Chapter 5- Decisions and Birth
7 and a half months later-
This time it wasn’t Holly who came knocking with news.
In fact, this time, no one came knocking at all. The news came in the form of an interruption on his computer screen, and the face of a very worried looking centaur.
“Foaly, what did I tell you about calling me when I’m working?” he snapped irritably. “I-“
“Stick a sock in it, Fowl,”Foaly ordered. “You need to get down here, now.”
“Why? What’s happened?” Artemis asked suspiciously.
“Holly is being rushed to the hospital, Artemis,” Foaly said seriously. “She’s going to give birth.”
“What?” Artemis shouted, jumping from his chair. “Why wasn’t I notified sooner?” Foaly started to answer, but Artemis stopped him. “Never mind. I don’t need to know, and I don’t care at this point. How long do I have to get down there?”
“With our magic, fairy births typically can be cut in half of what it takes for humans, even for the first time,” Foaly said thoughtfully. “But with a hybrid, it might take a little longer. I have no guarantees, though I would say it will probably take about three to three and a half hours. The shuttle ride for you usually takes at least two hours with no traffic… I don’t know,” he admitted finally. “It will be close, but if you get to the shuttle port in the next ten minutes or so, you might just make it.”
Artemis nodded. “Okay. Thanks a bunch, Foaly. I’ll see you there.” Then, without even bothering to shut down the call, he rushed out the door.
On the way down, the shuttle couldn’t move fast enough for him. He paced restlessly around the small space, muttering and cursing under his breath. It had already been almost two hours since he had gotten the call, and the shuttle ride was still another at least 20 minutes, guaranteed. He was seriously worried that he wouldn’t make it in time.
Finally, the shuttle stopped. Artemis wasted no time, running through the door and rushing out before the shuttle had even hit the ground. He didn’t wait for Butler; he took off running as fast as he could, heading straight for Argon’s clinic.
He made it there in under five minutes, amazingly, panting and gasping. He rushed up to the receptionists desk and choked out, “Holly Short. What room is she in?”
The pixie on duty turned in her chair and looked at the computer briefly, scrolling down through the lists of patients. “Room 207, on the second floor, dear,” she told him. He nodded his thanks and ran off again.
Several of his fairy friends were waiting outside the room Holly was in. Foaly stepped up and clapped him on the back, smiling warmly. “Just in time, Mud Boy,” he said. “It isn’t out yet, but it will be sooner.”
Artemis nodded. “Great. Thanks for the notice, Foaly, even if it was late.” He sighed, turned the knob, and walked into the room.
The first thing he saw was Holly. It was hard not to; she was the center of so many machines and people, you couldn’t miss her. Among the machines was a heart monitor, an oxygen tank, and a few stands holding bags of liquids that we being pumped into her through the IV on her arm.
It didn’t take a genius to know that she really shouldn’t have to have all that stuff on to have a baby.
“Holly!” He ran over, pushing through the crowding people and machines alike, finally making his way through to get to his elf. Her eyes were fluttering, and she looked as though she was in a daze as she looked up and said, “Artemis?”
“It’s me, Holly, I’m here,” he promised softly. “It’s okay. You’re going to be okay.”
She just nodded, whimpering slightly in pain and resting her head against his stomach.
“You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep,” called one voice from behind him. He turned to see Holly’s doctor standing about a foot away from him, looking grim. “Holly isn’t doing to well, I’m afraid. She keeps slipping in and out of consciousness, and her vitals keep rising and falling. It’s taken everything we have to get her to this point in the process with her and the child alive, and even so, it’s still not looking to good. I’m afraid we might still loose her.”
“How much more will it take?” Artemis asked through gritted teeth.
“A few more good pushes, and the child will be out,” the doctor admitted. “From there we can take care of them both separately, and give her more attention. But she’s still only half conscious,and rather weak; I’m sorry to tell you this, but if we can’t get them out of her soon, it will be too late.”
“I’ll help her. Just go do what you need to do down there,” Artemis ordered. The elfin man nodded sadly and walked back down to the end of the bed. Artemis looked down at the woman beneath him, and then at the heart monitor. Her vitals were dropping again, and when he looked at her he could tell her breathing was fast and shallow. The doctor was right; she didn’t have much time.
