Woah totally well quick update. Yeah so I had this chapter pretty much written out ages ago but was trying to write some bridging thingy. I just realised that all I was basically trying to explain was that Opal totally had the pituitary gland operation again so she's gonna be human sized kthxbye. If you're the sort of person who bothers about that sort of thing (why are you reading this) then that's your explanation, but it would have been a rubbish thing to base a whole chapter on.
"Right, I'm going out. See you later."
Opal didn't look up from her screen. Her fingers played over the keyboard delicately, without her looking down once. "Oh, where are you going?"
Artemis straightened his bow-tie in the mirror, and tutted at the question. "To the ballet. I'm sure I've told you several times."
"Yes, probably. You're going with the blonde girl again?"
"You know what her name is. And yes, I am going with Minerva. And if you're trying to be offended, I gave up asking you to participate in anything remotely cultural after about the eleventh time."
She gave him a withering look. "I can't help it, I'm so absolutely consumed with jealousy that I feel the need to intrude constantly on your personal life."
"Well that's what I would have thought."
"Are you going to give her lots of kissies?"
He rolled his eyes. "Yes, Opal. Jealous?"
"Must we be this aggressive? I'm not quite sure what your problem is. You clearly aren't jealous, and you clearly don't want to go out anywhere. Do you need me to spend more time in the lab?"
She took the offer at face value. "Actually I think I'm fine at the moment. The computer is in the middle of a fairly large calculation, and I can't really do anything until it's done."
"Well then." The doorbell rang, and they heard Butler answer it. It was Minerva. "How do I look?"
She barely glanced at him. "Like a penguin."
"A handsome, dashing penguin?"
She turned and smiled at him. "You look fine. I'm not sure why you're worried. She's absolutely crazy about you."
Artemis opened his mouth to reply, but Minerva had just been brought in by Butler. The young French girl frowned when she saw the pixie, but as Artemis turned to face her he expression transformed into a beautiful smile.
"Bonsoir, Artemis!" She swept over to him, glamorous and graceful in a light green dress. She embraced him gently, planting a kiss on each of his cheeks. Opal rolled her eyes at the inserted French vocabulary. The girl was perfectly capable of speaking fluent English, and Artemis was equally capable of speaking French if she really wanted him to, so why did she think it made her speech more sophisticated to mix her phrases?
Minerva was equally irritated by Opal, though she hid her feelings far more competently. She withdrew from Artemis and beamed at the pixie, who waved back at her absently.
"How are you, Opal?"
"Very busy," she answered gruffly, then felt slightly disappointed in herself for not being able to conceal her emotions better. She felt slightly plain and messy in front of Minerva's delicate elegance; her hair was all over her face and her skin felt slightly filmy from having spent all day at the computer.
Minerva added to her feelings of inadequacy by taking her obvious rudeness in stride, replying with perfect politeness. "Well, don't work too hard. You seem to be single-handedly conducting all of Artemis's research these days."
There was a twinge of jealousy in the teenager's voice as she said this, but nothing remarkable. If there had not been three geniuses in the room then the slight tension in her voice would have passed completely unnoticed. As it was Artemis glanced from one to the other worriedly, unsure whose side to take.
He decided it was best to retreat for now. "We should leave fairly soon, Minerva."
"Yes it'd be a shame if we were late. Well then, shall we go, Master Fowl?" She offered her arm, which he took hurriedly. The two left quickly and, just before they left, Opal heard Minerva's voice tinkling down the corridor.
"Goodbye, Opal. Lovely to see you again!"
"Goodbye, Opal, lovely to see you again," mimicked Opal childishly. She tried to bring her attention back to her work, but found she was too irritated to concentrate. And, as she had said to Artemis, there wasn't a whole lot to do anyway. She frowned, and rose from her chair. She would go and take a bath, she decided, and wait for the calculations to finish. Then she would be relaxed and ready for when she could get back to work. Simple. But somehow an evening spent bent over a screen didn't appeal to her the way it usually would. Her mind kept floating irritatingly back to Artemis, imagining him enjoying himself whilst she was stuck at home. His words came back to her, and she thought petulantly: I may not want to watch anorexic girls perform freakish acts of contortion and balance, but that doesn't mean I don't want to do something other than work sometimes. She felt slightly imprisoned by Artemis; she was dependent on him, relied on him to provide her with interaction with the world outside the manor. Reasonably, she thought, he might make an effort to offer something she might enjoy – it was true that she didn't want to spend all evening in a concert hall or theatre, but he might do something out of his comfort zone for her sake occasionally. Partly she knew her complaints were due to her mood. She felt slightly drained; angry at herself for getting so worked up and yet unable to calm herself down.
* * *
Opal didn't answer Artemis's call, frowning at the problem on the screen. He usually went straight to bed after his 'outings' with Minerva, after which she could practically feel the air of satisfaction emanating from his room as he mused on yet another successful date.
This time however he came down to see her. "Hello. Not asleep yet?"
She ignored the question. "So, how did it go? Did you have sloppy makeouts?"
