Disclaimer- All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Sorry for being late. Tried to make up for it, though… *shuffles*
Dedicated to RuDoragon – Happy birthday, babe! Could not have gotten this chapter out without you.
Chapter 12 – Psychopath
The day was starting to fade into shadows as the sun started to set. Butler leaned against the hood of the Bentley, keeping one careful eye on his surroundings and the other on the time. Artemis and Holly would be back in one hour. If not, he (along with a squadron of scientists, armed with rather large and advanced shovels) was going in after them.
In the stillness of Tara, Butler noticed immediately when a patch of grass seemed to vibrate only about twenty feet away from him. He barely had time to react before Mulch appeared on the spot, the patch of grass now reduced to a hole. The dwarf nonchalantly brushed himself off as Butler ran forward.
"Butler," Mulch said, stepping forward. "It's nice to see you again." He paused, looking thoughtful for a second. "Didn't think it would be quite so soon, though." He then raised an eyebrow at Butler's hand.
Butler put away the gun he'd subconsciously taken out when he'd sensed the movement. "Force of habit," he mumbled, almost sounding apologetic. Then, he frowned, thinking about what the dwarf had just said. "Neither did I. I haven't heard from Foaly at all these last two weeks."
Mulch stared at the bigger man for a second, wondering what strength really was more powerful – physical or mental? "Butler," he said, slowly. "Does Artemis monitor all of your conversations?"
Butler looked almost scandalized. "What? No, of course, not. He respects my privacy." Butler must have heard himself speak, because he frowned deeply and then scowled when he saw the corner of Mulch's lips quirk. "Don't dare, dwarf. How did you find out about it?"
"Foaly," Mulch answer simply. "Your boss told him." He then scowled. "It seems that Artemis isn't keen on letting us communicate with you nor Holly."
Butler's eyebrow twitched a little, and he looked away from the other man. There were many things Artemis did that he did not approve of, but went along with. It always made him feel a little flame of guilt inside his gut; a flame of guilt that is always extinguished by his duty. But this made him feel sick, like throwing up, and he had to take a deep breath to calm himself down. "Why would he do that?"
Mulch snorted. "Isn't it obvious?" he asked. When Butler looked at him with raised eyebrows, he explained. "He's trying to isolate Holly. She's already acting as if she…" He trailed off as he thought about how Holly had spoken to him before, and the way she'd acted on the video feed Foaly had sent him from Haven. He saw how Butler's lips were pressed into a thin line and let his words hang in the air. He didn't need to explain the changes in Holly – Butler lived with her. Butler already knew.
A moment went by in silence, before Mulch muttered, "Think of what she would be like if she decided that her friends don't care about her enough to contact her."
"I know, Diggums," Butler sighed. He wiped his head with his whole right hand, and sighed. "I didn't…"
"Look," Mulch suddenly said, matter-of-factly. "Foaly says we can't risk contacting you with fairy technology anymore. You need to get a new cell phone."
Ursula did not look like the wicked witch of the east that Holly had been expecting to see. Apparently, Artemis was surprised as well – the teen's face had remained neutral when his gaze had fallen on the sorceress, but Holly had caught that slight tightening at the corner of his lips. However, her attention was soon diverted to the woman in the middle of the curtained Ops Booth.
Ursula was a tall, dark woman; dark enough that her skin shone a dark indigo where the light touched it. Her hair, black, streaked with grey and white, hung in thick dreads that reached her hips. Her eyes, bright and blue, narrowed when Artemis and Holly entered the room, but then her dark red lips stretched into a beguiling smile as her gaze shifted to focus on Artemis alone. "So…" She intoned, in a slightly accented voice. "You are the human that defeated the LEP."
Artemis smirked, and at the same time, Holly noticed something rather alluring about this woman. She scowled, thinking that it was this bitch who took her magic away from her.
On the other side of the room, so far succeeding in his endeavor to stay unnoticed, Foaly watched Holly as Holly watched Ursula.
Artemis must have noticed the danger signs in Holly's otherwise blank gaze. "Ursula," he said, a stern note in his voice. He nodded toward Holly. "You took Holly's magic."
Ursula looked over to Holly, and nodded. "You've changed since I last saw you, Miss Holly," she said, almost accusingly.
