The "Gift" of Tongues
Rated: Teen for romance. (Arty/Holly)
Summary: Not all 'gifts' are actually gifts; and Artemis learns that having the ability to understand any language is not all it's cracked up to be. Post Lost Colony.
Disclaimer: Artemis Fowl and any related characters and settings are the property of Eoin Colfer, not me.
LES: This takes place between "The Lost Colony" and "The Time Paradox" when Artemis is still holding on to a little bit of magic. Well… obviously…
Perhaps it was not surprising, given the genius of Artemis Fowl the Second, but there was hardly a language anywhere that he did not know how to speak at least with competence. He could speak the languages of all the world's powers like a native, and knew many dialects within those languages. The upside of this was that you could drop him at any location around the world (or under it) and he would be able to communicate with the locals.
There were a few languages here and there that he did not know how to speak, but those were mainly made-up, childish languages like Pig Latin or localized tribal languages where the villagers understood a major language anyway. Those were the languages that he could not be bothered to study unless he happened to find himself in the unlikely position of being bored one day.
His ability to understand many languages had really come in handy with his fairy-related adventures over the years. Fairies had a natural grasp of language that exceeded even his own, and some of the older, traditionalist fairies were prone to speaking only in Old Gnommish… and odd spoken language that seemed to be a mixture of just about every language under the sun. Honestly, Artemis had heard one fairy use at least ten different languages in the same sentence one time. Knowing as many languages as possible helped him to keep up with these fairies, at least enough that he could fill the gaps through context alone.
But today was not one of those days. Artemis was not being forced to stretch his linguistic talents to the limit by listening to high-speed fairy chatter that switched languages with every other word. Instead, he was simply at home, working on one of his many projects on his laptop while seated in the living room.
At the floor, beside his feet, his newly-discovered twin brothers played semi-quietly. Artemis Fowl had been away on a trip through time that, for him, only lasted about a day; but three years had passed for everyone else. He had come back, shocked to discover that his parents had twins while he was gone, suddenly making him the older brother for a pair of toddlers. As if his life wasn't complicated enough coming back through time at the age of both fourteen and seventeen.
The two boys chatted together quietly in English, the Fowl family's first language. But nothing that they were saying really interested the older Fowl boy, so he soon managed to tune them out by concentrating on his work.
However, several minutes passed and Artemis' attention was once again drawn to his twin brothers. He had become naturally suspicious when they lowered their voices, but he was still able to make out every word that they were saying.
"Do you really think brother is dumb enough to leave his door unlocked?" Myles asked his twin.
Beckett shrugged. "It is worth a try, right?"
"You have a lot to learn if you think he just leaves his money lying around." Myles sighed.
"Like he would miss it?" Beckett responded. "He has millions… billions stashed away. Why would he miss about a hundred or so pounds?"
"Candy is not worth stealing from out brother." Myles said firmly.
"Candy is worth anything." Beckett insisted.
Artemis stared at the two in shock. He knew that his parents were trying to get the Fowl family on the straight-and-narrow, and that it really began with the twins. But he really thought that Fowl genetics were stronger than this. Were they really so criminally retarded that they would plot attempted theft right under the potential victim's nose? Artemis had known that lesson since he was in diapers… never let the victim suspect that something is amiss.
"Myles? Beckett?" Artemis spoke slowly, and the twins turned to him, staring at their older brother with shock written on their faces. "You two do know that I'm sitting right here and I can hear every word you are saying, right?"
The twins stared at each other in shock, and then to Artemis' eternal shock, Beckett suddenly burst into tears. "It's not fair!" Beckett insisted, glaring at his older brother. "Why didn't you tell us that you knew how to speak Pig Latin? We thought you didn't!"
"I do not speak Pig Latin!" Artemis insisted. "It is a silly, childish language that is…" Artemis' lecture suddenly broke off when he realized that the words that he was speaking were most certainly not English as he expected. He was certainly hearing himself speak English, but the shape of the words as his mouth formed them were not right. It was distorted English, coming out as perfect Pig Latin. Artemis jumped out of his seat, nearly sending his laptop crashing to the floor. "I really am speaking Pig Latin!" He gasped. This time it was English, he was sure of it.
