Star hated magic, the universe would be better off without the constant pain and trouble it caused. That was the last thing she’d expressed to Marco, before disappearing into the eyeball of a small blue man that lived inside of her spell book. All of this should have been jarring for him, but honestly Marco was more used to these things than he’d ever come to realize. While it didn’t seem like magic had a lot of rules there were at least some he could follow. She was probably fine, Glossaryck had shown more concern for her over most people. That just left Marco alone in a bar on the edge of reality, with two queens who seemed lost in their own conversation, and a woman he seemed to know neither intimately or just passingly.
Approaching the bar and sitting next to the mistress of dimensions, Marco set his glass down and let out a big sigh.
“Alright Marco, what’s the matter?” Hekapoo asked, sounding almost annoyed.
“You mean aside from the kingdom being taken over in a violent revolution?” Marco replied.
“Yeah, aside from that. That’s not your ‘oh things are bad’ sigh; that’s a ‘I don’t know what to do about my personal life’ sigh. They’re the worst ones.” She put back another drink that was literally on fire, swallowing the burning liquid with a smile. “Ooh, that hits the spot.”
“You know my sighs now?” Marco asked.
“After being around you for almost two decades, I know a lot more than that.” Hekapoo replied. “Don’t get all mushy about that either, two decades isn’t a lot of time to me.”
“Really?” Marco asked with a smile. “Then why did you get annoyed whenever I’d leave early after working together.”
“Well...that’s... because!” Hekapoo stammered. “Look I don’t get to hang out with friends a lot after work that aren't the Magic High Commission. Sometimes I just wanna have some fun and laugh a little, you know?”
“Like the Kill Devil Pass Riders Club?”
“Yeah! Like that! Something that isn’t work or royalty related or family stuff. It bogs a girl down.” Hekapoo said, taking another drink and finishing off her glass. “So, why the sigh, kid?”
“Well I was just thinking about this whole mess and how we all ended up here. Just now while talking about it, Star said that she hated magic.”
“Hm.” Hekapoo replied, not bothered much by the comment. “Why is that a problem for you?”
“Well... I guess it’s not. I don’t really have a say in any of this stuff. If I’m being honest, I’ve kinda just been along for the ride with most of this. Even my scissors are here because you gave them to me.”
“You’re welcome by the way.” Hekapoo said quite proudly of her work.
“Then those got me to thinking about you.” He admitted which caught her off guard. “I mean you’re magic, right? Not just a person that uses it but completely made of magic?”
“That’s right. Sculpted of the finest magic in the universe. Came out pretty good, wouldn’t you say?” Hekapoo winked at Marco, doing a little pose while holding her glass up.
“Heh, yeah... but um, Star also said she was thinking of... getting rid of magic. All of it. Forever.”
“Huh. I guess that would solve some problems, wouldn’t it?” Hekapoo thought for a moment on the subject. “Clean it up real nice.”
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say on the matter?” Marco asked and Hekapoo just shrugged in response. “Hekapoo, you’re made of magic!”
“True. But since we’re literally at the end of the universe I may as well admit that this magic stuff has always felt like it was more trouble than it’s worth.”
“I... uh... jeez, I’m not even sure how to respond to that.” Marco said, leaning on the bar and letting out another sigh as he put the glass on the counter. Hekapoo watched him and rolled her eyes.
“Fiiiiine.” She groaned. “Let’s talk.”
“What?” Marco replied. “But, we’re already talking.”
“No no, I mean ‘talk’ talk. Like adults. You clearly need it.” Hekapoo said, pulling out her scissors and cutting a hole into reality that glowed with an orange light. Before Marco could react he felt her hand grab a hold of his wrist and pulled him in after her. There was only a brief moment of discomfort as he slid through the fabric of one reality into the next, coming out the other side feeling and looking considerably different.
“Whoa... I’ve got my abs back.” Marco said, feeling his currently toned stomach after the transformation he’d made going through the portal. “Wait... if I got my abs then that means...”
“Yep, you’re in my dimension. And my house. So be respectful.” Hekapoo said, flopping onto her couch and spreading her arms out with a sigh of relaxation. Marco sat down as well, taking in the sights of her dwelling. It was... rough. The hollowed out stump of a giant tree with a pit of molten lava bubbling in the center. There were; decorative images of beasts around the room with fountains coming from their mouths, various hunks and chains of metal about along with a series of completed scissors on the walls. He guessed they’d never find an owner now.
