Title: Schrödinger's Zombie
Authors: FreudianCascade and WingedFlight
Warning: Heavy spoilers for The Last Guardian.
Summary: In the aftermath of the Great Techno-Crash, not everyone is there to pick up the pieces.
Author's Note: This chapter has a spoiler alert for the Gnomish script running beneath the pages of The Last Guardian. If you haven't translated it yet, or do not wish it to be spoiled for you, please hold off on reading this until you do!
The last will and testament of Artemis Fowl the Second, being the final wishes of Artemis Fowl in the event of his death at the hands of the pixie Opal Koboi. Should he survive for forty-eight hours after the date of writing, this will becomes null and void and shall have no legal weight in court human or fairy. I, Artemis Fowl the Second, being of exceedingly sound mind and reasonably sound body, bequeath my estate and advice as follows.
For one instant when Artemis first opened his eyes, everything made sense - and then nothing did. There were people hovering over him and images floating behind his eyes. The world became confused and vague, and he couldn't place names or faces or events. Lost and bewildered, he had only one clear thought:
I'm not used to feeling so unsure.
When he looked up, he could see the spiralling branches of the rose bush rising up against the sky. Orange petals fluttered down around him and he took some comfort in the familiar. I was right. These are spectacular, and I made them. More than the stranger's words, the thought calmed him.
And then the strange face with the mismatched eyes bent over his again, blocking his view of the clouds. The person was saying something but the words twisted like the rose branches and Artemis could not quite catch their meaning. He took one deep breath, and then another. It did not help: the rush of panic came anyways.
They assured him they were friends, and he knew instinctively they were right. Later he would say that was why he allowed them to help him to his feet, to carry him back to the house on the edge of the manor grounds. Truth was, he could not have prevented them if his life had depended upon it.
As they walked his vision cleared. The girl spoke, and his attempts to fix on her words were met with varying degrees of success. Artemis missed his roses.
Before he could entirely process what was happening he found himself seated on a couch with a blanket draped around his shoulders and the people who had woken him up - his friends? - crowded in a semicircle around him. As the centaur drew a blood sample from one wrist and the boulder of a man asked the blank-faced teenager to recite scientific formulas, the girl quietly pressed a mug against his palm. Artemis's fingers closed automatically around the ceramic and he frowned, realizing how cold he was. Shivering beneath the hospital gown. He took one small sip, and another. Savored the tactile tang of a burn on his tongue, remembered the sweet aroma of chocolate.
"Back up," the girl barked over her shoulder. The centaur and the bodyguard exchanged a glance. "Let him breathe. I'll shoot him with some magic to be safe, and then you guys can run your tests." Her hand tightened against his shoulder. "Now, please."
The girl exhaled. "Anything seem injured, Fowl?"
He took a moment to arrange the words. "Ribs, I think. Likely cracked. Beyond that, no, I - I think I'm fine. Your name - it's Poppy?" Something like a flower, he remembered. A bright sort of name, a red and green sort of name. Two syllables, as crisp as Christmas.
"Close. Not quite right, though." She wrapped one hand around his, steadying the mug. Artemis watched with a detached sort of fascination as a trio of blue sparks drifted from her fingers to slip, almost lazily, beneath his skin. A moment later something in his chest clicked back into place, and it became much easier to breathe. At this range she smelled of citrus and grass. Pretty, in a pointy sort of way. "I'm Holly."
To my friend Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police I leave the thirty seven solid gold bars that were the price of her release when I kidnapped her all those years ago. I know that I can never make up for that crime, but hopefully you can think of me as a friend when you do think of me.
Holly Short narrowed her eyes, unused to seeing her old friend look so lost. Watching Artemis return to himself reminded her strongly of the way Foaly's GPS systems reacted in the hours following the Techno-Crash - buzzing in and out of frequency, occasionally their signals would land in the proper range for a moment or two before slipping back from coherency again, often spinning around in a complete circle to make their way back to green.