Myles and Beckett continued to stare at Artemis' little freak-out like he had lost his mind, which was exactly what this incident looked like. The elder Fowl slammed the lid of the laptop down, locking it so that his brothers could not snoop through his work. (The last time he made that mistake, he had come back to find a paper that he was working on completely and irreversibly deleted.) Without another word in either English or Pig Latin, Artemis stormed off.
Myles and Beckett shrugged and went back to their games. Their older brother was crazy… there was no denying it.
Anyone who passed Artemis' room that afternoon would have thought that there was some multicultural project going on. All they heard was a steady stream of different languages coming from his room, many of which his family was not aware of him being able to speak at all.
"كان أفضل الأوقات، وكان أسوأ الأوقات"
No one but Artemis was aware that he had read the opening line of "A Tale of Two Cities" in perfect Arabic.
And then, following that, a recitation of the beginning of Hamlet's famous monologue in perfect Slovak.
"Je alebo nie je, to je otázka."
Artemis continued to recite Hamlet's monologue while cycling through different languages for each line. No matter what language he tried, no matter how little exposure he'd had to the language, and even when the language was not human in origin, the words flowed as easily off his tongue as his native English.
He finished the final line with the language of the Australian aborigines, and flopped down on his bed, verbally exhausted. It had probably been years since he had spoken aloud for such a long period of time.
When Artemis had finished, Butler edged his way into the room, staring uneasily at his employer. He had listened to the multilingual rant for the last hour, only understanding bits and pieces of Artemis' bizarre play on languages.
"Artemis? Are you okay?" Butler would normally never dare to ask the question, but he'd also never seen Artemis have a break-down quite like this.
"もちろん元気です." Artemis replied, not realizing that the words had come out in Japanese.
Thankfully, Butler was familiar enough with Japanese to know that Artemis told him that he was fine. But he also knew Artemis well enough to know it was a lie. He was always worse at lying under stress. "Most people don't speak Japanese without knowing it when they are fine." Butler said firmly. "Artemis… your parents are concerned about you right now. They don't know what to make of your sudden verbal Olympics. And, frankly, I don't either."
Artemis sighed. "We are all on the same page, then." Butler sighed when the words came out in English. "It seems to me that I have suddenly developed the ability to understand any language."
"Like the fairy's Gift of Tongues?" Butler asked Artemis in Gnommish.
"Possibly." Artemis sighed, also in Gnommish.
Upon hearing that, Butler had to admit that it seemed highly likely. He certainly didn't seem to be aware when he or others suddenly switched languages in his presence because they all sounded like English to him.
"And how could you have possibly gotten the Gift of Tongues?" Butler asked, reverting back to English. He wasn't nearly as fluent as Artemis was in the Fairy language, even before Artemis' sudden new grasp on languages.
Artemis shrugged. He didn't want to admit it, but he all ready had a few theories about why he had received the Gift of Tongues, all of them having to do with the magic that he had stolen and hoarded from the Time Stream. But nobody knew about that, they all thought that Artemis had used it all up.
It was possible that the prolonged exposure to magic was giving him some Fairy qualities. He all ready had problems with full moons and racial memories, so why not languages to? Reflexively, Artemis reached up to his ear and traced the shape, just to be sure that the mental transformation was not being accompanied by a physical one. But he had the same rounded human ears, as always.
Butler, of course, noticed Artemis' movement. "Artemis?" He began.
"It's nothing." Artemis said firmly, his hands dropping to his sides. "I just need to go make an important call."
It was very rare for Holly to get a call from anyone, so was it really a surprise that she nearly jumped out of her skin when her personal communicator began to ring right in the middle of an LEP meeting.
Naturally, everyone in the room gave her a dirty look as she pulled out her communicator. Cell phone rudeness was met with the same looks, both above ground and below.
Holly blushed, and quickly excused herself. "Sorry, I have to take this…" She murmured. Of course she had to take it. There was only one person in the world that had the number to her personal communicator who also didn't happen to be in the room at the time. One thing was for sure, Artemis Fowl would sooner start throwing away his vast fortune before he called her for any frivolous reason. That Mud boy has no idea how to make a social call. Holly thought to herself as she stepped outside and accepted his call. "Artemis…" She began, making the switch from her native Gnommish to English for his sake.