"Give me my powers back." Holly didn't flinch when Artemis and Foaly both turned to her sharply. Ursula only raised her eyebrows. Without looking, Holly threw open a door on one of Foaly's metal cupboards to reveal a set a weaponry, glistening and dangerous and yet to be legalized, set in their safety harnesses. If she knew Foaly, they were all fully charged and ready to go.
"Don't threaten her, Holly," Artemis said, lowly, almost sarcastically.
Foaly, already haven mentally shot himself for showing Holly where his newest technology was stored, crossed his front hooves and leaned against a monitor. "Saying please might work, too," he threw in, drily.
It probably wasn't the best thing to say, as all it did was remind Holly of Artemis forcing the word out of her, making her remember how little power she had –
Ursula cocked her head.
Holly suddenly remembered the end of that conversation. If there was still enough magic in her to make her to do that, then there was still magic in her.
"I can't give you your magic back," Ursula said. She sighed and held her temple. "I didn't take it."
Holly's eyebrows furrowed.
"Magic is complex – I can't cut it out of you like you cut your hair," Ursula said, eyeing Holly's locks. The witch shrugged, and conversationally added, "On that note, don't cut your hair." She threw up her hands a little, sighing almost exasperatedly. "Honestly, women go to great lengths for beauty. Those who are born with it, butcher it."
Holly got the impression that Ursula was trying to change the subject. "What did you mean?" she said, fixing her eyes on the witch. "My magic's not… cut out of me?"
"A bit always remains," Ursula shrugged. "And it manifests itself in some way or another."
"Like healing powers," Artemis muttered. He was thinking back to the sprite he had manipulated into letting him borrow her book.
Holly glanced at Artemis, unsure of why he would say that. She knew how that bit of magic had presented itself in her, and she didn't like it.
Ursula was nodding. "Healing powers, the Mesmer, anything… It changes from fairy to fairy." She paused for a second, looking thoughtful, wondering how to explain it. "I myself don't take your powers away from you. There is magic; more powerful than you and I that is set out by the Book." Ursula's eyes suddenly flickered to Holly's bare neck, and the redhead narrowed her eyes a little, issuing a silent warning.
"What do you mean, 'it's set out by the Book?'" Artemis asked, apparently unaware of the exchange between the two women. "Is the spell you used written in there?"
Ursula shook her head, turning back to him. "It is hard to explain," she said, simply.
Artemis half her a little half-smile that almost charming. "Try me."
Ursula chuckled a little. "The Book outlines the beliefs and values that the Faerie world holds to be true. The magic that 'took' Holly's power, so to speak, is the power of these words – these beliefs." She inhaled a little, as if bracing herself, and her eyes flickered to Holly and the weaponry that was less than a foot from her. "Holly so violated these values, that the collective power of these beliefs is what was called forward to… Punish… Her."
Artemis was intrigued. He took a quick glance toward Holly, who would have looked as cold as ever to anyone to who didn't know her. But, Artemis noticed the slight clenching of her jaw and thought that she'd better contain herself. "And what was your role in all of this?" he asked Ursula.
Ursula didn't respond right away. "I… Gave this magic… Direction." She almost looked sorry that she couldn't explain it better. "The spell I use whenever the LEP so requires my service is an ancient one. There is nothing I can do to reverse it. If anyone understands it, they have not come forward." She turned to Holly. "I did not take your magic away from you. Your magic…" She trailed off, searching for the right word. "It just disappeared," she finished weakly.
She spoke to Ursula with a bit of an impatient edge to her quiet voice. "How do I get it back?"
For a second, there was something that looked like sympathy in Ursula's eyes. "I don't know."
"I must be going mad."
Holly, surprised at hearing Artemis utter such a thing about himself, turned away from Butler, who had stopped mid-stride. Those were the first words anyone had spoken since they'd left Tara. She followed his gaze into the foyer where Angeline was talking to a short, balding man, wearing a suit. As Artemis started walking toward the pair, Holly glanced at Butler, whose lips were pressed into a thin line. "Who's that?"
