Contrary to movie funerals, it was not raining. In fact, it was a bright sunny day with sparse clouds.
But can a churchyard ever be sunny? With mourners decked out in black and the only smiles around sad ones, a stormcloud seemed to hang over the churchyard itself.
Eileen looked inside the redwood coffin, resting on a marble slab with its lid hanging open. Even in death, Jaxton wore the defiant, hard expression that was his trademark, as if challenging Death himself. He had challenged death many times in his youth, and to be honest, Eileen had been surprised when at the end of it all, two decades ago, he’d come out alive.
She’d last seen Jax ten years ago when he’d contacted his long-lost team and invited them for his thirtieth birthday party. He’d been so happy then –he’d grown a beard and married a woman, sure, but apart from that he’d still been good ol’ Jax, ready with a sharp reply to everything.
Now, he was getting the funeral he’d always wanted –complete with an outdoor service and a gigantic black rose laid upon his lifeless body.
Of course, he wasn’t without his flaws. As they say, in death –her musings were interrupted by a hand on her shoulder.
She turned around.
Both of them stood still just like that for a few moments –dumbfounded, with their eyes wide, two statues facing each other, locked in mutual shock.
“I thought we’d killed you,” Eileen finally spoke. “How—”
Finneas clicked his tongue, now back in form. “You ‘good guys’ really think we ‘villains’ are stupid, don’t you?” he said with an overdose of air quotes, like he’d always done. “The Zeldarium had merely weakened me.”
Eileen’s hand went automatically to her back, where a spear no longer hung.
Finneas waved his hand. “All done and forgotten. And besides, who has the youthful energy of their twenties now?” He chuckled in a non-villainous way.
“So are you…”
“As powerful as I once was? No. But I could still strangle you with my bare hands if I wanted.” He mock-growled and clawed his hands.
Eileen took the liberty to laugh, but decided to be cautious, just in case.
“Walk with me, Eileen.”
“I assume you’re here because Jax helped you as well, after all,” she said when the silence began to get awkward.
Finneas nodded. “He was fickle, but clever.”
“Do you think too, Finneas,” she said after another moment, “that all of that school-friends-turn-rivals fuss that happened all those years ago was utter nonsense? Letting our lives be dictated by all those prophecies which came out the mouth of a probably drunk and high old man in a cave?”
Finneas laughed. “I guess you’re right. You know, I think we should’ve waited twenty more years to fulfil that prophecy. Then we’d not have been going through a mid-life crisis right now.”
Eileen smiled. “Life’s devoid of all thrill now.”
“Exactly.” Finneas stopped all of a sudden. “That’s a beautiful tree.”
It was a bare tree, its branches sticking out in all directions like slender fingers.
Eileen stopped too. “You know, I always wanted to be a painter.”
“Seems strange now. Spear-wielding Eileen, a painter peacefully painting a tree on her canvas.”
“A canvas that’s not red.”
“Or rotting-flesh grey.”
“We’re disgusting people, aren’t we?”
“Of the highest degree.”
They walked a little further towards the beverages table and picked up a glass each.
Finneas sighed. “You know, now that I think about it, that whole trying-to-avenge-my-mother’s-death was a complete load of crap.”
Eileen sipped her Pnevmartini quietly.
“If we’d waited until now, maybe I’d never have been labelled the ‘villain’ at all.” He took a sip of his berryade. “Oh well. You can’t change the past.”
“And we had fun,” Eileen added.
“That we did.” He nodded. “No regrets.”
She raised her glass too. “No regrets.”