Title: Bright Sunny Skies
Author: Jade Sabre
Notes: No, this is not the ending of that fic that I wrote five years ago and never finished because I was young and didn't do things like "finish fics before posting them," and for that I apologize. Besides, while I feel fairly confident that I captured Colfer's prose style in that fic, I'm pretty sure I was a miserable failure when it came to keeping his characters IC, and for that, Eoin Colfer, wherever you are, I apologize.
This fic I actually wrote a year (or more) ago, after The Time Paradox came out, but never got around to posting; after reading The Atlantis Complex (so wonderful), I decided to dust this off and post it, and so here it is, a short character piece. So, no spoilers for—well, anything other than the ending of The Lost Colony, technically speaking.
The title comes from a Ben Folds song.
Reviews would be lovely!
Disclaimer: If I were Eoin Colfer I would have shown considerably less restraint in the Artemis/Holly department by now.
Beckett didn't really like playing hide-and-go-seek with his brothers. Artemis was too big for most of the good hiding places, and Myles always cheated with the cameras. How, Beckett wasn't quite sure, but even at the tender age of two he was used to his brother's intelligence. He never won any arguments on the fairness of said cheating, and Myles could never remember to keep his promise and not hide in unfair places (like the Bentley's trunk. Mama had been furious, despite Myles's insistence that the place was perfectly safe and air-conditioned. It had almost been worth losing the game to see Myles get into trouble like that).
Today was one of those days, when Myles had hidden somewhere like Butler's wardrobe and Artemis had probably forgotten he was playing and Beckett was left wandering the house, trying to find one of his brothers, because he was it. He'd already searched most of the usual places, attempted to swipe chocolate from the kitchen, and cried briefly to Mama; now he was stuck trying to find them to tell them the game was over, and could they please finger-paint now. Mama had said something about Artemis practicing driving, and driving involved cars, and cars were outside (the big kind, not like his little wind-up toys that Artemis had somehow contrived to upgrade so that they acted, sounded, and steered just like the real thing), so Beckett decided to try his luck outdoors. While only pushing three, he'd spent enough time in the company of precocious genii to know how to unlock the door leading to the gardens, and it was child's play to squeeze through the decorative fence and toddle down towards the outdoor garage.
He found the Bentley first, parked on one of the sloping green lawns outside its normal resting place in the Fowl garage. As he approached, coming down the hill, he could see someone sitting on the hood, resting their back against the front window. Once he actually reached the car he craned his neck up and spotted his oldest brother's loafers peeking over the edge of the hood, and so he felt it was safe to complete his approach.
"Artemis?" he asked, still looking up.
There was a pause, and then his brother said, "Beckett? Is that you?"
"Found you!" he said.
"So you have," his brother's disembodied voice came, sounding…strange. Beckett didn't know why, but it made him feel…strange. Weird.
"Up?" he said, experimenting with the front grille of the Bentley. He could poke his fingers through the holes, and maybe his toes, so he might be able to climb it.
"Yes, you may come up."
Beckett rarely understood more than one third of what came out of Artemis's mouth, so the fact that he had comprehended every word so far worried him. Maybe Artemis had lost his brain. Myles had told him that could happen to geniuses—it often happened to him when he remembered poor Professor Primate, and his strange disappearance. Artemis had brought him a new monkey, but Myles confided in his twin that it just wasn't the same.
He poked in the grille a little more, and finally said, "Help?"
"I'm sorry," Artemis said, and a moment later the reassuring sight of his brother's head appeared over the hood. Beckett reached up and allowed himself to be pulled up onto the hood; the metal was hot, but Artemis wasn't complaining and Beckett didn't want to, either. Instead he mimicked his brother's position, scooting until he sat next to him, his legs stretched in front of him. Artemis looked up to the sky, and so Beckett did too. There weren't too many clouds, and the ones that were there didn't look like anything interesting: one was kind of duck-ish shaped, and another looked like a bathtub, but Beckett didn't really like the bathtub, and anyway cloud-gazing was more interesting with Myles around. Although it was kind of nice that Artemis wasn't trying to teach him stuff. Still, the silence bugged him.
"Hide and go seek?" he asked, punching him.
Artemis sighed. "Not right now, Beckett."
His brother's brow creased as his eyebrows narrowed in thought, and finally he said, "I Spy."
Artemis scanned the entire area, and finally said, "I spy an empty sky."
Beckett stopped pouting in confusion. While he felt better, now that he couldn't understand what Artemis was saying—there were birds, right over there, and trees and clouds and the sun—he felt…weird, because Artemis sounded…sad. And Artemis was never sad. Not even that one morning he had woken up to find Beckett's collection of worms strewn across his computer's keyboards. (Beckett personally blamed Myles, but Myles was much better at explaining his innocence.) In the short time his brother had been in his life, he could think of him as happy, and annoyed, and silly, and stern, but never…sad.
Beckett thought for a second, kicking his heels against the Bentley's hood, unaware that Artemis's slight grimace might have more to do with the fate of the car's paint job than with whatever was bothering him. It only lasted a moment, though, and then he went back to scanning the sky; meanwhile, Beckett had determined the proper course of action.
He crawled on top of his brother and kissed him on the cheek, and then settled back down on the hood.
After another long moment, Artemis ruffled his hair, and then put his arm around his shoulders. "Thank you, Beckett," he said, "but it is simply…not the same."
Beckett didn't understand, but he was used to that, and Artemis sounded halfway happy again, and anyway the car was hot and the sun was hot and his brother was hot and also made an excellent pillow. He and Myles had proved it through 'speriments, and for now Beckett was happy to utilize this information in the only way he knew how: by falling asleep, under the empty sky.