Her coach, tables and chairs were all made of stone. Possibly due to the fact she was so well acquainted with fire. Marco stared at the boiling pit of lava in the center of the room. She’d threatened to push him in a few times but thankfully never went through with it (didn’t stop her from burning the back of his head repeatedly). “Hey, look at that. You’re getting a few gray hairs there.” Hekapoo laughed. “Careful old man, get much more on in years and you won’t be cute enough for me to keep inviting you over.”
“Is this... okay? For us to be here while everyone else is... y’know... dealing with the end of Mewni?”
“Sheesh, buzzkill much?” Hekapoo said, standing up and walking over to a wall. “I’m gonna mix us some real drinks. You’ve never had my flaming cocktails but believe me they’ll knock you off your feet.” Banging her fist on a wall a hidden cabinet opened up to reveal several bottles and glasses for mixing. She collected them in her arms and brought them back to the couch with her. “Don’t be such a sour puss, time passes differently here, remember? We’ll be back before they’re even done saying the words they were saying when we left.”
“I guess you’re right. Say, I never thought about this before but, why does time flow differently here?”
“I dunno. Who do I look like, Father Time?” Hekapoo said, starting to mix her drinks together inside of a shaker. Marco didn’t actually recognize any of the bottles she was using. It didn’t help that they were all unlabeled so he had no idea what she was brewing.
“If you are then you look a lot prettier after shaving off the beard.” Marco smirked.
“See, now that’s the attitude I was hoping for.” Hekapoo smiled brightly, pouring the mixed liquid into two separate glasses. “Truth is after I went exploring the dimensions a bit and realized this one ran differently than the rest, I decided to set up shop here. Really helps a girl get all her work done at her own pace without having to schedule it between meetings. Don’t know how you mortals can deal with having only a limited amount of time.”
“Yeah... limited time.” Marco said, feeling his sour mood return as they got back to the subject of things coming to an end. Hekapoo either didn’t notice or chose to ignore him as she added a clear liquid to the top of the drinks.
“You’re in for a special treat you know.” Lifting her hand above her head, she let one finger carry some of her flame from her crown down over the glasses and lit them on fire. “Not everyone gets to have a drink made with my flame.”
“Can’t refuse it then.” Marco said, he and Hekapoo cheered and tinked their glasses together, before blowing out the flames and downing them in one gulp.
“Ahhh, that’s good stuff.”
“Whoo! This is... powerful!” Marco said, coughing a little. “Was that... gasoline?”
“I mean... noooo. But you could use it as fuel in a pinch.” Hekapoo said with a sly grin. “Did you like it?”
“Mmm... uh... ugh... actually... yeah, it tasted good.”
“That’s right, Hekapoo’s drinks are the best! I’ll make another for us.”
“Say, while you do, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, but can’t promise I’ll answer until the drinks help me talk.”
“Oh. Didn’t realize they were for... never mind, doesn’t matter. Are you really okay with... y’know, magic just being gone?”
“Yeah, it’s not that big a deal.” Hekapoo said, mixing away with the shaker.
“But, Hekapoo, you’ll die.” Marco said and she stopped shaking, letting out a sigh similar to his own from the bar before shaking things up again. Marco waited while she continued to pour the liquid into their glasses and added the flammable alcohol at the top. Blowing at the top of her own lightly, it lit up with flame while she handed him his own glass, unlit. “Uh... isn’t there another step involved?”
“Sure... but you’ll have to get it yourself.” She said with a smirk. “If you’re man enough.”
“Oh, I’m man enough alright! I’ll just... um... okay, gonna be careful here.” Marco said, sitting up on the couch and watching the fire above her head.
“If you spill that drink on me I won’t think it’s cute, just to warn you.” Said Hekapoo, Marco raised his left hand to quickly run his fingers through the fire on her crown, and then brought a morsel of that flame onto his glass. She shivered and laughed a little. “Mmm! Nice moves, adventure boy.”
“It’s coming back to me, little by little.” He said, the two cheered once more with their glasses, and drank the alcohol down in one swig. It wasn’t as rough the second time, he could even get a taste of whatever magic was in that flame of hers. Setting his glass on the table Marco exhaled and leaned back on the couch, feeling the warmth in his belly.
“I’m not afraid to die.” Hekapoo finally said.
“I brought you here so we could talk, right? So you wouldn’t have to feel all guilty about... whatever happens next. So I’m letting you know I’m not afraid to die.”
“I... see.” Marco responded. “I’ve never had anyone say something like that to me before. Knowing that they... you know, might actually die. I thought we lost Star once, but then she came back. So maybe if we do get rid of the magic, something might happen where you’ll-”
“I’ll die, Marco.” Hekapoo cut him off. “That’s the long and short of it. No more magic, no more me. Unavoidable. Just the way it is.”
