Disclaimer: Artemis Fowl, Angeline Fowl, Domovoi Butler and any other creations of Eoin Colfer's belong to Eoin Colfer. The rest are the property of moi, and I would be very, very appreciative if you didn't scorn them, steal them as your boyfriends, throw rocks at them for being stupid, pour boiling oil over them and set fire to their boots or steal them without permission. If you want to do any of these things tell me, and I'll probably do it for you in the next chapter.
Author's Note There is now ART for this story. The wonderful, highly-gifted Tyranny drew a picture of "bisexual!shoulder-length-haired!sixteen-year-old!Artemis (smirking evilly)" for me, after asking how to make a character look bisexual (the proper answer is to shove in Olivia Bladwin on one side and Domovoi Butler on the other), which is the Artemis that I'm playing with here. This pic can be found at http:www.geocities. com/ringbearer87/ tyranny.htm (remove spaces). This story will also in the next chapter have some connection with Ophelia who is Insane's story 'Concupiscence' found at Brilliant story, brilliant author, brilliant writing so READ IT (remove the various spaces in that url first).
Chapter Two - Emil
New Year's Day, 1979; Wiesbaden, GERMANY
A car was waiting to pick him up when Domovoi Butler's flight from Geneva arrived in Wiesbaden. The driver had looked him up and down, scrutinizing this latest member of the Jäger family staff. He saw a man at least 6'10" in height, probably closer to 6'11", with impossibly broad shoulders and an immaculate suit that he looked supremely comfortable in. His hair was shaven close to his scalp, but not quite bald, and sunglasses protected his eyes from the sunlight glaring off the snow. He had a light acne problem, and if the driver had known him before he would have said that some of his movements were almost nervous. He had one suitcase, and was carrying it with ease even though it had multiple fluorescent orange 'Heavy Load' stickers placed on it by the airline. He was unusual to look at, most definitely, especially considering who the driver had been expecting.
"Herr Butler?" The man - who the driver had been told was only 15, though he barely believed it now, seeing such an adolescent in the flesh - nodded. The driver held out his hand and Butler took it. He had a very firm handshake, one that still gave the impression that it was stilted so as not to cause pain. "Wilhelm Beire, chauffeur to the Jäger family."
"Guten Abend, Herr Beire."
"The car is down the street," he said in German. "Follow me, Butler."
Butler nodded, and followed the chauffeur to a spotless black Mercedes - but it was not black, Butler noted, only an extremely dark shade of green - with tinted windows. Wilhelm opened the boot and Butler placed the heavy case inside without showing the strain. After a moment when Butler stood undecided about whether he should get into the front passenger seat or the back, Wilhelm gestured that he should take the front.
"Herr Beire," Butler spoke after almost five minutes where they had sat in silence, a thick German voice performing a comedy show on a scratchy radio. "Would you be able to tell me something about Lord Jäger?"
"Most people call me Wilhelm. Lord Jäger is an old man who pretends to be young and succeeds far too often, much to the chagrin of Frau Faerber, the housekeeper. His days for warfare and the backstabbing of politics are over, but he hasn't realised this yet. His wife, Lady Jäger, is kindly, though sometimes her age shows in more than the colour of her hair. Their son's son is currently staying at the Hall as well, his name is Emil." Wilhelm paused for a moment, changing lanes so that he could make a turn off towards a small town that Butler didn't catch the name of. "Please, do not speak of the War to Jäger. Nor of East Berlin. He is sometimes ashamed of his country in the face of strangers."
"Everyone is." Then Butler clarified what he had just said, realizing that it could have looked supremely rude. "Everyone is ashamed of their own country in some way."
"Are you ashamed of Switzerland? The neutral country?"
"I came from Switzerland today, but I am Russian. With some other European nationalities mixed in, but mostly Russian."
Wilhelm nodded, taking a fortifying breath before continuing a potentially delicate political conversation with a boy who could probably simultaneously compress his skull in one over-large hand while crushing his balls in another.
"Are you ever ashamed of Russia then, Herr Butler?"
Butler glanced over at the chauffeur, sizing up how much of such a question was pointed. "Sometimes I'm ashamed of Russia. Sometimes, in some ways. And do you share Lord Jäger's shame?"
Wilhelm inclined his head in the affirmative, but barely.
They didn't speak until they turned into a long, graveled drive, parklands on either side and an impressive sandstone house looming at the end. "I'll take you to meet the Jägers, then Frau Faerber will show you to your room."
"Danke schön, Herr Beire."
Lord Dominic Jäger and Lady Inga looked up from their conversation when the chauffeur knocked and opened the door into the parlour. Then continued to look up as Butler sidled into the room like an oversized school boy entering his principal's office, hiding his nervousness under a thick covering of bravado. He was used to this, he had had a principle four times before, but he was afraid of making a mistake somewhere, however unlikely he knew that possibility to be.
Butler bowed deeply. "Butler, a student from Madame Ko's Academy, at your service, Sir and Madam."
Lady Inga recovered from her shock surprisingly well, given the circumstances. She inclined her head in his direction and laboured to get up from her seat; it didn't work on the first try and she fell back down onto the couch. She recovered as if it had never happened at all. "I'm Lady Inga Jäger, and this is my husband, Lord Jäger," she said, indicating the grey-haired man sitting beside her. Her own hair was a distinguished, pure white, shining like the snow outside, the light from the hearth fire reflected in her eyes and turned the brown to yellow, her cheekbones were still distinguished, and you knew that the sagging skin was covering delicate bones. She had probably been a stunning beauty, in her time, and Butler was painfully aware of his youth in the face of the lines stretching out from her eyes.
