A/N: Hi and welcome to Gone Native! Just a quick little clarification for the sake of this story: Burns is not Wanda. Burns is still very much a Soul; he's kind, has trouble lying, hates violence, etc, but his life experience makes him a different Soul than Wanda is. Just keep that in mind :) Anyway, I've had a lot of fun exploring Burns and Nate's story, particularly as they add new members to their gang. I hope you enjoy the ride!
This is a story of friendship. It's a story of loss. It's a story of courage, forgiveness, and growing up. It's a story of survival, betrayal, and loyalty.
But mostly, it's a story of love.
It's a story that starts at the end, long ago and far, far away.
Beginning: Part 1
Fire World was where I was born, but it was not my home. As soon as I learned that the Walking Flowers were an intelligent species—a species that suffered absolute agony each and every time I ingested the nutrients that were vital to my host's existence—I knew I could not stay there. It made me sick. Murder. I had committed murder. I would spend the rest of my short life on that planet trying to atone for my sins. I changed my name to Burns Living Flowers, constantly reminding myself and everyone who knew me that the Walking Flowers were sentient beings, creatures that lived and felt pain. From the moment I learned the truth, I stopped breathing in the smoke that came from the fire that tortured the innocent creatures. My Fire-Taster host body quickly became weak, and I truly meant to die there. Sacrificing my host's body in favor of all the lives I was saving—that I would otherwise be killing— seemed like a worthwhile cause. I struggled on in this way for ages, but even the pain of starvation could not make me kill again. Eventually, I lost consciousness from hunger and weakness. I welcomed the darkness. It was my freedom.
The sensation that awakened me was one that I never expected to feel again, yet it was completely unlike anything I had ever felt before. I was being inserted into a new host. I secured myself quickly, instinctively. The language of my thoughts was familiar to my new host body and brain, but I was certain I had never heard it before. The dilemma this presented was enough to occupy my thoughts for a quite a while, but my confusion was interrupted before I had made any progress figuring out what it all meant. My body launched itself into what I quickly surmised to be a memory—but the memory was of a world that was completely new to me.
My brain supplied the names of all the things I was seeing: trees, grass, fencing, a blue sky, a summer sun, towering mountains to the west, and an enormous house. More houses were on either side, separated by vast, sculpted lawns. The colors, the smells, they were all so overwhelming and new that I was temporarily lost until I noticed that I was moving—No, he was moving, walking, toward the door. He was distracted, thinking about a presentation he had in front of Marketing the next day, and his hand came automatically up to knock on the large wood panel door. Almost immediately the knob turned and a petite blonde woman with strange looking silver-blue eyes and a welcoming smile greeted him. He tore his thoughts away from his presentation and greeted the woman in a formal sort of way, his right hand extending to grasp her little white one.
"You must be Stephen, we've been expecting you, come right in" she said, as she shook his hand. "Don is in the living room; let's join him."
"It's nice to meet you Mrs. Wolf," he responded automatically, in a way that made it clear that such interactions were social obligation, "Thank you for inviting me over for dinner this evening."
"Oh it was our pleasure dear!" she exclaimed, as if his being there had made her day, "I hope you enjoy your stay!"
Stay? How long will I be here, I still have a Powerpoint to prepare! He thought anxiously, berating himself for not getting it finished sooner. I'll just have to think up some excuse to leave early.
"Just right through here, dear," she said, leading the way down a magnificent hall into a brightly lit room.
He had barely stepped through the door when he felt a mist of cold, odd smelling perfume being sprayed in his face. He had no time to react before he slumped to the floor, his mind going blank.
The memory came to a close, and it was not hard to figure out what had happened. I was on a new planet. I was unsure of which new planet, but that much was clear. I had just experienced the final memory of my new host, which meant that I was about to wake up to a new life—a life away from the pain of my old life. Of course the others of my kind would have stepped in and saved me; it was in their nature to preserve each other's lives. Just not the lives of…of… but I had no name for the creatures I had killed in my last life, the creatures I had tried to die for. The grief was so strong it nearly overpowered me, emotions far more impacting than I was used to. I struggled to overcome the pain, and took a deep breath to settle myself. There were muted voices in the background, but I ignored them as I focused.
Breathing. I was in control of that now. I could feel the chest area of my new body rising and falling, somewhat unevenly, as I calmed myself down. It was not very easy to do, these emotions were so strong, but after a few moments, I achieved an even level of breathing and I began to attend to the rest of me.
I searched for a while inside, figuring out how to move and communicate, and once I had accessed the areas of speech and movement, I opened my eyes.
"Welcome to Earth, Burns Living Flowers," Mrs. Wolf said, leaning over me with a smile. "Please take things slowly, I know things can be especially overwhelming in the beginning. Just lay there as long as you need, until you feel like you can sit up."