Once she began telling him the stories of their adventures, she found she could not stop. As Foaly ran an X-ray scanner over the teenager's head, as Butler insisted on testing the clone's reflexes, as Artemis himself tentatively suggested an IQ test, the words poured from her like they had been waiting for months to be released. The beginning had seemed like the best place to start, and so she told him of an unfortunate encounter in an Italian restaurant, of a kidnapping by an old oak tree, of an acorn that had slipped into her boot. More reluctantly, she spoke of a burning whaling vessel, of a time-stop, of a cotton ball taped to her arm and the singing of a sedative headache.
Once he'd had some time to readjust to the world of the living, Artemis proved to be a fantastic audience. He listened with an obsessive attention, occasionally closing his eyes to conceptualize a particularly difficult scene. She could practically see the wheels turning in his head, and wondered exactly what he was thinking. Then again, she realized with a pulse of relief, this IS Arty. I'm better off not knowing. He'll elaborate when he's ready, and not a moment sooner.
It was easier to tell the stories this time. Gathering the information for Angeline's sake had necessitated an understanding of exactly how events had unfolded, from all perspectives. She spoke slowly and evenly, and Artemis sat cross-legged on the couch beside her to listen.
For a time, it was enough.
My faithful bodyguard Butler is of course entitled to his generous severance package and is under no obligation to stay on, but it would be greatly appreciated if he renewed his contract and remained in the employ of the Fowl family. Apart from his pension, I wish Butler to become the legal owner of the apartments in which he has lived since I was born and the dojo where he tried to teach me to fight.
Several days were spent inside in this fashion. For once, everybody present was in agreement: it was unwise to return Artemis to his family until it was certain that he was healthy and unharmed. Aside from the sixth toe, the clone was physically normal - poor muscle tone, perhaps, and a heart that beat a touch too rapidly, but the first was to be expected for Artemis Fowl and the second was likely to level out over time. His intelligence had not been impacted by the ordeal; if anything, much to Foaly's dismay, test results showed him to have somehow gained a few IQ points through the cloning process.
During those first few days Artemis spent a disproportionate amount of time asleep, often drifting off while Holly was in mid sentence, his head lolling to rest on the elf's shoulder. Knowing his charge to be an exceptionally light sleeper, Butler was concerned to note Holly's ability to slip out from beneath Artemis, lower him gently to the pillow, and tuck a blanket around him without causing him to as much as stir.
Also to be expected, Foaly reassured the anxious bodyguard. Not like there's a precedent, but I'd bet returning to life was an energy-intensive process. Like trying to do a hard reset on a computer after it crashes, you're going to lose quite a bit of power to getting everything back online again, recompiling all the code, as it were... Butler cut the explanation there, before the centaur could embark on a tangent that was too point was made: Artemis's problem was solely an issue of memory.
Upon waking the teenager said quietly that he dreamed of earthworms, fractals, and the color orange.
Midway through Holly's account of the goblin rebellion Artemis remembered the unique pain of a plasma spark brushing against his knee. He remained quiet but tried to focus on the sensation, amplify it, allow the memory to echo through him. One spark became two, and connections began to flow. It was not a painful process, merely an uncomfortable one, as if his head was being stretched to breaking point from the inside out. He grit his teeth; the sensation passed. By the time Holly began to detail the Chicago affair he was no longer absorbing new information, but checking the facts as she presented them against the narrative that was snapping into place inside his mind.
Finally, Artemis spoke.
"Bonded by trauma," the teenager murmured midway through another of the elf's stories. Holly paused.
"I haven't gotten to that part yet, Artemis."
"But that conversation did happen. We survived the ordeal in that horrible amusement park, and were bonded by trauma. I would regain my memory an hour later, but the sentiment continues to fit." Artemis lifted his head, his forehead creased in concentration. "Am I correct, Holly?"
She sagged in relief against the couch. "Yes, that's right."
