Title: Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Fandom: Artemis Fowl. Alex Rider
Pairing: Alex/ Artemis
Rating: PG-13 at the moment
Warnings: Slash. Slash is male/male relations. Don't like don't read.
Summary: Artemis needs a new bodyguard, and Alex Rider fits the bill. Alex/ Artemis. WIP. Slash.
Butler panted heavily as he leaned against the wall gulping in air. He was too old for this. It was useless to keep on trying to convince himself that he was young and fit enough to protect Artemis as increasingly the young man needed to be protected. He'd just been through a simple workout, his usual twenty mile run followed by a bout in the gym wrestling with the equipment. What would once have winded him not at all, now caused him intense difficulty in breathing, and an irregular heartbeat. It wouldn't have mattered if Artemis as his parents wanted him to do, had given up organized crime, but as the younger scion of the line had not ceased his activities in that area in the least, it was neither wise nor prudent to continue the illusion that he was invincible anymore.
He didn't know how he was going to tell Artemis that however. As the young man grew more and more reclusive, so his paranoia had risen, until the only man he trusted was his bodyguard. His parents were despairing, and had even suggested to Butler that he take a holiday, perhaps prove to Artemis that twenty four hour care was not needed. Both Artemis and Butler had strenuously opposed the idea, Artemis from pure annoyance that his parents had decided their interference was necessary, Butler because he knew of at least one failed assasination attempt. It was not easy to tell two loving parents, that their adored only child was in fact a thieving, criminal mastermind who used any methods to get what he wanted, and put himself in considerable risk of danger to life and limb along the way.
Among Artemis's latest attempts to avoid school, and his cover to travel abroad was his health. With the help of the reluctant Butler, he had forged a number of doctor's reports, that proved conclusively that private tuition would be far more helpful in his state of mind, and his nervous condition. They also claimed travel would help him, settle his thoughts and improve his health.
As he stood though, he knew that the moment could no longer be avoided. Artemis was going to have to have a new bodyguard. Julie flashed to mind first of course. A Butler herself, though not yet blue diamonded, and perfectly capable of taking down any body who meant harm to Artemis. He had to dismiss her reluctantly however. She was far too impulsive, already far too attached to both himself and Artemis and he had a feeling that though she might take the job from duty her heart would not be in it. She was enjoying her new life as an American wrestler far too much.
Wiping the sweat from his forehead, he walked into Artemis's bedroom, where the mastermind currently operated from. Both he and Butler had agreed that the less spread out his personal area was, the less could be infiltrated and bugged. Which meant that one wall was covered in computer screens, showing various news channels and internet sites. His parents foolishly believed he used it as a multimedia centre. Artemis was lying on his bed, reading a tour guide to Japan. With Butler's help he was trying to teach himself the language, deeming it essential for future transactions. He was already well ahead, and now needed only to perfect his atrocious accent. He barely flicked his eyes up as Butler entered. Only Butler entered without knocking, his parents foolishly believing that teenage boys needed privacy, and loath to catch him unawares. He allowed his lips a brief flirtation with the thought of a smile.
Butler sank heavily into a chair, and Artemis allowed himself the smallest of frowns. His bodyguard was looking older than his years these days. A part of his mind shrieked terror at the thought, but it was ruthlessly squashed without ceremony, though it remained a permanent flicker of unease. Butler was the only person Artemis trusted these days, the only person he could be sure had his best interests at heart. He closed his eyes for a second.
"Artemis," Butler's voice was level. "We need to talk." Artemis kept his eyes on his book. If he didn't listen, then perhaps Butler wouldn't say it. He said it. "Artemis you need a new bodyguard."
He couldn't ignore it. Glancing up, he met Butler's eyes. "I don't," he said calmly. "You are my bodyguard."
There was a sigh. "Artemis we need to face it. I'm not good enough any more. Something has happened, something I can't explain. Perhaps I've had a minor stroke which I am unaware of, or something of the sort, but I'm not fast enough or strong enough to protect you anymore. I'm not going to see you die, because I was too foolish to find a replacement."
