All Arthur could feel was burning.
His throat was raw from choking on water and his lungs felt like they were about to explode from lack of oxygen. He was panicking, thrashing his arms around as a reflex, his body trying to push upwards, despite knowing that he had no hope of getting to the surface.
It was a bad end to a bad day, he thought wryly through his panicking haze. The day, however, was no different from any other day; bad as ever. But it was made even worse by the knowledge that it was his last.
The voices in his head were screaming at him to swim; to save himself already. If he wasn't choking on water he would have finally laughed at them. They weren't real; they couldn't be real and he was finally putting an end to them feeding him pathetic lies from his sub consciousness.
Somewhere, on the surface, he hears a sound. But as soon as he hears it, everything goes black.
When Arthur woke up, he presumed that he had miraculously lived. The pure white room he was in had to be a hospital ward, but he was sitting on the ground, and there was no furniture anywhere, which he thought strange
He would have thought he was in heaven, only he didn't believe in God or heaven or even the hell that he most certainly thought he belonged in.
And he most certainly didn't believe in the creature sitting on the ground in front of him.
The thing looked rather human; almost looking like a young male. A white drama like mask covered its face while its body was draped in some sort of white cloth. But what struck as superhuman were its wings stretched over its back, white and almost fully feathered. Arthur wanted to touch them, but knew his hand would go straight through it.
"You've been talking to me," Arthur accused, trying to get up but feeling some unknown force push him back down, "In my head. You're that voice, aren't you?"
Arthur waited and the creature took it's time. "Possibly I am one of the few," it said finally.
"So my mind finally gave you a face," he said slowly before adding, "Or a lack of one, actually."
"I don't think my face is the proper topic of conversation here," the creature interrupted, "I'm your guardian angel, and I would like to know why you pulled that stunt earlier."
Arthur sighed. Somehow, he knew that one was going to be pulled on him; he had been expecting it to be. "Seriously, who are you, and where am I?"
"I don't know where you are," it answered, "Only you can know that. And you can call me Caomhnoir. I have already stated my reasons for appearing in front of you though."
Arthur scoffed. "So you're really claiming to be an angel," he asked dryly, "Not only that, but my guardian angel? What a load of bull."
Caomhnoir shrugged, standing up effortlessly. "Believe what you want, but I only speak the truth. And if I am a figment of your imagination, surely there is no harm in telling your problems to me, is there?"
The boy stared up at the angel or whatever, narrowing his eyes as he did so. "Why do you think I jumped of a bloody bridge, huh? It wasn't for an afternoon swim, that's for sure."
A sigh. "Well, I like to keep positive. You still haven't given me a reason for why you wanted that."
Arthur folded his arms and uncrossed his legs, glaring up at the abomination across from him. "I'm not hurting anyone if I'm dead, am I? When I'm alive, I just hurt people and people grow away from me and grow to hate me. When I'm six feet under, my name won't be mentioned anymore; not that it ever is to begin with. Everyone else can get on with their lives when they're not running around after me."
Caomhnoir raised an eyebrow. "Do you honestly believe that?"
"I believe in that logic more than I believe in your fairy story."
The creature sighed, placing a hand on his hip before drawing a wand, which looked more like a child's plaything, out of nowhere. "Usually," he stated, waving the wand and producing glittery dust that made Arthur's eyes widen in surprise, "I show you what the people you know would do if you died, how they would react. But, frankly, you think you are more useful dead than alive and showing you how much everyone misses you would only make you think that it was the right thing to do."
Arthur fought a sneer back and tried to stay civil, but the lights- when had they come on?- were blinding him and causing the back of his head to thump with a painful migraine, and he ended up snapping anyways. "This is ridiculous! You're talking like we're in some stupid movie!"
Caomhnoir ignored him again, continuing on. "So instead, I'm going to run you through the last eight hours, just to prove your earlier statement wrong."
A grimace. "Save it. I don't give a damn about watching what happened to me a couple of minutes ago."
And a smile. A knowing one. "We'll see."
The light hit Arthur square in the face, and pain rushed to the back of his head before black swamped the bright white and he conked out.
Arthur had got up at eight am that morning and his intentions hadn't changed since he decided them last night.
Today he was going to die. He was going to die on a bloody school day.
And, today, he was going to do his best at his last day with his pounding heart and avoid of water in his lungs. But, life doesn't always go as planned and nothing happened to change his mind, just to set it in stone.
And then he drowned.
"Where am I now?"
Arthur looked around him frantically, but all he saw was empty space. He was nowhere. He was absolutely nowhere. He panicked, struggling only to find that he had been restrained to the chair he was sitting in by leather straps that were burning into his skin.
