Disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King

CHAPTER ONE – The Crash, The Coma

"C'mon, Ren, we don't want to be late!" Horo Horo shouted as he dragged the younger shaman through the masses of people rushing past each other on the busy sidewalk.

"Why not? Please, remind me again why I'm going with you?" he grumbled as he followed the taller boy.

"We'll miss our bus if we don't get there in time, I want you to come, you want to support me, and you need more convenience in your life, that's why!" Horo answered smoothly.

They made their way to the bus stop and he plopped into a seat as though they'd been running for miles. Ren rolled his eyes and stood in the far corner with a watchful eye out for their bus.

He wondered again if he was nuts when Horo Horo had begged him that morning to accompany him to a singing audition, under the pretext of showing him the benefits of riding a bus. He already knew Horo had a marvelous voice, and it was no doubt that he would win this minor audition, but something had told him he aught to go.

Something had been bugging him all day, and he had a bad feeling that something bad was going to happen to the ice shaman he'd grown to care for. He normally took his feelings very seriously as bad omens, but today he didn't have the heart to warn Horo about his feeling and so he brushed it off and decided to go with the Ainu, just in case.

Horo Horo brought him out of his thoughts with a coughing fit, and he turned to his companion with a raised brow. Next to him, a man sat smoking a cigarette; right under a no smoking sign. Ren sighed and pulled his kwan dao out of its case, quickly snapping it together and holding it up to the man. "Can you read?" he asked sternly, glancing pointedly at the sign. The man sputtered a bit and took off running down the street yelling about a psychopath at the bus stop.

As quickly as it was out, it was gone and Horo said, "Thanks, Ren. I have asthma." Ren nodded curtly before returning his attention to the road, where a bus had just pulled up. They piled onto the vehicle and paid the fee, Ren mumbling about how much better taxis are.

He chose the seat in the back left corner, right above the wheel, and Horo sat beside him He stared out the window in silence, the ominous feeling growing and his tension rising until he knew that the slightest movement would send him off the edge. Perhaps he was going insane?

Then, it happened so suddenly, no one saw it coming. They had just entered an intersection when an out of control truck rammed straight into them, right at the back left corner...

Horo Horo's eyes flickered open slowly, taking in the whiteness of the room. Puzzled, he tried to sit up, only to be pushed back down by a slender hand. He followed the hand up into a small, pretty face, azure eyes meeting their replicas. He grinned softly. "Pilica." He was relieved to see the familiar face. Then he frowned, looking around. "Where am I? What happened?" Confusion masked his voice.

"You were in a car accident, onii-chan. You're in the hospital. You've been asleep for two days. You're lucky to be alive." she hugged him as fresh tears ran down her face. He closed his eyes as memories flooded him. Flashes of colors, the back of the bus, the huge headlights growing closer, the loud crunch of broken bones and scraping metal, a brief cry of his name, screaming, everything burned into his mind forever. Then, a thought hit him.

"Where's Ren?" he asked quickly. She pulled back and a sorrowful look flashed on her face, then uncertainty.

"I, I'm not sure I should tell you so soon after you woke up." she said quietly.

"Tell me, now, Pilica. Where, is, Ren?" he said firmly. "He's not... dead, is he?" he gulped down the lump in his throat.

"No, not dead, but close enough. The doctors aren't sure if he's in a coma, or brain dead. He's been switching from stable, to not, and back again. They've almost given up on him. He has a 90 chance of death, and a 99 chance of never waking up again. If by some miracle, he does, then it's for sure that he will be paralyzed, have no ability in his right arm, and 50 chance of insanity or retardism. He barely has a chance." she whispered. Horo felt like someone had smacked him hard. It was his idea to take the bus, he'd forced Ren into it, and now Ren was dying, and it was all his fault.

"I want to see him." he choked out. "No, you have to stay in bed." she began, but he cut her off. "No, Pilica! I'm going to see him, I have to!" his stubborn side was showing and she couldn't help but smile, he'd never change. She nodded and requested a wheelchair be sent to the room. Moments later, she pushed him off towards Ren's room, where he was currently stable.