"You are my bodyguard," Artemis repeated stoically. "I don't need anyone else." Unbeknownest to him, his voice took on a pleading edge. "Butler you are the only person I can trust, the only person who knows who I am, and what I do. I don't care what it takes, we'll find out whats happened, we'll fix it, everything will be fine." He was doing what he so despised in others and babbling. "I mean it. If you quit, then I won't have a bodyguard at all." In his agitation, so seldom felt by his soul, he slipped up. "Domovoi you can't do this to me."
Butler's voice was gentle. "How do you know my name?"
Artemis shrugged uneasily. "I don't know."
Before he could continue his tirade, Butler looked straight at him. "Artemis." The one word was enough to cease all Artemis's protests. "Do you trust me?"
He was gifted with an uncomprehending stare, and Artemis looked bemused. Trust. That elusive emotion, so hard to quanitify, impossible to force and so precious when obtained. He hesitated, and thought things through. His earliest memory was Butler reading him a story at bedtime. Butler had taken a bullet for him, never steered him wrong, was his only bulwark against a world that Artemis still did not fully understand. He nodded a brief jerk of his head. "Yes," he said. Then more firmly, "yes." He could think of no-one else in the world whom he would trust to make a decision for him, and that really was the most definitive quantifier for Artemis.
Butler tilted his head up, and meant Artemis's eyes square on. "Then trust me to pick the right person. I swear Artemis that as long as you need me, I will be here. You have my word on it. I'm not going to quit, I'm merely going to have backup." He stood, fighting an instinctive urge to ruffle Artemis's hair. Like a father would he thought silently, and picked up the laptop from its place on the floor.
If you knew where to look, you could find almost anything on the internet, and Domovi Butler knew where to look. Potential bodyguards didn't generally have livejournals, but Butler had access to most information on those suitable. Artemis pulled up a chair, and they began to sift through the potentials. Most of them were ex Special Forces, or mafia, mostly male, with a scattering of female faces. This wasn't the bodyguard material provided by security companies, this was the elite, the company in which Butler was a feared and respected name. "Any preferences?" he asked Artemis.
The young man shrugged. "I said I trust you," he replied. "You make the decision. If I could suggest though, someone young rather than old. Male, I think as well." He wasn't being sexist, merely considering the facts of the situation.
Butler nodded, face intent. Nearly everybody on the list was in their thirties, a scattering of younger. The youngest was twenty four, but currently off recovering from a neck wound. His eye was caught by an anomaly towards the bottom of the list. "Sixteen years old," he read out. "Name: Alex Rider. Previous Experience: agent for MI5. Status: Unemployed. Disassociated." His eyebrows rocketed up, and Artemis interested came to peer over his shoulder. Butler clicked on the photo, and someone who looked as though he should be playing football at school appeared. Handsome in a quiet, watchful way, built like a dancer- sleek rather than bulky muscle. His eyes were brown and hard.
Artemis wrinkled his brow in thought. "What do you think?"
There was silence for a moment, then Butler replied. "I think we should check him out in person. You get permission from your parents, and I'll find out more about him." Artemis nodded, and stood.
"I think we may be onto something," he said thoughtfully, as he left the room. His father was at work, in the shiny new office he'd built, ineffectually working on rebuilding the family fortune legally. Artemis found it rather sad that he was making more money than his own father. His mother, rejuventated since his father's return was in her greenhouse potting a plant. Deciding she was the easiest to approach, he interrupted her as she snipped at a begonia. "Mother," he said politely. She looked at him and smiled.
"Why so formal Arty dear?" She asked.
'Arty dear' winced at the nickname, but pasted a smile on his face. "I'm going to London. I just wanted to tell you."
His mother was sharper than she looked, and she immediately put down her scissors. "Arty," she began. "What on earth for? You've been to London four times in the last two months, New York twice. What on earth can possibly be so urgent in your life?"
Artemis sighed, and used the strategem he disliked the most. "You know they were for my health Mother." He let himself droop a little, seeing with satisfaction the worry in her eyes. "I have to see Dr Neuberger in London for help with my nervous disorder, and he recommended the man in New York as knowing the most."
Wiping at the earth on her hands she sighed herself. "Is there no-one in Dublin who can help you?" she asked. "I'd worry less, if you didn't travel so much."
