"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action."

- Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, "Hamlet"

Lose the Name of Action

chapter seven: "goodnight, sweet prince"

Thursday—

It's late.  I should be sleeping.

It feels wrong to write after what happened.  I know I should because one day I'll want to look back on what I thought about the entire situation.  I'll want to see if I grew any.  Do you think I will, journal?  Do you think, because of this event, that I'll become more mature?  I hope so.  No, I don't!  I mean, I hope that because…  No, that's not right.  I don't want to use someone's pain to help me become a better person.  Maybe if I think of it as a learning experience for all of us, it would help me feel better.  Yes!  That's what I'll do!  He was just kidding about the entire thing, he just wanted to keep all of us on our toes.  That's right.

He was lying.  The entire time he was lying.  No one can go that long without being happy.  He was just acting; he's an actor, right?

I hope he was lying.  For Takakura's sake.

But…

But what if he really felt that way?  What if he wanted…

No.

There will be nothing sad that goes in this journal.

Still.

Why Aburatsubo?

Why did you want to die?

—Sae Sawanoguchi

- - - - - - - - - -

When I awoke I was in a room of all white.  My first thought was Heaven.  I was in Heaven.  But then I realized that people who kill themselves do not belong in Heaven.  So I then thought I was in Hell.  But why would Hell be white?  All white?  I always imagined Hell to be fire and torture and the devil and darkness and etcetera.  Or maybe a world where Sawanoguchi and Takakura were together and I would be forced to watch them date and hug and kiss and ignore me completely.

But I didn't feel dead.  I could feel my heart beating faintly.  Faintly.

If I wasn't dead, where was I?

I blinked a few times more and watched as the absolute white formed into shapes around me.  A chair, a table, a window, some curtains, a bed, and an IV.  An IV?  Was I in the hospital?  Why?  I tried to sit up but someone was holding down my left arm.  So instead, I lay in my bed.  Wait.  It wasn't my bed.  The sheets were to rough.  My own sheets were worn down and soft from years of use.  I couldn't be in my room.

So I was in the hospital.

And I was alive.

Why must I fail at everything?

The more I awoke, the more my body reacted.  I met with a burn in my throat, a pain in my stomach, and a fatigue that would have rivaled any marathon runner.  Why was I still here?  I had swallowed enough pills to take down a horse, right?  Right?  I should have died.  I should have died.  I should have died.

"A-Aburatsubo?"

Someone's voice.  Male.  Recognizable.  Takeo?

I turned my head to my left.  My heart breaks.  It was Takeo, sitting in a chair, to the left of the bed that I was lying in.  Why was he next to me?  Why were his eyes bloodshot?  Why did he have a piece of paper tightly clenched in his left hand?  Why was his other hand griping mine?

"Takeo?"  My voice was hoarse and it hurt to use.  His eyes began to water.  Why are you crying, Takeo?  Why?  Why, why, why, why—

"Oh God, Aya, they thought you weren't going to wake up!"  His grip on my hand tightened and his voice shook slightly.  I could only stare at him with disbelief.  Never in all of my years of being his best friend that I've ever seen him truly cry.  "They thought that you were going to go into a come and never wake up and then they would have to take you off life support and you would die and then your mother would have to spend so much money on a funeral and it would happen right before we were supposed—"

I closed my eyes tightly and opened them up again after a few seconds.  Takeo was still there.  He was still on the verge of tears.  My hand was still griped in his.  I sat up slowly.  He jumped slightly, ready to help me if I needed it, I supposed.  I was surprised by his sudden emphasis of emotion.

"…What happened?  Why am I here?"  Why am I not dead?

"I found you in your room about twenty minutes after you left my house.  I would have gotten there sooner but Nakatomi kept me from leaving by constantly asking me questions about you.  When I found you…  Oh Aya, you were vomiting up blood and there was a half-empty bottle of sleeping pills next to you."  While he was speaking, his lovely brown eyes were glazed over.  Never mind that there were large bags underneath them or that they were bloodshot.  They were still his eyes.  And they were crying for me.  For me.  Tears of happiness.  For me.  "Your mother got home from work just as I was trying to find some way to get you to the hospital.  She drove the both of us.  That's how you got here.  She's in the waiting room."

So I didn't die.

"How long have you been here?"

"Four hours.  It's almost 11:30."

"You've been waiting four hours…"

"…For you to wake up."

Now it was my turn to cry.  I saw the tears form.  I blinked them away quickly.  Takeo didn't hate me.  He waited that long just to see if I was okay.  Maybe our friendship could be rebuilt.  Maybe all hope wasn't lost.  Maybe I could learn to love someone else.  People do it all the time, right?

