Artemis sat in his study for a while after sedating to Holly, trying to figure out what he could do to help lift her from her depression. He’d never seen anyone so depressed, except maybe his mother before her depression gave way to insanity.
What if she gets suicidal? he wondered. What am I going to do then? I don’t want to have to physically restrain her, but if she gets too much worse I might not have a choice.
Her problem is she misses her old life, he thought. Her freedom. Her friends and family.
But he couldn’t give that back to her, so what could he do?
Then he got an idea.
I can’t give her old life back to her, but I can give a part of it back. Maybe not her friends and family, but her job, or at least part of it…
Artemis rushed from his study to share the idea with Butler. He would need his help in order to follow through with it anyways.
The manservant said that it was a good idea, and readily agreed to help. He was worried about Holly too, and he thought that this would either end up being a really good idea and would help the captain get immensely better, or immensely worse. “We can only hope for the former,” he told Artemis.
The boy couldn’t help but agree with that.
Almost five weeks later, it was done. It took a long time to build for Butler building it, but the thing was huge, so it was reasonable.
Eventually, it was finished. His gift was ready.
As soon as Butler came and told him, he wasted no time. He immediately left and went to Holly’s room.
He didn’t bother to knock; he knew where she was already. Sitting by the window. The same place she always was now.
Artemis walked over silently and sat down beside her.
Holly looked up when he entered, but said nothing, turning her gaze back to the window.
“Hello Holly,” Artemis said. She didn’t say anything, so he said, “I’ve got something for you.”
He saw the curiosity spark in her eyes, but when she spoke her voice was still tone less. “What?”
He shook his head. “It’s a surprise. Come with me and I’ll show you.”
The corners of Holly’s mouth turned down a fraction. “I don’t like surprises.” Then she turned back to the window.
“That’s too bad. You really would have enjoyed this gift… but you’re not getting it until you agree to be surprised.”
She didn’t respond, she didn’t even look at him again.
The boy shrugged, trying to look nonchalant and unperturbed. He didn’t what to let on how much she was worrying him with the way she was acting. “Fine, be that way then. If you change your mind you know where you can find me.” He turned and started walking toward the door.
“Where are you going?”
He looked over his shoulder at her, finding that she had turned slightly around to look at him. “I’ve got stuff to do,” he said with another shrug. “Like I said, if you change your mind you can come and find me.”
She hesitated, watching him turn to go again. “Well… if you really want too, I don’t care, you can.”
He stopped where he was, removing his hand from the knob and turning slowly back to her. A small smile played at his lips. “Okay then. Are you sure?”
“If you really want to…”
She’s avoiding the question, Artemis thought. “Fine. In that case, let me just get something to blindfold you with, and we can go.”
In response to the sentence, he saw the old Holly return for a moment. The first real emotion he’d seen on her face for a while appeared now. Fear. “Whoa. Wait a second. You never said I was going to be blindfolded.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s a surprise, remember?
“Well, yes, but -”
“Holly, this is a big gift, and if your not blindfolded you’ll be able to see it before we even get close. Then it won’t be a surprise anymore.”
Holly bit her lip. After a minute, she just nodded and said, “Fine.”
“Fine. But I want this to be as quick as possible, understand?” It wasn’t a question.
He nodded. “Yes, of course. I’ll be right back.”
He turned and went into her bathroom, coming back out a few moments later with a small towel in his hand. He walked over to her,standing her up and then moving behind her to tie the makeshift blindfold over her eyes.
As soon as he laid the fabic over her eyes, he expected her to freak. But she didn’t. In the past minute or so, she had slid back into her emotionless state, and from the looks of it, she wouldn’t be coming back out of it again anytime soon.
He frowned on realizing this, but did not say anything about it. Instead he just asked, “okay?” When she nodded, he said, “good, then let’s go.”
Following Artemis’s instructions, Holly crawled through the space in the closet to the tunnels. The whole time, he was patient and gentle with her, and he kept her close so she didn’t wander off and get lost.