Artemis let his eyes droop a little. "The only specialists currently reside in major cities. No-one practices in Dublin. I don't feel so well, and Dr Neuberger did say to consult him regularly." Dr Neuberger was a very handy man to have. He was actually a registered doctor, just in case his parents decided to check up, and had Artemis down as a patient, and in return for an excellent forgery of a Van Gogh provided Artemis with backup doctor reports, and solemn doctor- patient conferences with his parents.
Angeline Fowl eyed her only son doubtfully. "If you say so Artemis," she said quietly, turning back to her plants. Sometimes she didn't know what to say to this self-possessed young man who though always polite and careful with her, rarely showed any sort of human affection, or attachment to anyone but his bodyguard. She sometimes felt that she didn't know him at all, that the person she knew as Arty, was some one entirely different.
A dutiful kiss was planted on her cheek. "Thank you mother. Would you inform father we will be back soon?" Angeline closed her eyes, and nodded. At least Butler was going with him, though what on earth Artemis still needed a bodyguard for she didn't know. They weren't criminals anymore.
Artemis breathed a sigh of relief once out of the greenhouse's humid atmosphere, and met Butler as he hurried down the stairs. Father had decided that a private jet was superfluous now, which meant they had to fly with the public. At least they were in first class. Butler had matter of factedly packed clothes, and put them in the car already. Apart from that, their only luggage was a laptop each. The plane trip was very short, and merely two hours since their resolution to depart, they were in London. Butler had already dispatched an email to Alex Rider, and he had emailed back to inform them, that they could meet this evening.
In the meantime they booked into a hotel, and ate. At four o clock, the hired car arrived, and they were driven to Alex Rider's house. It was in an expensive area, a quietly expensive building that was neither ostentatious, nor the sort of place that Artemis had assumed a bodyguard would live. There was no car outside, and Artemis raised an eyebrow when he saw a young woman with bright red hair walk out of the house and down the lane. Surely she was too old for him. Butler saw the look. "His nominal guardian Jack Starbright."
Artemis shook his head. "The names some people choose," he remarked. Opening his own door, he stood up. "Better now than never." Butler opened his own door, and they advanced up the garden path, perfectly aware they were being observed.
Alex walked to the door that he knew would soon he knocked on. What an odd pair. At first when he'd heard the name Artemis Fowl he'd been tempted to reject the job out of hand. Guarding what sounded like a little girl, wouldn't be his idea of fun at all. The email from the man called Butler had intrigued him however. Apparantly Artemis was male. He'd done his own research on both Artemis Fowl and Butler. There was almost nothing on Artemis Fowl, except a hell of a lot of criminal connections. He was obviously smart though, as there were no direct links, nothing that could possibly incriminate him. There was also the information that apparantly the Fowls were turning legal. There had been a wealth of information on Butler though. Apparantly the man was a legend- his whole family was. Nobody messed with the Butlers and lived to tell the tale. So why on earth would Fowl need another bodyguard? The man approaching looked fit and strong, and fairly young. He hadn't expected the teenager, and it was only gradually sinking in that this was Artemis Fowl himself.
Opening the door he showed them into the front room. Artemis close up was even odder than he first had imagined. He looked about fifteen, dressed in an extremely smart and tailored suit. Alex was no expert on designer labels, but even he could tell it was expensive. The other boy was thin- not in the way Alex was, all muscle and skin, but in a doesn't eat enough way. His face was handsome, his hair was short, black and neatly trimmed, and his eyes were utterly cold and watchful. Nothing got past those eyes. Alex with the quick gift of summing people up that he possessed instantly catalogued him. This boy had never fought in his life, had always had people to fight for him. Some people would have put him in the rich brat category but it was obvious he was highly intelligent, and just as obvious he wasn't balanced by any moral considerations. His eyes were considering, calculating, weighing up Alex.
Butler watched them assess each other well pleased. Alex was perfect for the job. Young enough to be trained, old enough to already know much. He was alert, and Butler could feel that this could be excellent. He broke the silence first. "Nice to meet you Mr Rider."
"Call me Alex," was the reply. It was obvious it was not a gesture of friendship, and Butler smiled well pleased.
