Set directly after the second to last chapter of The Last Guardian. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. Begins right after Artemis's death and originally intended to be a onshot, but Artemis kidnapped my use and held it for ransom. I just couldn't stop writing- I'm at 30,000 words and it hasn't even been a week. Updates won't be as regular as I would like, but I had to post this. First Artemis Fowl fic, and, as always, enjoy!
Holly couldn't move. It was like she had forgotten how to use her legs, even how to breathe- she couldn't do anything but stare at the sight of Butler and the teen in his arms. She couldn't hear; it was like her ears were full of cotton and the world had ceased to exist except for the sight of Butler cradling Artemis. The bodyguard shook his young charge roughly, his mouth forming words. Holly couldn't hear, but she could tell he was shouting at Artemis. Butler roughly laid the boy on the ground and began chest compressions, furiously trying to start Artemis's heart for him. He breathed air into the teen's lungs, and Holly couldn't tear her eyes away form the sight. She knew that all his actions were in vain, but she didn't have the energy to stop him.
Instead, she remained on her hands and knees, her senses slowly returning to her, watching as Butler ceased his attempts to bring Artemis back to life. He leaned over the fallen heir, staring in disbelief. "No. No. No. Artemis, no!"
"He knew," Holly whispered, her eyes only for Artemis. "He knew before he went in there what would happen. He knew he would die! God damn it, Artemis!" Holly let out a strangled cry and pounded the ground with her fist. Her voice was low and choked with tears and shaking, and the tight feeling in her chest made it impossible to speak further. She crawled over to him, breathing hard and staring down at Artemis. She had seem him unconscious before, seen him covered in bruises and coughing and bleeding, but this was different. This was so much worse.
He looked almost peaceful. He was no longer frowning in concentration or focused on some project or another or working on ways to outsmart Foaly. Not even when he was asleep did he appear to completely free and content. She reached up, stroking his cheek with a trembling hand, then let out another yell and grabbed Artemis by his shoulders, shaking him roughly. "How could you do this? How could you just give up and go in there to die?" His mismatched eyes stared blankly up at her, the light of life absent in a horribly dead gaze, blue and gold staring through her to the sky. She slapped him as hard as she could, and he didn't even react, his head flopping to the side without any resistance. Holly almost couldn't help it; she was furious, at herself and him, and needed to hit something, and Artemis was available.
"God damn you, Artemis!" she yelled again, falling back on her elbows and throwing her head back to stare at the overcast sky. The sun was just beginning to rise. If only they had managed to delay Opal by a few more minutes, then they could have taken her down themselves and Artemis would be alive.
Butler remained frozen where he was, staring at the motionless body of his young charge. Finally, he tore his eyes away to look frantically to Holly. "What's his plan?" he asked, his voice desperate. "Holly, what's his plan? He always has one. He never-"
"There is no plan, Butler! There is none! He's dead!" Holly's scream was hoarse and filled with pain and she hit the ground again, beginning to shake. She turned back to Artemis again who lay still where he had collapsed. Sapphire and gold stared blankly up at the sky, and his dead, staring gaze was one of the worst things she had ever seen in her entire life. Eyes that were usually so observant and aware, now reduced colored orbs of nothing. She crawled to him, tenderly closing his right eyelid so she could only his golden iris was visible. "Oh, god. Artemis, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." She then closed his fairy eye as well, because seeing his dead gaze staring blankly up at the sky was horrible, especially when it was her fairy eye that was gazing up into nothing. That was disturbing on multiple levels.
She just wanted to wake up. She wanted to wake up in the Haven and pick up Artemis from Dr. Argon's office and try to frighten him with fours, as she had ever since he'd promised he was cured of Atlantis Complex. She wanted to wake up in a city where technology existed and Opal Koboi was still in prison and the Berserker Gate was still waiting for its key. Because, if this was a nightmare, it was far too long and far too detailed and horrifying and she just needed it to end.
The sun rose over the horizon, casting light on the closed Berserker Gate and the three figures resting below its tower. They were a mismatched trio, with one huge, hulking figure trembling and sitting beside a small fairy covered with dirt and blood, whose tiny fists were clenched and mismatched eyes were haunted and teary, the limp body of a human teen beside her, his suit torn and caked with mud and blood of deep scarlet, his eyes closed, his mouth slightly open, though no breath slipped past his lips. It almost looked like the scene from a movie, a movie where the protagonist had died and left behind a pointless story with no hero and characters who now had nothing to keep them going.
Neither Butler nor Holly had the willpower to move. They just sat beside Artemis, watching over his body and sitting in silence. When the bodies on the hill began to move, though, they had no choice.
