Artemis rarely had dreams that didn’t make sense.
Of course dreams of his were occasionally pointless. Sometimes they’d include long-forgotten relatives, dreaded food items, and many a time would be revolving around certain adversaries faced in the past, but very rarely did they lack meaning. In his dreams, mutant penguins and possessed Teletubbies made sense. There would always be a plot, always a reason things were the way they were. A failed cloning experiment. A rip in the space-time continuum brought on by the latest misadventure. But rarely did they have none of these things.
No, he had woken up this time around at a pre-dawn hour, when his room was starting to transition from pitch black to dark grey, and despite the useless effort of every window in the walls to keep out the Autumn cold, his white nightshirt was soaked around the collar in odourless, oddly watery sweat.
Artemis muttered a few words to himself, sinking back slowly into the double pillows he’d just propped up. Tomorrow–actually, today was set to be a momentous occasion. The second ever large-scale launch of a Fowl Industries project. He had a lot of people to meet, and a few places to be, but the irate feeling in his stomach made thoughts of jet-lag seem insignificant and trivial in comparison.
He closed his eyes, but didn’t lull himself to sleep. There’d be an alarm going off in an hour or so anyway. Suitcases to pack, places to be. The traditional Fowl thing without the undoubtedly thrilling factor of crime. Oddly enough, he didn’t find himself smiling at this. He had reason to not think of it at all.
His eyes flickered to a tiny ring that lay at the foot of a lamp on the bedside table. Tiny, yet so important and something he would never forgive himself for losing.
Holly’s area of Haven must be night by now.
Artemis straightened his back and glanced at the communicator once more.
Or no, maybe about ten. She might just be awake. She was last time.
He had to keep his hand from reaching out.
Now is not the time.
Yet he still inched forward.
And he did, drawing his fingers in and his hand back, momentarily burying them under the cold white sheets. Drawing his focus away from the ring, his eyes settled on a cylinder of pens on his work desk. In the same cylinder was a triple-folded envelope and a sticker card. Well, the envelope was important. The sticker card was a present from Beckett.
Unable to bear the drifting any longer, Artemis snatched the ring off its spot and turned it, speakers up. Before he knew what he was doing, he had dialed the only contact on it and switched on the hologram projector. He had, to be perfectly honest, never regretted rigging her communicator so as to immediately activate her camera the moment he switched his on. Once, when this had worked to her disadvantage, Artemis had been rewarded with the amusement of watching her yelp and toss a shampoo bottle at his hologram. This was before she’d known about the rigging.
The communicator rang for what was at least twelve seconds, and here Artemis began entertaining the notion of cutting the line, but the person on the other end did pick up. And her disheveled image appeared in front of him as soon as she did.
“D’Arvit, Mud Boy,” muttered Holly, wiping the sleep from her eyes. “Who’s trying to kill you this time?”
Artemis allowed himself a grin. “You, right after you find out that nobody is trying to kill me.”
Holly dropped the communicator beside her as she flopped down on her single bed again. Her auburn hair, now slightly longer than a crew cut but equally as messed, was clear proof of the fact that she’d just woken up from a very disturbed sleep. Possibly one that involved either a dangerous close-combat or an evil hairdresser. Her eyes were rather bleary, too, but just about enough to look annoyed at him.
“It’s twelve o’clock, Artemis.”
Artemis’s grin faded. “Really? Then you must be out of Haven.”
Holly huffed. “Retrieval. I’m actually in an LEP base in Europe right now. I thought I should drop by to say hello to my favourite Mud Men after, but it looks like one of them has managed to royally get on my nerves now, huh?”
The Mud Boy had the grace to pretend to look guilty. “How could I have known where you were?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Couldn’t you rig my locator instead of my camera next time?”
“Ah, that’s an idea now.”
Holly glared. “Aren’t you going to go away and let me sleep?”
Artemis smirked. “Does it look like I’m about to yield?”
“D’Arvit to you, Fowl. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were stalking me. Rigging the camera and calling me at this time. What’s the matter? No good Mud Ladies out there?”