"You oversimplified the scenario in Murmansk, by the way. That particular deception was never a sure thing, merely the best plan at hand. I was young and impulsive. Placed in the same scenario today, I doubt I would have taken that risk." He quirked a half-smile.
"Welcome back, Mud Boy. I almost missed that smug grin." As she slugged him on the shoulder, she thought about how she was repeating herself and knew - just as he did - that this time that statement was a lie. She had missed that smug grin very, very much.
To my father I leave the three hundred million dollars in bonds that are hidden, believe it or not, under my own bed: the last spot anyone would think to look and possibly the most booby trapped place on earth.
His father cried when Artemis walked into the room.
Holly had warned Angeline, and Angeline had warned him, but it was impossible to be prepared.
No longer ashamed of his tears, as he might have been earlier in life, Artemis Sr made no move to wipe them away. He stood in frozen disbelief as his son moved hesitantly forward. And then Arty tripped, falling forward into his father's arms.
It had been explained to him thrice, not because he could not understand but in order to verify sources. Angeline was the first, repeating a story that had been passed along to her by son and fairy alike. Holly was second - they'd met once before in the immediate aftermath the Great Techno-Crash but whereas the first time she brought sorrow, this time it was hope. Third was a video link conference with a technical consultant who munched carrots nervously as he lectured on the viability of the cloning device.
"It was a risky plan," Foaly admitted, "Gods only know how it succeeded."
But it had succeeded and now his son was with him once more. Artemis Sr held his son close and thanked the heavens.
Later they strolled together through the gardens. It was not hard to notice the clumsiness with which young Artemis walked.
"It's this toe," he complained, and at his father's questioning look elaborated, "I have an extra toe on my right foot. A byproduct of the cloning process. Captain Short offered to sedate me and remove it, but I declined. Perhaps that was a poor decision."
Artemis Sr raised an eye and looked down at his own prosthetic leg. "If I could learn to walk with this," he began.
"Duly noted," Artemis responded.
To my darling mother I leave my stocks portfolio, including my shares in ethical funds and registered charities, which I know she will manage with her usual moral determination. I also bequeath to her the department store on New York's Fifth Avenue which I had planned to give to her on her birthday.
Aside from experiencing a dull sense of horror at the realization that Holly and his mother had inside jokes - and that those jokes revolved mostly around him! - Artemis was impressed by how well Angeline handled the entire situation. When asked about the grave on the hillside, she would spin a lie that proved he didn't inherit his wits solely from his father.
For his eighteenth birthday, she'd begin, her eldest son asked for and received the opportunity to travel on his own. A typical teenager in that sense, she declared, anxious to exert his independance. Even so, every precaution that his parents could muster was put into place to ensure his safety, and he was to stay in regular contact; at the first sign of any problems, Butler would be on the next flight out. He left for the trip in complete secrecy, of course. It was all very covert.
As a result Artemis had been in Cairo, happily researching a newly-discovered set of hieroglyphics, when the Techno-Crash hit. The engine in his rented Land Rover had immediately exploded, leaving the raven-haired teenager no choice but to trek the three hours back to civilization under the scorching Egyptian sun.
The resulting bout of heat stroke, Angeline would continue, left him hospitalized. On the brink of death for several days, he was confined to bed for an additional month. During the time it took his parents to return to Ireland, the hospital had identified the unconscious boy and sent a poorly-worded telegram to his family. Due to a simple translation error, Artemis Fowl Jr's extended hospital stay became a permanent one.
In the post-Crash world, it had taken Artemis several months to recover and pick his way back to his family. During that time, they mourned his passing and lamented not forcing their pale son to spend more time outside in his youth.
The lie rankled. Butler would never have been so careless, and it certainly would not have taken Artemis so long to return home in a crisis. Luckily, any acquaintance who thought it prudent to ask about the grave was unfamiliar with the Fowls, so the lie held up beautifully. Closer family friends, while knowing better than to expect a straight answer, still found it a thrilling tale.