He swallowed hard. “Holly. Holly, look at me.” Her eyes fluttered, and she moaned weakly. “Holly! Open your eyes!”
“What?” she whined, her voice barely audible. “I don’t want to! I want to go to sleep, Arty, pleeease… j- just let me..”
“NO!” he interrupted, his voice loud, but cracking. He knew exactly what would happen if she went to sleep at this point: she would never wake up. “Don’t you dare close your eyes, Holly.” The elf ignored him, until he snapped his fingers in front of her face and by her ear several times. Then she whimpered and opened her eyes, covering her ears.
“Stop! Why can’t I go to sleep? I want to.. so bad…” She looked at him with tears glistening in her eyes. She didn’t even seem to realize what she was in the middle of anymore; she had almost forgot about it. The only thing that was keeping her even tied to reality now was Artemis, and the pain. Both would go away if she could just close her eyes for a minute longer…
“No!” Artemis growled. “I said it and I meant it, Holly! Now listen to me: you are almost done, okay? I know it hurts, and you’re tired, and everything else, but if you bear with me I can make it end shortly.” He leaned down and slid his arm under her back, supporting her as he gently lifted her a bit. “Help me out a little here, okay? Stay with me, Holly!” he snapped, when her eyes started to close again.
“I am, I am!” she sobbed. “W- what do I need to do? How do I make it stop?”
“Push, Holls, just push. Give it all you’ve got, just a few times, and then it will stop and you can go to sleep.”
“Yes. Then it will be over. I promise,” he promised her, knowing he would be right, one way or another.
She nodded, closing her eyes and bracing her back, then pushed forward. Artemis sighed with relief and helped her, pulling and pushing and helping the woman as needed until the doctor finally said, “it’s out!”
Artemis exhaled deeply, relief flooding through him. He gently laid Holly down, pulling his arm off her and whispering, “see, I told you. It’s over, Holly…. It’s okay..”
Holly nodded, half sobbing with relief. “Okay… thank you, Artemis..”
He took her hand and brought it up to his mouth, kissing it. He was about to say something else, when he was suddenly interrupted by the monitor beeping. He glanced up to see the heart monitor beginning to flat-line, dropping rapidly, and felt Holly’s grip on his hand begin to loosen as well as he looked down at her just in time to see her eyes flutter closed again.
“HOLLY!” he yelled, as a team of fairy doctors who had heard the machine swarmed up and started wheeling her away. He started to follow, but Holly’s doctor walked up and stopped him.
“You should go sit with your friends and family,” he said firmly. “Holly will be perfectly taken care of whether you are there or not, and she’s unconscious anyhow. We’ll notify you as soon as we are sure of her condition.”
“You’ll do everything you can for her, right?” Artemis demanded.
“She’ll have the best care we can provide, Mr. Fowl,” the elf promised. “Now, I must go to attend to her. If you would like, you can go see your son while you wait. He was headed to the nursery, I’m pretty sure.”
“Okay. Thank you.” He brushed past the doctor, walking out and right past his waiting friends without a second glance.
“Where are you going?” Butler demanded, following him. “And what are they doing with Holly?”
“Taking her somewhere else to be worked on,” Artemis said curtly, continuing walking.
“Why?” He grabbed the man’s arm. “Artemis, talk to me! What is going on?!”
Artemis growled and yanked his arm away. “Holly is dying! The birth was too rough on her and she’s slowly fading away. The monitor was flat-lining when they wheeled her out. There, is that what you wanted to hear?!” He turned on his heel and said, “now, I haven’t heard a word about my child, and I would rather like to know how he’s doing, if you don’t mind. Please excuse me while I attempt to figure it out.” He stomped away.
“That was rude,” Caballine, Foaly’s wife, said watching Artemis go with a look of wonder and a bit of offense.
“He’s just worried, and upset. That’s not normally Artemis; none of this is normal for him.” Butler sighed. “I’ll go talk to him.”
Trouble stepped up and laid a hand on the man’s arm. “Do you want me to come with you?”
He shook his head. “No. It would be better for me to go alone. Artemis probably would be calmer without so many people bombarding him right now.”
The male elf nodded. “I understand. Good luck.”