"Holly, I'm afraid that I may need your assistance." Artemis preempted her. But that didn't shock Holly. What did shock Holly was that he was definitely speaking in Gnommish. Now, Artemis Fowl knew Gnommish better than any human on the planet, but his grasp of the language, especially speaking it, was far from perfect. Now he was speaking it like a native, even with the correct accent: a little of everything.
Holly easily fell back into her native language. "Wow, Artemis, you've really perfected the Fairy Language since last time you were in Haven. Was it really only a few weeks ago that you kept having to ask me for a translation?"
"I fail to see the humor in this situation." Artemis said coldly.
That's the Mud boy I know! Holly smiled, comforted by his ill-humor. "Okay, let's hear what you've done this time. You haven't started the Apocalypse, I hope?"
"Nothing so melodramatic." Artemis sighed. "I believe that I may be experiencing some more… magical side-effects."
Holly nodded in understanding, even though he couldn't see. As far as she knew, Artemis had only had magic for a short while, but it left lingering side-effects. She all ready knew that he got migraines and insomnia that was worse than usual on the full moon, not to mention a rush of racial memories that triggered said migraines, and he also found himself uneasy about breaking the Fairy Commandments in the Book. "You haven't puked from entering someone else's house, have you?" She asked.
Holly could almost imagine Artemis' disgusted face at her use of such a vulgar word for regurgitation. "No." He said shortly. "I only get briefly queasy, and most people are willing to indulge my need to be invited inside. Thankfully, being wealthy and a genius allows me some room to be eccentric."
"So… how soon do you need me at Fowl Manor?" Holly asked.
Artemis did not respond for several moments. "I do not believe that my condition is life-threatening, or puts me in any danger. However, I would appreciate it if you could be here at your earliest possible convenience."
"Okay. I'll be there as soon as I can." Holly said. "I'll see you soon, Artemis."
"I shall eagerly await your arrival." Artemis said as he hung up.
'As soon as she could' turned out to be the next day, which was still with extreme haste when compared to how long it normally took to get an above-ground visa for non-LEP operations. However, the Council was well-aware of Artemis Fowl's experiments with Fairy Magic and were usually willing to send Holly to help him. After all, they couldn't have a human topside with uncontrolled magical symptoms. It was better for both the Fairy Folk and Artemis Fowl that these symptoms were brought under control as soon as possible.
Holly exited the Tara shuttle port in the early Irish morning, took a deep breath of unfiltered surface air, and began to make a direct bee-line to the place that had almost become her home-away-from-home on the surface: Fowl Manor.
To say that Artemis Fowl was not having a good day was a bit of an understatement.
For one thing, he was being forced by his own conscience to wait for Holly outside. Outside! He knew that Holly had always been less-than-comfortable stepping inside the Manor after his initial kidnapping of her, so he never asked her to come inside, and she didn't impose on him, and the situation worked.
For another thing, he found that his new ability to understand animals was quite taxing. At first, the scientist in him was fascinated by this. Decoding the animal language was something that many scientists were working on with only limited success. However, the novelty of it was quickly wearing off. It turns out that animals were only interested in two things: namely food and sex.
"Hey, female…" A squirrel chattered from the branch of the tree that Artemis was waiting under. "Do you like my nuts?"
"Yes, I do like your nuts." The female squirrel responded from a different tree.
"Don't I have a large collection?"
"Do you want to be my mate?" The male squirrel asked.
The response came almost immediately. "Sure."
Artemis rolled his eyes. True love. However, the boy's will to ignore the two squirrels came to an abrupt end when the female squirrel jumped over to the male squirrel's tree and immediately began to work on 'becoming his mate'.
"For goodness sakes!" Artemis growled loudly, only vaguely aware that it was coming out in Squirrel. "I'm really happy for you two and all, but do you really have to do that in broad daylight?"
The two squirrels stop what they were doing, both of them staring down at the human that had interrupted them. "A two-leg that can speak?" The female squirrel gasped. "I've never heard of such a thing!"