The air in front of him began to shift and change until it formed a solid object, which slowly turned into Caohmnoir, a reassuring smile plastered all over his make believe face.
"Damn, it's you again," Arthur spat, "Why the hell am I tied up?"
"So you don't run away," the angel replied, still smiling, "God knows where you'd end up and neither of us seem to know where we are."
"We're not anywhere, are we?" Arthur said slowly, fear creeping unwelcomed into his voice.
"That would be my understanding of it, yes."
The air started to shift again and formed some sort of static in front of the two. Arthur struggled again, but the leather straps just ripped the tops of his hands and wrists to pieces, so he stopped.
The static slowly started to form a picture and Arthur vaguely started to recognize the person in the picture as himself, asleep in his bed.
"Is that me? Now, like?" Arthur asked hopefully. It would make so much sense if this was all a dream. That the whole day before hadn't happened and that he wasn't being restrained by some sort of mystical creature claiming to be his guardian angel in the middle of nowhere.
"No, that was you eight hours ago," Caomhnoir replied, "Did you know that the human personality is constantly changing?"
"No, but what has it got to do with anything?"
"Who you are now is possibly the polar opposite of who you'll be in a year's time," it replied, "So who you were last night is probably quite different to whom you'll be when and if you leave here."
Arthur blanched. "You mean you're possibly going to leave me here?" he asked quietly. He never liked silence. He was quiet and really only spoke when he was angry or provoked, but he never liked complete silence. And this place was the personification of pure, uncompromised silence.
"I will give you a choice. I can guarantee that you will not stay here though."
Arthur felt his mouth contort into a smirk again. "What if I choose to stay here just because you said that?"
"You can't stay here," Caoimhnoir explained, "This is neither of your choices."
"What are my choices?"
"I will ask you them when I feel you have seen enough to make a rational decision," came his answer, "Oh look, you're waking up."
When Arthur had gone downstairs after dressing that morning, his elder sister and second eldest brother were in the sitting room, their teas untouched and probably cold. Arthur had noted the lack of steam coming out of them.
"You're up early," he said nonchalantly.
"Never went down," his brother said, "He never came home last night."
His sister tapped her foot, her hands knitted on her lap. "We had a fight and he stormed out," she said quietly, "All we both do is fight. He better not be dead because it would be really ironic if the last thing I ever said to him was that I wished it on him."
She smiled wryly but there was no humour in her eyes. It was a low joke, one that would have not been funny in even a sitcom, let alone real life. She looked like she would cry, so Arthur's brother put an arm around her reluctantly.
"He's not dead, alright? He better not be, for his sake, or I'm gonna go up to heaven and kick his ass."
Arthur bit his lip to top some sceptical remark about heaven, and instead just sighed. "He'll be fine."
"Oh what the hell do you know?" his sister snapped, her hands becoming unknotted and began to tap by themselves on the sofa, keeping time with her foot. Arthur stood back, narrowing his eyes.
"It isn't like him, but maybe he stayed with a friend?" his brother tried, just sending an accusing look across at Arthur when he got no response.
The youngest excused himself then wordlessly and walked into the kitchen, which was empty of people; a relief to him. He just didn't want to talk about or to people that would never have to see him again.
"I didn't say anything wrong."
Caomhnoir smiled. "I know you didn't. But at times of stress, people say things that they don't mean."
"Yeah yeah, but that's constant here," Arthur mumbled, "They yell, they fight and if I try and stop it, they turn on me instead."
"All families do that; they fight. But they get over it."
"Just so they can fight again."
Arthur stared up at the screen, surprised to realise that he was no longer in it and it was just continuing the conversation that his brother and sister had after he left. "I thought this was a re-account of my day? Where am I?"
"I said it was your day alright," Caomhnoir shrugged, "Never said it was from only your point of view now did I?"
On the screen, Arthur's sister's head was in her lap and he breath was coming out in uneven chokes of desperate evading air.
"I do love him," she said, her voice echoing through the white emptiness. Arthur always thought that sound couldn't exist in a void, but apparently science was worthless here.
"He knows that," his brother said, running a hand through her hair, "You're twins, you can sense stuff like that, right?"
"Yes. But I never told him that," she mumbled, changing the subject slightly, "Did Arthur looked distressed to you just now?"
"Yeah, I noticed."
His sister sighed, "I should apologize for snapping at him. It wasn't his fault."
"He's gone to school now," his brother said slowly.
"It'll have to wait until he comes home then. Where's Scott?"
"Should we wake him up?"