"Aburatsubo, why?"  The question hit my hard.  I glanced over at him.  At Takeo.  At my Takeo Takakura.

"Because I'm a coward.  Because I thought that dying was the only way out of my situation.  Because I was in love with you and wanted you only for myself.  Because I was too stubborn to try to love someone else.  Because I've loved you since the seventh grade.  Because Nakatomi loves me.  Because I cannot love her.  Because you want Sawanoguchi and not me.  Because my mother trusts me to much.  Because she believes that I am perfect in every way.  Because I hate who I am."  I couldn't stop the words.  I didn't want to stop them.  I wanted him to know everything.  He needed to know, he saved me.  He saved me from sleeping forever.  He needed to know what he had done.  "It hurt to see you lust after Sawanoguchi they was you did.  I remember thinking, 'Why can't Takeo love me?  Why can't Takeo daydream about me?  I've known him the longest; I'm the one who gets him!  Not Sawanoguchi, not anyone!'.  But that was immature of me, wasn't it?  I don't own you, Takeo.  You are your own person and I do not want to do anything to change it.  I love the way you are, right now.  But I also hate the fact that you cannot return my affections.  So I decided it would be better for everyone that I wasn't around.  You wouldn't have to deal with me, Nakatomi could find someone who would love her more than I ever could, and Sawanoguchi could get away from my immature comments towards her personality and other things…"

I stopped and looked at him.  Really looked at him.  He wasn't the best looking guy in the world.  He made many mistakes, he was clumsy, he tended to stumble over his words, and his attention span was the shortest I've ever known.  But he was my Takeo.  He was my best friend.

"Why, why didn't you tell me any of this?  If it was hurting you so much, why didn't you tell me?  I would have stopped liking Sawanoguchi."  Takeo almost sounded desperate.

"No, no you wouldn't have.  Believe me, it's harder than you think to change your opinion about someone."  I'm an expert at it.

He paused.  There was a silence between us.  A silence that had grown stronger throughout the months.  What was he going to say next?  How would I respond?  Would I respond?  I felt so tired, so hungry.  I wanted to sleep.  So, I closed my eyes and rested my head up against the wall.  The cold, white wall.

I almost jumped when I felt his arms slide around my waist and into a tight hug.  His head rested on my lower chest.  The warmth from his body seemed to fill me up.  I could do nothing but sit there and enjoy his body pressed up against mine.  His arms tightened around me.

"I was so afraid that I was going to lose you.  For a while, I thought you were never going to wake up, that I would have to live the rest of my life without my best friend.  Without my Aburatsubo.  And that's when I realized how much I need you.  How much I've always needed you.  You are my reality, Aya.  You keep me from living in my fantasy world."  Takeo's voice was muffled but I could still understand everything.  Every world he said was magic to my ears.  I was important to him.  I mattered to him.

I inhaled slowly as I felt my tears roll down my face.  I couldn't help but run my fingers through his brown hair.  It was soft.  It was supposed to be soft.

Isn't this what you want?  Isn't this what you've fantasized about for the longest time?  To have him come to you, you enjoy being in your arms?

Yes.  Yes I did.  For so very, very long.  I wanted Takeo for so very long.  And now, now that I am in a hospital with the man I love in tears of happiness because I woke up, will I finally be able to have him?  Will I finally be able to speak the words that have been breaking down the walls of my heart for years?  And will he now listen?  Will he respond they way I want him to?

NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO—

"Takeo, no,"  I whispered as I gently pushed him away from me.  I used my sleeve to get rid of my tears.  "Please don't do this to me."

"Do what?"  He asked as innocent as a child.  It made my insides sigh.  With regret or love, I wasn't sure.

"Try to make me happy.  You can't do it.  You don't know how,"  my voice sounded like a gravel driveway.  What happened to all of my life?  It was probably with all of the pills they pumped out of my stomach.  I wish I could swallow it again.  Absorb it again.  "And I can't tell you.  I don't know how.  I don't know much about anything right now…"

"Let's not talk about this right now, Aya,"  he whispered.  I watched silently as he reached out to me and moved my hair out of my eyes.  I watched him smile softly.  I wanted to smile.  I really did.  "I'm just happy you're alive.  Let's leave it at that.  For now."

"But, but we have to talk about it.  That was my first problem.  I'm unstable, Takeo, I'm suicidal.  Me.  I need to talk.  I have much to say; I just don't know which words to use.  I can't be silent anymore.  If I'm silent, then—"  I couldn't keep talking, he had pressed his mouth up against my own.  Now it was time for my insides to gasp.  What was going on?  I was still dreaming.  I was still unconscious and I was dreaming.  I shouldn't be doing this in my dream.   But I kissed Takeo back any way.