To the centaur Foaly I leave the blueprints to an interstellar craft that is so advanced that it makes his spacecraft look like hot air balloons. I have hidden the designs inside his own system where he would never think to look for them. To find them Foaly must open his own security file on me, blink eight times, and say the words "Artemis Fowl is smarter than I am." If this does not work, then at least I will smile in the afterlife.
When the computer chimed, Foaly barely glanced at the results. He had a dozen searches going at any one time, plus a whole slew of minor alerts set to notify him of any error within the system. Frond knew, it was probably just a notification that some idiot had forgotten to properly insert his paper into the recycling tube. Yet the notification was blinking more urgently than usual, so he took a moment to dig out a carrot before sliding his customized swivel chair towards the monitor.
And - surprise, surprise - it looked as though a search he'd set up two days before had finally turned back results. Negative ones. D'arvit.
"You look particularly glum," commented Mulch as the dwarf swaggered into the room.
Foaly glanced at him sharply. "Why are you even here?"
"Run out of that moisturizing cream? Down to your last carrot?" Mulch guessed, neglecting to answer.
The centaur sighed. "Artemis's challenge. The rocket plans. I thought I'd found them but even when I performed the, er, password obligations, nothing came up."
Mulch gave a knowing nod. During the six months where it had seemed that all hope was lost, he'd spent many afternoons sitting in a refrigerated storage unit in the London docklands chewing on frozen chicken as he reread the last will and testament of Artemis Fowl the Second. He'd gotten a great deal of glee from the instructions presented to Foaly.
"I'm half convinced the entire thing is a joke," Foaly was saying, "But, on the other hand, if there's one last code Artemis is expecting me to find and break, I can't very well let him win. Especially not with him alive again."
"True," Mulch replied. "So you blinked how many times and then said the passcode and then you did whatever that last bit meant -"
"What last bit?" Foaly asked sharply.
"The line about Mud Boy smiling in the afterlife. 'Course it meant something - Artemis took the time to write it by hand." The dwarf shook his head sadly. "Chicken scratch. Kids these days have no sense of penmanship. Too busy with their computers."
Foaly swung around to his keyboard and started typing, muttering about how it was so obvious that the last phrase was an extra code, of course he'd known that, he was just checking to make sure Mulch knew, too.
"Uh huh," Mulch said doubtfully, and snagged one of Foaly's abandoned carrots.
Minutes later, the computer beeped. The screen went black and then opened to a new folder that Foaly had never before seen - a folder hidden deep within his own servers. Just like the will promised. Hands trembling with excitement, he clicked the icon for the file and held his breath as rows of text scrolled out before him.
Barely a second later, an automated voice began reading the message in Artemis's driest tone:
"Really, Foaly, you couldn't break the code while I was still dead? You had six months, after all. I could have arranged to clone myself in that time. In fact, I did. And what exactly have you accomplished?"
For my brother Beckett I have purchased a lifetimes supply of slime so he can coat himself in grunge as often as he pleases. I also wish Beckett to have the ant farm, provided he promises not to eat any of the ants.
It turned out that dying a noble and heroic death was easy enough for Artemis Fowl.
Once upon a time, he supposed he would be horrified at how easily martyrdom presented itself. Of course he had a plan, but there had never been any guarantee. The teenager had placed his chances of survival at thirty percent, tops, and the entire plan had hung on Holly's ability to remember word for word exactly what he had said. It also depended on how angry she was with him; Artemis knew better than anybody that her trust was an easy enough thing to break.
He knew the plan had been cruel. Never one for karma, he nonetheless privately mused that the indignity of returning to life could very well be indicative of some sort of higher punishment.
For starters, Artemis's first action upon awakening the afternoon after his return had been to overbalance while getting out of bed. Butler had come running at the crash, and had nearly panicked upon discovering his young charge sprawled out face down upon the rug.
Artemis lifted his head and calmly asked to see Foaly. "I believe," he said in something of a daze, "the centaur might have been misinformed as to how many toes a human is supposed to have."