"Nah, by the time he wakes up, your doppelganger will be back here and in one piece. Promise."
The screen went to static and faded back to where Arthur had been walking to school.
"Families say stuff they don't mean," Caomhnoir said simply and Arthur looked away.
Walking in the school gate, Arthur had literally walked straight into Francis Bonnefoy.
After doing so, he glared up at the other sophomore who just smiled, or leered, down at his younger, hands on his hips. "It's the protocol that you love so much to say excuse me or sorry right now," he sneered and Arthur ducked away from him.
"I'm sorry that you're an asshole?" he put it simply and Francis glared.
"And excuse me, but that looks like a rather large stick up your ass right now, Kirkland," the older retaliated, smugly too.
"And I believe you are breaking school rules by just standing there, Bonnefoy," Arthur retorted, glaring, "I believe you are to go straight to homeroom after entering the school gates?"
"Screw you, Kirkland."
Arthur flipped him off, but not soon afterwards found himself flying to the ground after being tripped by somebody's foot.
"You're an annoying little dork, aren't you," Gilbert sighed, withdrawing his foot as Antonio placed his on Arthur's back, "So uncool."
"Get off me!" Arthur struggled, but Antonio kept the stupid smile on his face while his foot pressed down even firmer on his chest.
"No can do," he said smugly.
Francis picked up Arthur's discarded school bag, ignoring Arthur's protests at the movement. "Looks like we'll have to be taking this," he said with a grin, throwing it over his back and making off with it.
Gilbert followed suit and Antonio waited until he made sure that they were long out of sight before ripping his foot off of Arthur and legging it into the building before Arthur could even sit up.
"You never went to homeroom afterwards," Caomhnoir stated and Arthur nodded his head.
"I had to inform the teachers of my loss as I had no school bag and would not be able to turn in my homework until a later date."
"Ah," the creature sighed, "But if you had gone to homeroom..."
The image on the screen told the story for itself. The trio were chatting in whispers and wild gestures, but his bag was simply left there. On his own table waiting for him.
"They do it to everyone," Arthur sighed, "I never thought of them giving it back."
"Well, maybe if you stopped thinking the worst of everyone," the reply came, "Including yourself."
Arthur didn't answer, and instead turned to the screen where class was starting.
When Arthur finished his first three classes, it was time for break.
He was about to begin his plan, the plan that underlined his entire reason for coming to school on his last day alive, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He swirled around to see Kiku standing behind him.
Kiku was his science partner and the two were rather good friends, but by the look on Kiku's face, he meant business now. "Do you have your part of the science project?"
Arthur was just about to reply in the positive before remembering that he didn't even have a bag anymore so he shook his head. "My bag was stolen by some idiots. Kiku, I swear my project was in that bag, promise. I just don't have my bag!"
Kiku's eyes narrowed. "Arthur-san, there is no reason for you to make up some extensive lie for my sake. If you are not bothered, just say so."
Arthur had gaped, shaking his head frantically. "No! I really did do it! I swear, Kiku, I'm telling the truth!"
"Arthur-san, our project should have been in last week but you have made excuse after excuse," he sighed, "I know you have duties as council president, but you could at least tell me that you don't have time."
Arthur had protested some more, but Kiku just sighed and walked away, leaving Arthur with his break wasted and even worse for wear than he had been starting out.
"Guess who found your school bag?" Caomhnoir asked.
"Kiku did, right," Arthur muttered. If his hands weren't strapped down so very tight he would have put his face in them.
"Actually, no," the creature continued, "Feliciano Vargas found it and asked Kiku to give it to you. But, it was already the end of school by then."
Arthur sighed. "Of course. How do I know you're not lying about this?"
"Well, you'd have to trust me, that's for certain."
Arthur scoffed. "Yeah right. I'm not even sure you exist."
Caomhnoir just smiled.
The next three classes went by insanely slowly, with Arthur tapping his hand impatiently on the desk until the bell signalled the end of it. He felt bad about Kiku, but he had no time right now to sort anything out.
He quickly walked out the door, picking up the pace until he found himself in the cafeteria.
And there was Alfred Jones.
"Alfred Jones, huh?" Caomhnoir said, noticing Arthur's flaming face and smirking teasingly, "Nice."
"Shut it," Arthur growled, pulling at the straps on his wrists again.
Alfred Jones was one of the best players on the school football team. He was too young to be captain, but there was no debate over who was going to take the current captain's place.
He was constantly cheerful and felt like a ray of sunshine in Arthur's life, whether Arthur talked to him a lot or not.
And he hated it.
