A/N:See! SEE! I told you I would be quick! Only a week, and it's up. *proud grin*
TO MY REVIEWERS:*wipes away tear* I'm really gonna miss you guys, you know. Thanks a huge amount to Ladeda, flamaria13, morningstar, SilverButterfly, Spasmodic dust bunny, Maiden Genisis, Tie Kerl, Dragoness Fighter, Trixi, allie, becca8 (did I send you the alternative ending? I don't remember getting your review alert, so possibly I didn't… if I didn't, please tell me in the next review and I'll send it immediately! :D), MyOwnAntagonist, TheSpaminator (I know… I did. Did you know, that in a year, you're the first one to mention that? I will include it in the final disclaimer and the first) and JustME. I love you all so so much.
SECOND A/N:This chapter is dedicated to all the people who have ever reviewed and have been amazingly wonderful over the past year. I love you all very much. It is also dedicated to my two darling betas Mei Leng (who does the actual betaing) and The Oracle (who just tells me off for writing 'such good chapters' *snort* Whatever.) Also thanks to my friend Lucy, 'cos although she didn't edit or contribute helpful suggestions in any regular way, she read the chapters. And I know she'll be reading this later. *waves* hiya Lucifer. Have you done any more art in the last thirty seconds???
Enjoy this last ever instalment of the story.
Fragments of conversation drifted slowly through to Captain Short's senses as she began to regain consciousness. She focused her strength on hearing what the people above her were saying. Finally, the buzz separated into words.
" – Pure exhaustion, primarily, though the extreme emotional, mental and physical stress were definitely direct contributors. She needs to rest for a while. I wouldn't be comfortable with her working again for at least a day or two."
"Understood." Holly recognised the gruff tones of her commander. "How long until she makes a full recovery?"
The other fairy hesitated. "It's hard to say. Cuts, bruises and… bullet holes will heal in about four hours, depending on her reaction to the magic. But mental scarring may take much longer, months, maybe years. I would recommend a course of therapy."
Holly had had enough. Collecting all her strength, she forced herself to sit up. Immediately two pairs of hands steadied her. After catching her breath, she managed to open her eyes. Sure enough, one pair of hands belonged to Commander Root. The other belonged to the medic she had met earlier.
The pixie grinned. "Morning, moonshine. Sleep well?"
Holly groaned. Cocky pixies were the last thing she needed. "What in Frond's name happened?"
The medic turned away, hands moving over the worktop bolted to the side of the van. "You passed out. That splitting headache that's about to hit around…" He glanced at her, and saw her suddenly clutch her head. "… now, is a side affect." He turned back to face them, hypodermic needle balanced in his fingers. "This will immediately combat it. I would give you painkillers in a pill, but I need you out of here quicker than that. Just hold still."
Holly winced and looked away as the needle pressed into her skin. She hadn't been terribly fond of them since Fowl had used one to knock her out a year ago. She resisted the urge to scratch the area. "Why couldn't you have just used magic?"
"I don't want to use any more magic on you than is necessary. You could have a bad reaction to it. We've already had to drain the power you gained during the freezer incident."
Holly could actually feel the drugs moving through her, causing a numbing sensation as they went. "You didn't have to give me enough to knock out a troll." she muttered groggily.
The pixie squirted a spray of fine, clear liquid out of the end of another needle. "That's what this is for." he said, grinning.
Holly glared at him. "Next time I'll take the pills."
Seeing that she would be fine, Root patted her on the shoulder and made his way out of the van. As the doors began to close, he turned.
"Don't leave until I come back. There are a few things I need to take care of before I can debrief you."
Registering her nod, he left. Holly suddenly noticed the material draped over her shoulders.
"What's the take-away wrapper for?"
The medic didn't even turn. "To keep your temperature constant. We're not taking any risks, not after your brief but fatal brush with hypothermia. You need to keep that on until you get home. Make yourself a hot drink and go straight to bed. Don't take a shower or a bath until tomorrow morning, or you run the risk of passing out again." Holly nodded meekly. "Now, if you don't mind, I need to ask you some questions."
"Fine, whatever. Can I go after that?"
"Yes, if I'm happy with your answers." He expertly gripped her eyelid with his finger and thumb, shining a light directly into her eye. Holly winced as best she could and blinked the other eye furiously. Finally the light was turned off. "Pupils react to light. Good. Now then, can you tell me your name and rank?"
"Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit."
"How old are you?"
"Where do you live?"
"What's my name?"
Holly gritted her teeth. "I don't know. You didn't tell me."
