All things considered, Teekay was coping surprisingly well. Sure, his home had been attacked and burnt down and he’d lost most of his belongings again, but he was currently in a rather nice 4-star hotel, eating a very fancy mushroom stew with a bottle of mead and his best friend, all combined within a nice, warm atmosphere. Things were bad, Teekay knew that, but things could have been worse.
“So, what are you thinking right now?”
Teekay glanced up from his stew. It was a particularly delicious stew, really more of a soup if Teekay was honest. It was thin and lacking in carbohydrates. That was fine though, as this was just the starter. There were more dishes to come. Opposite him was something far more delicious, the tired yet beautiful form of Elkay, who was helping Teekay through all of this.
“Yes, right now.”
Teekay dunked his spoon into the bowl and stirred the stew around. Nothing really came to mind, apart from how… beautiful Elkay was. Elkay waved at him, then snapped his three fingers, dragging Teekay back to reality.
“I drifted off.”
“You are clearly much more exhausted than you originally believed.”
“Yes, true, but I was busy thinking about you and your beauty and wonder.”
Elkay lowered his head, smiling just a little. Teekay smiled back, then returned to his stew. But h continued to think about his partner. Elkay was… Elkay was something else. He wasn’t even a Skyavok, but over the last few months, Teekay had noticed a lot of changes. Not only had Elkay lost a lot of weight, but his armour had stopped growing and had been rounded down to be more Skyan-like. His weird, unnatural, demonic wings had disappeared, replaced with the same psionic wings that all Skyavok had, except far larger. And Teekay was certain that Elkay had managed to obtain Skyan telekinesis. Elkay didn’t quite look like a Skyavok, he was clearly bigger and stronger, but he no longer obviously looked like a Rethavok either.
“You are staring again.”
Teekay shook his head, clearing his thoughts. “Sorry. Was just thinking about… you’re not really a Rethavok any more.”
Elkay peered over his shoulder, then looked behind Teekay, checking that they were mostly alone. “I am not. But I have not been a Rethavok since I, well, died.”
“You’re not a zombie either though.”
Elkay snorted. “Hah. No. That would be most troublesome. If I were some non-existent being, I would be a Finikas, being reborn from the flames of my own death.”
“Are you still a Rethavok though?” Teekay asked. “Because I don’t know any more. And I’m sure that you don’t know either.”
“True, true…” Elkay’s smile faded. He’d never liked discussing these things and always tried to change the subject. Teekay spooned stew into his mouth as he waited for Elkay to pick a new topic. “Where do you wish to go from here?”
“From this conversation or in general?”
Elkay suddenly fell silent. A waiter appeared, bringing the next course, a much meatier stew with big meatballs and dumplings floating in it. Teekay asked for a couple more bottles of mead, then turned back to Elkay.
“In general…” Elkay finally answered. “Because I no longer have any contacts and I doubt you have many you can safely use without interfering with your former duties. Do you want to remain within Skyan territories or perhaps… try something new?”
“New?” Teekay rolled the word across his tongue, as if it was a wordy meatball. “Like… how new?”
“It is up to you.”
Teekay sighed. “Why is it up to me? It should be up to both of us.”
“I am honourbound to you. You lead, I follow. Whatever you decide you want, I will help you make those choices reality. Because I love you and want you to be happy.”
Elkay’s last sentence caught Teekay by surprise. Being a Rethavok, Elkay’s emotions were often buried under vast amounts of strict behaviour and stern words. But this was… sudden. Different. Was that a tear escaping from his eye?
“Are… are you alright?” Teekay whispered.
“I am. Are you well?”
Teekay shook his head. “This is the third time this year I’ve had the place where I sleep and keep my things burnt down to the ground. It gets to you after a while.”
“Then I suggest we move to Portalia City.”
“Yea…” Teekay paused. “Sorry, what?”
“Portalia City has the fastest fire and rescue service within the Reth-Vrekan Union. It is also one of the more free and open societies with a strong Skyavok community, so you will not be persecuted for your beliefs.”
Teekay wiped the stray tears from his eyes. “You… how long have you been thinking about this?”
“Thought as much… You are wonderful, you know that, right? But this is all… too sudden. I need to think about it and do some research of my own.”
Elkay smiled, nodding in agreement. “Of course, Teekay. Whatever you need…”