He hated the way all Alfred had to do was smile and ditch the stupid baseball jacket and Arthur would just let him off detention, despite it being his fifteenth offense. He hated the way that Alfred would come up behind him in science and explain to him about what he ought to do next. He hated that he may or may not feel like his heart stopped every time Alfred breathed.
He hated that he might, just might, have a small, insignificant crush on Alfred Jones.
"Alfred, can I talk to you?" Arthur said slowly. He couldn't remember how he got there, how he had gotten to the table where Alfred and his football friends always sat.
"Ah, Artie, I'm not wearing my jacket," Alfred groaned mockingly, turning around with a grin. Arthur's face heated up. "Joking joking, what's up?"
"Can you meet me at the gate after school?" Arthur mumbled, pushing his hands in his pockets awkwardly.
"Sure, no problem," Alfred replied, cocking his head to one side, "I something up?"
"No. Nothing at all."
"I waited for so long," Arthur said slowly. He had stopped resisting the leather straps once Alfred had started talking on the screen, "He never came."
Caomhnoir sighed. "Keep watching and don't interrupt."
Arthur literally raced out of the school when class finished. He had no bag to carry any books home and he wouldn't need to do any homework when he was going to be six feet under in a matter of days.
Tucking himself in behind the gate, Arthur sat down on the tarmac, watching the other students leave two by two.
He waited and waited and waited until every straggler had left before picking himself off the ground and racing to the lake, leaving everything unsaid and every problem unsolved.
"If you had-" Caomhnoir began, but was interrupted before he could say anything of use.
"Yeah yeah, he would have miraculously showed up, my schoolbag in hand and, oh why not, told me he was bloody well in love with me!" Arthur hissed, "I'm sick of this, turn it off!"
Caomhnoir smiled. "You obviously knew what I was about to say," he sighed, "Because, Kiku caught him an gave him your schoolbag, after finding your project, and asked him to give it to you. That's why he was late."
Arthur drew his knees up to his chest, blinking when he noticed that the straps holding his hands down were gone. He flexed them and then wrapped them around his knees, looking over and glaring at the angel beside him.
"You are my guardian, aren't you?"
"That has been what I've been telling you this whole time."
Arthur stared down at the empty floor, wondering how he was floating in the middle of emptiness. "Am I dead or what?"
"No, you're not dead."
Arthur hummed, before glancing up and realising that the screen was still on. He watched himself stand up on the shore of the lake, before holding his breath and diving in. He looked away from the screen, but suddenly two hands clutched the back of his head and forced it back around to watch where Alfred was watching the ripples in the water before ripping the two bags he was carrying off of his back and jumping into the water too.
The screen went to static and Arthur stared across at where Caomhnoir was smiling lightly. "And that brings us to now and your decision."
Arthur raised an eyebrow. "Which is?" he asked tiredly.
"Sink or Swim?"
Arthur watched him before silently making his decision.
His eyes were so foggy, he could only see shapes. He could make out the voice talking to him, the pumps on his chest and the dry lips on his but he couldn't see anything. Nothing was clear.
And then he coughed, choking on the water that was forced up from his lungs. It burned at his throat and racked his body, causing him to sit up, retching violently.
"Arthur? Arthur, are you all right? Damnit, I've called an ambulance, so just hang on, okay?"
Arthur stared across at Alfred, who was watching him with a wide eyed stare of shock that he had never seen on anyone when in relation to him, especially not Alfred Jones.
"I wanted-" Arthur broke off for the need to cough, "- To tell you something."
"Arthur?" Alfred questioned slowly, "What is it?"
Arthur tried to move forward, but had to cough weakly again. Alfred blinked, before resting his hands on the back of Arthur's blazers.
Arthur leaned in again, trembling from the cold of the water soaking into his school uniform, and pressed his lips on to Alfred's.
And Alfred didn't push him away. It was a start.
And then there was darkness.
Somewhere, nowhere, Caomhnoir smiled.
When Arthur would wake up, he would find himself in a hospital bed, all of his siblings present, including his third eldest brother, who had just slept in a friend's house, like the second oldest had said.
And when they finished their sentiments and his sister stopped crying, they'd leave their cards on the table along with other things and let Alfred, who would have been waiting there since Arthur came in, in.
And, Arthur would pick up a statue that his sister will have left on the table; a statue of an angel wearing a white drama like mask. And, inscribed on the bottom, would be a simple phrase.
Alfred will try and get it to see it and Arthur will yell and struggle, hiding it under his pillow, smiling lightly at the inscription and silencing Alfred with another kiss which Alfred still didn't refuse.
And the inscription will say; Do caomhnóir aingeal : Your guardian angel.