"Do you have a first name?" Her voice was grandmotherly; she almost reminded Butler of what he had thought his grandmother should have been like when he was younger.
"It is against protocol for me to reveal my name to my principal."
"Ah, yes, of course. Um… Would you like me to give you the grand tour, Herr Butler?"
"Thank you, Ma'am. That would be very useful for me to be able to fulfill my duties."
"Of course, of course. Well then, come with me, Butler."
30th of June, St Bartleby's School for Young Gentlemen
The boys - young adults, surveys would call them, but Artemis knew that most barely had the maturity of dried-out play-doh - were leaving the school in drones. The younger ones were excited about holidays - back with their maids and housekeepers - but hid this under the obliged snobbiness that they knew was the only state of existence that should be operating out of their pretty heads. The elder ones, including those who would be going into Sixth Year in September with Artemis - though Artemis would not be returning to the school - were slightly more composed, but not exactly the aristocratic material they were meant to be. The Sixth Years who had just graduated - no thanks to the education system - had left the school on Tuesday of last week, and that had been an emotional thing for them, supposedly. Artemis honestly couldn't see why.
Dana was making his way over to meet Artemis, something he would not usually do when they were in the presence of so many people. He looked irritable. Artemis grinned, because he knew that it would annoy the other boy, and then turned and moved further away from the crowds, down one of the garden paths.
Dana caught up once Artemis stopped, and stood in silence for a moment in front of Artemis before speaking - wary still, but this 'relationship' with Artemis was doing wonders for his self-determination. "I don't suppose you'd like to do something sappy like try to meet up sometime during the holidays."
Artemis gave him a Look.
"Yeah, that's what I'd thought. I knew that you were expecting me to ask though, and no one lets down the almighty Artemis Fowl the Second. Who would I be to defy tradition and not attempt to do that which I already know will be refused?"
"Probably far more confident; less reliant as well." Artemis gave a smirk, his usual - a slight upturn to the right corner of his mouth, a glint in his dark eyes and sheer potentiality in his eyebrows as they threatened to rise in mockery. Then Artemis moved forward a step and kissed Dana, a hand on his neck, holding the other boy in place. Dana stiffened with the fear of being seen by some of the many people who were moving around the grounds today, and Dana and Artemis were still not far from the main drive where the epicenter of the activity lay. Artemis broke the kiss and leaned back, licking his lips rather suggestively, but perhaps only contentedly.
"You still worry far too much, MacCaugry. No one really cares what anyone else does, and if they did, do you really think that anyone would believe it? Some goggling First Year pupil would be dismissed as wanting to cause a stir around two of the Seniors if he were to say anything."
"And someone from our own year?"
"It would be brushed off as well. The student would obviously be jealous and frustrated about that insanely annoying Artemis Fowl - who gets everything he wants and knows all the answers, the imperious, arrogant genius - so wanting to cause him some trouble just before the holidays so that said genius's father would find out and hopefully do some nasty things to his son and heir over the break."
"Principal Roach?" (Principal Rupert Guiney had retired at the Fowls' insistence and instigation in 2005.)
"His wife works for my father; he wouldn't say anything to displease Artemis Fowl the First - and not only because of what happened to Veronica Guerin's contemporary in December last year." Artemis smirked again. "No situation exists that can't be argued out of, Dana. Once you realize that things will be far better off for you."
"Believe it or not, Fowl, I don't really aspire to be an uncaring bastard as much as you do. Nor as egotistical. Surely that strategy of yours - arguing logic against truth - must cause more problems in the long run so that the short-term positives are outweighed by the negatives."
"You're starting to sound like an accountant, Dana." Artemis pointed out, then, as an afterthought, "it's not attractive."
"It's from the contact with you. Your vocabulary must be rubbing off on me." Dana caught his tongue before he continued, wondering if what he had been about to say was too dangerous in this moment of not-quite conflict, which was rather rare for them. Drawing attention to the fact that Artemis treated everything and everyone as facts and figures and quantifiable entities was probably not a sensible thing to do. And, of course, there was barely any point in doing so, because Artemis really did already know all about his own mind. It was obvious Artemis knew he had been about to say something more, so he did: "You must be glad that your time is so well spent, that I'm gaining something more substantial than snogs from your presence."
"Excruciatingly glad, I'm sure." Artemis smiled slightly, something which definitely had the power to shock Dana, and did, because it seemed as though there was no deeper motivation behind it rather than simply the expression of mirth. But Dana had become jaded over the months he had known Artemis, and he didn't believe it. "You know, Dana, maybe we would be able to meet up sometime over the summer. I've got some business in Glasgow I have to attend to in the next month or so, I'm sure I'd be able to make the journey into the Scottish highlands to pay you a visit."
And that shocked Dana so much that Artemis actually laughed at the look on his face, and it wasn't an innocent laugh. Not at all.
"Are you serious, Artemis?"
"Of course I am. Why? Was the invitation not one you wanted me to take up? Never give out courtesy invitations or offers of assistance, because one day someone will take you up on it, probably when you least want them to."
"No, I want to see you sometime."
"Good." And Artemis kissed him again, slowly, a hand messing up his hair, and this time it was quite mutual, Dana even returning the gesture by running his fingers though Artemis's too-long hair that rested on his shoulders.