"Very well. Alex, you have some unique qualifications for this job I'll admit. But if I can ask a personal question?" A tight nod was his only answer. "Why are you no longer working for MI5?"
Alex gave no sign of being shocked by the question. "I am no longer as useful to them in that capacity, and I declined to continue working there, when my most pressing reason was taken away. I am now sixteen, and I am legally entitled to move away from home. I was placed on the potential bodyguarding list by them as a favour."
Butler nodded. "I've read your personal file," he remarked casually. "It is highly impressive as you know of course. However are you certain that bodyguard is what you wish to do? It is rather different from what you are probably accustomed to." He glanced at Artemis. "Excuse us for a moment." Artemis nodded, and headed into the kitchen. Butler sat forward. "You are the most likely candidate," he said honestly. "Being a bodyguard to a Fowl has a great many rewards. It is highly paid, the work is not overly strenuous and it is usually interesting. However there are also drawbacks. We prefer candidates who will consider and factor into their situation that this is a lifelong occupation. It does not cease after a two year contract or even a five. If you survive to a certain age, you will be pensioned off extremely generously. Naturally most people do not like the idea, which is why previously a Butler has always chosen to make it their life's work, as we have extremely strong ties to the Fowl family. It means you will have to forge a very close bond with Artemis, an activity by no means easy, and daunting to many."
Alex tapped his fingers thoughtfully. "If I may ask you a personal question?" he paused, and when no objection was forthcoming he continued. "If this is all true, then why does Mr Fowl need a new bodyguard
when he has you. You are a legend."
Butler lifted a shoulder. "I am not entirely sure what has happened but in recent months my body has begun to let me down. With all due modesty you are right. I was the best for a long time, and perhaps my body is beginning to catch up with me. Which is why it is essential I find a replacement now, someone willing to continue on my work, who can be trained adequetely."
Looking down at his shortly trimmed fingernails, Alex nodded. "I see," and it was obvious from his tone he did. He looked up. "Accepted. How about a trial period of three months or so? No use rushing headlong into it is there. That is of course if I am acceptable?"
A rare smile was bestowed upon him. "I think Alex that we are going to get along splendidly."
It was Artemis of course who spotted the problem. How on earth were they going to explain to his parents that he had hired a sixteen year old ex-secret agent as another bodyguard? It would be easy enough to introduce Alex as a friend who was going to stay a couple of weeks, but even Artemis's parents would get suspicious if the weeks stretched into months, and the months into years. There seemed to be no easy solution. Artemis refused point blank the idea of a boarding school, even one for rich children. It would mean a serious curtailing of his freedom, and Butler wouldn't be allowed in. That left them with few viable options.
It was Alex who came up with the most outrageous plan, but one which if tweaked a bit, just might work. An exclusive school in London recommended by Dr Neuberger to Artemis's parents for sensitive children. Naturally there was no such school at all, which would leave them free to live elsewhere. Artemis objected. "It can't work," he complained. "I have a lot of resources but even I can't just create a false school. Creating a false doctor was difficult enough, can you imagine a false school? It'd need phonelines and an internet site, and an actual staffed premises in case my parents wanted to visit me."
Alex paced down the room. "Okay then. Dr Neuberger tells your parents that you are on the edge of a breakdown, practically suicidal. He wants you to have a spell as an inpatient, at a very exclusive clinic.
Frightfully expensive of course. You'll have to arrange that you must be be given warnings of all visits, as shocks could push you over the edge."
Artemis stared at him. "It just might work," he mused thoughtfully. "But surely even they would spot the lie. It's too big."
Butler cut in. "Nonsense. The best lies are the biggest, the most outrageous, the ones which no-one could imagine would be audacious enough to be a lie." He watched Artemis assimilate this, and nod. He repressed a smile. Artemis had adapted very well to a third person. He still didn't trust Alex in the least, but that was too much to expect. He hadn't condescended to him once though, which was an excellent sign. The people Artemis didn't condescend to could be counted on one hand. Butler liked Alex immensely. The boy's take no crap manner was interesting, he was highly skilled, and though he was polite to Artemis he treated the other boy as a human being not a genius, a process that amused Butler to watch Artemis try and adapt to. Used to being treated with the utmost wariness- where he had any human contact at all, he had never experienced talking to someone roughly his own age who felt no need to be subservient. Butler remembered with horror the St Bartlebys experience.