At this, Artemis was pretty much caught off guard and a slight tinge of colour crossed his features, but it lasted less than a second and he was soon back to his normal antagonizing self who just wanted to royally get on Holly’s nerves.
“Perhaps I am stalking you,” he said mysteriously. “Check your mailbox when you get home.”
Holly snorted a laugh. It was the best she could do in this mood. “When was the last time you talked to a girl?”
Artemis raised an eyebrow.
“Who isn’t an elf,” specified Holly, giving him a look. “And isn’t some sort of colleague either.”
“Let me think,” said Artemis a little teasingly. “Well, there was this one pretty waitress at a recent café. She had done eyelash extensions, hair extension, wore coloured contacts and had done a spot of plastic surgery and laser treatment on her face and neck. I asked her for a de-shelled lagoon crab.”
Holly held back a chuckle. “I am the only girl you know, aren’t I?”
“Unfortunately, the role of forcing me into relationships has already been taken by mother, so I’d rather leave the conversation than continue it.”
A slight yawn escaped the elf’s lips. She could look extremely…cute at times, despite being very capable of breaking every bone in an ordinary human’s body.
Artemis caught himself.
What am I thinking?
“I think I’m going back to sleep,” mumbled Holly, the energy drained from her eyes. “Long field day tomorrow. I’ll see if I can drop by, hm?”
Artemis smiled, but it was a little forced. Certain…less-than-necessary thoughts were adrift in his mind. Demons. Time tunnels. Rathdown Park…
“I would appreciate that.” His throat felt suddenly dry. Four. “Holly.”
The elf nodded, eyes now already half closed. “I’ll see you soon.”
Artemis immediately pulled open the drawer on the bedside table and dropped the ring inside, soon recoiling back to his original position on the bed, before he’d called her, before he’d sat up. He knew he should be feeling fine. Lighthearted conversations with familiar people…especially those as familiar as Holly ideally shouldn’t leave him feeling empty. But this one, however short-lived and insignificant, somehow did.
Artemis hurriedly opened the drawer and switched the ring back on. The call had lasted for seven minutes and…fifteen seconds. Five. That was good. Seven, he didn’t know, but the number ended with a five. It was good. Holly was good. Five letters plus another five in her last name. She could be trusted, he could afford to think of her as…
He had to catch his train of thoughts again. No, he most definitely couldn’t. Her name had ten characters. So what? What was the big deal?
Five will keep you alive.
Exactly the kind of dream he’d just had.
Four, four is death. Five will keep you alive.
Artemis frowned at nothing in particular. Why did he suddenly care about those numbers?
I’ll see you soon.
It’s twelve o’clock, Artemis.
D’Arvit to you, Fowl.
There was something wrong here. Something that definitely went beyond a dream as a reason. Why had he started counting his words? Why had he started counting hers?
Artemis sunk back into his pillows, eyes adrift and lost once again. He didn’t know anymore. Whether he could trust her, whether he could trust anyone.
Of course I saved you.
I couldn’t do without you.
It was clear now. Clearer, at least. Despite everything, Artemis found a minuscule smile creeping to the corners of his lips. And he didn’t say anything, but there was the tiniest voice in the back of his head demanding it be heard.
No, it screamed. You can’t trust her.
Artemis frowned. Surely it didn’t have a point? How could he not trust Holly when everything they’d gone through so far had been…had been for the greater good?
In another time.
Artemis took this as a cue to get out of bed and tear his curtains open, finding himself finally glad of the light and the beautiful, flawless rays of the dawn.
“I used to be afraid of the dark,” muttered the boy. “Perhaps fours and fives is the fear coming back to me, except sounding a little less intelligent.”
He shook his head and forced himself to look healthy. He had, after all, a very long day ahead of him.
Besides, Artemis made his way to the wardrobe at the end of the room. I have no intention to view the world in fours and fives.
So, we have some pretty big news going around the Fowl fandom these days. We got ourselves a director, baby! IT IS FINALLY HAPPENING!
Ah hem. Please review the story.
~ The Princess of Weird :3