Yes, I know. Finally.
Words cannot express how sorry I am that it took this long. I had something written for this chapter, even had it finished and half typed out. But I found myself... unsatisfied. It didn't feel like my best work. So, tonight, I felt inspiration strike, spurned on by the fact that I checked out my e-mail for the first time in a month and found out that multiple people were yelling at me to finish this. Heh-heh. So. It's done. Finally.
I decided to post this before sending it to my beta, so just let me know if there are any minor grammar or spelling errors. I felt it was more important to get this to you right away.
A big thanks to HeadlessHoncho, Ru-Doragon, Nanners, serenity solstice, uber-monster, invader13panda, Grim Reaper, tech 13, Evil People's Underwear, Shyguy1, Brittany, Anomosity101, Kystergurl, Volcanic Lily, trollin bra, HollyAry foeva, summerful21, .., CarolinaEriasSa, SqueakyDolphin6, HolidayBoredom, and I Just Can't Choose for getting me off of ma butt and writing again! Especially HeadlessHoncho. Your review was...interesting. Great motivation though!
Don't own anything, just writing for kicks.
And now, for the grand finale...
The glaring light from the hospital ceiling seemed to drive a spike straight into Holly's brain. Seriously, when on earth would humans find something better than fluorescent lighting? Even shielded, and inside her helmet, she still felt it searing into her. Burning. Looking past her, shining beyond her, just like a pair of mismatched eyes in the sallow face of a certain boy genius. Looking at his face as he lay in the narrow hospital bed, she prayed, she wished, she willed every particle of her body to help him wake up. But he just lay there, non-responsive, surrounded by tubes and the other beeping appliances that passed for medical equipment in the world above her own. The hospital room wasn't exactly standard, looking more like an old-fashioned university office due to Artemis's status and the enormous amounts of money he had no doubt contributed to the facility. It was all very nice, really, but it didn't fool anyone for a second. The bed was still that narrow, barred hospital that was standard everywhere, and the machines at his bedside still ticked and whirred, measuring the life that flowed through his scrawny, pale body. And there was always the chance that one of those sensors would start a discordant sound that would signal the end of everything she held to be true in this world.
Holly stood on the visitor's chair, necessary for her to get the height to properly view him, and felt the blame settle on her shoulders. Superman's cape, the layer of guilt and shame, flowed around her. She should have been faster. She should have been smarted. She should have been that god damn hero that could fix everything by flying fast enough to turn the world round back again, to turn time back again. But all she could do was hold medical probabilities and wishes in her hands and pretend everything might be all right.
She thought back.
Artemis and her had been beaten, mercilessly and thoroughly, into the ground, over and over again, while the goblins around them echoed laughter round the thin underwater corridor. Holly felt every bruise ache, every broken bone protest, but she fought back none the less. Fought back until her blood coated the floor and her fingers were broken, possibly beyond repair. Because she could see Artemis five feet down the hall, and she couldn't bear to hear one more scream of pain come out of his broken body.
Staring, her hands shaking, at the wavy line on the heart monitor that meant love, that meant life, that meant the world was made for fighting chances.
Being dragged down the hall, feet trailing because they could no longer support her weight, for real this time. The goblins laughing and the few she had managed to mark, even in her current state, whining about their injuries. Turning to turn her head and catch sight of Artemis behind her, but he was always just out of her sight.
They had always joked about fate, that life kept on throwing these crazy situations that seemed like cosmic jokes once they were on the other end of them Never once considering that someday, one of them wouldn't make it back to joke about it.
Holly, on her hands and knees in front of Opal's throne, thinking for just that one second, does she seriously have a throne? Even broken, even defeated, glaring at Opal like she might kill her with her eyes alone. Too bad Foaly wasn't here because he probably would be able to figure out a way to do just that. Not letting her eyes slide over to Artemis, lying a few feet away from her as the blood slowly ran from his body. It was like wild animals; don't show weakness. You back down, you die. So she stared and stared at Opal Koboi, and thought about all the ways she was going to suffer later for this.
Was there anything she could have done? Really? Maybe if he had given her some warning, some small sign… She chuckled a little, just once, under her breath as she stepped onto Artemis's bed, sitting beside his prone head, eyes closed, skin way too pale, even for him. That was one thing Artemis was good at. Keeping secrets. Making plans. And above all, making her crazy. Saving her life. Saving them all.
Opal made that inevitable move, speech done now, reaching for the weapon at her hip which would end their lives once and for all. And she couldn't think of one way, not one single way that this was going to end without them both dead. That no-win situation had come upon them at last. So she simply threw her head back, giving Opal nothing but contempt. Holly would not beg for her life. She was a warrior. She did not beg for her life at the hands of her enemy. But, she thought, as she let the tears swim in her eyes and the expression of fake defeat fill her features, she would beg for Artemis's. She owed him that and more.
Slowly, she ran her hand gently through him ebony hair. Not short anymore, not greasy anymore. Just soft, silky and full, sweeping down over his sunken cheekbones. Carefully, tenderly, she moved the stray strands so they weren't draped over his face, tucking them behind his ears. Artemis would have hated to look anything other than presentable, even in this state. Holly stiffened, hand trembling above his face. No. Not would have. Does.Will. There is always a chance, always that one shot to the moon. She mustn't give up hope, mustn't ever give up on him. Because, when it came down to it, when had he ever given up on her?