“I’d miss you.” Marco said, not really sure what else to say in this situation. Hekapoo grumbled and pulled her feet up on the couch, hugging the bottom of her dress up against her chest.
“...so that’s what it feels like.” She said looking at the bottom of her glass. “I’ve... said those words before. To a lot of people.” Marco thought about that and realized it must be true. Hekapoo was by all accounts an immortal; with only a few other immortals in her life, nearly everyone else would have passed away. Nearly everyone else would have passed away. An entire parade of queens she’d served under. “I never thought you’d say them to me before I said them to you.”
“To me?” Marco asked in surprise. “Why... would you say that to me?”
“Because you dumb lunk, you’re a mortal. You’re going to die eventually. All mortals do and then... I just keep going on.” Hekapoo said, putting her glass aside on the table. “I just keep going on and trying to do my job but everyone just gets mad at me all the time. So I escape here and have a little fun now and then.”
“Like when you pull in a random guy that doesn’t know what he’s doing with these scissors and trap him in your dimension?” Marco said with a glare at her.
“See, now you’re getting it. Good harmless fun.” Hekapoo agreed happily. “It’s not like Mewni or the Magic High Commission. There I have to be Hekapoo, the mean witch that forces everyone to do their work. Or... I have to do the work myself. Especially the dirty stuff.”
“You mean like that stuff with Eclipsa’s baby?” Marco asked and Hekapoo scowled at him. “I heard about it from Star.”
“Yes... all of that stuff. And the baby I had to bring back to replace her.” Hekapoo grumbled, getting off the couch now to pace around. “It’s not like I wanted to leave a baby at an orphanage. Or take another one from somewhere else! But... you know... so much time passes. I figured after she grew up and they were a few generations along then... no one would even remember.”
“But Eclipsa came back. And she remembered.”
“Yeah... she remembered.” Hekapoo said regretfully. “The embodiment of my past come back to haunt me. Everything I did for the kingdom before then? No one cares. Everything I did after it? No one cares either. Whatever happens in the moment I just gotta put up with because that’s my job, royalty’s punching bag once they decide they’re sick of me.” Hekapoo let out a shout and punched the wall next to her, causing a small crack to appear where her fist struck. Marco finally raised himself from his seat to go over to her.
“Okay, easy now..” Marco put a hand on her shoulder, Hekapoo turning around swiftly with an angry glare.
“You take it easy!” She shouted at him. “You know what, Festiva was a good kid!”
“I... okay, yeah, sure?” Marco agreed, backing up as he had no idea what that statement meant right now.
“She was. Just the sweetest little girl. Called me her Auntie Heka. Tried really hard to be the life of the party everywhere she went. Doing her best to be sure everyone smiled and was happy. The breath of fresh air Mewni needed at that time.” She wasn’t looking at Marco any longer, instead staring into the lava in the middle of the room. “Maybe... I didn’t do the best job as her auntie. I lied to her of course. Her whole life was built on a lie. But that doesn’t mean she was a fake queen or not a real ruler. There’s no reason to look back on her badly.” Hekapoo went quiet for a moment as she deeply considered her own history. “Omnitraxus may have been right, wanting her to make peace with the monsters. Instead I told her there wasn’t any reason to because...
“Because?” Marco asked, standing aside and letting her vent her frustrations.
“I didn’t want what happened before to happen to her.” Hekapoo finally continued. “Solaria died, Eclipsa ran off with Globgor, it was such a mess. The best way to keep her safe was to let her ‘grandmother’s’ soldiers fight on the front lines while she kept things under control at home.” Hekapoo hugged herself and slowly turned to Marco. “I probably could have been there for her more.”
“You can’t blame yourself just because the world didn’t turn out like how you expected it to.”
“No but... after she grew up I still could’ve been there for her. Sure I saw her during the meetings and even for some of the parties afterwards. But eventually I just... stopped going. I knew she wanted me to get to know her kids better but it’s just a reminder. A reminder she was getting older.”
“So because she was going to get older, and eventually die, you didn’t want to get closer to her?” Marco reasoned.
“It’s selfish, I know. After all this time, should I have accepted it or something like that? Made peace with it? But... I was tired of saying goodbyes. Easier to just disappear before the hurt can set in. Being the bad guy is a lot easier than trying to be the good Auntie. Because then you never have to feel bad when someone’s gone.” Hekapoo finished, Marco had never considered any of this from her perspective before. She always came off as so easy going, even flippant with the world around her. Here though, with her cards fully on the table and heart exposed, he could see she was carrying around so much more weight.