Dana stiffened and his hand froze. There was someone coming up from behind Dana; someone who wasn't making noise because they were the type who didn't care where their foot fell, but someone who was making noise so that he would be heard and the possibly embarrassing situation would be lessened slightly.
Artemis opened his eyes, broke the kiss, did not move away from Dana at all (his breath could still be felt on the other boy's lips), nor even look away, staring into Dana's eyes as he spoke. "Good afternoon, Butler."
"I trust you are well, Master Artemis." And, after barely a second's pause, distinctly not looking at Dana, he asked: "are you ready to leave?"
"Of course." Artemis broke the eye contact with Dana, moving away and focusing instead on Butler and the act of returning home. Butler took that as a cue and moved towards where Artemis's suitcase was leaning against the granite wall. "My case was brought out by a porter, Butler, but I can carry it. There is no need to trouble yourself with it." Artemis picked up said case, Butler giving a slight nod at his charge's thoughtfulness that had become commonplace over the three years since the emergence of Butler's mysterious chest problems.
Artemis glanced back, "Good bye, MacCaugry."
"See ya, Fowl."
Dana really hated Artemis's games. And he rarely even remotely understood them.
2nd of January, 1979; Jäger Hall
Butler's back was perfectly straight, only a few centimeters from the wall at all points. Lord Jäger was preparing for a political meeting he was having in Wiesbaden in a few hours time, so Butler was waiting outside the room until he was finished.
A maid with her blonde hair pulled back into a high pony-tail moved past him, slowing so she could catch a inquisitive look at him from her peripheral vision, then speeding up to a overly-fast walk when she realized he knew she'd done that.
The next person to come along the hall was attired in a dress-shirt and expensive trousers, probably about eighteen or nineteen but not any older; most likely the Jäger grandson that Beire had mentioned. He stopped in front of Butler and unashamedly looked him up and down, discerning and openly curious.
"Guten tag. I'm Emil Jäger. And you're Butler, the bodyguard."
Butler nodded, once.
"How old are you?" Emil asked. His voice seemed to put the wrong depth on the wrong words, leading to a sing-song accent like that of Northern Ireland, only in German, which didn't seem to quite work at all. "I was told that you were only fifteen," he continued, "but I don't quite believe it."
Butler shook his head. "No, I'm fifteen. Sixteen on the sixth of February."
The grandson looked up at him again; Butler was at least a foot taller than him. "Why are you so young? How can you be a bodyguard when you're only fifteen?"
"This assignment is part of my training. I should complete my training and gain the blue diamond by the time I am twenty-three or so."
"This is your first assignment, then?"
Butler smiled slightly, ironically. "No, it is my fifth. I begun my official training at age ten, and have had a principal for six months of every year since.
Emil whistled in amazement. "Thirteen years of training? What happens if you decide, after all those years, that you don't want to be a bodyguard?"
"I won't." The young heir looked incredulous, his eyebrows rising to eloquently express his skepticism. Butler elaborated. "Those in my family have always been bodyguards and retainers. My ancestors were champions to the ailing English Kings in the 12th Century, and we have been companions to a family for a century before that - some linguists believe that the noun 'butler' was originally in reference to my family."
"Those in my family have always been aristocratic bastards, to use an oxymoron, but that hardly means I'll go through thirteen years of training to achieve the same."
Butler shook his head. "It's more than that. It's more than tradition, or about what's expected from a Butler. I was brought up expecting to start my training at ten years old, anticipating it and going to the dojo with an uncle or my father every afternoon. But that was all I ever wanted. And I know that it was all that was ever expected of me as well, but that doesn't mean that to be a Butler isn't what I actually want to be."
"But it's like being forced into the family business, or becoming a lawyer because your father and your grandfather and your great grandfather were all lawyers; I certainly don't feel the urge to be a lawyer of the political caste, however much my family might want me to be one." The question was in his voice as well as his words - he had a way with words. "Didn't you ever want to be something different? Didn't you ever want to do your own thing in defiance of," Emil lowered his voice dramatically in imitation of Butler, "'the Butler tradition'? I mean… you should have a choice as to who you want to be. Especially in an occupation like bodyguarding - it's dangerous, it requires dangerous acts."
"What else apart from bodyguarding or professional wrestling am I suited for? There aren't really that many occupations that need people six-foot-eleven tall."
"There aren't that many occupations that forbid you to be six-foot-eleven. You could do anything except perhaps take up acting as a midget."
"I enjoy being a bodyguard." Butler felt he had to defend his chosen profession and the tradition of 32 generations of Butlers, even though he knew he didn't need to justify his decisions to everyone who questioned it.
"Why? Because you get to stand outside my Grandfather's door for an hour of a morning?"
Butler smiled slightly, "it's thinking time." A slightly bigger smile. "A lot of it."
Emil smiled at him as well. "I guess I'm not the best sort to be lecturing someone on being sure about their future - all I know is what I don't want to do, not what I do want to do. At least you have faith in what you're planning to do. You have plans…"
Emil sighed and ran a hand through his sandy hair. He sank down onto an ornamental couch that gave some shape to the otherwise huge and imposingly bland hallway. Looking up at Butler from a sitting position wasn't any worse than looking up at him while standing. "What are you planning to do, Butler? Become a bodyguard for a US President?"
"Become a bodyguard for a Fowl, if I'm good enough."
"A Fowl? A chicken?"
