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At the End of the World

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He recognizes Anne in this painting, though her clothes are different- she must have changed them to better fit the time period, Alcibiades thinks. As a time traveler, he imagines everyone would be suspicious of her if she didn't. 

But there's a splash of dark purple a ways behind her- like a hole, just waiting to gobble her up. 

It reminds him of the other William- the white-haired William with the terrible smile. 

Is there another Anne?, he wonders, and, did Anne ever meet that other William? 

For her sake, he hopes not. 

Alcibiades tears his focus away from the jagged, dark purple lines and returns his attention to her eyes. They're blue and sad and searching, and come to think of it, was William with her when she brought him here? He doesn't think so. 

So maybe that's where she is, wandering through time, looking for William. 

In which case, Alcibiades decides with a sad smile, he really can't follow her after all. 

He turns away and begins to exit. 

He can't follow Anne, and he has no way of knowing when she and William might return- if they ever will. But because of that, he has to be ready to welcome them at any time.

He walks down the concrete steps- gray and strange and new still, but not as new as the rest of this bustling place- and turns to walk back to his apartment, his sword still wrapped within his tattered red robe and belted around his waist.

In a moment, he would reflect how fortunate it is that no one got rid of it while he was- what was the word, cormatose? No, comatose. While he was comatose.

And then, right at eye-level, he sees a crack, outlined in dark purple. 

He brings his hand to the exposed hilt of his sword, his fingers curling instinctively around the grip. 

He hears static. His heart, beating like a drum- it's wrong. It's wrong. It's wrong. It's-

The crack expands into a jagged hole- a tear, revealing dark faces and bright red eyes. 

One by one, they exit through the spatial tear amidst confused cries, and as more emerge, panicked screams. 

The creatures fan out, screeching and tearing their claws into nearby humans too shocked to run. 

Alcibiades grits his teeth as a small cluster lunges towards him. He sees Anne and William, and Socrates and Nefeli and Gregor and all the rest of his numerous family. 

He couldn't help anyone then. 

He could only act after everyone else had died, after Anne left to find William. 

He swings his sword in the same moment he draws it from its makeshift sheath and cleaves one of the creatures in two. 

He has to protect this place- this place and everyone in it- so Anne and William can have a safe place to return to. 

I'm sorry...my precious, most important people...I couldn't help you when you needed me back then...

Alcibiades smirks, flicking oily blood from the tip of his sword as more of the demonic creatures prepare to rush him. 

But I'll do whatever it takes to help you now!