“Hey Keith!” Veeyel shouted as he knocked on the door. “Can I come in yet?”
The centaur-like creature stomped his hooves in frustration. Veeyel could see him through the frosted windows, looking around for something.
“Keith, you alright?”
The door flew open, nearly hitting Veeyel, before flying back and slamming shut. A second attempt at opening the door was more successful.
“I thought you already took the little cunt!” Keith shouted. He was clearly very angry.
“No, I’m here to pick him up. Nine and twenty, like you said.”
Keith blinked, then clomped around and walked back into the bar. Veeyel followed, not sure what was going on.
“Arkay said he would do a few bits before he left and that he’d say goodbye to me before heading off…”
“So he’s not here?”
Veeyel hummed to himself, then decided to have a quick look around. It was almost as if Arkay had never been there. The kitchen was spotless. The bathroom was sanitized. The bar had been wiped down and any damage magically vanished. Even Arkay’s room, which was just visible from the bottom of the stairs, had been utterly gutted and put back how it was – just an empty room with a bed in it.
“Is anything missing?” Veeyel finally asked.
“No! In fact, I found a whole stash of money in the till! Seven hundred credits! The food in the fridges that Arkay had eaten? All returned. The weed that he and I shared the other night? Fresh pack sitting there waiting for me.”
Veeyel shrugged. “He was always a good kid. Always did the right thing. Maybe one of his fellow Veth picked him up? He was never the sort to… actually Arkay was the sort of person to up and disappear, but not out of his own choice…”
Keith sighed, then wandered over to the bar, swinging the sign to say closed. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with customers. Especially not without Arkay’s help. The kid had only been around for a few days but he had been so useful. Everything felt slightly off now that he was no longer present. Keith headed back to the bar and poured himself a rather large glass of Owsin, a vodka-like drink made from wheat and barley with a high alcohol content.
“So you’re going to drink your problems away?”
“No. I’m going to spend today drinking and mourning about the fact that little kiddo is stuck in a job he hates again. He secretly wanted to stay here…”
“… And live a normal life…” Veeyel sighed. “I know…”
“I think you know him better than I do…” Keith pulled out a second, much smaller glass, poured some Owsin into it and offered it to Veeyel. “A day just talking and drinking could help us both, at least. I’ll look around and maybe consider hiring some staff tomorrow.”
Veeyel looked at the glass, but didn’t take it. “Sorry. Can’t drink today. Or tomorrow. Not for a while at least. I’ll join you though, you could do with some company.”
Keith smiled weakly and instead got Veeyel a bottle of caramel soda. But as he handed it over, he paused.
“Wait, why can’t you drink?”
“Oh, nothing…” Veeyel hesitated. “Just a… personal thing…”