Coda, the chapter in which the author performs the following tasks in sequential order: *takes a deep breath*, *marks story as complete*, *makes a run for it*.
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The familiar cemetery lay there before his eyes, surrounded by water, darkness and dead trees beneath the crescent sky. He stood at the very edge, staring up at the moon without much purpose in mind.
Before him lay wastelands, beneath him lay the watery abyss of a ruined world of inverted colours, and behind him was…
"Are you okay with things ending this way, Allen?"
He turned his head around to look, finding that there was a chair ‒ no, more like a throne ‒ mere metres behind him. Seeing who was seated upon it, he turned fully, stepping back slightly from the edge so not to fall in by mistake.
"You don't seem very surprised," Neah noted.
Allen found himself resisting a sudden urge to pull his hair out. Instead, he lifted his chin and looked straight ahead, calmly. "I've spoken with your failsafe, so I was prepared."
A heartbeat. "Failsafe?"
"In Timcanpy," Allen clarified, shifting his posture slightly. "A failsafe in case of Memory damage."
A blink; it indicated surprise, and was followed by acceptance. "Well, that simplifies things," the other noted.
"It does," Allen readily agreed, too tired ‒ excruciatingly exhausted ‒ to do much else at the present.
The other bowed their head slightly in response. Then, they proceeded to tilt it slightly to the side, leaning more heavily against one of the armrests and away from the other, eyeing him keenly still.
"I am Neah," the other declared as though it wasn't already perfectly apparent. "The Fourteenth Apostle who destroys everything."
"Mana's brother," Allen noted, not really bothering with making any grand and highly unnecessary introductions for himself.
"Yes," the Fourteenth readily agreed in return, gaze intent and unwavering. "And you're Allen."
"Your Innocence-bearing host," Allen commented, accompanying his statement with a mild shrug that earned him a slight frown in return.
"You don't remember… about us; about your promise?" the Fourteenth finally asked, sounding almost disappointed.
No. "Allen is an assumed name."
Disappointment briefly gave way for wry amusement as the Fourteenth continued to eye him somewhat thoughtfully. "I know."
There were hidden implications in that, but Allen hardly felt the need to bother with them.
"I don't remember." He took a step forward. "But… I promised that I'd help you, didn't I?"
"Will you keep it?" the Fourteenth questioned in turn. "Your promise, that is?"
Would it make a difference?
As he neared the throne, the Fourteenth sat up a straighter, clearly expecting an answer. "Allen."
He came to a stop right before him, looking down at him now seeing that he remained standing and the other remained seated.
"We're in the same boat," Allen finally relented, having come to a decision at last. "We're in the same boat, and I'd rather not sink, even if it means that I'll have to allow you to determine the course."
The Fourteenth said nothing, watching him still; waiting?
Allen extended his hand, his right one; holding it out for the other to take.
A moment passed, and then another, before it occurred to Allen just what was lacking.
"Let's move forward," he affirmed, partially to the other and partially to himself. "Together."
And move forward they did.
[Towards an uncertain future.]
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