It was a bad joke, but Butler still smiled anyway, almost laughing. He didn't hear enough jokes, bad or good, in his line of work. "There's a family in Ireland named the Fowls. Our family and theirs are linked, and have been since the Crusades. When a Fowl is born they are bonded for life with a Butler; it's a special relationship they end up having, the Fowl growing up with a Butler always by his side."
Emil looked at Butler's face - his eyes were shining when he thought of it, his dream was mapped onto his young face for anyone to see. "What if the kid's a brat?"
Butler smiled again, still thinking of the honour of having a Fowl as a principle. "Then it's up to the Butler to train him to not be a brat. A Butler has a huge amount of influence over their Fowl, of course: they spend more time with their principal than the parents would. I'd have the power of change, then."
Emil rubbed a hand over his cheek. "What happens if one of the pairing dies? What if the Butler died - if you died - would the Fowl get another one?"
"There are a few cases where they have, but that was long ago, and only if the death was when the Fowl was still very young. Another Butler will take up guarding him, most probably - we are the best - but they won't have the same relationship as the original pairing, there won't be the same formalities attached. Originally a Butler took up the position at only age thirteen or fourteen, and was like an older brother. My Uncle took up guarding the current Fowl heir - a man named Artemis - when he was thirty though. Artemis is nineteen now, my Uncle is forty-eight, and he might have to retire soon."
"When this Artemis has children, are you likely to be the one called upon to guard them?"
"If I get my blue diamond, probably. I'm one of the only Butlers of my generation; I've got two cousins, though - one thirteen right now, the other twelve - both in training with Madame Ko as well."
"And that's all you want from life? A job guarding a snotty kid from an aristocratic family?"
Butler's voice was cold, implying that he didn't approve of Emil questioning his choices any further. "Yes."
A pause, where Emil considered leaving, but Butler spoke again. "There are other things I couldn't be other than a midget actor. I couldn't be a fighter pilot for one: I'm too big to fit into the cockpit comfortably. Haven't been able to do that since I was thirteen and had a growth spurt."
"Are you just saying that you were, at thirteen, flying a Thunderjet?"
Butler smirked. "I was flying a F-16 Falcon in Cambodia."
"That can't be legal, anywhere."
The smirk was overtaken by a large, encompassing grin. "It's not. Although, there are a few places where it's not strictly prohibited."
Emil shook his head and smiled. "That's amazing. You must have been everywhere. I used to travel around with my parents a bit, but recently I've just been staying here, wondering what I should do, where I should go to study at University and so put off any decisions about what I should do for a few years longer. You're lucky to have so much determination in what you're doing; at least you aren't staying at your grandparent's place where the only person you can talk to is the bodyguard."
"I used to live with my grandmother, in Leningrad. That was after my mother died, so my father was a little distraught."
Emil looked guilt, "sorry."
"People are always dying, it's simply part of life. When you remember them, that is when they are still alive."
Emil didn't say anything, because once a sorry had been dismissed, what else could you say about the death of a mother?
Something on your mind, even if it shouldn't be asked at all. "Have you ever killed someone? When you were flying that plane did you…?"
"Yes." A breath in and too wise understanding in a young face - the sign of an old soul. "Yes, I have. By accident. I didn't mean to kill him, I just didn't know my own strength."
"Who was it?"
"My Father's second-cousin, Yuri. He was testing me, seeing my strengths and weaknesses. A punch landed on his temple too heavily. It was not my fault, it was his fault for underestimating me and not dodging the blow."
"How old were you?"
"Nine years old."
"I'm sorry for asking all these questions, Butler. I haven't had anyone to talk to other than my Grandmother for a few weeks now."
"I don't mind, Master Jäger."
"That just feels weird. You call me 'Master Jäger' and I look around for my father. I don't need anyone else telling me who I'm not, but should be. I'm Emil. Just Emil. And maybe while I'm at it I should change my name to Shiiké Van Der Werff or something. What's your first name?"
"Sorry, I'm not allowed to tell my name to a charge, and all members of a family are technically my responsibility."
"Ah, okay. Well…" Emil looked down at the Persian rug lying atop polished floorboards, then back up and met Butler's eyes.
"Butler." Emil said, at the same time that Butler said:
Emil grinned slightly and shook his head; Butler only smiled. The door to Lord Jäger's rooms opened, knocking Butler on the back.
"Ah, Butler, you've met my grandson Emil."
"Yes, sir. Are we leaving now?"
Lord Jäger nodded and smiled at his grandson. "Großvater," Emil stood, "could Beire come back and drive me into town. I'm meeting up with a friend, I'll probably stay with him a while. I don't know how long, I'll call."
"Of course, of course. Anything, Enkel."
"I'll see you around, Butler, no doubt." Butler nodded, as unobtrusive as someone could be when he is the size of a small country, admittedly an extremely small country.
Northward-bound on the N2, approaching Navan and Fowl Manor, Co. Meath.
Butler distinctly didn't say anything to Artemis, the theory being that just because he knew what Artemis expected and wanted him to say didn't mean he had to play along with the script. Artemis had kissed that boy when he'd known Butler was coming, he had intended for Butler to witness it. Butler had various thoughts about why he might possibly want that result, but nothing that he would voice with any certainty. Most options related back to, rather unsurprisingly, Artemis Fowl the First. Most of his charge's actions of late had related back to his father.
