The 2nd chapter of this is almost the same with a different and more happy ending. Read both and compare or read this one (the sad and poignant) or the happy-dappy one as chapter 2.
Disclaimer:Artemis Fowl, Butler and Juliet Butler all belong to Eoin Colfer. I wish I owned them but they always run away even if I ask really, really nicely. Viktor belongs to himself. He also owns his truck called 'Angel' and his business and his Russian disco music and the speakers to blare the Russian disco music out of and the half-phrase "You can't jump over yourself".
Author's Note:I think I've achieved what I had personally thought of as impossible previously. I have this one-line humour going on in the middle of a life changing, emotional and angsty moment. blah! That can't be right.
And if somebody who doesn't read disclaimers for some reason decided to read this AN then know that Viktor is a real person. The Viktor situation in here is a very mutilated version of an actual conversation the real Viktor had with my step-mother. He is real and he is great and he does have to send money back to his parents if they are going to go on living. And Russian disco music blaring from huge speakers at 6am is actually quite cool. I thought it was a moving situation when I first heard about it and the only aspects that have been really changed is that Viktor does not have a son called Sven. But there was mention of a baby in the conversation and so I thought I would add that in. The situation came first, then the idea and then the pairing. The pairing is unimportant and for that I won't even tell you in advance what it is.
Twenty-year-old Artemis Fowl gave a small shiver that wouldn't have been noticed even if he was being watched. No light or warmth could make it's way down between the high-rise buildings of any major city and this was the joking reason for the stiff coldness of business people everywhere. It was most definitely the reason why Artemis sat in the car rather than stand around in the windy cold.
His laptop was open and programs were poised to receive his input but instead he was watching the men outside his window. The car was parked in the lee of an absolutely enormous undecorated truck that belonged to a sturdy Russian man who made his trade in the removalist business. Viktor and his Russian friends (who were all as burly as he was) were unpacking the truck of the new office furnishings for a new building technically belonging to Artemis Fowl senior. Butler had left the car to help the men unpack.
Viktor hoisted one end of a huge bookcase while another man took a corner and Butler seize hold of the other. And they made their way into the building and to the service lift, the muscles of their arms bulging. Just as they were passing the car next to where Artemis was sitting a shout in Russian came from a man inside about a desk being stuck between two doorways. The three on the bookcase lowered it to the ground and Victor gave a nod and the other man jogged off to help his mate inside the building.
Butler and Viktor stood together in silence for a moment before Viktor pulled a packet of cheap cigarettes from his pocket and offered one to the man in the immaculate suit beside him.
"Do you have any children, Mister Butler?"
Butler shook his head and looked up at the tiny patch of sky that was visible from between the buildings and sighed. "I never found a woman who could love me back."
Viktor pulled back another puff. "Shame. Any woman who'd give you up must be out of her mind. A son of yours would go well in the world. Smart. Strong. He'd get it all from you."
"I'm not smart Viktor. Master Artemis - now that's someone smart."
"You're smarter than me. I hope that maybe my Sven will grow up to be smart but he'll probably just be strong like me and kind like his mother. But without being smart he'll get nowhere."
"Come now, Viktor. You never know where your son will end up in twenty years. Have some hope."
"But I know. There are some things that won't change. I have my truck and my wife and my son. But I still only drive a truck for big men like Mister Artemis. I have to send my money to my parents back in Russia because otherwise they would die. I can't go anywhere because that's where I am. If I was smart like Mister Artemis I could bring my parents to live with me here because I would have money. But I don't have it and I can't have it because I won't go anywhere because I'm not smart or rich or educated or have a good job. I just drive a truck."
"You are smart, Viktor. Maybe not smart with books and chemistry but smart in the head. You know what's going on. Youare smart and you and your son will be rich and successful people."
"No. It doesn't work like that. You can't jump over yourself. I drive a truck and I'll always drive a truck. I'm never going to be rich and have plenty because I have my place and I won't make it anywhere else. I know where I am in society and no wish will change that place for me or for my family. You can't jump over yourself. "
Butler opened his mouth to say something - that he had already changed his place by coming here; that nothing was definite; that his wisdom made him smarter than someone with a high IQ - but he couldn't think of anything which contained the right words and was appropriate to follow that sentiment. Viktor snubbed out his cigarette and lifted one end of the bookcase as the other two men came back after successfully delivering the desk to the 9th floor. Butler held one of the free corners and just listened half-heartedly as the other two made lurid jokes in Russian, thinking he didn't understand.
