm that the body is not your brother."

"Explain?"

"We've identified the body as a girl named Nagi"

OOO

Locus vines held the group in the air.

"Nagi was never at this hospital." Naru explained. "The police found her body at the river."

"I know. Kufufufu." Murkuro stated, with a creepy smile."The question is, why do you want to find Eugene Davis?"