Arkay had been unloading boxes for hours. Due to a movement in election dates, everyone was suddenly in a huge hurry to get everything sorted out for the elections next week. Luckily for Arkay, because he was located on Portalia, there were only a handful of polling stations that needed to be scanned, arranged and accounted for. Traditionally, Ksa like Arkay did all of that work, setting up each polling station, but on election day, they would spend sixteen hours on their feet, acting as glorified guards and dissuading anyone who would consider messing with the election process.
Normally, Arkay wouldn’t mind. When he was younger, he enjoyed the two elections he got the chance to work at. But normally, elections would be on the second Sunday of April, not the first. This year, the elections were on April 2nd, which meant Arkay had to get an early night on the 1st, his birthday, to make sure he’d last sixteen hours at work.
“You busy, Arkay?”
The voice made Arkay jump. As it would, what with spending all day mostly on his own in silence.
“Uh, kinda, why?”
Kass peered round the corner. He was holding something behind his back.
“Can we talk?”
Arkay went back to what he was doing, shifting boxes into piles. He needed to make sure that seven boxes of ten thousand voting tabs would be split between five polling stations. There were only five thousand, seven hundred and thirty six eligible Rethans, all with specific polling stations they had to go to, but they always had extra and Arkay never understood why.
Kass on the other hand kept to himself, remaining in the doorway. He was technically a Ksa as well, and he’d be working at the main polling station in Hertany, but it was always the job of normal Ksa like Arkay to arrange everything else beforehand.
“I wanted to talk.”
“Talk about what?” Arkay asked, before realising what Kass probably wanted to talk about. “Is this about my mood swings? I’m taking stuff for that…”
“No…” Kass muttered. “Well, kinda, I guess? I don’t know. I… I overheard Gath and Retvik the other day and I’m worried about you.”
Arkay stopped what he was doing. “Worried about what? And why are you worried now rather than a few weeks ago when I was being a grumpy little bitch?”
“I heard them talking about what you did. When we all passed out. You never told us the whole story, and everyone else just assumed we got hit by the same mysterious thing that hit all those Thanatians lately. You… you gave up your long life so that me, Psiksi and the guys could all live our lives.”
Arkay smiled slightly. “You make it seem worse than it is. Twenty five years, I was promised.”
“Dude, you’re going to die at a predetermined date! Does that not bother you!” Kass was still hiding behind that corner, hiding something behind his back.
“I’m going to die anyway. But I’m going to live these twenty five years like a normal Rethan. I won’t see fifty, but as a Ksa, I probably wasn’t going to anyway… what are you hiding back there?”
Kass blinked, then suddenly remembered. He edged towards Arkay, then held out what he was holding. It was a bunch of yellow and red flowers, wrapped in a purple metallic material.
“Um, they, uh… they’re for you.”
Arkay stood there, completely dumbfounded. “Huh?”
“I saw it on a Cassid show…” Kass tried to explain. “It, uh, looked sincere. A thank you gift. For what you did. The Bayvak said they’d last two or three weeks before dying, but I guess you could use the wrapping for something?”
“Heh, that’s sweet…” Arkay smiled as he took the flowers, then looked for somewhere to put them. “You didn’t have to though…”
“I did. You gave your life for me.”
“I haven’t given my life for you yet. Give me a few years, at least!” Arkay continued to smile.
Kass tried to smile back, but there was clearly something still on his mind. “Arkay, can I ask you a question? A rather personal one?”
The purple Rethan took a deep breath, as if he was expecting some sort of retaliation. “Do you, like, see me as a potential partner? Like, at all?”
Arkay shrugged. “I don’t really know.”
“As in, you don’t know whether we could be partners? Or you don’t know if you like me? Or what?” Kass lowered his voice. He didn’t want to seem angry. “Because sometimes I feel like you really want to be my partner. But whenever I approach you, you seem scared of me. We’ve been having this on and off relationship for what, three years now? It’s silly!”
“I…” Arkay paused. “I kinda am scared of you… Not you… just…”
“You’re scared of relationships.”
“And, well, you know…”
“Well!” Kass clapped his hands, catching Arkay by surprise and making him jump. “We’ve got to fix that!”
“No buts!” Kass grinned. “We’ve got to get you back in shape! After all, you’ve only got twenty five years! No time to waste!”
Arkay rolled his eyes. “Kass, do we have to do this now? I need to get all this shit distributed, then I’ve got to meet with Psiksi and sort out some paperwork, then we’ve got to meet Ksiel and Deeyel at the space port.”
“Alright, fine!” Kass tutted. “But call me when you get the chance. I’m taking you out. Somewhere nice. We’re going to fix you up. Got it?”
“Fine…” Arkay sighed as he went back to work. “I’ll call you when I’m done.”
Kass’s smile came back. He waved goodbye, then left the room, leaving Arkay to get on with his job.