Author's Note: This was me being bad. I spent 1 day reading The Atlantis Complex and the next day obsessing over it (which is pretty ironic if you think about it, obsessing over The Atlantis Complex). I went to work on my HP fics & ended up reading Artemis Fowl fics (for the 1st time) instead. That's when I decided that, since my brain was so firmly stuck in Artemis Fowl mode, I might as well start an Artemis Fowl fic to try to get enough of that out of my system to be able to work on my HP stuff. Ah, the reason I started writing fanfic in the 1st place, my brain not shutting up with ideas. Of course, this is now turning out to be a multi-chapter fic. Go figure. Now I have another fic to keep up with. Hoo-rah. I then, of course, had to reread all the books to get the entire series fresh in my mind so I could be comfortable in writing it.
Disclaimer: I now own all the books (though I have the Disney covers for the last 2, yech) but I do not own Artemis Fowl itself.
Chapter One: Convincing Mum
Holly stayed with Artemis until he fell asleep, then she went out into the hall to look for Butler. Not seeing the hulking man in the hallway, she figured he had gone to watch Juliet's wrestling match with the pixie.
Poor pixie, thought Holly.
Sure enough, she found him and Mulch standing in the doorway, watching the fight with very amused expressions on their faces as Juliet suddenly flipped out of the pixie's strangle-hold and smacked him hard against the wall with the jade ring in her ponytail.
Butler heard Holly approach and turned to look at her.
"How is he?" he said softly.
"He's sleeping," said Holly, running a hand through her hair.
"Is he okay?"
"More or less," said Holly. "He's...tired."
Butler nodded, understanding. "I should have—"
Holly silenced him with a shake of her head. "No, Big Man, this is Artemis Fowl we're talking about, there's nothing you could have done to prevent this."
Butler smiled ruefully. "I suppose you're right. Does he—did he say anything about me?"
Holly nodded. "He's sorry, he's truly sorry. I know Artemis can be...manipulative, but I think he's sincere. He's afraid you won't ever trust him again. He says he needs to speak to you." Butler looked pained. "Please, Butler. He's sick. He needs you."
Butler nodded again. "I know. He doesn't need another thing to feel guilty about. Juliet's safe, Artemis is safe... And, damn it, I love the kid. I'm a miserable failure as a bodyguard."
"Maybe," said Holly with a small smile. "But what Artemis needs right now isn't a bodyguard, what Artemis needs right now is a friend."
Artemis was still asleep when Butler and Holly returned to his room after the wrestling match; in which Juliet had pummeled and humiliated the pixie thoroughly, if a little too showily for Butler's taste.
Holly sat down on the side on his bed and smoothed his black hair back from his brow. His face was pale and drawn.
"Oh Arty," she whispered.
"He looks so fragile," commented Butler, standing beside the bed. It was too small to either fit or support his bulk. "I haven't the heart to be mad at him now."
Artemis's eyelids flickered.
He tried to sit up, both Butler and Holly caught him as he fell back. Butler gently lifted him into a sitting position.
"Obviously I am still very weak," Artemis observed, gingerly flexing his fingers.
Butler peered anxiously into Artemis's face.
"Butler," said Artemis again, feeling a mix of relief and apprehension. "Old friend, I need to speak with you. Now." He added, wincing.
And so it starts again.
Both Butler and Holly caught the gesture and the added word.
"Maybe you should rest some more, Artemis," said Holly worriedly.
Artemis shook his head. "No, I am not tired, and it needs to be now, before I get worse."
Holly nodded and squeezed Artemis's hand. "I'll wait outside."
Artemis squeezed her hand back. "Yes, that sounds good—Holly."
Holly leaned in and kissed his forehead. "See you in a few minutes, Mud Boy," she said, trying to lighten the mood.
After Holly had left Artemis touched his forehead where she had kissed him, rubbing the spot five times. It felt strangely tingly. You're delusional, he told himself sternly. Snap out of it Artemis. He turned to Butler.
Butler surprised him into silence by enveloping him in a strong but gentle hug.
"You're safe," he said. "Juliet's safe. That's all that matters. Just—don't—you—ever—do—anything—like—that—again."
Artemis nodded into Butler's shoulder. "I am so sorry, old friend," he said. "You have every reason not to trust me anymore."
Butler pulled back, wincing at the stilted speech. "Artemis, you weren't well when you did that, and you're still not well."
"I wanted to trust you," said Artemis.
"I know," said Butler. "Don't feel guilty about this too, you'll only make it worse."
"I'm not sure if I can help it," said Artemis, smiling wryly. "At some point I seem to have developed a rather strong conscience." Then he became serious. "But, as you said, I am still not well. And it might happen again, old friend. I want to trust you. I do trust you, with my life. But I might—forget that because of this disease that I have."
