Death Do Us Part

A human and a drow reclined by a camp fire. It was the lone beacon in the dark forest. Innocent people would not keep a fire lit all the way through the night in such a dangerous locale. These two did not happen to be innocent people, and therefore felt quite safe.

"In some strange parallel world, we would live together and have children," Artemis said.

Jarlaxle laughed. "What an idea!" He threw another twig in the fire. After a moment of silence, the mercenary glanced at the assassin. "What makes this world so different from that world?"

Artemis' mouth twisted in irritation. "It was just a comment."

"A comment that came from where?" Jarlaxle asked.

"Nowhere," Artemis said. "Nothing."

"Nothing comes from something," Jarlaxle said helpfully.

"Something came from nothing," Artemis corrected.

Jarlaxle's brow furrowed. "Something…came from nothing?"

"I was speaking theologically," Artemis snapped.

"You hate theology."

"There is a point where theology ends and history begins," Artemis said. "You can't ignore something because you don't like it."

Jarlaxle scooted back on his log and stared. "Me? What am I ignoring?"

"Everything," Artemis said.

"Every what?" Jarlaxle asked.

Artemis' hands tightened on the edge of his own fallen log. "I'm going to die."

"What?"

Artemis narrowed his eyes. "That is why this universe is different from that one. Because I am going to die."

"You're not dying," Jarlaxle protested. He stood up and gestured with both hands. "You are alive. We are not fighting some foe."

"Every second of every day," Artemis said, "I am dying, and I am going to die soon. You will blink your eye, and I will be gone."

Jarlaxle turned sharply on his heel and crossed his arms. "Stop it. Just stop it."

"I am a human."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am, Jarlaxle."

"No."

Artemis gave him a smile of amusement. "What, then?"

"My friend," Jarlaxle said. He turned and looked at Artemis. His jaw clenched. "You are my friend." He stabbed an accusing finger at the assassin. "And you won't die because I say so. I will not allow you to die, until I am done with you."

"Should that afford me some comfort?" Artemis asked.

"I will never be done with you," Jarlaxle said. "You are my friend."

"You'll die, too, Jarlaxle," Artemis said. He looked into the fire.

"I don't have to," Jarlaxle said. "Why should either of us have to?"

"That's the way it goes," Artemis said. "People live, people die."

"I'm not going to die," Jarlaxle declared, "and neither will you. We will live forever."

Artemis made a mirthless sound. "Don't deceive yourself. You'll be more disappointed when you do die."

"I'm not going to die," Jarlaxle said quietly. He sat back down.

"That's not true, Jarlaxle," Artemis said, just as quietly.