“Hekapoo... I’m sorry. I never once even... grasped what you had to deal with. To think about.” Marco sincerely replied, Hekapoo giving a laugh that was mixed with a little sadness.
“You silly kid, you’re not supposed to think about this kind of stuff. Just enjoy your life.”
“But... you’re my friend. I can’t just ignore your pain.”
“You didn’t.” Hekapoo raised her hand, Marco expecting a smack on the back of the head along with a blast of heat. Instead there was a soft hand that caressed the side of his face. “You listened to me. Really listened to me. That’s worth a lot more than you can realize.” Walking past him, she sat on the couch again. “So stop feeling so sad about all of this. Have another drink with me, tell me about the silly nonsense you and that princess get into and lets forget our troubles for a while.”
“I... really want to do that.” Marco said, walking back to her but still standing. “Especially if that’s the thing that makes you happy. I’m just having trouble shaking this feeling of dread.”
“That’s why you need another drink.” Hekapoo said. “Might as well empty these bottles, right? Not gonna use them again after today.”
“So... I feel like I get you a little bit more.” Marco admitted. “In fact I feel really grateful you shared so much with me. While we’re sharing things openly like this, are you truly okay with... being gone?”
“Hold up. Gonna answer that for you in a second.” Hekapoo said, motioning for him to sit down and complaining he was a distraction standing around while she worked. Taking his seat again, he watched Hekapoo go to work: shake, pour, add the last ingredient and lit up her glass aflame. Hekapoo insisted Marco had to light his own again, complete with her shivering in delight as she felt his hand run through her fire. “Mmm! Should have had you do that for me when you were chasing my clones down. Gives me a fun tingle.” Tapping their glasses together again, both drunk down the mixture and began to feel the effects set in further. “Now that! That’s how to feel when you have an adult conversation. So, listen up, say you built a robot.”
“I built a robot.” Marco repeated.
“Good, you’re doing a real good job listening today.” Hekapoo congratulated him. “Now, say it’s uh... I dunno, a hamburger robot. It makes hamburgers, all day, whenever you want one.”
“Okay, I made a hamburger robot.” Marco reasoned.
“Also, you gave it a personality-”
“Who’s?” Marco asked, possibly listening too closely to suss out the spirit of the conversation over the details.
“Uh... doesn’t really matter... King River. It has King River’s personality.”
“Sounds loud.” Marco thought, his belly feeling very warm now from their drinks. Suddenly he laughed. “That... that would make him a burger king!”
“...sure. Anyway! Whenever he’s not making burgers he’s off doing whatever makes him happy. He has other robot friends he hangs out with too. He’s got a whole robot life but his primary purpose will always be to make you burgers.”
“Wow, my robot I built sure turned into a well rounded character.”
“Correct. Then one day, there’s a robot revolution!”
“Oh no! Matrix style or Terminator style!?”
“I honestly didn’t expect you to get that reference and I’m very impressed.” Marco said. “Also, oh no! Terminator apocalypse.”
“Right, but don’t worry! We can save everyone if we just shut down all the robots at once. Including your burger robot.” Hekapoo explained. “There’s one off switch, but it turns off every single robot.”
“No way to save my burger bot?” Marco asked.
“Nope, it’s all or nothing. What do you do?”
“I guess... I’ll have to shut him off. Even though it’s sad.”
“Sure, but you’d sooner kill your burger robot to save the lives of the people around you, right?” Hekapoo insisted.
“I mean, yeah you’re right. I can’t way the life of a robot I made against another person’s. Even if he does go out and do robot things.”
“Okay... so why is it okay to kill all the robots and not all the people?” Hekapoo suddenly asked.
“...w-what?” Marco stammered.
“Didn’t expect me to turn that around, did you?” She said with a wry smile. “Why is it better to kill the robots than the people?”
“I... I guess because... they’re robots.” Marco reasoned. “If you killed a bunch of people, those are living, breathing beings that were born and existed. You said yourself that I’m the one who built the robot. He’s just a machine.”
“Okay, I understand your viewpoint. So what makes a person different from a machine?” Hekapoo asked. “Aside from one being guts and the other is metal, what’s the difference if they can both make burgers and go out with friends?”
“Because... one was programmed to do that and the other does it themselves?” Marco reasoned.
“Oh? But isn’t your memories just a kind of programming?” Hekapoo replied playfully. “I mean there’s genetics and stuff you learn, but all that garbage is just directions that were put into you ahead of time and directions you learn later. So what’s the difference between a robot and a person?”