The pixie smirked. "Trick question. Alright, your memory seems to be fine." He handed her a small packet of medication. "Take two of these as soon as you get home, and two more when you wake up. After that, take them every six hours during the day, every twelve at night. They'll help regulate your temperate and keep off fever and infection in your lungs. Before you start working again, I want you to book a physical and get checked out." He grasped her by the shoulders. "You have to rest. Take a couple of days off work. You really don't need any more stress for a little while. Got that?" Holly nodded. "Good. Now get out of here."
Captain Short was only too happy to comply. She hopped down from the van to find Trouble Kelp waiting for her. She smiled bitterly, remembering how much trouble she was in. She sighed. "You've come to tell me I'm suspended, haven't you."
She sank down onto the lip of the van. Trouble looked at her, puzzlement in his eyes.
"What?" he said. "Where did you get that from."
Holly shook her head. "Don't play games, Kelp. The Council have been looking for an excuse to kick me out since day one. Do you really think they'd pass up this opportunity?"
He sat down next to her. "Is that what you honestly believe? That a few stupid, irrelevant memories are going to lose us our best shuttle pilot, one of our top Recon officers and an example to us all?" He chuckled gently. "You must have suffered brain damage after all."
Holly stared at him. "What's that supposed to mean? I had a personal relationship with the perp. I couldn't control my emotions during a mission. I put the lives all the officers and myself in danger." She looked away. "The Council, in case you've forgotten, is primarily made up of sexist, chauvinistic pigs. Don't pretend they wouldn't see what happened tonight as a sign of weakness."
"You are joking, aren't you?" The look on the other captain's face told him otherwise. "D'Arvit, Short, no-one thinks how you reacted was a sign of weakness! You did what any of the rest of us would have done, but you handled it a d'arv sight better than we would have. And the memories…" She grimaced. "They just proved how loyal you were to your friend, how you overcame an overwhelming situation. Kobalde was wrong. All they proved were your dedication. And I for one respect you for that."
Holly stared determinedly at her hands. "Really?"
Trouble rolled his eyes. "Would I lie to you?" Holly gave him a look. "Alright, but would I lie to you about something like this?"
She was silent for a moment. Finally, she spoke. "Thanks, Trouble. I needed to hear that."
He slung a reassuring arm over her shoulder. "It's nothing. There's no use you moping. The retrieval boys need you back as soon as possible so they can have someone to lust over. I find their work sloppy when there isn't a desirable female around."
Holly glanced sharply at him. He winked. "Just kidding, Short."
Captain Short thumped him on the shoulder rather harder than was necessary. Trouble returned the favour, before the pair burst out laughing. When the gales of hilarity subsided, Captain Kelp got up to leave.
"I'll see you at HQ. Make sure you get Beetroot to give you time off. You deserve at least a week."
"Last time I looked, Kelp, you weren't in a position to start handing out leave."
Trouble swallowed. "Commander Root, sir." He turned to face the deceptively calm face of his regional commander. "I, er, didn't realise – "
"– I was standing right behind you?" He shot a look at Holly. "Captain Short did."
Holly snorted, before regaining control once more. "Sorry, sir. I think it's the painkillers."
"Yeah, of course it is. Kelp, you're dismissed." He turned to Holly. "You're not so lucky. There's some stuff we need to discus. Foaly?"
The centaur stepped out from behind him. His face was serious. "It's about Kobalde." Holly quickly looked at the ground. "He's going to plead insanity. He's got a strong case." He paused, and she knew what was coming before he said it. "You'll be called on to testify at his trial. His lawyer will be trying to prove split-personality."
Captain Short nodded mutely, still hiding her face. "I just thought you'd want to know sooner rather than later, and from us rather than some jumped-up attorney with more money than brains."
Root crouched in front of her, bringing himself down to her level. "Are you OK?"
Holly sighed, forcing a smile. "Yeah. That sadist just better know what's coming to him." She paused for a second. "Are his powers really gone then?"
"That was the other thing I wanted to talk about." Foaly cut in. "That little stunt you pulled in your head… I don't think you realised just how dangerous that was. If he'd got to you first…"
Holly nodded. "I guessed along those lines. I knew it was me in there, I just wasn't sure it was him. He seemed… different. Not in the way he acted, in the way he felt…" She stopped. "I know it sounds odd, but – "
"It's typical of mind-torture victims. They don't see their tormentor as the whole person they are in the real world, but whatever mental personality they manifest themselves as. You took a big gamble. He could easily have killed you. The body can't live without the soul."
Captain Short waved the statement away. "He would have killed me anyway. I had the chance to die for a reason. Much better than just being entertainment."
Root nodded, but Foaly looked puzzled. Evidently he didn't understand the selfless ability to make the ultimate sacrifice that resided in most LEP recon officers.
