Reticence

Epilogue

The oceans of Earth remained a sanguine red, and would continue to do so for centuries to come. Even if life flourished anew within her depths, the sins of the past would continue to cloud the waters of the Earth. It would be a constant reminder of what the people of Earth had done, and what they must do to atone.

The oceans beyond, however, were as clear and brilliant a blue as water could be.

Gendo Ikari moved a pawn forward on the small, wooden shogi board, a steaming cup of tea by his side.

"Do you ever get tired of being right, old man?" he asked, though there was no malice in his voice.

"You already know that I do, Ikari," Fuyutsuki responded, moving his knight forward.

The two of them were sitting on the deck of a small, wooden Japanese cottage on the beach of an ocean far away from everything else. Both were barefoot with their shirts loosened, their jackets hanging idly over the railing as they relaxed in the sun. This was a place where time had no meaning, where light shone brilliant all around. It seemed that if they looked out across the sea, they could stare forever through the waters of time. Their past, and their mistakes, all laid bare. Here, they had no secrets. Here, they were simply pure.

Gendo responded by moving his rook.

"Was I wrong then?" he asked, a sobriety and humility in his voice that the old man was unaccustomed to hearing.

Fuyutsuki glanced out at the waters, seeing the future that lay before the world they had left. The children had overcome the greatest of trials, but there were still far more challenges ahead of them. The world had been left in a sorry state, and in no small part because of what they had done.

But for all that, the children had still managed to grow. Despite all of their hurts, those that remained would be all the stronger for it. Before each Child of Eva lay a long and happy life. Would that have been true had the two of them done nothing? Who was to say?

"I think you were human, Ikari," Fuyutsuki said, putting his king into check. "That is all."

Gendo frowned and withdrew his king.

He had taken the coward's way out. It was not even that he no longer chose to fight - he had simply played both sides. Had his son failed, his essence would have merely been pooled into that of combined body souls as the rest of humanity, forever trapped in a world of illusion. But upon his success, he knew, he would have still had no place in such a world. He knew it had been his only decision…but it still left him feeling rotten.

Fuyutsuki put him into check again, and Gendo could see that his side of the board had failed, and he inclined his head in resignation.

"My, my," Fuyutsuki said enthusiastically. "It appears we have some company."

Ikari looked up, turning his head about, until he saw someone standing barefoot in the sand.

It was Yui.

"May I join you?" she asked politely, a soft smile on her face.

Gendo's heart sank. His guilt was not something he was prepared to share with his wife just yet. He doubted it ever would be.

"Of course," Fuyusuki responded cheerfully, reaching for the pot of tea that sat at their side to pour her a cup.

Yui ascended the two wooden steps up to the quaint and cozy deck and knelt besides the shogi board, her dress settling around her ankles, as she inspected the status of the game.

"Oh my," she said to he husband, taking the proffered tea. "Things do not appear to be going well for you, dear."

The man hung his head, his milky eyes still giving him the sight to see his mistakes.

"I have already lost," he admitted.

He felt a hand slip into his, and he looked to see Yui's hopeful expression.

"You did what you thought was best," she said encouragingly. "And in the end, you gave me all the opportunity I needed to save them."

Gendo's hand shook in his shame, and Yui's grip tightened around it.

"You…" he breathed, uneasily. "You saw them safely home?"

Yui nodded once, closing her eyes.

"I did."

"And yet…" he breathed, almost in disbelief. "And yet you remain here? With us?"

Her smile softened.

"Where else would I be, my love?" she asked, breathlessly. "It is here that I am most needed now."

Gendo felt tears welling up in his eyes. After all of his crimes, Yui still forgave him. She had still elected to spend her eternity with him here in this place where the ocean waves left memories life seashells upon the sands of time.

"Will the children be alright?" Fuyutsuki asked with concern in his voice. "Without you there to protect them?"

"The children are strong," she declared. "I've done all I can for them. All that is left is for them to forge their own path now."

Fuysuko nodded, giving Gendo a moment to recompose himself. It had been years since he'd seen his student weep. Those years, it seemed, had been the hardest he'd ever had. Those tears were the proof that there was still some humanity left in those eyes. And where there was humanity, there could be forgiveness as well.

"Well then," Fuyutsuki smiled in a friendly manner. "Care to play again?"

Gendo wiped his eyes, and for the first time since they'd arrived here, he smiled.

"Yes, old man," he said. "I believe I shall."

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