"It's all in your head, Artemis," said Butler, trying hard to ignore the fact that Artemis's strange-sounding paragraph came out to exactly forty words.
"I know," said Artemis, trying to block out the hissing fours that were appearing at the edges of the room. "But that does not make it any easier."
There was a knock on Artemis's door. He looked up. "Yes? Who is out there?"
"It's me," said Butler, ducking through the fairy-sized door. "Your mother is on her way."
"What?" said Artemis, sitting up quickly. "My mother? She can't see me like this!"
"She's worried about you," said Butler. "She needs to see that you're alright."
"But I am not alright!" said Artemis agitatedly, tapping his fingers against the bedspread. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten...
Butler stilled his hand. "She's coming. Do whatever you need to do to prepare, because she'll be here in fifteen minutes."
"Fifteen minutes?" said Artemis, feeling slightly calmer. "Fifteen. Three fives. That's a good number. Yes."
Butler sighed and clapped Artemis on the shoulder. "Fifteen minutes."
Fifteen minutes later Angeline Fowl ducked through the small door leading to her son's fairy hospital room and hurried toward the bed where the pale teenager lay.
"Oh Arty! I've been so worried! Butler said you were fine, but then he said something about a mental condition, and I didn't know what to think!" She hugged him fiercely.
"Mother—Mum," he said, forcing the word out. He had prepared this speech and he had to get it right or she would never leave. He had already screwed it up by saying mother. An extra word. Should he start over? No, that wouldn't work. Take out a word somewhere? But what word. Don't think about it Artemis!
"I am fine, relatively speaking. I have developed a type of mental illness called the Atlantis Complex. A combination of multiple personality disorder, OCD, paranoia, and delusional dementia." His mother looked horrified. "Please do not worry...Mum. The fairies have the resources to help me, to cure this condition. But it might take a while. It would be best for you to go back home to Father and the twins. I will be alright staying here."
"You don't even say hello, Arty?" said his mother. "Only recite a prepared speech and send me away again? Is that any way to treat your mother?"
"Hello, Mum," said Artemis guiltily. "It's good to see you, it is."
Angeline smiled. "That's better. I've been so worried. I don't know what I was thinking, letting you go off like that! I'm bringing you home right now—"
"No, Mum," said Artemis, hoping his mother didn't notice how stilted his speech was, and cringing away from the fours that were threatening to suffocate him. "I need to stay here; the fairies have far superior doctors and hospitals. And they know how to treat my...condition. It's a magical condition after all; I wouldn't have it had I not experimented with fairy magic."
"The way you experimented on your father and I?"
"Yes," said Artemis.
"You look ill, Arty," said his mother in concern, touching his face. "Have you been sleeping alright? In fact, you haven't seemed yourself for a while now."
"It is because of the Atlantis Complex...Mum, that's why" said Artemis, clenching teeth to stop the convulsions he could feel coming. Death, death death! screamed his mind. Four is death! Four is coming!
To calm himself he pinched his thumb and forefinger together, counting his breaths. One. Two Three. Four. Five.
"Artemis? Artemis, what's wrong? Something isn't right. I can tell."
A part of Artemis wanted to reach out to his mother, to succumb to her comforting embrace, but...
Don't trust her, screamed his brain. Don't trust her, you can't trust anyone!
Artemis forced himself to meet his mother's eyes. Five more minutes, he told himself. One, two, three, four, five.
"I have to stay here. Butler will be here. And Holly. They have a good doctor. I have more than five people here I know will take care of me," he lied. He, of course, knew that he couldn't really trust any of them. But at least he had said the number out loud.
"Hmm," said Angeline, unconvinced. "What will I tell your father, Arty? I need to tell him everything, he deserves to know..."
"No!" said Artemis, panicking. "No...Mum, the less people who know about the fairies the better."
"He will want to see you, how can I tell your father that he can't see you? He deserves to know, Arty. He would know if you hadn't mesmerized him."
Artemis winced and bowed his head. Must she always play that card? "You're right," he said defeatedly, not able to find a way around it without even more deception. And he was tired of deception. "He must know."
Angeline nodded, satisfied. "Would you like me to stay here, Arty?"
"No," said Artemis. "Father and the twins need you. In any case, I am quite tired. I think I shall rest for a bit. Please go home...Mum, I will call you."
"You promise?" said Angeline.
"Yes, I promise. I do."
His mother gave him a searching look but then sighed. "Alright," she said, giving him another hug. "I trust that you will be alright with Butler and Holly. Be good and don't get into trouble." She stood. "I love you, Arty."
"I love you too, Mum" said Artemis, but all he could think of was the phrase his mother had just said: I love you, Arty. Four words. Death.
AN: It'd be pretty snazzy if you could review, make me feel like writing this instead of working on my already in-progress fics wasn't a complete waste of time.