Author's Note: Something which I wrote towards the end of last year, maybe late October or something. I posted it on my livejournal and on my site (*slaps self* fix and update site, Yeti!), but not here. I wanted to post something and hadn't quite finished my Holly/Root so... here you have!
Warning: Artemis/Butler. ie. Slash. ie. boy-boy business.
Timmy gave a courtesy knock to Artemis's part-open door.
"Ah, Artemis, son." As if Artemis Fowl the first could not really believe that this boy - man, aged 16 - was really anything more than a vague acquaintance of his. But Artemis knew better, he knew that the tone of voice, the displaced, forgetting, half-worried air that his father was producing was finely tuned, as everything else about Timmy was, and always had been. If Timmy felt (looked like he felt...) lost when looking upon his son, then perhaps the son would worry about just how much of the father's worry was justified.
Artemis almost felt like sneering, but that would ruin the game they were playing, and scrapping the rules this early on would prove him the lesser of the two. He would strategize, because that was what was both expected and not expected from him.
"Yes, Father?" Not holding awe, because he was too mature for that, but respectful, as any good son should be. And Timmy expected Artemis to respect him for more than the usual; he expected respect for his underground deals, his double nature, his almost sociopathic qualities that he had fine tuned over the years to be so hidden that Timmy barely knew they were there anymore. But Timmy knew, somewhere, buried under layers of success and ego, that his son held no respect for him. It worried him slightly.
"May I disturb you, son? I could always wait if you're busy with a project." Calculated, polite, reciprocal respect - respect that Artemis knew to be almost jealousy, part glee when Artemis's intelligence benefited Timmy in some way. Also aiming to give Artemis a false sense of security, trivializing the issue so that Artemis would be less likely to suspect anything, and wouldn't be able to understand or examine the true importance until it was explicitly said. The lightness gave Artemis more of a clue than anything else, even Timmy's readable body language.
Artemis closed his laptop and pushed it away from his body, demoting his own intelligence, for the moment at least. "Nothing important. What is it you wish to talk about?"
"Oh, this and that, this and that. Father-son things." Timmy hadn't wanted to start the conversation with an answer; he wanted to be posing the questions, because questions give you more power than having to be in the position to provide viable answers.
Artemis, if he was a more common, less controlled person, would have grinned. Instead he posed another question: "What type of things? The birds and the bees? Because, I assure you, you're a few years too late."
The birds and the bees causes angst for any parent almost as much as the prospect annoys the child. In this relationship, it was just another single barb, aimed to sting, but not leave a visible mark. The artillery would come later, if it was so needed.
"I wish to talk to you about Butler."
"A fine, honourable employee, Father. A very useful and talented man." Artemis gazed up at his father, still standing only just inside the doorway. Artemis was at the advantage – he was comfortable, in more way than one, and knew it.
"Yes, I'm well aware of just how useful you find him."
"He's saved my life on more than one occasion; his presence had immeasurable worth. He has also provided me with a spectacular education in those things that matter most – morality, self-defence, the appreciation of silences…"
"He will be removed from my house and employ as of September 1st. He no longer has worth as a bodyguard, since his recent chest problems."
Artemis did not let his expression change from the innocent, accepting boy, hearing the wisdom of his father and lapping it up as truths. "That is not the real reason. If it was, he would have been dismissed three years ago. How are members of a family meant to trust each other if truths are not told?"
"I could ask the same of yourself, Artemis."
"Who says I wish to be trusted? Trusted by you at least. That would be entirely detrimental to everything I stand for and work towards. You know I do not trust you – for who would do such a silly thing as that - so a one-sided trust would give me an entirely unfair advantage."
"Trust is the basis of any good relationship."
"No. Excitement, passion, conflict is the basis of any interesting (ie. worthwhile) relationship." And Artemis allowed himself the luxury of a grin, a smirk that spoke of power. "Domovoi and I, we have a great deal of passion."
"Yes, I am aware of that."
"Aware since March."
"You are very observant, aren't you, son?"
"I learnt from necessity; of having to stay seven steps ahead - and pretend to be behind, of course - of the one who thought himself best." Artemis found satisfaction in the manipulation of clichés.
"So, after 5 months, you decide to do something about a relationship that was occurring under your own roof that was illegal? Just when it would become legal. It's very interesting to dismiss Domovoi on my seventeenth birthday. A lesson in submission, Father? Perplexing tactics. You could be charged with neglect, you know, Father."
"I thought it had gone on long enough."