Butler looked towards the faint image of his charge behind the highly tinted glass of the bulletproof car windows. Sometimes things can't change.
* * * * *
Artemis sat back in his comfortable armchair and the young woman on his lap wriggled around a bit on his lap to make herself more comfortable. Artemis lazily lifted a hand and ran it through the long hair, which had miraculously changed from straight and blond with a blue streak to curly dark brown since he'd last seen her.
"You look good with curls, Juliet."
She giggled a bit and moved around again. "Thanks."
Artemis brought his other hand up to her head and held her in place above him, running the long hair through his fingers. He drew the head of curls down and laid a small, chaste kiss on the side of her mouth. She caught his lips in her own and deepened it considerably until it wasn't very fit to describe such a kiss in a narrative rated PG. After a while they broke out of the kiss and Artemis just grinned up at her with a contented look upon his face. Juliet felt a small pang in the region of her stomach and sat back so she could look at him properly.
"I wish we could tell Butler."
"Yes. It doesn't seem right to lie to him. I mean... he's my brother."
"I know what you mean. I've spent as many years of my life with him looking over my shoulder as you have. But... well it's easier to keep it a secret. I think he already knows but if we officially told him then he would be obliged to beat me up while also being obliged to keep me from harm which would instantly give him a severe stroke - an effort on behalf of his brain in order to not have to make the decision."
He smirked at Juliet with his mouth and eyes and, on cue, she gave him a small, coy smile.
"Do you really think it would be all that bad if people knew?"
"Probably. My parents don't think that they're bigots but they have 'standards'. Mother may love you like the daughter she was never able to have but she expects me to be traditional and 'marry the right girl from the good family and provide one son to be heir'. It's stupid but that's how the world is."
"But all the secrecy and hidden meetings are getting a bit stupid in my opinion. I mean--"
But Artemis had cut her off. "The secrecy is half the fun. It's so much more exciting to be creeping around in the dark than having to go to country club meetings and act all civilised when we're together. We can be naughty instead..." and he punctuated this with a slow chain of kisses up her neck and a nibble of Juliet's earlobe.
She leant into the touch then snapped back to reality and pushed Artemis back.
"Couldn't we be happier if we weren't scared of people finding out and you weren't so scared of the press making some story about it."
"Hey! I resent that tone. You would be scared of the press too if you'd been on the cover of a tabloid with a picture of you supposedly picking your nose."
"And were you..?"
"NO!" And he started to tickle her as revenge. "Why do you think that we'd be happier as a 'normal' couple? Being normal must be incredibly boring and it's not likely to be happening very soon."
Juliet squirmed out of his reach. "I'm normal and you don't think that I'm boring."
"You are not normal. You're a girl who could knock out any of those trolls in the WWF arena if they were coming at you three at a time and your hands were tied behind your back."
"Thanks, Arty. But..." She leaned backwards in a physical effort to put her life into perspective.
"I'm really just a maid."
"No you're not. You're a Butler!" Said Artemis, grapping her hands and pulling them into his body.
"A Butler who helps your mother pass around little tasteless delicacies at gatherings and is the cook most of the time."
"So? That doesn't mean that you're not something more." He pushed her hair behind her ears and cupped her face in his hands, pressing his fingers onto the freckles that sat on her nose.
"There's a term for the Lord who sleeps with the maid..."
Artemis appeared to think about it for a while before answering. "Actually… I don't think there is - not even a funny, disused one from medieval times. Unless you're referring to 'Father of Bastards', or maybe 'In Big Trouble with his Wife' or even in bygone times 'Rapist' but I don't think any of those apply in this case. It might be 'He Who is in Loooooooove'."
"We're not in love, Artemis."
"Oh, full names. I must be in trouble."
"We're not! And we shouldn't joke about things like that because it cheapens what others might have."
"What we have might become love at some point. And for now we can just have fun on the ride." And he renewed his tickling attack.