Animals that had collapsed once the fairy spirits were pulled towards the afterlife stirred to life, bounding lightly off the hill. Mummies and skeletons and dead bodies that had been disturbed remained motionless; they were dead before possession and they were still dead after. The bodies of two humans began to awaken, though, one a four year old boy, the other a sixteen year old girl. Butler and Holly didn't turn or even notice what was happening until they heard footsteps.
Behind them was Juliet, holding a confused Beckett, whose arms were wrapped around her neck. She clearly had no idea what was going on and remembered nothing of being possessed. She stared down at the three at the bottom of the hill in shock, running towards them to stand behind Butler and looking around at them in uncertainty and fear. "Holly? What are you doing here? Butler, are you okay? What's wrong with Artemis?"
Butler didn't seem to have the power to speak. He remained still, staring at the dead youth's face, forcing Holly to speak. She turned her head to stare up at Juliet, fully aware that her eyes were filled with tears. "Juliet, get Beckett back to the house. Everything'll be explained later. We're fine. Butler and I are fine."
"What about Artemis?"
Holly shook her head, turning back around to stare at her friend. "He's gone."
The sun climbed higher in the sky, shining down on the two distraught friends and the dead body. They remained still, unmoving statues in place to watch over their friend as the sun rose on Artemis's death. It had been utterly silent for the longest time- no animals' calls to usher on the new day, no explosions from the nearby city that was still on fire- nothing. It was almost as if the time was hesitant to move on without Artemis. The world itself seemed to have stopped to grieve its loss.
A sharp ringing pierced the air, making them jump. The two looked around wildly, turning to Artemis, the source of the ringing. Instantly, thoughts of this being the beginning of a plan filled their minds and they scrambled forward to the body, trying to find whatever was causing the noise.
Butler pulled a cell phone out of his pocket, which was ringing. He frowned, wondering who in the world still had cell phone coverage and would be calling Artemis before answering the call. "Hello?"
"Artemis! Thank god!"
Butler recognized the voice as Angeline Fowl, and horror seized him. Of course. Artemis had given her a cell phone that he'd modified himself so she could call him while he was underground with Atlantis Complex... he couldn't believe he'd forgotten about her.
He'd faced down a squad of goblins, a troll, an LEP attack squadron, but nothing made him feel worse than the relief in the dead boy's mother's voice. He shook his head and closed his eyes so he didn't have to see the body. "No. It's Butler."
"Butler? Why are you on Arty's phone? Is he okay? I've been trying to get in contact with him ever since everything went to hell, but his father and I were in a building that almost collapsed and, once we got out, we were trying to find a way back to Ireland. We paid a man on the shore to give us his boat and we're on our way right now; we'll be there soon. Is everyone all right?"
Butler shook his head weakly. No. No, everyone wasn't all right. He opened his mouth to say as such, but the words stuck in his throat. Saying that Artemis was dead would make it true.
"The twins are fine. I'm fine. Juliet's fine."
There was a short silence before Angeline asked, a touch of terror in her voice, "What about Artemis?"
He shook his head again, unable to tear his eyes off Artemis's dead face. He couldn't say this. Not over the phone. "How far out are you from Ireland?"
"I don't know; about an hour. Butler, is Artemis okay?"
"You need to get back here as fast as possible." Then he hung up, dropping the phone to the ground and lowering his head, fighting back the urge to scream. Holly was watching him, so he eventually forced himself to speak once again. "His parents are coming. They'll be in Ireland in an hour; probably be back at Fowl Estate in an hour and a half."
Holly nodded. She turned back to stare at Artemis, then shuddered and slowly stood on shaking limbs, allowing warm tears to begin their tracks down her face. "I have to go. No one underground knows about what's happened here. I don't… I don't even know if there's anyone left."
"Call me when you can," Butler whispered, even though the idea of his fairy friends underground seemed so distant when compared to the reality right in front of him. "They're my friends, too, Holly."
"I'll come back as soon as I can. I promise." She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him as far as she could reach, allowing him to rest one huge hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry."
When she finally pulled back, her face was stoic and blank. The face of an LEP captain, not of a grieving friend. "I'lll be in touch, big man," she said, then turned, walking across the field to find the nearest above ground base. Then she paused and glanced over her shoulder at Butler, who was still kneeling by his charge's side, a hulking and depressed figure that nearly made her give up her battle against losing it completely. "Tell his mother how he died. She deserves to know what he died for."
Butler nodded weakly, reaching down to take Artemis's hand. "Go to your people, Captain. You have a job to do."
Holly tried to smile before she started off once more. She didn't know how she was going to get underground, but she had to. She had to carry out Artemis's last wish and give his message to Foaly, if the centaur was even still alive. She had to see her home, or what was left of it. She had to get away from her friend's dead body and try to wipe the sight from her mind, even if it was forever burned into her memories.