"Five months? Father, I've been fucking him – and have been fucked by him - for a year and a half. Although, of course, a poor, severely impressionable 15-year-old boy was jumped by his 6'11" ex-bodyguard - and the boy's father didn't even notice. It does not sound like a very good case on your part. Less on Domovoi's part, so that is a stalemate situation, isn't it? But, from a purely personal point of view, he's barely slept in his own bed for that time. Juliet realized within three weeks, if only because she changes the sheets and knows her brother very well. Mother is not wholly ignorant. You are severely lacking the observation skills that you pride yourself so highly upon, Father."
"I'm not lacking in anything." And in that moment, Timmy was fully aware that he had lost, that he'd been loosing for years, but Artemis had simply been allowing him the luxury of ignorance. And he wasn't only aware, he had made the one slip of a tongue that hadn't yet thought of a reasonable response – his Achilles' heel, his downfall. It was almost refreshing. Almost.
"No, of course not, Father. A Fowl is never lacking, nor is a Fowl ever wrong, nor even late. Is this part of your grand strategy? Well, tell me your plans. Perhaps together we will be able to improve upon them until they are at least passable to an untrained eye. How are you planning to keep face once the aristocrats know your family's deep, dark secret? One which is simply horrible for matters of succession and repeated inbreeding."
"I'm sure you know the true reason why I have placed Butler's – Or do you wish me to call him 'Domovoi' as well? – dismissal upon your birthday."
"Of course. It is a) humiliation for myself, proving your power. But, more importantly, b) right now I would not dare to risk my own position by doing something stupid, openly giving Domovoi a nice snog in the middle of O'Connell Square, or something more in a facility along Temple Bar, for example – it would raise far too many legalities. But, after my birthday, I would have no qualms about ruining your position – based more upon family names, distant incest that links aristocratic family to aristocratic family – by doing something such as that." Artemis grinned. "Your fears are written upon your face in soft lines and the evidence of frowns that shall never disappear."
He stood, pushing himself from his chair and moving towards his father. He was the taller of the two, not fully mature, but an intimidating presence none-the-less. He brushed a light finger over the lines he'd mentioned. "You should be more careful about stresses, Father. It's been proven that stress can have a hand in causing heart problems and the ilk. We wouldn't want that now, would we, Father?"
"No, of course not. Although, we wouldn't want a 'poor, impressionable youth' getting into things far above his head. Confusion could lead to complications further along the line, when help from someone experienced and knowledgeable is of far greater worth than fashionable thoughts."
"I know how to swim very well, Father, there's no need to worry about me."
"Yes, you have great ego on matters such as this, don't you, son?"
"Of course. Do you have any other points to make, Father, or is this simply dilly-dallying?"
"It's not real, Artemis. It's not 'true love' or any other such nonsense. There's no such thing as a love that will never fade, that will never go through rough patches or turn upon it's head when the passion no longer exists as it was once illusioned to."
Artemis leaned closer, lips upon his father's ear. "Who's to say it's not?" he whispered. "But then again, who's to say that we're aren't both fully aware of hormones and fucking, the importance of both without bringing in devotion, trust, faith – which we have. Maybe I just like a good blowjob as much as the next man? Maybe I just like fingers and skin and teeth upon flesh as much as anyone else? Maybe not, Father. Perhaps I'll embarrass you further by campaigning for gay marriages beside the huge, instantly recognizable, physical presence of my lover? I'm sure I'd enjoy that immensely." He pulled back, grinning.
"Most things are about hormones, about personal satisfaction and pleasure, in everything in life. I know that. You do, you insist, but you've lost the ability to make sure that everything falls your way, Timmy old boy." Artemis was smirking, mocking his father and his father's imminent, foreseen failures.
"Well, nothing lasts, Artemis, nothing lasts."
"I knew that before you did." Artemis paused, leaning back on his heels once more, scrutinizing and analyzing his father. "Domovoi will not be leaving."
And that was Timmy's dismissal, the moment when he was to recognize change, because everything always has to change. But Artemis couldn't resist:
"Domovoi provides much better lessons in submission, Father. And I take them so readily from him."
Timmy shuddered, but he was beaten, so there was nothing he could do.
"You may leave now, Father." Then Artemis looked back to his laptop, not even bothering to consider his father's presence for a moment longer.
"As you wish, son."
After a few minutes of fruitless typing, as his mind wondered too far to produce anything worthwhile, Artemis stood and left as well. He met his lover in the other's room, and proceeded to acknowledge all that hormones do.