The fire crackled away to itself. Kass watched as little flames drifted away and burnt into nothing. He’d been sitting there for about ten minutes. He wasn’t sure why, but that note he got after work was rather… convincing. The handwriting was identical. The little symbol at the end was the same. It had to be real.
Something fizzled behind Kass. He spun around and realised no one was there. He turned back and standing behind the fire was a familiar face.
“Hi…” the black and yellow being muttered awkwardly.
Kass scanned them up and down.
“You look… not bad, considering you’re dead, Arkay!” Kass smiled back. “What’s with your, uh, gloves, I guess? That black, flowing material looks pretty cool.”
Arkay glanced down at his hands. “They’re not gloves. It’s a fourth-dimensional goo that allows me to do… Veth-y things…” He sat down next to Kass, with a sad look on his face. “It’s part of my body.”
“Huh,” Kass shrugged. “Still cool though. So what the fuck are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in the afterlife or something?”
The Veth huffed and puffed. Kass noticed that he couldn’t really detect Arkay’s presence. He could see and hear Arkay, but there was no lingering scent, no heart beat he could detect and he certainly couldn’t read Arkay’s thoughts.
“Hmph. Kinigi sucks. Looks like a dead wasteland to me. Looks nice to everyone else… As for why I’m here, I… I don’t really know. I think I came to apologise.”
Kass blinked. “Apologise?”
Arkay didn’t reply at first. He’d realised just how stupid that sentence had sounded. He stared at the ground and reached for a stick to throw into the fire.
“I’m an idiot.”
“You’re not an idiot.”
“I kinda am. I came here to apologise for dying instead of going on a date with you… I just hope that you’ll be able to move on and all that…””
“Actually… about that…”
“You’ve already moved on, haven’t you?” Arkay sighed. “I should have guessed, really. I mean, I said we’d get back together and we didn’t even manage one date. Who’s the lucky vok then?”
Kass shifted his weight, then tried to look anywhere but at Arkay. He didn’t want to answer that question. He knew the servant of Death sitting next to him was going to be pissed.
“It’s… uh… Psiksi…”
Arkay rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything.
“It’s fine. Should have guessed really. Not like it hasn’t happened before. Can’t blame you anyway, always considered Psiksi to be an upgraded version of me…” Arkay rolled his eyes again, then stared at the fire for a bit. Kass couldn’t tell if Arkay was angry at him or not. If he was, he probably would have killed him by now. After all, he was a Veth so he could probably do that.
“I probably shouldn’t tell you about…” Kass muttered to himself, but quickly shut up. He knew he was too late though.
“Tell me about what?” Arkay growled. “Don’t tell me Teekay’s dating one of my siblings as well?”
“Huh…” Arkay grunted, then sighed, then fell completely silent, turning away from Kass and the fire. Kass considered putting an arm on Arkay’s shoulder, but decided against it. He didn’t want to make any sudden movements and piss the Veth off further. His best bet was to say something that would make Arkay feel better.
Suddenly, Arkay laughed. It was a desperate, hollow laugh, but a laugh nonetheless. “Guess I should have been quicker, right? Maybe a little bit more forceful. Maybe I should have been… You know what? She was right. This was a bad idea…” Arkay got up and started to walk off. “I’m sorry, Kass.”
Kass leaped to his feet and chased after Arkay. He’d hit a nerve. Arkay wanted to say something and wasn’t doing so. There was something Arkay needed to get off his chest, and this might have been his only chance. He reached for the Veth and grabbed him by the shoulder.
“Arkay, don’t be sorry. You had a shit life. You shouldn’t let it all carry over into your, uh, unlife.”
“It already has, Kass. Not a minute goes by that I don’t think about all my mistakes and failures, all the paths I didn’t take…” Arkay took a deep breath. “… Kinisis is unhappy with me. I have problems with my memory, I have some sort of weird problem inside me and She doesn’t like the lack of control she has over me…”
Again, Arkay paused. But this time, he didn’t breathe at all. Kass had only just noticed, Arkay didn’t need to breathe, he was doing it for… well, for show.
“Something happened. I don’t remember what. But beings… they didn’t die, they got destroyed. Completely. They won’t be reborn like everyone else. They’re gone forever… All five billion of them… I don’t know if it was my fault or not. I have a huge gap in my recent memory. Something happened. So Kinisis needs to fix it. So She’s… She described it as a corrective sleep. After that, I don’t know what happens…”
Kass patted Arkay gently. “I assume that’s why you came to see me. You wanted to say goodbye, for real.”
“Yeah… I guess… But all it’s done is make me feel worse…”Arkay sighed as he removed Kass’s hand from his shoulder. He held his hand briefly, then let go. “Just move on, alright, Kass? Move on. Live a happy life. With Psiksi. Or whatever. Don’t become the eternally hollow monster than I am, alright?”
All Kass could do was nod. “Farewell, Arkay.”
Arkay smiled ever so slightly, then walked away, disappearing in a veil of black flames.