“Alright,” Artemis said after a little while, “we’re almost there. Ready?”
Holly barely hesitated, but Artemis still noticed. Finally, she said, “sure.”
“Great. On the count of three then. One,” she heard the sound of a door opening, “two,” she felt Artemis’s hand on her back, gently propelling her forward, “three.”
He untied the blindfold and let it fall off. She blinked hard at the sudden bright light. Then she blinked again, to make sure she was seeing correctly. “Oh Frond,” she whispered. She wasn’t emotionless anymore, but the complete opposite. She felt an overwhelming amount of emotions now, a few of the strongest being shock and disbelief.
Artemis was grinning wildly at her response. “So you like it?”
All she could do was nod, still staring in wonder at the room around her.
She was standing in a giant glass room, brightly lit from the sun shining through it. Through the glass, she could see the outside world around her. It was beautiful, even more so than she had imagined before.
Around the room was not as beautiful as the outside, though it was good as well. Targets lined the walls, and dummies, every kind of practice target for any kind of solider you could imagine. There were cases of guns, bows and arrows, knives and swords, though way less of the latter two than the two former.
The harshness of the interior almost totally contradicted the soft exterior, except for the small bushes and potted plants that were put against the walls and stands in different areas of the room, and the air. The air was sweet and good, except for the pollution she could detect in it. Surface air. There were no doors but for the one they came through, and she couldn’t see any windows, but they had to be in there somewhere, she could tell because of the air.
When she regained her voice, she asked, “what is this place?”
“This is your gym,” Artemis said.
“My gym?” she demanded.
“Yes. This is your surprise, Holly. I had this built by Butler for you, and you only. You can use it whenever you want, at any time. It’s yours. ”
“Why?” she asked. She didn’t need to say anymore than that; he knew what she meant.
He didn’t want to come out and say that he did it because he was worried about her depression getting worse and her perhaps considering suicide. It would sound more like an accusation then anything, and since he had no way of knowing whether she had actually been considering suicide, that could be bad, especially if she had. It could strengthen her resolve to do it. So he’d made up an excuse, though the thing was that he did not want to lie to her, so he decided to tell her the truth. Just not the correct truth.
“I feel bad about all this, Holly. I’ve hurt, drugged, and kidnapped you, lied to you, and made you lose everything and everyone you’ve ever known or cared about. And I am sorry for that. I wanted to try to find a way to make it up to you. So I used what little I knew about you to throw together a big gift for you.” He shrugged. “I know there’s a lot in here, but I didn’t know exactly what you would like best, so there’s a little bit of everything. I hope you don’t mind.”
Holly stared at him, even more shocked now. So much that she was startled out of the depression and into telling the truth. “Of course I don’t mind. This… this is amazing, Artemis. I know what it must have took for you to do all this for me, and I’ll enjoy it for the rest of my time here. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Holly. Now, go and enjoy your gift.” He pushed her forward lightly.
“Okay, Artemis.” She stared to walk away, but then paused. “Are you leaving?”
He shrugged. “If you’d like me to. I was going to stay and watch for a while, to… make sure you knew where everything was and… stuff.”
He hesitated a few times, deciding not to say what he was originally thinking, “to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.”
That was the tricky thing about this gift. If this didn’t help her get better, then most likely it was because she would get worse, and if she did get worse she would have the opportune place and weapons to take her own life if she wanted to.
Holly just shrugged. “Fine. I don’t care.”
He inwardly sighed with relief. “Okay.”
She turned and walked away, and he leaned against the wall. He stood and watched her for about an hour, then decided to leave. He had had cameras attached to the ceiling to keep an eye on her, and if he stayed for much longer she might start getting suspicious. Besides, he had things to do. He could check on her on the monitors every so often while he worked, he reasoned.
He turned and silently slipped out of the room, leaving the elf to her own devices.