“It’s alright. I just need some time to think,” replied Holly.
“If there’s anything I can do…”
“No, Trouble. I’ll be okay. Just please go.”
Trouble turned and left, closing the door behind him and leaving Holly alone.
Artemis is dead, she thought. He’s dead.
That word kept ringing in her head.
She remembered the last conversation she had had with him.
“I love you, Holly. I always have and I always will,” Artemis had said.
“I’m so sorry, Arty. It won’t work out. We’re not even the same species.” Holly’s heart wrenched at the memory of her use of Artemis’ pet name. Arty. Her Arty.
“My Arty…” she whispered. “My dear, dear Arty.”
D’arvit. What have I done? What have I done…
Holly stood and left her desk. Unconsciously, her legs were taking her away from the LEP office, away from Haven. She barely realized that she was on her way to the Surface, and when she did, it came only as a dull shock. She didn’t notice the snow crunching beneath her feet, taking the same trek Artemis must have taken. She couldn’t feel herself sitting down on a rock by the edge of the same lake where he had been found.
A reflection on the thin ice over the surface of the lake caught her eye. She saw herself, her mismatched eyes. One her soft hazel, the other his piercing, midnight blue. Blue as the water of the deep lake. She sighed. For several minutes, she remained lost in thought while staring at herself in the lake.
Gradually, she began to realize that a misty object was materializing over her reflection’s left shoulder. The apparition was blurry at first, as if seen underwater, but it steadily became clearer. First, a pale face became visible, then a mop of dark hair, followed by a serious, handsome face.
Holly saw Artemis put his hand on her reflection’s shoulder. She instantly felt a weight, small, but substantial, on her own shoulder. She drew in her breath sharply. Reaching up to hold the hand she was sure she would find, she was surprised when she grasped nothing but air. The Artemis behind her reflection smiled sadly. It looked back over its shoulder, then turned to face Holly again.
A wan smile crossed his face. Not his usual vampiric grin, but a real smile. A smile filled with tenderness and love, remorse and regret. A smile that let himself shine through. A smile she was sure he had never used when he was alive. He let go of her shoulder, and Holly felt the comforting weight on her back disappear.
“Don’t leave me, Artemis. Don’t leave me…” she whispered.
Artemis paused, then gave her a sad wave and turned away, melting away into the murky depths of the water.
“I love you, Arty. I love…” Holly trailed off as a sob wracked her body.
She wished she could trade spots with her reflection. Then she could turn just as he had and fade away.
She reached out a single, trembling hand towards her image in the water. As she touched the skin of ice covering the lake, it broke, sending ripples across the entire surface. Her face in the water blurred. She thought it was from the ripples, but she realized she was crying.
“I’m coming, Artemis. I’m coming.”
The water of the lake caused Holly’s hair to billow out around her face like a cloud, but it could not obscure her lips moving.
A/N- This is definitely the end of this story. After all, I can’t very well possibly kill off any more characters, can I? Although I suppose I could just massacre them all in a Friday the 13th-esque manner, I don’t think it would be good for anything but laughs. In addition, I feel that, despite having written it five days after the first, this chapter was much, much worse than the previous one, so I figure I had best end it now before it goes too far downhill. You know what I’m talking about, like those TV shows which started out great and ran for a season too long (X-Files, I’m looking at you…) or those comics which just aren’t funny anymore (Non Sequitur, anyone?). But anyhow, I will stop now before the author’s note becomes longer than the story itself. Comment and make me happy. Don’t comment and… and… well, fine, just be that way!
– R. Reynolds