"I can't stand you." Tough, professional, unfeeling. Trying to make her break. The words are lies, but she can't possibly know that, can she? He secretly hopes she does.

"Ditto." Trying to be tough, professional, unfeeling, and failing miserably. Trying not to be broken. The word is a lie, and he can't possibly tell, can he? She secretly hopes his brilliant intellect sees through her façade. But no luck; his expression does not change.

"Then why are you here?"

This makes her pause and question, if only for a moment. "It is my job," she says.

"I'm not your job. You're not my Butler."

Oh, but Artemis, how she wants to be. She wants to be your Butler; she wants to be your Juliet…

"It's my obligation."

"You have no obligation to me. You left easily enough before to go to America."

Oh, but Artemis, it wasn't easy at all, it was so hard, but you had the pretty red-haired fairy and she knew that she had no place in your life with Holly there instead.


"It's…?" He prompts. She can detect a hint of mockery in his voice. He's mocking her? Now?! She sits up, her blue-green eyes wide with fire, her golden blonde hair bouncing as she moves. But when she goes to speak again, she slips easily back into the old routine; sit deep into the chair, make yourself as small a target as possible, because, Juliet, you don't want to get hurt.


"Juliet," he warns impatiently.

"It's all I've got left," she admits, defeated. She doesn't see his unmatching eyes widen, doesn't see him sit straighter in his chair, because she is busy picking up her suitcase and composing herself and trying so hard not to cry even thought it hurts so badly not to cry and a part of her thinks if she cries he might take pity on her and kiss her but, oh no, she doesn't want that kind of love…

"Juliet," he begins again, and this time his voice is comforting, but she is already walking out of the study, not looking back, not because she doesn't want to (oh, Artemis, you have no idea how badly she wants to) but because he will taunt and tease her if he sees her crying.

"Bye bye, Artemis." Damnit, she tried too hard to keep the catch from her voice but it's still there. "Sorry to bother you. Tell Domovoi I said hello," she mumbles.

She begins to walk but she is stopped by his hand on her arm. "Juliet. I'm proud of you."

"For what?" she whispers, her wide eyes looking back at him despite her best intentions not to. Oh, Artemis, she loves you so much, and yet you continue to cut her so deeply…

"For admitting defeat." And his arms are around her waist from behind and his head is in her hair (when did he get taller than her?) and the suitcase is on the ground and long forgotten. "For admitting defeat, because I had to possess you the same way you own me, and you had to admit defeat before I possibly could."

"Wha--?" she wonders aloud.

And because, for some reason, he is lacking for the proper words to tell her how he feels and how he has always felt, he maneuvers his way in front of her and kisses her lips, and she tastes like sugar and gunpowder, like perfume and sweat, like love and lust and he thinks it's the most addictive thing he's ever come upon.

"You love me," she whispers when they pull away, supplying him with the words he could not find. He nods, and she smiles. "I knew it."

"Liar." And he is right, but it doesn't matter because all is well now.

From behind a bookshelf, Holly and Butler quietly high-fived, their self-assigned mission complete.