"Ehh. Sort of." Something about his tone made her look up. He had taken his jacket off and his silk shirt was undone at the top. His hair was plastered down and the shirt was deeply stained with red wine. He had a sheepish half-smile on his face, a mixture of embarrassment and... something else.
She raised an eyebrow. "You look absolutely ridiculous."
"Thank-you, I was aware of that." But his slight smile only increased at the jibe.
She sighed in mock drama. "Go on then. Tell me what happened.
"Not much to tell really. Apparently she's 'not that kind of girl'. Whatever that means."
"Hah. Well, I'm shocked. I could have sworn she was going to forcibly mount you if you didn't make some sort of a move soon."
Artemis screwed up his face distastefully at the vulgarity. "Well, something like that anyway."
"So what went wrong?"
"Oh, I don't know. She was in a foul mood during the interval. For some reason she seemed to be uninterested in the latest research we've been doing into the matter-energy conversion for magical deconstruction. And yes, I know how that sounds, but she's not exactly your regular teenage girl. I tried to kiss her on the balcony but, well. I suppose I should have thought it through."
"Yes, if a girl is already in a bad mood with you it's rarely the best move to make. Any idea what she was mad about?"
He sighed, and slumped into a chair beside her. "No, not really." Opal looked at him sceptically. "Oh, alright. She was jealous of you."
"Oh, not of you as such. I don't think so. Just jealous of your research, jealous of working with me, etc. She just didn't like to hear me talk about you so much."
"Then why did you?"
"I don't know." He sighed. "I just felt that you deserved the credit. I couldn't have even gotten anywear near this far without the time and effort you've sunk into this. I suppose it offended me that she was trying to suggest otherwise. She was very eager to hear about it, just so long as I claimed I'd done it all myself." He shook his head and smiled. "I'm being very rude. How are you doing?"
"Oh, not bad," she answered carelessly. "The calculations have come through; your conversion formulae were slightly off so I corrected them for you. Have a look if you like."
Artemis declined; he was sure she was right. "You are brilliant," he said.
The compliment came as a surprise to her. "Uh, thanks."
"I mean it. I really appreciate this."
"It's just what I was planning to do. You're acting strange."
He rolled back his head. "I don't just mean this one thing; I mean all of it. I really appreciate it."
She frowned. "I'm not doing this because you want me to you know. I'm working with you because we're working towards the same goal. I'm not working for you."
He ignored her overly defensive reaction, looking at her face. "Are you okay? Your eyes are red."
Internally Opal cursed. "It's nothing. I've been in front of a screen for too long today, I'm just tired."
"Well, get to bed. I don't want my workers making mistakes due to tiredness."
"I'm not -" she said loudly, before realising it was a joke by the bemused expression on his face. "Oh, very funny. I must be tired."
"I agree." With that he rose and lifted her out of her seat. He had grown into a tall, strong young man, and he easily lifted the pixie, bundling her out from her desk. The move was hugely unexpected, and her first response was to yell at him.
"Hey! Let me down!"
"Nope. It's past bed-time for little fairies."
Realising the fun he was having, her next response was to refuse to rise to his baiting. "Oh well, if you want to carry me up three flights of stairs be my guest. It'll save me the walk."
"So we're both winners. Up we go then!" He knew he was acting childishly, but for some reason he felt like that was what he wanted to do. Something happy and silly was bubbling away inside of him, a rare feeling for Artemis Fowl. He had drunk slightly more wine than he usually would have too. She started to struggle in his arms in outrage as she realised he really was going to carry her to her bedroom. He ignored her protests and kicked the door of the Lab aside, striding across the hallway to the wide staircase. She went still and quiet in his arms.
Opal felt the rise and fall of his chest and the strength of his arms as he carried her. She suddenly didn't feel like resisting him. She looked up at his face; he wore a strange expression of playfulness that seemed ill-fitting for him. She was unable to stop a smile spreading across her face as a warm glow seemed to build up inside her.
He dumped her unceremoniously in her bed, despite the fact she was still fully clothed.
"Nonsense. That would be an unforgivable lapse." He turned around, and almost managed to cover the slight sway in his walk. However he ended up miscalculating and stumbling a little, and grabbed for the door frame as he tripped forwards. She giggled slightly and he turned to face her, looking far more relaxed than she had ever seen him.
He raised an eyebrow. "For carrying you upstairs?"
"No! Oh, never mind. Just go to bed will you?"
He felt slightly foolish now, but his smile didn't waver. "Go on, tell me."
She drew a deep breath, then exhaled sharply. "It's nice to be appreciated sometimes. So thank you for being appreciative."
Heh, so that was hopefully a little... more interesting. I tried really hard in this one to get Opal's character right, which is hard considering she's supposed to be, you know, sane. So please give thoughts on that. Also I rather enjoy Ballet, but then I am an Arts student and Scientists are generally philistines. Well, Opal is anyway ;)
Please, Please R&R. I realise there was little to say about the last chapter but I'd really like a sense of whether people are still enjoying this and whether I'm still writing anything worth reading...