Because communication breaks down, no matter who you are.

Thanks, as always, to ilex-ferox for the fabulous beta-ing.

Disclaimer: usual witticism about neither owning the AF franchise nor being a rich Irishman because of it.

A World Apart

The sun was not shining. It was never shining when she was around. Sometimes Artemis wished it would. He remembered, years ago, how she had lain on the bonnet of a car and the sun had made her skin golden. Generally, he tried to forget what came after that.

Right now, however, she was laughing. They were lying under a tree on a hill, watching the scene below. The sliver of moon above them was newly risen and its light was weak. It made the lights below seem brighter than they were.

Angeline was throwing a party. On the lawns behind the manor strings of golden lights hung stretched between the trees, illuminating the dancers and the drinkers. The music was nothing Juliet would recognise, but it was energetic enough for the lawn to be full of dancing couples. Everything seemed to glow soft and warm, as though they were watching a film from another world, from another time.

"It looks like fun, Artemis, why are you hiding up here?" She was propped up on her elbows, body pointing down the hill towards the party.

"The company's better," he replied, leaning back as well. "And I don't like dancing."

"Is it because all the music is in 4/4 time?" Holly prodded him with an elbow.

"No." He swatted away her arm. Although his Atlantis Complex was long cured, he didn't appreciate the jibe. "And you should count yourself lucky that Orion isn't here begging you to save him a dance."

She laughed again. "Very true. Point taken. Seriously though, Artemis, why aren't you down there, champagne in one hand, pretty girl in the other?"

Artemis tilted his head to look at her for moment, then he raised his glass to her. "Because I brought a bottle with me and you're quite pretty enough for me."

Holly blushed; he couldn't see the colour rise, but he could tell from the way she dipped her head away from him. "Well," she said, "you're very nice tonight."

"It's only the drink, don't worry yourself."

"You're terrible, Artemis." Laughing again, she waggled her feet unconsciously, keeping time with the music.

"Why aren't you down there?" he asked. "You like to dance."

"How do you know that?"

"Because in another few minutes your feet will have danced off, with or without you," he tilted his glass towards her wiggling appendages.

"I do like to dance. But, and this may have escaped your notice, I'm a fairy. Those are humans."

"I'm a human," he stated, somewhat pointlessly.

"You know, I think speaking to you only gets more confusing the more you drink. I didn't know you could get more obscure than you are when sober," Holly mused.

Artemis sighed and put down his glass. "I'm not drunk, you know."

"I know. But I think you're playing at it. What's up, Artemis, needing to cut loose?"

"No," he said, staring away from her towards the dancers.

"Uh huh."

"I simply wanted to spend some time with you. You're the one who's always saying we never get to 'hang out'." His voice was defensive and he poured himself more wine. "I'm sorry if the circumstances aren't to your liking."

"Okay, okay." Holly looked at him, baffled by his reaction. She watched him drink for a moment before laughing and saying, "So, you need to drink to hang out with me, is that it?"

"No!" he glared at her, "now you're being deliberately obtuse."

"Yep, that's me, deliberately obtuse. Artemis, I was just kidding-"

"Well, stop it, Holly. Why are you being so... so..."

"Concerned? Caring?"


"You know, Artemis, maybe I will go down and dance with them. You clearly don't care for my company."

"I just said that your company was what I wanted!" Artemis gestured helplessly with his hands, spilling some of the wine.

She looked at him and he looked back. The lights played across their faces, the swaying gold and white illuminating their skin. The night was black above them, the tree behind reaching up to meet it.

"I wish we could dance together," he said suddenly, earnestly.

Holly swallowed. "Down there, you mean."

He nodded.

"Me too."

He took another sip. She watched him drink, contemplating the expression on his face. It was unusual, almost meek: he looked up at her through his lashes, as though worried about what she would say next. She wondered, briefly, if she would ever grow tired of looking at him. She doubted it.

"We can do other things up here though," she said finally. "We can do things they never will."

"I'm sure we already have," he replied, his eyes still wary.

She chuckled and rolled to her feet.

"Are you going?" He looked up, concern catching in his voice.

"No," she said, and came to sit next him, facing him, her back to the lights. "No, I'm not going."

She took his glass away and laid it on the ground, next to the bottle. She brought one hand up to his face, her fingers tracing the skin below his eye where hers used to be. He swallowed and said nothing, both his eyes black as the night in his pale face.

Slowly, she dipped her head and kissed his temple, kissed his cheek, kissed his mouth. His lips were cold and tasted of champagne. She kissed him until they were warm again.

His hands were in her hair when she broke away. "I think most of the people down there have done that before," he said, after a moment.

Holly smiled. "Not like we will, though," she told him. He smiled back. And the lights faded into the black above them, as they lay below a tree on a hill, oblivious to the scene below.