“Thanks. I’ll need it,” Butler muttered, shaking his head as he slowly turned and started to go after his charge.
Butler saw the charge in question behind the glass of the nursery, staring down at cradle in the office. However, he couldn’t see the child; Artemis’s body blocked it.
He walked in and looked at the man. He was staring down at the child in the bed- his child. He grabbed his hand, clucking softly and gently rubbing his thumb on the back of the tiny little hand. At first, Butler didn’t think he even realized that he was there, but then he suddenly whispered, “I can’t kill him. I can’t. I wanted to, for a few minutes… But now…” He looked up at him, the most adoring look in his eyes. “I- I can’t.”
Butler laid a hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?”
“No,” he answered honestly. “And I have no idea what am I going to do. What do you think?”
“Artemis, it isn’t my choice. You really should decide yourself.”
“But I can’t decide. There’s no way for me to take that I don’t hurt somebody I love. And even if there was….. Butler, I can’t do this,” Artemis whispered, closing his eyes. “Any of it. Just thinking about this is painful..”
“You have to do something, Artemis,” Butler chided gently. “Even if it’s not what Hilder told you to do, something has to be done.”
“I know,” Artemis said, his voice cracking. “But if I don’t do what Hilder said, one of the things he said, he said he’d kill them. You heard that. And even if he wouldn’t actually go through with it, I can’t take that risk. And the worse part is… I think he would,” Artemis said. “Even if he didn’t succeed, I don’t doubt he would try.”
Butler nodded. “I agree… but still, you can’t do that. You know it.”
“I have to,” Artemis sighed. “There’s no choice. I love Holly; but I love my son too. And I can’t let him die…” He took several deep breaths. “I have to do this, Butler. I have to stop seeing Holly. She’ll understand… and besides, after I do what I have to do, she won’t want to see me anymore anyhow.”
“What will you tell her?”
Artemis swallowed hard, stroking the baby’s forehead for a moment before sighing and picking him up. He held him for a minute, and then handed him over to Butler. “T-take him. I’m going to talk to the nurse. “
“Artemis. What. Will. You. Tell. Holly?” he demanded, realizing that the man was dodging the question.
“I’ll tell you later, when we both return to the manor. Please, can I just deal with this first?” he pleaded.
Butler sighed. “Fine. What are you going to talk to the nurse about?”
“Thank you. And I’m going to ask whether we can take him home or not,” Artemis answered. Then he walked out of the room, heading out to the nurses desk to go talk to the woman on duty.
Butler sighed, looking down at the child in his arms. He was so small, especially in the giant’s arms. He was awake now, too, and staring at the manservant with big eyes: one blue, and one hazel.
He smiled when he saw that. Artemis would be thrilled when he saw it, as would Holly. That is, if she were ever to know….
Artemis came back in a few minutes later, the nurse right behind him. “They would never allow this at a human hospital, you know,” the woman said, smiling as she took the baby from Butler and started wiping him down. “Lucky for you, though, this is a fairy hospital, and we have the magic and technology to make sure that this child is as healthy as he can be.” She wrapped him in a blanket as she spoke, then handed him to Artemis. “There you go. If there is any problems, or you need anything, call us. I’m sure you know the number.” She paused. “There’s a shop down the street where you can get everything you need. Okay?”
“Good. That will be a big help. However, he can take human formulas and that kind of thing, right?”
“Oh, yes. He can take any formulas that humans use, and everything like that. Just watch out for anything that might cause an allergic reaction of some kind.”
“Great. Thank you.” Artemis smiled at the woman, then turned and walked out of the room. Butler nodded at her, then followed.
Outside the door, Artemis turned and handed the little baby to Butler. “Take him and get what he needs, then go back to the manor,” he instructed. “I’ll meet you there later.”
“Why? Where are you going?”
“I have to check on Holly,” Artemis said. “And give her the news. I… she’ll be devastated, but…” He took a deep breath. “It’s for the best.”
“Haven’t you heard?” Artemis asked. Confused, Butler shook his head. Artemis said, “the baby is dead. He didn’t make it. Now, go back to the manor.” With that, he turned and started walking away, leaving Butler to figure it out on his own. When he did, he was so stunned, his jaw almost dropped. Almost.
He’s going to tell her the baby is dead…