He pulled away from me and kept his lips inches from my own.  "I will give you hours of my ears to tell me everything you need to…"

Takeo…

"Aburatsubo, you're awake!"

"Oh, thank God, Aburatsubo!"

I looked up with a start to see Nakatomi and Sawanoguchi standing in the doorway.  Not them.  Any one but them.  I can't.  I can't do it anymore.

I suddenly wanted to slit my wrists in front of all of them.  To have them see how I felt about everything.  Then they would honestly know.  First time round was just for practice.  I would get it right the next time.  I swear to God I would get it right.

Someone grabbed a hold of my right hand and held it tightly.  Tight enough to begin cutting off the circulation of my fingers.  It was Nakatomi.  She had tears brimming in her eyes.  That softened some of the sharp corners of my sudden anger.  I had caused another person pain.  She had been worried and sad—just like Takeo.  I forgot that there were such things as other people and these people did have feelings of their own.  It happens.

Sawanoguchi moved next to Takeo.  My stomach began to burn.  I suddenly remembered that I had swallowed a large amount of pills earlier.  The nausea began to grow.  She was going to steal Takeo away again.  He was just about to make me think life could be worth living again.  He was just about to talk me into—

Into what?  What was he about to talk me into?

My stomach churned and twisted itself into a knot.  I yanked my hand away from Nakatomi and crawled my way across the bed and almost rolled off of the end and onto the floor.  Luckily, I landed on my feet and was able to find my way into the small bathroom before I vomited.  It burned more than it usually did.  It was then I remembered that I had vomited blood before I had passed out.  That made a large wave of nausea wash over me.

"Aya!"  I felt someone's hand on my back.  Takeo?

I pushed myself upright and wiped my mouth on my white sleeve.  What sleeve?  I looked down at my arm to see a plain cotton shirt that had replaced my previous black one.  And plain cotton white pants were also in place of my jeans.  Why wasn't I wearing the normal hospital gown?  Why real clothes?

The reasons why didn't matter too much.  What mattered was my skin was as white and the cloth on my body.  Just seeing how unnatural it looked began to make me shiver.  Shake, actually.  My hands looked so translucent, I could see every vein and artery underneath my flesh.  This wasn't supposed to happen to people.  People were not supposed to see what they looked like on the inside.  No one can be this pale.

"Aya!  Aya, what's wrong?"  Takeo was shaking me roughly.  I blinked and found myself leaning up against the wall, still staring at my hands.  I looked up to see Takeo's face inches from my own.  His brown eyes softened when he realized I was back to, well, reality.

"How long do they plan on keeping me here?"  I managed to whisper.  My voice sounded like it was trying to claw its way out of my throat.

"I, I don't know, Aya,"  he responded, looking down at the ground.

"How long will I have to stay in this hospital?"  I asked, my voice more fierce than it ever had been.  I grabbed his upper arms as hard as I could.  That one burst of energy sent waves of pain through my entire body.  I was so weak.  I couldn't do any thing.  Feelings of worthlessness began to fill up inside of me.  Again.  Always again.  "How long, Takeo?"

"Only for a week or two,"  he whispered.  Why the whispering, Takeo?  Do you not want Nakatomi or Sawanoguchi overhearing us?  Do you not want them to know that your best friend is evidently suicidal and could have some mental illness?  Why hide these things?  Why not say them out loud?  Why?  Why keep it all in?  I don't understand it.  I tried hiding everything and look where it got me.  Almost to death.  I almost tasted death.  He was about to wrap his cold and hard arms around me when you dragged me back.  You dragged me from my salvation.  For what?  To torment me again?  "You can always ask the doctor when he comes in to check on you.  He should be coming in soon, someone would have told him you've woken up."

A doctor.  I don't want to see a doctor!  I don't want some man telling me what's wrong with me!  Just give me a day by myself and I could tell you each and every single thing that was wrong with me.  Then you can give me your wonder pill that corrects the imbalance of chemicals in my mind that will keep me from thoughts that people should be able to have.  People should wonder what happens when they kill themselves.  It's all part of life.  It's all part of fear.  It is what makes us human.  I don't want a doctor telling me I'm not human.

"I can't.  I can't be here for more than a day.  I'm enrolled in one of the top acting classes in America.  I have to go.  I have to make a life worth living for myself,"  Somehow, I managed to push Takeo away from me and make my way out of the room.  I had to push past Nakatomi and Sawanoguchi, though.  That was easy enough.  The look on their faces was enough to tell me they had no idea what the hell was happening.  I made it into the hallway before I caught sight of my mother.  Her usually thick mascara was ruined from tears.  She looked like she hadn't slept for days.  And her skin was almost as pale as my own.  I didn't want anything to do with her.  I thought I had made it out of her line of sight before—

"Ayanojou!"  She used my full name.  Something told me I was in some trouble.  I turned as fast as my worn body would let me and began to run down the hallway.