Artemis realized that Butler wasn't going to ask the desired questions, so he'd just have to adapt. Life is an extremely adaptable phenomenon. "And what had my father been up to of late, Butler? Anything I wouldn't know about?"
So it had been about Mister Fowl, although then there were a million other variables on top of that revelation. "Possibly, but if you don't know it then I can hardly enlighten you, sir."
Artemis pursed his lips, an entirely unconscious expression that never managed to look unplanned when it landed on his face. "Nothing from your contacts about his activities in Britain?"
"Nothing of significance. He knows you're watching him, so he's tried a few misleading tangents on occasion, but nothing ground-breaking."
Artemis nodded, eyes lowering to scan though a file on his iBook. "And Mother?"
"Just as - forgive me for saying this, Artemis - clueless as ever. Juliet had made remarks about your mother's resemblance to an ostrich lately - all feathers and pretty, large eyes, and head buried in the sand."
"We must forgive her for her little lapses in perception, Butler, she's not always well. Incidentally, in a 80-year study of ostriches, none have been seen to bury their head in the sand when danger approached."
"Really, sir? Of course, I understand about your mother." Butler met Artemis's eyes through the rear-view mirror. "I understand." He repeated, unnecessarily. Artemis's gaze was just as intent and piercing as usual, even after a minute and the gaze being broken thrice. Butler's gut turned at the obvious display of power that went everywhere with Artemis, that was painfully visible in those bright blue eyes, the whites clouded with a lack of sleep. He had to ask.
"Master Artemis, that boy at your school…"
"An acquaintance I made towards the end of last school year. Dana MacCaugry. Bright enough in his own right, though he needs a bit of prodding to get anywhere spectacular."
Butler, even though he had years of training against interrogation and in keeping his voice and face neutral, couldn't keep the half-disapproving sarcasm from his voice. "I'm sure your father will be delighted to find that you've been making friends."
Artemis laughed, and the look on his face, the turn upwards of a corner of lip, made Butler nervous - it never led to anything entirely pleasant. "That's what I thought. But, of course, there is no reason to tell my father just yet, Butler."
"Yes, I would advise you to keep this MacCaugry secret from him a little longer."
"I was planning to." Said Artemis, in the voice he used whenever he had detailed plans that stretched 20 moves ahead of his opponent's own. Butler knew he had been planning something for months now, though Artemis had not yet given him details. He pitied any person who gained such focused attention from Artemis Fowl the Second, even if the recipient was Mister Fowl.
He took a left turn, taking a road that looped around the town of Navan and led towards Fowl Manor. He glanced in the rear-view mirror again, seeing Artemis from a corner of his eye and a red Mazda from the other.
Artemis's dark hair brushed his shoulders as he moved his head to look out the window at the moving, mist-covered Irish countryside. It wasn't that he had started to grow his hair in August last year - just after meeting this MacCaugry boy? wondered Butler - he'd simply persistently neglected to cut it since then. It suited Artemis's purposes to have longer-than-conventional hair - it rebelled against school rules, against what his father's society was trying to see him as, and highlighted his supposed genius eccentricity. And, of course, Dana proclaimed that it was wonderful to push his hands through and feel the long silky strands running between his fingers, but Butler didn't know this yet.
Butler remembered what Mrs. Fowl had mentioned more than once - far more often than necessary, in Butler, Juliet and Timmy's opinions - since last she'd visited her son. "Your mother said last night that she would be very appreciative if you cut your hair, Artemis."
Artemis smirked, "I'm sure she would be. And I'd be far more presentable as the obeying son from my father's point of view as well - unlike every other heir in Europe, frankly."
Artemis ran a hand through the offending waves. "I like it, personally. What do you think, Butler?"
Butler looked in the mirror again: the Mazda had taken the last turn off. Artemis met his eyes, and flicked the hair over his shoulder. "I think it looks fine."
"Does it suit me?"
Butler considered his words. "Yes, it frames your face. It looks… attractive, Master Artemis."
"Thank you, Butler." He turned back to the iBook.
"How do you think it'd look with a tattoo?" He asked a few minutes later.
Butler looked into the mirror yet again; Artemis was looking at him with an incredibly serious expression lodged on his face. "That constitutes bodily harm - I'd have to kill the tattoo artist, and that would make things rather messy."
Artemis grinned. "I'll just have to make sure you don't find out about it: I'll have to get it somewhere you'll never see. A dragon, perhaps? A Celtic knot to proclaim my Roman-Anglo invader heritage? A penguin? - I've always had a fondness for penguins."
Butler laughed. "I think a pink teddy bear with 'KISS ME' written across it - on your posterior of course - would be most amusing."
Artemis laughed out loud, something Butler always marveled over on the rare occasions that it occurred. "Should I ask? I'm sorry, think I have to. Did you get drunk as a teen and go out to get that?"
"It wasn't me. A colleague of mine wasn't able to hold his vodka well, as we found out. He also has shocking taste and is probably colourblind - it was a rather vile colour, almost fuchsia." Butler's nose crinkled at the memory, his equivalent of a cringe.
Artemis out-and-out giggled, but only for a moment, so Butler might have been mistaken. A moment later he asked if he should give his hair a small trim, and maybe a few layers, so Butler didn't know what to think. Not really all that unusual, he mused, simply something Butler had gotten used to over the past sixteen years of his life.