Dr Neuberger was most accomodating, and by the time Artemis arrived back in Ireland, he had already booked an appointment with Artemis's parents. Artemis took care to be deadly silent. His skin was pale enough to need no artificial aids, and Butler applied subtle makeup to make dark circles appear under his eyes. The faintest touch of grey on his face made him look emaciated, his lips pinched. He perfected a twitch in his face, and practiced a nervous beating tattoo with his right hand. His mother was visibly shocked. When she saw him, she turned white. Artemis took care to ignore her mostly, and by the time Dr Neuberger arrived, she was practically in a state of nervous prostration herself.
The interview with the doctor helped little. Dr Neuberger had perfected his grave expression over many years, and he was no stranger to explaining to parents that their child wasn't as stable as they looked. Mr and Mrs Fowl were anxiously awaiting him in the opulent sitting room, and he wasted little time on preliminaries. "I have arranged this meeting because I am very worried about your son," he said with no preamble. Angeline Fowl pressed tighter to her husband, clutching his hand, and Dr Neuberger spared a moment's thought for her. "Over the past couple of months I have reached a complete diagnosis, and I am afraid it is not a happy one. Artemis is on the edge of a complete breakdown. He has reached a crisis point in his life, and without expert help I'm not sure if he will make it."
Angeline Fowl's voice trembled. "Why Doctor? Is it our fault?"
Dr Neuberger shook his head bracingly. "Mrs Fowl I can assure you from the bottom of my heart that it is nobodies fault. Artemis is going through a very difficult phase at the moment. I believe that a lot of soul searching has been done on his part, and a lot of things he has ignored are catching up with him. We made a real breakthrough in our last session, and it was this that put the clincher on it for me, and made me ask you for this appointment. Artemis is a very sensitive boy, and I believe a spell as an inpatient under direct supervision is necessary. However Artemis reacted very badly to the idea as you can imagine. He is convinced he needs no help, that he can somehow deal with this on his own. I will need your help if we are to get him the help he so desperately needs."
Mr Fowl spoke, his voice breaking. "Anything Doctor. We are very well off," he said it with no false modesty. "Anything we can do at all."
The good Doctor leaned forward. "In London," he began. "There is an excellent private clinic which deals with these cases. I am a consultant there, and it is very well respected. It is not listed of course, and is by referral only. I have secured Artemis a place there, subject to your wishes of course..." He let the sentence trail off.
Angeline bowed her head. "As my husband said, anything. How long do you anticipate him staying there?"
Dr Neuberger shrugged. "In these cases it is hard to tell. One person I know of was cured in eight weeks, another remained two years. I doubt Artemis will be at either end of the spectrum. I must ask you one thing however if you choose to accept. Any visits you wish to make to him, must be through me and by appointment. Artemis is in a very fragile state, and the clinic prefers to accustom their patients only to certain surroundings which can be disrupted easily by visits as you can imagine." He paused.
Artemis listening to it all through the tiny microphone inside Dr Neuberger's jacket, shook his head in admiration that he rarely expressed for anyone. "I don't think I've ever heard anything so convincing. I'm almost convinced this is real just listening to him."
There was a silence before Butler replied. "Artemis, don't you think this is cruel to your parents? Your mother sounds heartbroken."
Artemis paused before replying. "I love my parents dearly," it sounded as though said by rote. "But I've wanted to get away from them since I was twelve Butler. This is the only way, and better this than hurting them, by telling them I want to leave surely?"
Butler subsided, keeping his thoughts to himself. There was a heartless streak to Artemis, a coldness that remained untouched. Down in the sitting room, Artemis's parents were bidding farewell to Dr Neuberger, thanking him very much for taking so much trouble. Butler gave a meaningful look towards Artemis, and left the room, knowing that soon it would be resolved. He could count on Artemis to put up a good show of resistance at least to the idea, leaving the parents convinced it was all their own idea.
Four days later, Artemis and Butler were on a plane to London.
Hope you enjoyed. Perhaps some slash next chapter between Alex and Artemis. Reviews craved.