Get away, all of you—get away from me!  I want nothing more to do with you!  All you will ever do is hurt me and leave me to mend myself.  I don't want anymore of it!  Go away!

I was making good time until I looked back to see who was after me.  Two rather large looking men.  I straightened myself out in time to see a cart of supplies not one foot away from me.  Of course, I ran straight into it.  All of the wind was knocked out of me and there was new pain in my head and chest.  Almost equal to the pain in my heart.  I had to stop and relearn how to breathe.

They caught up with me.  The whole lot of them.  The only good news was they didn't need to give me a drug to calm me down.  I had worn myself out trying to escape from all of them.

And so I found myself back in the cold and crisp hospital bed.  This time with my mother, a doctor—Dr. Faust[1], I can assure you that made me feel wonderful, and Takeo were gathered around my bed.  I had demanded that Sawanoguchi leave.  Reasons:  (A) looking at her made me want to throw up, (B) I wanted to stab myself with the IV sitting near my bed every time she either looked at Takeo or he looked at her, and (C) what right did she have to come into my hospital room and gawk at me?  Nakatomi had accompanied her sobbing friend out of the room.  I should have felt bad.  But there wasn't enough room left in my heart for such emotion.

"Naturally, we're going to have to put him on some form of medication.  And we'll have to keep him in the hospital for at least a week, to calm him down and help distress his life,"  Dr. Faust began to ramble and continued to do so as my mother listened with shinning eyes.  Some small part of me wanted to comfort her; she was my mother after all.  "And we'll request that he begins to visit a physiatrist at least once a week.  If you need help finding one, the hospital will be more than happy to provide our assistance."

"How strong will the medication be?"  My mother's voice was very soft.  I didn't bother to listen to the doctor's response.  My attention was focused on Takeo.  He was watching my mother like you would watch a funeral.  Carefully.  Showing just enough emotion to get your point across.

I felt hollow during the entire conversation.  I couldn't remember if the doctor tried talking to me or not.  I couldn't remember if my mother even tried talking to me or not.  But, after they left, a large sensation to burst into tears overwhelmed me.  Takeo was instantly by my side.

"What's wrong with me, Takeo?"  I managed to squeeze in between my sobs.  He held me tightly, lightly rocking both of our bodies back and forth.  I had buried my head into his shoulder.  Pathetic.  Absolutely pathetic.  The wonderful Aburatsubo would need a drug to help him think straight.  "Why can't I be a normal young man?  Why do I need drugs for that?"

"You know perfectly well that drugs do not make any bit of a difference,"  he whispered in my ear.

"Yes they do,"  I mumbled, not wanting to sit up yet.  I wasn't done with my tears.  "From this day forward I will need some form of medication or I will be wracked with thoughts of ending my life for various reasons.  Until the day I actually and truly die, I will need those chemicals to keep me going.  Enable me to get out of bed each morning with the thought that maybe, just maybe this day will become a bit better than the last.  And I know that I can't hope for anything better than what my medication is going to give me.  I'm stuck like this forever."

I felt his arms move from my shoulders to my waist.

"If you feel that way, then I will be there with your medication to help you."

"Please don't make promises you know you'll break…"

"I'm serious, Aburatsubo.  I want to be around you.  I need to be around you."

And at that moment, with my face surrounded by Takeo's skin and scent and warmth and my tears, I almost believed him.  Almost.

"Just let me try, Aya, please,"  I felt his mouth on top of my head.  Should I?  Could I?  Would it hurt me more in the long run?  If so, they could just pump more medication into me.  Science was far enough to be able to do that, right?  Of course.  Yes.

I felt Takeo push me into a sitting position before he touched his forehead to my own.  I could hardly see him through my tears.

"Please."

Shall I?

"If you must."

He hugged me then.  An honest hug.  It felt good.

Perhaps I could finally find what I had lost so long ago.

Perhaps.

[1]—Stolen from Doctor Faustus by Goethe.  Faust was a man who sold his soul to Lucifer so he would have endless amounts of knowledge and ending up killing himself.

COMMENTS: To me, Aburatsubo has the most potential for angst in any anime. (Usually, if the character that has potential for angst is already angsting. Or something along those lines.) And I believe that the best possible paring in the anime Mahou Tsukai Tai is Aburatsubo and Takeo. (I can't help that I like boy parings. Alas.) Originally, I was going to have Aya kill himself and that was that. But then I thought, "hey, you're about to kill off your favourite character, and you could always write a sequel". So I didn't. And there's a large possibility I might continue this story with a sequel. Because I love Angst!Aburatsubo that much.