She obviously wasn't finished yet and so she preformed some highly classified and dangerous maneuver which left Artemis on the floor half-stunned and Juliet sitting on his stomach holding the hands which had been previously tickling her.
"Do you know how sexy you look when you do something like that? Although I never knew you were into bondage... we could try it sometime?"
"Artemis! Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm trying to be serious. How far is this going to go? What would we do if we did fall in love? What then? Would your parents suddenly become all acceptive and open? Would we--"
"If they were sensible they would do. I hold more assets than either of them."
"Artemis... I wish you'd never figured out how to be witty." she sighed. "We're too far apart. You're a genius, multi-millionaire, company chairman, inventor and... and... Whatever else you've done in your spare time! I'm a maid. I may be a Butler but you're a Fowl. You're so much better than me that it's not that I don't compare; it's that I'm not even on the list of comparees! I can't become anything over my station because that's not what I am!"
Artemis gently shushed her and held her head in his palms. "If I waited for another genius and inventor and millionaire I would be waiting a very long time. For one thing they're all males and I'm not really interested..." He ducked her mock slap and cry of 'I'd hope not!' He had learned to do that very early on because when it landed it was a very hard slap. He flew back to the serious perspective. "And what would life be like if we all fitted together perfectly because we were all the same. How about I just want to be with you? Is that so hard to believe?"
Juliet nodded and the man looking up at her almost laughed at the look of misery on her face - not because it was funny but because it was so tragically wrong.
Artemis turned a full revolution in the tradition of genii everywhere. "Your brother was talking to Viktor the removalist man yesterday morning. You remember him? Huge shoulders, strange Russian disco music blaring out of the truck's speakers?"
"Yes. He was really hot!"
"Juliet!" he growled.
"That was just for your benefit, Arty. Pay back."
"Thanks." he grunted. "And now you've just thrown me off what I was about to say."
"About Butler and Viktor."
"Yes. They were talking and Viktor was telling about how sad he was that his son would never be able to become better than he was. That he wasn't able to jump over himself and become better than society thought he was. Greater than he thought he was. He was saying that he was just a truck driver and could never be anything more. You can't jump over yourself. But he was so wrong. He was saying some of the smartest things I've ever heard. You'd never hear a member of the --ing aristocracy saying anything as deep as that. He'd already done more than was expected of him by getting out of Russia, by making a business here, by having a happy family who aren't perpetually worried. You'll only be pinned down by class and expectations if you let yourself think like that. You can jump over yourself just so long as you know where you're going to land. Or if you have a very strong pair of legs and someone to help catch you."
"That was sweet Arty but it doesn't fix the problem of your parents... or Butler... or tradition. It's all nice words but in reality it's all so much harder."
"Not so hard that it wouldn't be worth it to give it a try." his voice was almost pleading but Juliet brushed this off as his extensive and subtle manipulation.
"But we both know how it would end up. Why make ourselves more vulnerable to loss by becoming attached when there will come a point in time when we have to stop because of status or family or something? And we know that that day will come. There's no point in continuing to dance around as if having fun means that the problem doesn't exist."
"But does it matter so much if we ignore it in favour of our relationship."
"I don't think you understand what it's like to be me. I've got duty and family expectations and a very definite place in the world. I can't go above that because then I'll lose what makes me a Butler - what makes me, me!"
"But what if--"
"If we take this further and longer then you're not the one who'd be missing out when it all collapses. If I discovered what it was like to be with you officially then what would happen to me when you get bored or it all falls down around us. I would be envious and out of place in my own place. I couldn't live properly knowing what I might be missing out on."
She leaned forward and gave him a small kiss before getting up off his stomach where she had been sitting. She grapped the small things that had fallen out of her handbag and put them all back in. She pulled her denim jacket off the back of a seat by the door and opened it. The breeze came in and tickled Artemis who was propped up on his elbow, still on the floor but maintaining his natural grace and posture even in such a position.
"I'm sorry, Artemis."
And she left.
There was silence.
"What about living right now knowing what we're both missing out on? And what about me? What about me, left here all alone knowing what might have been if I hadn't been me and you hadn't been so afraid."