5th of Feburary, 1979; Jäger Hall
It was with some surprise that Butler received the news from Frau Faerber that Emil Jäger had returned to the Hall. In the month that Butler had been there Emil had spent only a few days in the house, although he had stayed with some friends in a lodge on the eastern side of the estate for a week or so. The number of times that Butler had been able to talk to him were minimal, but he knew that for Emil to spend time with his grandparents there was something on his mind. The rumours going around the kitchen about Emil were possibly worse than the surprise - Butler tried not to hear them, because he didn't approve of things of that nature being said about anyone, let alone a kid with an identity crisis.
But the most shocking thing was walking into his own bedroom, after not seeing any sign of the Jäger heir all day, to find Emil sitting on the end of the large bed, a decanter of expensive whiskey and a half-filled glass in his hand, its empty twin rolling about on the duvet.
Emil looked up, "'lo, Butler."
"Guten Abend, Emil."
"Hope you don't mind the intrusion. Want a drink?" Emil placed his glass down on the claret duvet, balancing it, before reaching over to catch the other glass. The drink wobbled but Butler caught it before it fell.
Butler took the glass of whiskey mutely, giving Emil back his own, looking around at the mess of his drawers and the fact that his wardrobe door was swinging with the breeze from the window. "Sorry 'bout that, Butler. I was looking for grog, but I couldn't find anything except a stash of medicinal alcohol and a whole lot of weapons, so I had to grap some from the library." Emil grinned, and swallowed a mouthful of whiskey.
Butler took a sip of his own, more out of force of habit than any urge for a brainfluffing buzz: he'd never really enjoyed the experience of being drunk, he didn't like the idea that he might possibly become out of his own control, or lose the barriers he keeps between himself and the world. But Emil needed someone to talk to, and to do that properly Butler had to be at least slightly tipsy.
Emil flopped backwards on the bed for a minute or two, staring up at the moulded ceiling, careful to hold his glass upright. "How can you like the idea of waiting the rest of your life beside dusty old men? I feel stuffy already and I've only been back in this house for a few hours. How is that what you want? How can you know what you want, when what anyone wants is so flexible and changeable and ruled by emotions that aren't logical at all? And only stumble on reason occasionally by chance? Where's the freedom in anything, if everything we ever do and ever want is based upon our emotions and our environment? Where's your freedom in standing in a tailored black suit at the back of the conference room, doing everything the almighty Lord Jäger tells you to?" Emil finished his glass, and his hand wobbled erratically as he poured himself another shot or three.
"Where's your freedom in flitting about the countryside with friends, wasting time like it'll always be there, while not enjoying it really but doing it all anyway?"
"That's the point, no one ever has any freedom! However much it looks like, it's never enough, and it's never real. But won't there always be time?" Emil laughed, his voice slurring even in that.
"There will always be time, but your own time is speeding past. Stop wasting it, Emil. You could be so much more than what you are right now."
"What am I right now?"
"Nothing pretty. A drunken nineteen-year-old, whose only thoughts towards the world is how much you'd like it to fuck itself."
"Ha ha! Truth, Butler! But what could I possibly do to change myself? And the world's already fucking itself."
"No, it's people who are fucking up the world."
"Ha ha. How'd you become so knowledgeable, Butler? You're just a kid."
"I'm not a kid, and neither are you."
"And if other people remembered that, then everything would be a whole lot better for both of us!"
"You have to make them believe that. There's no way your parents will start to treat you like an adult if you aren't going to put in the effort to try to be that way."
"It's not my parents, it's everyone!"
"But what is it that they're seeing you as? You're going out and getting drunk every night listening to Goth bands with your friends. You don't take any responsibility, and you don't do things for yourself, you're too scared to. And me - most people treat me as a bit of a joke, they underestimate me or don't understand, but that doesn't matter, because I know what and who I am, so their false observations and opinions don't make any difference on me. You… you aren't treated with respect, but you don't treat yourself with respect."
"But how can I respect myself if I won't even do anything that I want to do."
"Won't? Or can't? Are you choosing to not do these things, or would it be impossible to do them because of what people would do to you because of them?"
"I don't know, Butler. Both. Neither. I don't fucking care. The world doesn't care, and my family certainly doesn't." Emil's glass was empty once again, a few drops of bronzed liquid lolling about at the bottom of the glass. The decanter got emptier, and Emil's hand shook as he brought the full-again glass to his lips.
"What would you do, Butler? If there were no consequences, a loop of time not attached to reality and you could go back to the way everything was before? If you knew that no one could ever find out."
"I know what I would do." Emil twisted over on the bed, a few drops of whiskey falling to stain the duvet. He twists back and Butler's .45 Smith and Wesson is clutched in a pale, manicured hand.
"I would take this," Emil bounces the revolver in his hand, "and I would put it to my temple like this…" The barrel rests against the side of his head, just beside his right eye. Butler doesn't know what to do; or, rather, he does know a million things he's meant to do, but none of them are right.
"And then what?" Butler asked, his breath in his throat and the knowledge that there's a moonclip of ammunition in that revolver reverberating through his brain.
"I'd go up to my parents and ask them what they'd do to stop me from pulling the trigger."
"And what would they say?" Butler asks.
Emil pulled the gun away slightly, staring at it, ingraining its pattern and purpose into his mind. "Nothing I want to hear."
"And then would you shoot?"
"Them? Probably not. …Myself? I don't know. There's not that much in this world I'll die over. I'm sure you can't say the same."
"Freedom of self and expression is a nice idea, but that isn't the way to go about it, Emil. And it's not worth dying for. Not many things are worth dying for, at least not uselessly."