Upon reuniting with Mulch, the dwarf had jokingly compared the slight tilt in his gait to a zombie's shamble.
In fact, Mulch promptly decided the joke was hilarious and quickly took to moaning about brains and shuffling his feet about every time Artemis entered the vicinity. It didn't help that the young genius continually insisted that his brain function was fine and the body he currently inhabited had never actually been dead, thus rendering the entire comparison moot.
Mulch still found it funny.
More annoyingly, it turned out that a six month-old body had exactly the sort of immune system one would expect. Worse: most six month-old infants had, by that age, at least been exposed to some germs.
Despite undergoing every gene therapy and inoculation that Foaly could think to administer, over the next year the clone would still manage to succumb to whooping cough, pneumonia (twice), several virulent cases of the flu, mumps, an ear infection, laryngitis (much to his friend's amusement), strep throat, and six separate instances of the common cold. Finally, after a few weeks of near perfect health, an outbreak of chickenpox amongst a group of Myles and Beckett's peers would promptly fail to infect either twin while leaving their older brother covered in horribly itchy red spots.
"Cheer up, Mud Boy. At least chickenpox rarely appear in clusters of four."
To Juliet Butler, who has protected my brothers so faithfully, I leave my sound system which is based on gel speaker technology and which should make even her collection of modern music sound reasonably inoffensive. I also leave to Juliet the three sports cars and a lifetime subscription to the wrestling channel.
Juliet returned to the manor at an irritatingly late hour. While travel delays were expected given the state of transportation post-Crash, she had long since learned that a regular training routine was key. As such, she had reluctantly risen with the dawn an hour later and spent a solid two hours in the dojo while loud pop music blared from the speakers.
By now she had resumed full bodyguard duties to the Fowl twins, but had requested two weeks off to attend a nearby wrestling tournament. The travel had been miserable; the event itself exhilarating. Juliet spent a solid half hour of her workout perfecting a new move she'd picked up while watching the show.
By the time her playlist moved into the slower songs, designating cool-down, Juliet was sticky and breathing hard. She paused to grab a towel, running it over her face before closing her eyes and tipping her head back.
The door behind her opened, allowing a breath of fresh air to drift in. It smelled like early autumn, like the first fallen leaves. She inhaled deeply, lungs burning. "Hold it open for a sec, would you?" she asked her brother, wiping her face with the towel again.
The door stayed open, but whoever stood in the threshold shifted their feet awkwardly - the sound pitter-patter soft against the dojo floor -
- not Dom.
Juliet stiffened and cast her eyes toward the wall-length mirror. The reflection staring impassively back at her was clear - a boy in a tailored suit, his face made even paler by the contrast with his raven hair.
Juliet was not, and had never been, a girl who scared easily. Her brother sometimes joked that his baby sister had never learned how to register fear. When startled, she would slip into a defensive stance, fierce. It was an instinct that went way back: even as a toddler she grimaced in photographs, baring her teeth to the unexpected camera flash. She had the sort of steel in her eyes that allowed her to take on opponents twice her size and win before the fight had even begun.
The apparition in the mirror was so terrifying that her breath caught. The air left the room.
To her everlasting shame, Juliet Butler fainted dead away.
She woke moments later to a concerned, frowning face. Juliet blinked, taking in the disconcertingly familiar features of the boy leaning over her, and proceeded to rub her eyes. When she opened them again, Artemis was still there.
"I did not intend to alarm you," he said, his voice unusually apologetic as he offered a hand to help her up. Juliet eyed it uncertainly. "But then, I had believed Butler would have warned you by now."
"I've been out of town," she responded automatically. The next moment, her dizzy brain caught up to her mouth. "My god," she blurted, "Beckett was right."
Artemis frowned. "Pardon?"
"Ghosts," she said.
"Ah." He was still holding out his hand, his arm beginning to shake from even that small exertion. "A reasonable assumption," he said, "And close to the truth, if you wish to see it that way. But I can assure you, I am flesh and blood."