"Dr. Po." Butler rubbed his temple with his large hand, suddenly looking as if he had a headache. "He's the school psychologist. Angeline had allowed Artemis to take this semester off, so that they could 'recuperate' from the way her illness affected him. But, she still made him see Dr. Po every week for the last month, because she thought it might do him some good. I just remembered that Artemis missed his appointment this week."
Holly looked puzzled. "So he's making a house call?" she asked.
Butler shrugged, and looked to the man with an almost pitying look on his face. "You see, Holly, Artemis has had shrinks before. Six of them, in fact. And he… He…"
"He ate them?"
Butler started, and looked to Holly incredulously. "What? No."
Holly waved a hand, dismissively. "I can imagine what happened to them. So this Dr. Po is number seven?"
At that moment, Dr. Po looked around Angeline, past Artemis, right at Holly, who smiled innocently at him. "Lucky number seven," she said, wryly.
"Butler said you wanted to talk to me."
Artemis lazily gestured for her to come in, but didn't look up from the maps of the Arctic he had spread on his desk. "I'll just be a moment, Holly."
Holly closed the door behind her, and took a few steps into Artemis' room, looking around with a slightly intrigued expression. The room was… Impersonal. Holly's own room at Haven, along with the rest of her house, was filled with pictures and knickknacks that screamed of her personality and her life from the walls. Her things seemed mismatched and unified at the same time. Artemis' room, on the other hand, was bare of any personal touches. The colours were cold – black and green and blue. Not the emerald green of summer leaves, but the dark, forest green of shadowy woods or of conifers in the winter and not lapis lazuli blue, but the imperial blue of a dark, starless night sky. Holly shivered.
Artemis looked up for a second and graced her with a small, wry smirk.
Holly ambled over to the bookcase, wrinkling her nose a little at all the texts. Frond forbid that he had a guilty pleasure – was he all business all the time? "What did Dr. Po say?"
"He asked about you, of course," Artemis said, sounding absent-minded.
Holly didn't want to know how Artemis had responded. "What exactly did he ask?"
"He asked who the pretty young lady was," Artemis responded, simply. "He wouldn't stop smiling idiotically. It was really rather annoying." He then chuckled, coldly. "I would love to have seen his expression if I'd told him the truth."
"So you told him the story then? What you told your mother?"
Artemis nodded, brushing a ruler off the map he was studying. "He spent the hour trying to figure out what our fight was about, and how it might have affected my relationship with my peers." He frowned, suddenly, seemingly intent on the gridlines before him. "It was amazing how much influence the fictional fight had on my nonexistent relationships."
A moment passed by in silence, with Artemis studying the maps and Holly studying his books.
"Artemis?" Her eyes stopped on a brown, worn spine.
"Yes?" He didn't look up.
"Earlier, when Ursula was talking about how some magic remains… Why did you say healing powers?" Holly suddenly felt Artemis' eyes on her and she turned around.
Artemis smiled darkly. "You really want to know?"
Holly suddenly felt her stomach flip. She nodded.
Artemis closed the Atlas he had been studying and leaned back in his chair. "Before I kidnapped you, I met another fairy."
Holly's eyebrows shot up. "There was… Another…?"
"No, Holly, I didn't kidnap her," Artemis said, waving his hand dismissively. He paused for a second, looking thoughtful. "I went around the world, looking for a magical creature, and I finally found her in Vietnam. She was an alcoholic." Artemis noticed when Holly crossed her arms over her chest. He smirked a little. "I gave her a bottle of brandy, laced with holy water."
Holly stiffened noticeably, her eyebrows furrowing. "You made her drink…"
"I didn't make her drink anything," Artemis answered smoothly. He shrugged. "Her parents should have taught her not to accept brandy from strangers."
"What happened then?" Holly asked, a subtle note of aversion in her voice. Artemis wasn't entirely sure who or what it was directed at.
"I told her she'd just drank holy water and that I had the cure. If she'd lend me her copy of the Book, of course."
Holly's eyes suddenly widened with realization. "That's how you got it," she breathed.
Something occurred to Holly and she looked at him, curiously. "You told her you had the cure to holy water?"
Artemis smirked. "Funny you should mention that, Holly. Because it wasn't just the cure to the holy water – it also cured and undid centuries' worth of alcoholism." Holly froze. Artemis nodded toward one of his bedside tables. "Bottom drawer, Holly. There's a small vial in the corner."