"Anyway, his mind powers have been disabled for the time being at least. What you shot wasn't his soul, but a projection of his power, most of it from the effect it had on him, and the amount he had to use on you. By the time he gets them back, if he does, we'll have implanted a barrier in his head to stop him using them. He won't ever do that to anyone again."
Captain Short smiled bitterly. "Good to know. Now, what happened to that debriefing? I can hear my pillow calling to me."
Commander Root grinned. "I'm ordering you to take three days of leave, and before I will allow you to start work again you need a full medical." Holly opened her mouth to protest. "A full one, Captain. You're overdue as it is."
She sighed. "Yes sir. Was there anything else?"
Root shook his head. "Dismissed. Rest, Holly. You can't be fighting the bad guys all the time."
A genuine grin curved her lips. "Just one more thing, Commander." She turned to face him. "Please don't ever try to make me wear a dress again. I think we've all seen the disastrous consequences." And with that she turned and left, flashing her site pass at the sprite on duty as she went. Root and Foaly watched her go. Both strongly suspected she would be absolutely fine.
*sigh* Well, my friends that is indeed it. Strictly Ballroom, after over a year of writing it, has finally come to an end. I hope you've all enjoyed it, and liked that last chapter.
On the issue of sequels: I do not plan now or at a later time to do a sequel to this. I have completely run dry of all Holly/Basil ideas, situations and conflicts. I could maybe one day, if I was extremely bored, had nothing else to do, was feeling extremely creative and had the sudden urge to revisit this fic I suppose I could write the trial, but to be honest, I won't. But hey, if anyone else wants to, go ahead.
On the subject of reuploaded chapters: I have reuploaded all the chapters, all bloody 17 of them. It took forever to read through them all. I basically just went through correcting spellings and rewrote a few sentences and phrases. However, there was one tiny plot hole I filled that occurred in chapter something or other, where Root and Foaly find Holly's hair thing in the swimming pool and Root gets his vision… I didn't say at the time that he got it because of magical residues that were left behind. I was gonna put it in later but the opportunity didn't come up… So that's now been written in.
On the subject of future stories: I have hundreds of ideas buzzing round my head, all crying (very loudly) to be turned into fics. I shall now summarise the ones that have taken shape as individual (or at least potential individual) ones.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Holly Short
A smallish fic I'm planning with a pretty predictable plot, looking at the title. Holly gets cursed with a 'Seven Sins' curse that means that for 7 days, she'll be visited by each of the sins. Needless to say, chaos ensues. It will have a prologue (which I have actually written) 7 chapters (one for each sin) and an epilogue. Nice and simple really.
My next big SB type length fic. Ever since Artemis Fowl met the fairies, he's always been careful to hide all traces of their existence. But before he met Holly… before he met Holly he let one slip away. And now that could prove fatal for her… The idea actually grew from a small bit in Songquest, and as it snowballed along, drew inspiration from Dr. Franklin's Island. Just to give you an idea.
Creature of the Night
A smallish ficcy (may turn out to be longer… who knows) about a side of Holly that isn't explored enough in this section. The dark side. The screwed up side. The side that's not in control.
Another unnamed one
I had an idea for a very short tiny few paragraph vinaigrette about an issue explored in Blue Yeti's 'Death'. Go read. 'Tis wonderful.
So, time will tell what will actually be posted and when. Oh yes, and one more thing…
Madness on Broomsticks
A joint fic I'm writing with my author and real life friend The Oracle. A HP/AF crossover. Assorted characters gather to play quidditch. Basically AF whipping HP's butts. But we started about six months ago, and haven't written for at least three. Add to that I managed to password protect my early copy and then forget the password, the disc I had the most up-to-date version on somehow got whiped and The Oracle doesn't have huge amounts of the story on her comp… it may be a while yet. But twill be funny. Oh so very funny.
Ok then. I think I have babbled quite enough for one story. Let me just finished by saying I love you all so very much and am so very grateful for all your support. I LOVE YOU ALL! And now, all that remains is the final disclaimer.
DISCLAIMER:I do not own Holly Short, Commander Root or any other related characters/indica to Artemis Fowl. I do own Basil Kobalde, Carmen Geum, the All-Seeing-Eye, Eazy Grow, various goblins and a few techie inventions. I also, as I was reminded by TheSpaminator, do not own the title 'Strictly Ballroom' as it comes from a film I know basically nothing about. Well, the only other title I could think of was 'House of a thousand rooms' so I think I probably made the right decision. Ah well.
I love you so very much, my darlings, and I would love you even more if you reviewed!!! Bring that count up to 250!
Luv slime xxxxx
P.S: POWER TO THE MUSHROOMS AND THE GREEN AND YELLOW PAINT!!!!