"Call if you need me." she told him as she realized he wanted to be alone. He nodded mutely as he took his friend's hand in his own.

"Please, wake up, Ren-kun. Please be okay. I'll die if you stay like this, I will. It's all my fault you're even here. If I'd only listened to you, this would never have happened. I'm so stupid..." his voice trailed off as he became lost in his thoughts. He lay his head on Ren's lap and fell asleep as he waited.

Horo woke to a hand stroking his head gently. Looking up, he saw Ren was the source of the hand and he grinned stupidly. "You're awake!" he shouted in joy, latching onto his pal. Ren got up from the bed. "Yes, and it's all you're fault. You were the baka who came up with the idea, and now we ended up in the hospital. It's all your fault. All your fault. All your fault.. All your fault... All your fault... All your fault..." his voice faded and Horo heard Pilica telling him to wake up.

His eyes opened and he saw his sister's face peering down at him. "You alright? You were mumbling and tossing in your sleep." she informed him and he realized he was in his hospital bed again, and it was all a dream.

"I'm fine. How's Ren?" he asked anxiously.

"Don't hold your breath. There's no change and no one expects one except for you. Even Yoh has given this one up." she told him. He glared at her.

"No, I won't give up. I can't give up on him. He's too strong to stay like that. He will recover. I know it." he said, eyes shining with determination. The days passed by and he was finally released to go back home, but trouble hit outside the hospital doors.

The camera bulbs flashed off and frenzied reporters scrambled to ask him questions. "What was it like to be in the biggest intersection crash since 1922? How do you feel about your brain dead companion?" the answers tried to make their way out of his mouth quickly enough but came out as muffled mumblings, which quickly turned into cries to stop. He held his head with both hands and yelled 'stop', curling into a tight ball in the wheelchair. Racking sobs overtook him and his eyes squeezed shut as he begged them to go.

The yelling stopped immediately as Pilica's voice shouted, "STOP! YOU LEAVE MY BROTHER ALONE! CAN'T YOU SEE HE'S CONFUSED ENOUGH, HAVING LOST HIS BEST FRIEND AND WOKEN IN A HOSPITAL! THEN HE GETS ALL YOU BASTARDS TRYING TO MAKE NEWS OF HIS TRADGEDY? YOU MAKE ME SICK, EVERY ONE OF YOU! YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU'LL MAKE OFF OF THE DEATH OF HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE! HAVE YOU NO SHAME! GET AWAY FROM MY ONII-CHAN!" Surprisingly, this method worked and the crowds seemed to dissipate into thin air.

"No... No... It wasn't me... I didn't mean to... I'm sorry..." Horo cried into his arms. Pilica slowly peeled his hands away and he looked up at her.

"Horo, we all know it wasn't your fault. No one could have prevented it, no one knew. It'll be alright. I know it will." she soothed him, hugging him tightly.

Weeks turned into months and there was still no sign of Ren waking anytime soon. He was now out of the woods and stable at all times, but in a perpetual sleep, perhaps for the remainder of his life. However, the young ice shaman refused to give up hope. He visited Ren every day, even just to talk to his unconscious form. But, as time went on, he came less and less, and spent less and less time there. It had been almost a year since the accident, now, and finally, the visits stopped completely, he had given up.

It was January first, 2:00 in the morning, when the phone rang in the Usui house. Horo Horo reluctantly left the comfort of his bed to slowly pick up the phone. "Hello?" he said sleepily.

"Mr. Usui, you'll never believe this!" a voice shrieked from the other end.

Holding the phone away and cringing, he asked, "What?"

"That Tao fellow you were in the accident with, he woke up just now! And he's asking for you!" the phone screamed loud enough for him to drop it. "Horo? Horo? Are you there?" it managed to squeak out before he hung it up.

Running into his sister's room, he yelled, "Pilica, get up! Ren's awake!" before wheeling right around and out of the house, grabbing his coat on the way. He hopped onto his snowboard and zoomed off before the younger girl could even react. When he got there, he ran straight to Ren's room and skidded to a halt next to the bed. Ren was sitting up and turned his head slightly with an unusual smile on his face.