Holly kept her eyes on him as she walked to the table, before she finally turned to it as she opened the bottom drawer. There was a heavy-looking book with a blank cover on top of the table; she had a weird urge to open it and figure out its title. Feeling Artemis' gaze on her, she found the vial easily. It was three quarters filled with a clear liquid. She closed the drawer as she straightened and held the small, glass container up for Artemis to see. "What is it?"
Artemis didn't answer. He decided to be cruel. "Drink it," he said, simply.
Holly swallowed, dryly, her heart hammering in her chest. She took a deep breath, trying to keep calm. "Do you think it'll get my powers back?"
Artemis looked at her evenly and then quirked a shoulder. "It might, it might not," he said. "Either way, we won't know until you drink it."
"What is it?"
Artemis didn't respond. Holly stared at him; Artemis held her gaze. They stood still for a moment; each trying to outlast the other in a battle of wills.
Suddenly, Holly uncorked the vial, not noticing Artemis raise an eyebrow. He hadn't thought she'd give in so easily. Holly tried to swallow the liquid in one gulp – and started choking. She coughed, her eyes tearing up and suddenly, Artemis was at her side, gripping her upper arm.
"Sit," he said, pushing her down on the edge of the edge. "Calm down."
Holly tried to calm down and breathe, but then stiffened when her vision suddenly blurred. She closed her eyes, raising her fingers to her temples, trying to steady the world, trying to keep from breathing so she could start breathing – but even the darkness was hazy and blurred and distorted. What did she just drink?
Artemis' voice – so cold, so distant, but maybe she could hear something that wasn't… She was imagining it – seemed to coax her to open her eyes. She remembered the first time she woke up in the manor, in the guest bedroom. She remembered waking up in the cell, too. It was so dark – she couldn't tell which cell it was.
Holly opened her eyes to find Artemis looking down at her, with a look of curiousity and something that almost looked like concern. She had lain down against the pillows; her head felt heavy and she squinted before screwing her eyes shut. Artemis must have sensed what was wrong; the darkness behind her eyelids became even blacker and when she opened her eyes, she saw that Artemis had dimmed all the lights in his room. She thought of that night at Tara. Black and dark, dark green like the forest during a cold winter's night and an even darker blue like… Like…
Holly met Artemis' eyes. "What did I drink?" she whispered. Her voice sounded hoarse.
"Water," Artemis answered, looking her over. "From the springs of Tara."
Holly didn't feel as relieved as she thought she might have been. "So… You did cure her?" she asked.
Artemis sat down at the edge of the bed and nodded, studying her carefully.
Holly shook her head. "Why didn't you just…"
"Let her die?" Artemis finished. "Too many people knew of her existence. They would have noticed a death."
Holly was suddenly cold and she was silent for a moment. "Argon said - " She swallowed and shut her eyes for a second as her vision swam and doubled for a second. "Argon said you only wanted to save your mother to keep the authorities off your back." When she opened her eyes, she saw that Artemis was staring off to the side. She couldn't tell what he was thinking. "Artemis?"
"Yes, Holly?" Artemis asked, turning back to her.
Artemis looked off to her – solid, but transparent around his shoulders and arms… As if he was a very opaque apparition. Holly stared at him for a second and voiced a question that had been on her mind for a while now. "Are you a psychopath?"
Artemis chuckled, softly. He gave her an undecipherable look before he actually reached to brush a hair away from her eyes. Her vision didn't improve. "Holly… If I were a psychopath, you'd be in a lot of trouble right now, wouldn't you?" He cocked his head a little and studied her. "The alcoholic also needed some time after ingesting the Tara water." He got up. "Go to sleep, Holly. I'll be here when you wake up."
There. As an apology for being late, I put her to sleep in Artemis' bed.
Anyways, I'm looking forward to writing the next chapter because 1) Next set of summer courses don't start until June 24th. 2) it's already planned out in my head and 3) it's spooooky. Yeah. That's right. Also, I have a valid way to inject some A/H into it.
Hehe, it was fun writing this chapter – Arty's dark side was explored a bit, ne?
Review please – even if it's just to tell me how much I suck for being late.