"Artemis? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you - you're dead."
His mouth twitched. "Only temporarily."
"Only - only temporarily? No, that's - that's definitely not how dead works. Not even for you. There was a casket, Artemis. We buried it. I - I saw, I was there, I -"
She shook her head so vehemently her braid slapped the small of her back. The ghost raised one eyebrow. "Do I appear dead, then?"
She studied him hard. Pale veins, blue against the inside of his offered arm. Fine lines at the corners of his eyes, eyes like the surface of a frozen lake. One blink, then another. An eyelash fallen against his cheek. At this distance she could smell his cologne, the peppermint on his breath. Chest rising and falling. Each breath.
"My god," she repeated. And then, "Does this mean I have to give back the cars?"
I wish my brother Myles to inherit my laboratory and all its equipment, with access to the special projects room to be granted on his eighth birthday when he will be mature enough to deal with other dimensions, aliens, and time travel.
Nearly eight weeks to the day after Artemis returned from the dead, he finally managed to straighten out the mess that Myles had left on his desk. His will had placed an age limit upon permitting his brother access to his lab, of course, but in the stress of the moment he had neglected to impose the same restriction upon his study.
An unfortunate lapse in attention. Myles would pursue a task for exactly as long as it interested him, and then promptly abandon it for the next. Artemis was very careful to glean any useful findings from the boy's endeavors before relegating most of the evidence to the scrap heap.
It was also two days after his apparent twentieth birthday. Given that Foaly remained stubbornly tight-lipped about how much cosmetic work the clone had required to pass for the right age, and that clones were generally not acknowledged to have birthdays, Artemis had reluctantly consumed a slice of cake with his family and put up with a small gathering of acquaintances.
The friend he had truly wished to see had gotten his message, but found herself with no choice but to wait for an available shuttle to the surface.
Now Artemis sat at a spotless desk, and she perched on the chair he had imported from Haven a year and a half ago. The teenager had taken the initiative to prepare a pot of Earl Grey tea, though in typical fashion he had steeped it for too long, and the two ceramic mugs sat neglected.
It didn't matter. He owed Holly an explanation, and she'd had six months to mull over the questions he had left behind when he died.
"The gold bars. Why did you leave them to me, Artemis?"
"This is a trick," Artemis stated. Holly arched one eyebrow in a manner that he was positive she'd picked up from his mother.
"Obviously. You're expecting me to tell you that I left it purely to atone for what I did all those years ago, and that any other purpose had not crossed my mind." It wasn't a question.
"Yes," she said.
His forehead creased. "I won't lie to you, it did occur to me that the fuel needed to sustain the cloning process would be expensive, and I did not wish to leave you with that burden."
The elf tapped two fingers against the arm of the chair but said nothing, her feet planted firmly on the floor.
"But that was not my primary motivation. Holly, you've always chosen your own path and I trusted you to put the gold to good use, perhaps even better use than I would have. Captain Holly Short, with a world to rebuild and thirty-seven bars of gold at her disposal. Unstoppable." The teenager gave a slight shrug, attempting to gauge his friend's reaction. Finding it difficult to determine what thoughts were swirling behind her mismatched eyes, he tapped his fingers against his leg as he spoke once more. "Is that a satisfactory answer?"
She exhaled. "Fine. And one more question?"
"The forehead thing. All I had to do was remove my helmet and splash water on my face before dropping in to see Foaly, and the entire plan could have been shot."
"It was never about your forehead. Frankly, I'm astonished there was enough of my DNA left there. A thousand different factors could have removed it." Artemis shrugged, relishing a chance to finally elaborate on the details of what he privately considered to be his finest scheme. The morality of it aside, he could say with confidence that not many people could claim to have successfully cheated death.
"But Foaly put my head under an electron microscope," said Holly. "I had to hold it sideways for nearly an hour, my neck hurt for days - you're welcome, by the way."
"Holly," the teenager said, leaning forward slightly in his chair and pressing his fingertips against each other, "Think."