"But you are meant to give your life up for a charge if they're in danger."
"Maybe. But I've never really been in such a situation, I don't know what I would do."
"Maybe it's not worth dying for, not if your death isn't going to make some impact on the world, but worth losing your name and your inheritance and what you're meant to be?"
Butler said nothing, but Emil was staring at him with such intensity he couldn't keep his silence. "Yes. Yes, being yourself is worth more than the name of Jäger or Butler."
"That's what I'd hoped you'd say, Butler." Emil leant forward, and Butler made to catch him, thinking he'd drunk a few too many glasses of expensive alcohol. Butler started when Emil's lips met his.
A few moments later Emil pulled back and waited for Butler to say something. Butler touched two fingers to his own lips, remembrance of the pressure.
"I thought I was the only one."
Emil laughed. "What an arrogant attitude, Butler, thinking yourself the only gay man in the history of the world. Don't you know about ancient Greece?"
Butler blushed, looking down at the duvet. "I didn't mean that. I meant… you. I didn't think that you… liked me."
Emil leaned forward again to whisper in Butler's ear. "Ditto. I found the magazines in your bottom drawer and thought it was worth a shot."
"Oh." Butler blushed even redder. Emil grinned and brushed his hand over the shaven dome of Butler's head.
"That's what I want to be free to do. I'll ramble on about aristocratic expectations or my father's opinions about my future job, but all the freedom I really want is the freedom to kiss the quite cute bodyguard. Everything else is important, of course, but I could live with being the next in a long line of Jäger lawyers for the rich, powerful and politic - it's hardly uninteresting - but I couldn't live if I was married off to some English chit with a title."
Emil looked down, once again, at the gun Butler had discreetly unloaded while Emil had been talking. "Tell me, Butler, does that give you the power to do whatever you want?"
"Everything comes with rules and guidelines - the more power, the more true that is. No one but Superman can do whatever he wants to - and even then Clark Kent can't."
Emil nodded, and put the gun down again. "Are you going to pretend? Are you ever going to tell people?"
Butler nodded. "I'm not going to pretend to be something I'm not for the rest of my life."
Emil sighed. "What will people say when you tell them?"
"Nothing positive, I can assure you. But I don't need someone else's approval to be gay. It's a bit oxymoronical to need that."
Emil laughed, but only for a moment. He suddenly looked far more sober than he had for the past half hour. "I'll be written out of my inheritance, and my cousins will gain the title and the money. Not that I care much, but the fact that that will happen… And I'm not exaggerating, or at least I don't think I am. I toyed with the idea of finding some accommodating girl and marrying at one point, however revolting it is in retrospect."
"I'll probably go live somewhere else: tell my family and split." Emil fell back onto the bed. Then he pushed himself back up so he could empty the last of the whiskey. "I'm too drunk to talk about this right now." He shut his eyes tight and squeezed the lids together.
Butler lent forward and kissed him, inexpertly and rather messily. Emil opened his eyes - they were wide and a brilliant shade, Peter O'Toole blue. "I want many freedoms, and I know that kissing my principle's grandson shouldn't be high on my list. But, what can I say?"
Emil kissed Butler again, pushing himself up from the bed to maintain the contact. He broke it, and a moment later, his exhalation whispering across Butler's lips: "Who are you?" Emil asked.
Butler opened his eyes. "What do you mean, Emil?"
"I'm Emil. Who are you?"
"One of many, I'm sure. But who are you?"
Butler paused, lazy arousal taking a more definite shape as Emil almost-glared at him. "I don't know who I am, Emil. You've got the answers; you've got everything worked out. You tell me." Butler leaned down for another kiss, surprised by how easy that was once you got started.
Emil shook his head. "You're underage and you don't know what you want or what you are."
"Don't be so presumptuous as to think that is linked to age, Emil."
"I'm not saying it is, Butler. I just want to know who you are. Is this--" Emil waved a hand around noncommittally in the air between them, "-real? Because if you're serious about what you're saying… and what you want to do… then you would be able to give me your first name. You said it yourself: we're both more than our name. You haven't proved that yet."
"Neither have you, Emil."
Emil gave a half smile. "Do you know the meaning of the word 'Jäger', Butler?"
Butler nodded. "A huntsman, a fighter, a chaser."
"And do you know about the Greek goddess, Artemis?"
"Goddess of the hunt." Butler was clearly wondering where this line of questioning was going, waiting for the punch line.
Emil undid the cuff on his shirt and started to roll the sleeve up. And on his upper arm, tattooed in black ink, was Artemis the Hunter. "That's my proof."
Butler burst out laughing. "That's fantastic!" he choked out. The goddess was not exactly portrayed in the way that was usual; in fact, she was closer in appearance to a drag queen than anything else, and the detail on the body art was immaculate.
Emil pushed himself closer to Butler once again, and forced a fierce kiss upon him, which was reciprocated with great enthusiasm. His gaze and voice was at least as powerful as the kiss had been: "What's your name?"
And Butler was suddenly indecisive, his name could be so easily spoken, a few syllables shoved together that gave meaning, but in this instance unlike so many before it would be far more than simply a method of distinguishing between himself and five billion others.
Emil noticed the hesitation and roughly pulled his shirt sleeve down. He stood, slightly unsteady from the whiskey, but not enough to deem him unfit to make his way back to his own room. "I understand, Butler." For the first time Butler noticed just how harsh his last name was on those lips. "When you know who you are tell me."