“This feels like a trap.” Marco said, uncomfortable with where this conversation was headed.
“You’ve hung with me this long, Marco. Don’t wimp out now.” Hekapoo told him, looking him squarely in the eye. “What’s the difference?”
“...one has a soul.” Marco answered. “One has a soul. One is actually a person and the other is... just a machine.”
“Hmm. Maybe.” Hekapoo said, leaning back to relax more on her side of the couch. “Assuming souls are real anyway.”
“Hekapoo... I’ve been to the Underworld. I saw a whole beach that was full of souls.”
“Mewman souls?” Hekapoo asked.
“I... I guess? I didn’t really ask anyone the specifics.”
“Maybe they’re mewman souls... or human souls... or robot souls.” Hekapoo reasoned. “Or none of the above and they’re something else entirely. The whole underworld is a little goofy like that in connection to the rest of the dimensions.”
“Okay so, maybe the souls in the underworld have nothing to do with people. Or everything to do with people... wow, this is messing with my head.” Marco said, holding his face in his hands.
“The alcohol or the questions?” Hekapoo asked curiously, unbothered by most of this.
“Both!” Marco answered, lifting his head up again to look at her. “But... what does all of this have to do with you?”
“Ah! We finally got there.” Hekapoo said cheerfully. “Took a bit of a walk to make it this far but glad you’re the one to take it with me. So here’s the big question: What’s the difference between a spell and a robot?”
“Uhhhhh... one’s made of magic and the other is metal?” Marco answered. “Also... a spell isn’t just a thing it’s also like a beam or a blast.”
“Right, that’s weird too, isn’t it? That those laser blasts Star just shoots around everywhere is the same stuff that makes me into me. I guess you could make a robot gun and that would make some kind of sense, but when you dig a little deeper into it the whole thing raises some questions.”
“Yeah I... I guess it does.” Marco said, staring at Hekapoo’s face.
“What? Do I got a little drool on my chin?” She asked with a laugh.
“I think you have a soul.” Marco answered.
“On my chin?”
“No! I mean... I think you’re a person! I think you have a soul.”
“Really?” Hekapoo asked with a disappointed face. “And why do I have a soul?”
“Because... you’re a person. You love people, you get angry, you laugh at things, you mix drinks. You... you... you get the shivers when people touch your flame.”
“Yeah, I do. It feels funny.” She said with a laugh.
“I can’t just think of you as a robot. As someone I should be fine with saying goodbye to.”
“Alright, gimme.” Hekapoo said, putting her hand up. “C’mon... gimme gimme.” Confused but trying to fulfill her request, Marco raised his hand up and Hekapoo leaned forward to grab a hold of it. Marco slid closer to her so she could hold it more easily in her palms. “I’m made of magic and you’re made of bones and meat and other disgusting bodily fluids and junk.”
“But we can both still touch each other like we’re real. So you can agree on that much about us?” Hekapoo asked and Marco nodded slowly. “But, I wasn’t made the same way you were. I was created for a specific purpose. Given a name and a job and the ability to feel however I want to feel but beyond that... nothing else. I was made for a specific reason. Just like the burger robot.”
“But you’re more than a robot.” Marco pleaded but felt his argument growing weaker.
“Not really. Not in the grand scheme of things from who made me.” Hekapoo explained. “Besides, whether I was born or made doesn’t really matter. If a person dies they go to... whatever they go to. Either in the ground and that’s it for them or to a great beyond. So maybe for me, a girl made of magic, I’ll go somewhere I’m supposed to be too.”
“But... what if you don’t?” Marco asked her, trying to keep his own sadness from surfacing.
“Then I’ll be fine.” She said and gave his cheek a light kiss. “I’ve said many... many goodbyes. Too many. I don’t want another one. I’d rather be the one that leaves than watch someone else leave me. Especially if it’s going to help right some of the wrongs I’ve done before. You understand, right?”
“If I say that I do... and I mean it... I’ll still be sad about it.” Marco said and Hekapoo smiled at that reply.
“Didn’t know I meant that much to you.” Hekapoo said and squeezed out the last of the bottles into the shaker. “Alright... looks like that’s the end of it. One last drink to see us off?”
“Even if I say no, it’s coming anyway isn’t it?” Marco said, wiping his eyes to stop the threat of tears forming.
“That’s just how time goes. Fast or slow, for better or worse, it keeps moving forward. Just have to make sure to say our goodbyes while we can.”