Holly didn’t realize she fell asleep until she woke up.
“Holly,” Artemis sighed, relieved. “You’re awake. You were asleep so long that for a while there I was beginning to wonder if you would wake up.”
The elf’s head snapped up at the realization that there was another presence in the room with her. “What are you doing here?”
“What am I doing here? This is my room. I could ask you the same question, if I hadn’t brought you in here myself.”
“Why did you bring me in here?” Holly asked. “I thought I told you that I wanted to be alone. Why won’t you grant me even that?”
“I did leave you alone… for a little while. I didn’t want to for any longer than to think of something.”
“Think of something for what? No, never mind, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” She sat up. “I’m leaving.”
“Oh no you’re not.” He pushed her back down onto his bed. “You’re staying right here where I can keep an eye on you, Holly. I don’t want you doing anything stupid.”
“That’s right, I’m your responsibility,” she spat. “I forgot. Can’t lose me, now can you?”
He sighed. “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded, Captain. Truly. I consider you more than just a responsibility. Plenty more.”
“So what then? Still a hostage, probably, but I already knew that. And I’ll probably still be one for the rest of my life, or at least until you all die. Knowing you, most likely after that too. And as you well know, I’m not a Captain anymore.”
“Perhaps.” His expression was amused, and something she didn’t recognize. “And I don’t quite understand what you mean by that. Am I really still such a monster to you?”
“Why not? I’m still your prisoner, I’ll never be anything more than that, and I know it. I’m a liability, too.”
“That’s not answering my question.”
“What’s it matter?”
“I want to know.”
She sighed. “Artemis, I really am not in the mood to talk about this. Can’t I just go back to my room?”
“No. I already told you, you’re staying with me so I can keep an eye on you. With your behavior lately, I can’t trust you not to hurt yourself, so you’re staying with me until I can figure out why.”
She started to ask, “why what,” but then closed her mouth, as she already knew. She delfated, sinking back into the pillows and closing her eyes.
Artemis dropped and sat beside her. “Holly? Are you okay?”
Holly didn’t even open her eyes. “What, you’re going to act like you care about me again?” Her voice was blank, emotionless. “Like you want me to be okay? It won’t work; I know the truth. If I died, you’d probably be thrilled. And what I said before still stands, you know. I don’t know why you didn’t just kill me, or why you don’t do it now, and save yourself some trouble.”
“Is that what this is about?” he demanded. He suddenly sounded furious. “You know, Holly, if I didn’t care, if I wanted you dead, you would be by now. I know things about this manor, know ways to travel though and navigate it, that nobody would ever dream of. Those tunnels I showed you were just the beginning. If I wanted to get to you, to hurt or kill you, I could, and even Butler and Juliet couldn’t stop me.”
The elf shrugged, not even opening her eyes. “I know. But the only reason you care is because of Butler and Juliet, and their efforts to keep me alive. At least that’s partly the reason. I still believe that you have reason for keeping me alive besides that.”
“And what would that be?”
“You need me for something,” she said, in a simple tone of voice, like she was thinking, ‘duh’. “I’m useful for something or another, though I can’t tell you what. Whether its now or in the future.”
He thought about it. She could be useful later on, even if she wasn’t now. But she was wrong; that wasn’t why.
“That’s sort of true,” he admitted. “But that’s not why.”
She opened her eyes to glare at him. “Don’t lie to me, Fowl. I’m not stupid.”
“Perhaps not. But you are deluded if you truly believe that.” He leaned over her, speaking quietly. He laid his hand on her knee. She shifted uncomfortably, not liking how close they were now, but she didn’t try to pull away.
“And let’s get some thing straight here. You may not be stupid, but neither am I. You’re not telling me the whole truth. You don’t want me to tell you all this because you believe I’m lying, but because you believe that I’m telling the truth. It’s easier, and less mentally painful, for you to believe that I’m lying, that I don’t care about you, then for you to know that I, the human who ruined your life, might actually care for you. None of your friends or family in Haven would do that, would they?”
Holly flinched, and he could tell he’d hit the nail on the head. She looked up at him, her eyes wide and filled with tears, but she didn’t say anything. “You want to tell me now, or should I continue?” he asked her softly.
She shook her head, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “Fine,” she whispered, her voice hoarse. “You win. There, you happy now? I miss my friends, my life, my freedom. All the things you took away from me. I miss Trouble, and Foaly, and Frond help me for admitting this, but I even miss Commander Root.” She laughed a little, but there was a hysterical edge to it. “All the things I can’t have any longer, the people that I can’t talk to, and I want to so badly. And I can’t. I’m not allowed, and I probably never will be again. That knowledge is slowly tearing me apart from the inside out.” She wiped her eyes again. “And you wonder why I wish you’d just kill me…”
She uttered the last statement before turning on her side and burying her face in his pillows, burrowing into them deeply. Her shoulders hitched gently as she cried silently into the pillows, and Artemis rubbed small, soothing circles on her back. She didn’t react to his touch, and the whole time she cried she never lifted her head from the pillows, even when she finished.
He could tell she was tired, but from the shallow, ragged breaths she was taking her could also tell that she was awake. “You can go to sleep,you know,” he whispered to her. She said nothing, just shook her head. he sighed. She needed to sleep…
He left the room for a moment, locking the door behind him so she couldn’t leave, though he doubted she would try. Sure enough, she hadn’t moved when he came back in.
He walked over and pushed up her sleeve. When she didn’t move, he stuck the syringe in her arm, emptying its contents into her body. She shuddered once before passing out.
Artemis sighed, walking into his study and sitting down in his computer chair. Okay, he thought, I figured out what’s wrong, now I just need to figure out how to fix it. Too bd thats easier said than done…
He grimanced and set to work.