The door swung open; Emil didn't look back at Butler.
Butler collapsed into a heap of self-decrepitating regret on the duvet.
6th of February, 1979; Jäger Hall
When Emil entered the parlour where his grandparents were sitting, Butler behind Lord Jäger's chair as per usual, the room had just about stopped spinning from the hangover, and there was the remote possibility that one day his head would stop throbbing. It was only noon, the headache was bound to subside in a few hours.
"Emil!" His grandmother stood, beckoning to him to join her. "Frau Faerber said you had arrived back last night, but I didn't manage to see you."
"I didn't want to disturb you, Großmutter, nor interrupt what you were doing."
"You never interrupt us, Emil." Lady Jäger's blue eyes cast about for something to say.
"Did you know it is Butler's birthday today, Emil? He's only sixteen, if you can believe that. I think he only says he's that so he can get childfares on buses."
Emil grinned at Butler, and Butler gave a slight smile back. Emil moved away from his grandmother in order to shake Butler's hand. "Congratulations, Butler. One step closer to legality."
"Thank you, Master Jäger." He leaned closer and whispered in Emil's ear: "My name is Domovoi. Domovoi Lucien Butler."
"Happy Birthday." Emil let go of the large hand and bent down to give his grandfather a kiss on the cheek.
After dinner Butler knocked on Emil's door. He pushed it open; Emil was reading in a chair in the corner of the room. He looked up, and Butler shut the door behind him with the back of a hand.
"Are you still more important than your name, Emil?"
"Are you?" Emil returned, as he pushed himself up from the chair and left the book lying open on the arm.
"I've already answered that."
"I am if you are… Domovoi."
"Where will you go?"
"America probably. Everyone always ends up in America."
"Will you have to go? Couldn't you try to make things up here?"
"I wouldn't want to try. I can't live here, not like this: I'm not free to be me here. I don't need this world, not at the expense of everything else. And I always preferred the name Shiiké anyway - after the Buddhist warrior, you know. Well, I think that's where it's from; I met a man once who'd changed his name to Shiiké so he could be himself, and his mother still had to call him Marcus." They had both walked towards the other, until now they were standing in the middle of the room, comfortably invading each other's personal space.
"Shiiké doesn't suit you, Emil." Butler - Domovoi - reached out a hand and stoked it down the side of Emil's face until it rested it on his shoulder,
"Oh well, maybe I have to work on that."
"You're sure?" Butler asked hesitantly as his huge hand curled around the back of Emil's neck and pulled him closer.
"Are you?" Emil replied.
"Yes." Butler breathed, the whisper tickling the side of the almost-Ex-Jäger's face.
"Good." Two hands locked around the back of Butler's neck and pulled him down into a possessive kiss.
Butler woke at four am the next morning to the sound of Emil humming some boppy, uncharacteristic song under his breath as he shoved some meager belongings into a soft suitcase.
"You're leaving tonight." He didn't ask but stated, blinking in the soft light of a lamp at the other side of the room.
"I know a place I can stay for a few nights, until I can get a flight to San Francisco or something. I wrote a letter to my parents," he said, holding up a piece of thin stationary, "want to listen to it?"
He cleared his throat and made to read. "'After thoroughly debauching the underage, male bodyguard I decided that I like doing naughty things to little boys and have decided to go to America, where I shall live a life of promiscuity as a drag queen until I die of a drug overdose at age twenty-three. I'm sorry, the life of chastity, heterosexuality and monogamy are not for me. I'm sure you understand. Love, Emil (sorry, not Emil, I've changed my name to Shiiké the Superb)'."
Butler laughed. "I'm sure they'll appreciate that."
"I'm not that verbose, all I could say was 'I'm leaving, sorry. I'll keep in touch. Love, Emil.' And that took me a good ten minutes to write. I barely managed it at that." He dropped the sheet on a table and rubbed an unfallen tear from his eye. "So, what are you going to do?"
"Get out of your room before some member of the staff finds me, as first thing." Emil grinned. "Then I'll finish my time here with your grandfather, even if he's an old stodgier, and I'll go back to Madame Ko. I want to finish my training and get a Blue Diamond - I wouldn't fit into an ordinary school or anything. My Family won't like me much, but I can certainly earn their respect."
Emil nodded. "I'll write to you, Domovoi."
Butler rolled out of the bed and pulled a piece of paper from a pad and a found a pen. He scribbled down an address in Switzerland. "This is where I stay with Madame Ko. Address it to Domovoi or either of my cousins might get it."
Emil pulled closed the suitcase, zipped it up, then clipped the straps together. Butler pulled on his pants and shirt, and took the suitcase himself. Emil held open the door to let him through, then ran back to get a diary of some sort from the desk drawer, holding it tight against his chest.
They didn't speak going through the halls, or when they stopped at the breakfast room to drop the note where it could be seen on the table.
Butler put the suitcase onto the passenger seat of Emil's car and shut the door quietly. "Goodbye, Emil."
Emil leaned over and kissed him softly. "Goodbye, Domovoi."
Butler nodded, then moved out of the way so Emil wouldn't hit him on the way out.
Butler didn't say anything as he stood, silent as always and as should be, behind Lord Jäger's chair the next morning as the Jägers read the simple note.
Neither Emil nor Butler ever regreted their decisions, even though circumstances deteriorated over the next few years. They kept in contact till Emil's death in 1991.