Title: White Room at the End of the Hall

Rating: PG

Warning(s): General spoilers for episode 50

Summary: He hated white. He hated waiting, loathed this feeling of helplessness

Word Count: 756

Author's Note: This is an old story. I hesitated publishing this one because of its length and because it's something of a dusty piece. But I think it's worth uploading now, just a little.

He hated white rooms. It brought back bad memories for him always. He hated waiting, loathed this feeling of helplessness. His dark eyes stared into the sterile white tile linoleum beneath his feet; he curled his pale fingers into his hair.

The sound of scuffling made his head instantly go up. A tired looking man came into the room, gathering an enormous tan trenchcoat around his tall frame and shaking back a mane of dark hair.

He stared at the newcomer for a moment. Though the man could not have been more than twenty-five, he looked far older, though his face was relatively unlined. It was something about the eyes, something rather unsettling. This man had stared into the horrors of the world, all the while going through with the burdens and toils of every day. But a pleasant, soft smile rested in those eyes.

The man took a seat next to him, sitting down with a sigh. There was an uncanny grace to the movements, almost elegant in the conserved, precise motions.

"Are you all right?"

He suddenly blinked, caught off guard by the breaking of the silence.

The man had finally spoken. His voice was pleasant, slightly hoarse but rich in sound, with something rather sweet about it. It was a voice that spoke eloquently, without having to shout.

He averted his eyes. "Yeah. I- suppose."

The man looked around. "I never liked white so much. Neither does my wife. It's nothing but lilac and red for her in our apartment." He laughed softly. "And yellow and blue. Anything but white."

"I hate it." He surprised himself with his own vehemence.

The man arched an elegant brow. "Well then."

"I hate hospitals."

"Ah…" The man nodded. "Understandable, even if they do help you, or at least try."

"I hate them."

"If I may ask why?"

"My brother died. Six years ago."

"I'm sorry."

He was blinking back tears. "It- was all my fault. He was crossing a street- a car- it hit him-"

A soft hand touched his shoulder. "I'm sorry. I lost my brother too."

Tears continued to trickle down his face. "Now- it's-it's all my fault- my girlfriend's- she- she- it was an accident-"

"Shh…" A soft handkerchief was gently pressed into his hand, thankfully not white. "Is she going to be all right?"

"They- they say she's stable. She just won't wake up. Oh Kami-sama- It's all my fault."

"Don't say that." The quiet, reasonable but no less compassionate voice of the man sitting next to him said gently. "As you said, it was an accident."


"No buts." The man's voice was firm. "These things- happen, I can tell you that." The man leaned back in his seat slightly. "They do happen. We can't do anything about it." His eyes closed slightly. "But we go on. Because life goes on. We cannot atone for anything, if we must, by saying it was our fault. That does nothing." The man's eyes opened again and looked at him, Prussian blue and arresting in their depths, as sorrow and pain and joy and quiet resignation melded into a wiser man, who, despite weariness, went on with his path.

The man smiled softly. "My wife is having our first child right now. It's been a difficult birth. And I haven't been able to be with her as often as I should. I regret it; we all have regrets. But- we just do what we have to do."

A nurse stepped into the room, looking at them both. "Ichijouji-san?" she asked carefully.

The man looked up, blinking placidly. "Yes?"

"Your wife has had a healthy baby girl."

Suddenly, he saw the man's face change. Emotions flickered across it, sorrow and fear and astonishment but slowly, like fire starting to blaze as it caught the corner of a paper, joy started to cross his face, and stay there, burning. He instantly stood up, going to the nurse. "Please, take me to her," the man said, eyes bright.

The nurse smiled and left the room room. The odd man-Ichijouji-san-paused in the doorway to look at him. "We can only live as we will," he said with a soft, sweet smile. "With the joys and the sorrows. What's your name?"

"Ken," the boy said.

"Mine as well." He smiled a little wider. "Well, Ken, keep hope. It's all we have. That- and love."

And with that, Ken Ichijouji was gone.

The boy looked at the doorway, at the hallway of white linoleum. And he smiled, ever so slightly.