Opal simply smiled, as Holly had known she would, and drew the weapon to bear, straight at Holly's head. Pausing for a second, Opal seemed to have a thought, then laughed and changed her aim. Let's see where this laser burst will hurt more, Opal had said. And Holly had screamed.
When the hell had he developed a god damn hero complex?
Holly had pleaded, begged, demanded. Let me take his place. And if not, then let me go first. She could bequeath those precious few more seconds of life to him.
When did she become so attached? When exactly had he stopped becoming that Mud Boy and had instead turned into Artemis? She couldn't remember. It had been so long ago.
Opal moved like lightning, swiveling back to Holly while her finger tightened on the trigger, her original target all along. Holly had kept her eyes open, staring down death in the face, feeling it's cold fingers trailing down her neck.
Smoothly, he had leapt. Like a panther. Like some sort of blessed guardian, send from above by an unknown deity. Plowing into her, taking her out of the focus of the laser blast, Artemis simultaneously threw the dagger he had stolen from a goblin guard while the crap was being kicked out of him. And miracles upon miracles, it planted right in Opal's eye, killing her instantly.
You never told me you could do that, Artemis. Maybe I've underestimated you, again. Or maybe it was just sheer dumb luck, the duos ex machine that wiped the stage clean. Pushing the reset button on Opal's presence in this farce, this tragedy.
The curtain fell on the light in Opal's eye, and she dropped. Artemis, draped over Holly, lay without moving, ominously still. And then, only when Holly's head was swimming with blood loss because she was neglecting her own wounds to staunch the blood flowing sluggishly from Artemis's side, once she had cried until she thought she would cry no more, did the cavalry arrive.
The fairy doctor, face drawn with sorrow, approaching her as she sat up in her hospital. Ma'am, I'm sorry to inform you that your friend is in a deep coma. Even with magic, there is a likelihood that he may never come out of it. I'm sorry. Take him back to the human world and let them hook up to the proper machinery.
It still didn't feel real. Even now, staring at his prone form lying in the hospital bed, machines beeping in the background, it didn't feel real.
Angeline had cried profusely, holding onto her husband as his own tears fell. Juliet had refused to believe it, saying he would be coming out of it any day now, saying it over and over. Myles and Beckett had stood solemnly before their parents, hands linked, and asked if their brother was dead, if he was never waking up. Butler had not left the hospital in the two weeks Artemis had been there. He had gone beyond grief. He was near catatonic, and they'd had to sedate him to for a while. They thought he might kill himself. Holly knew better. Butler was going to stay, waiting for his master to wake, because like her, he knew better than to ever give up on Artemis Fowl the Second.
"Damn it," Holly whispered hoarsely, tears falling from her hazel and blue eyes, the last thing her friend had ever given her. It was a piece of him. And he had a piece of her. It felt like, if Artemis were to never wake up, part of her would never wake up as well. She would go through the motions, do her job, be the best cop she could be. But something…. something intangible, something she couldn't ever define or describe, would be lost forever. Just like her friend.
"You listen here, Artemis," she began fiercely fire burning through the tears swimming in her eyes. A she glared at his prone body with all the ferocity that she had stared down death with. "I am not going to sit here and talk to you like you're already dead. This is not your god damn funeral monologue! This is me, giving an order to you. Wake up! YOU MUST WAKE UP OR I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS!" Furious with his, with life, she leaned forward and kissed him, passion fueling her as the tears finally spilled from her eyes. Leaning back, she shouted, furious, "This is your freaking wake up call, sleeping beauty! I! SAID! WAKE! UP!"
Panting, spent, she simply collapsed into his chest, breathing in the clean smell of his skin, clutching his as she cried. "You told me you loved me," she said in a choked whisper, sobs wracking her body. "I guess you didn't mean it."
She stayed there for hours, curled up next to him, unwilling to leave. But finally, night fell, and she knew her time was almost up. She had to be back in Central by noon tomorrow, or else the Council would have her ass on a silver platter. Sniffling, finally spent, she uncurled her stiff body slowly, moving to unlatch the window. With one last finger trailing through his hair, Holly promised she would come back later, and prepared to launch herself into the night.
Without warning, all the monitors started beeping at once.
Holly's heart seemed to stop. This was it, she thought as the doctor's raced into the room. This is where everything changes. This is where the world ends. My world ends.
And he opened his eyes.
Even through the press of doctors swarming around his bed, Holly saw Artemis's eyes flick to the open window. A flash of understanding darted in his eyes, and he seemed to look directly at her as he smiled.
It was ten minutes before the doctors left to call Artemis's parents and wake Butler on the floor below, ten minutes before Holly could unshield and throw herself at Artemis and kiss him senseless.
The world started turning again.
They loved each other. They both knew it now, that they were tied together in a way they could not escape, not now, not ever. Love. They could say the words later. Right now, there was just this, now, in this moment. Because she could hold him, alive, in her arms, and that meant more to her than any words could ever express.
Review if you ever loved me, because this piece is OVER BABY! (breaks out confetti) JOIN ME IN MY CELEBRATION, PEOPLE OF THE WORLD!