"Of course I can speak!" Artemis responded hotly. "Now would you please take your… activities somewhere else?"
"Don't put down mating until you've tried it." The male squirrel said firmly, causing a brilliant blush to color Artemis' pale face. He was too busy gasping for air like a fish out of water to hear the male and female squirrel attempting to give him 'The Talk'.
Holly was expecting to find Artemis in some distress. To have no magic but all the negative side-effects was a really sour deal, and she knew it. But what she didn't expect was to find a profusely blushing Mud Boy outside under one of the many trees that were on the Manor's grounds, with two squirrels attempting to teach him how to mate.
She swooped down to his level and unshielded. "I don't even what to know what this is about." She was picturing Artemis having some sort of tryst on the Manor grounds and the local wildlife was attempting to correct his technique. But wasn't fourteen too young for kinky things like that?
"Holly! Thank God you're here!" Artemis rushed to her, his blush still visible. Once again, Holly noticed that he was speaking in Gnommish.
"You know, Artemis, I don't mind speaking in English." Holly said.
"Hey, mate, look at this!" The male squirrel nudged his companion with his tail. "He tells us off for trying to mate, and now that female shows up and now he's swimming in pheromones! Go for it, Two-Leg! Make her your mate!"
Holly's eyes snapped to Artemis, who blushed even deeper and couldn't seem to meet her eyes. It was almost like… "Artemis… can you understand those squirrels?" She asked.
Artemis hesitated before nodding. "It's not just the squirrels. It's any language. I believe that I have gained your Gift of Tongues."
"What are you waiting for?" The female squirrel called to Artemis. "Take her now! Go!"
"Um… can we, maybe, go somewhere else?" Artemis asked.
"Sure." Holly said, joining Artemis as they walked away from the two cat-calling squirrels.
"I'm sorry for what those squirrels said." Artemis said in a small voice.
"Why on earth are you sorry for what they said?" Holly asked.
"All those things about me, and… you." Artemis said slowly.
"Those squirrels didn't say anything that I didn't all ready know." Holly said shortly.
Artemis stopped in his tracks. "What?" He gasped.
"Elvin senses are much better than a human's." Holly said. "And it's perfectly natural, Artemis. You're going through puberty, so it's only natural that your body will start producing pheromones around women." Artemis didn't respond. "So, what about the Gift of Tongues is bothering you?"
"Is there any way to control it?" Artemis asked. "So far I can speak a language if I just think about it. But if someone speaks to me in a language, I feel compelled to answer in the same language. I can't afford to get into conversations with every animal that I come across."
"And I suppose simply ignoring those animals is out of the question." Holly laughed.
"It is difficult to ignore them when they attempt to teach me about reproduction." Artemis commented.
"Listen, Artemis, don't worry about it too much. You're a smart enough human that people will not be shocked that they can't seem to find a language that you don't know. And, as for animals, don't let what they say get to you too much. They live in a much less complicated world then we do."
"You mean in a world where if you are attracted to someone, you should just dive right in without any concern for the taboos you may break in doing so." Artemis said, almost casually.
Holly turned to look up at her Mud Boy companion. "Artemis…" She gasped.
Artemis gave her his best vampire smile. "You know me, Holly. Have I ever been one to just let things go?"
"Artemis…?" Holly repeated, with a little more uncertainty as he stepped closer to her and leaned down, as if to kiss her.
However, Artemis stopped in his tracks when his lips were only a heartbeat away from hers. He seemed to be searching for something in her eyes. Whether he found what he was searching for or not, Holly would never find out. He pulled away from her. "Perhaps we should continue this conversation some other time."
To her shock, Holly had found herself to be breathlessly anticipating his lips brushing against hers. "Artemis, wait…" She gasped.
"I'm ready for you, Holly Short." Artemis said over his shoulder as he walked away. "But you don't seem to be ready for me. Some other time, perhaps." And then he was gone, vanished as quickly as if he were actually a fairy.
For a time, Holly could not move. "Yes… another time." She whispered as she shielded and disappeared.
LES: Sorry, no kiss. That's because their first kiss is in "The Time Paradox". So that is literally 'another time'. I hope that you enjoyed this fic, bipolar though it is.