The elf huffed, folding her arms. "Don't start that with me. I've spent half a year babysitting a clone, trying to figure out why you did what you did. Explain, in plain Gnomish."
"Very well. If one intends to stick a friend's head under a microscope or, more likely, to inform said friend that there is no chance the microscope will find anything of use, one is likely to look into that friend's eyes." The boy tapped the side of his face, beneath his right eye. "You've still got one of mine. Your magic may have altered the eye's diameter, but I'm positive there is still more than a sufficient amount of my DNA present there and it would be painless enough to extract. The kiss was just to plant the idea, and be sure Foaly looked in the right spot."
"Someday, Mud Boy, somebody's going to have to train that out of you," Holly mused. Artemis raised an eyebrow.
She cracked a rare smile. "There was, according to Foaly, enough genetic material left on my forehead to create a clone army. That horrifying thought aside, apparently you've got an exceptionally slobbery kiss."
For the first time in his new life, Artemis Fowl was entirely at a loss for words.
Holly grinned, reaching into her pocket. "I know it's a bit late and you don't like to celebrate your birthday, but this one's special so I got you a gift anyways."
"Holly -" Artemis began, but the elf cut him off with a wave of her hand.
"Just open it," she said, pressing a small cardboard box into her friend's palm. Artemis, knowing better than to argue, lifted the lid of the box to reveal a bed of crinkled tissue paper with a gold coin nestled snugly in the middle of it. It had a perfect hole shot clean through the center.
"We - well, we buried the old one with you. I shot this one just now, before coming inside," said the elf. Artemis closed his eyes.
"To remind you that deep beneath the layers of deviousness, there is a spark of decency. Perhaps you could blow on that spark occasionally."
Artemis closed his fingers around the coin. It was warm against his palm. "Yes. Perhaps."
The teenager, much to Holly's dismay, seemed crestfallen. "I thought I had contrived to outgrow the need for it," he said. Holly rolled her eyes.
"You know, Artemis, I bet I finally figured out what your problem is. It took me years, but I've got it this time."
"Oh?" The boy arched an eyebrow, mentally running through the list. What this time? She was unlikely to accuse him of displaying passive-aggressive tendencies, he had already firmly dealt with obsessive-compulsive and delusional behaviors, and he had made a remarkable attempt to scale back his acknowledged sociopathic traits. As far as mental health was concerned, he was confident he had made tremendous strides over the last few years. For a moment, Artemis Fowl was almost baffled.
"It's simple. Can't believe we didn't see it before. A breakthrough. Argon would have to write another book." Holly leaned forwards and tapped him on the right temple. "You, my old friend, think too much. This one isn't that complicated."
One moment passed, and then another. Finally, he nodded in understanding.
The first coin had been to remind Artemis that he had a spark of decency in him. The new one was to make sure he never forgot what he could do with it.
After growing up with Artemis Fowl and adoring these books to pieces, WingedFlight and I devoured The Last Guardian and subsequently spent the next few days as twin emotional wrecks. It was a unanimous decision to write a goodbye for the series, and I suppose we can't be surprised that this fic came out as more of a love letter than anything else.
Truly a collab effort: the bits with the roses were mine (as was the slobber joke!), the friendship between Holly and Angeline was hers, and most of the rest of it was us both. Of course, the italicised prefaces in the second part of this fic are lifted directly from Artemis's will, "bonded by trauma" is a call back to The Opal Deception, and the memory of the coin comes from The Arctic Incident. We snuck in many other little references, too - bonus points if you spot them!
Finally, it is worth noting that I'm willing to take the blame for any errors in explaining Schrodinger; I'm a psychology major, Jim, not a physicist! -Freud
P.S. She says it's a "proper goodbye," yet we've got another 7K of unedited fic - including a couple AUs - sitting on my hard drive. So we'll see. - Winged
P.P.S. Fair enough. I doubt we're done with this series yet. Not by a long shot. -Freud