Artemis pinched the bridge of his nose to suppress the building headache he is having, putting the blame on the weather, as he walked down the hallways back to the dormitories.
He just got the permission slip he needed in order to leave the campus. Technically, students are allowed to leave the school grounds only if the school gave them permission due to unavoidable reasons. Usually when parents are the ones who made the requests the administration are given little option but to agree. That was the card Artemis played in order to get the pass. The school administrators received a call from Fowl manor, asking for Artemis II to be sent home immediately for an urgent matter to be dealt with under the orders of her mother. The call was convincing enough to prompt the employee in-charge to call the Irish genius's attention immediately after receiving the call; excusing Artemis from his class.
But of course, it was just one of the many scripted calls he orchestrated to get off campus. Juliet would make an excellent voice actress if she chose to become one.
The matter was of course urgent, but not to that extent he let this people believe; a special friend is arriving.
Holly Short was expected to arrive at the Tara port that afternoon - assuming the negotiations with the council went well and the departure was hassle free. Therefore, as the wonderful host that he is, the Irish genius had to be there before hand to escort the elf to Fowl Manor. It was already planned that Juliet will be the designated guard for Artemis when that happens to give a sense of belonging to Holly by having a female companion. At Fowl Manor, Holly will be introduced as Angeline Fowl's exchange scholar of sorts from her many charity programs if questions and doubts arises; mainly from Artemis Senior himself. Artemis made sure that the paper works are already done along with the other legal support he might be needing with Holly's stay a few weeks before her arrival. However, the only drawback was that Artemis was yet to tell this plan to his mother so keep up with the guise. He doubt Holly's arrival will not raise any suspicions but he can only hope that for once serendipity was on his favor.
Artemis mentally frowned.
He doubt that, it was more like he had been channeling Murphy's Law when dealing with important matters these past months; whatever can go wrong will go wrong. People would have called it Karma with all the things he had done prior to this day and for the many more he had yet to commit. If he would dare to think -
Artemis mentally shook his head halting at the thought that was about to form in his mind. He usually doesn't ponder on these things and merely just let nature had its course. He haven't given such thoughts a chance to surface his mind unless he is in a situation when it needs to be discussed logically and now he is using valuable mind space to ponder if some deity in whatever form was making him go through all of this for some unknown reason.
He really had to blame it on the weather, its condition being one of his least favorites; clear blue skies matted with few clouds and majestic sunrays.
He was always testy when it comes to the sun.
At least he had a reason; it was utterly uncomfortable.
So, in order to avoid walking through the heat of the sun at noon and to avoid interacting with majority of the student body seeing as it was their lunch break, Artemis took his usual long route back to the dormitories, walking through a path that led through the school greenhouse. The greenhouse, which he estimated to be around the size of a basketball court, is filled with the usual various varieties of plants from medicinal herbs to flowering shrubs arranged in a way that made the whole facility look like a garden of sorts. A few benches were set at the side and in the middle of the greenhouse was a large fountain with a dozen of koi fish swimming about.
Out of all the places in the campus, the greenhouse gives off a calming effect of sorts. He'd rather take extra minutes in walking in a serene enough path than to walk through the noisy hallways filled with people with their own agendas regarding the social hierarchy.
He had to resist the urge to make remarks every time he overheard someone bragging about something he deemed unimpressive. If this was the generation he will have to deal with when the time he was deemed 'legal' enough came and take his part with the big names of the legal economic and financial world then he could easily gain world domination and hold all their shares with little challenge. He could even monopolize everything and be like his puppets.
Maybe he'll consider that when the time comes.
He checked his watch, he has less than forty-five minutes before the Fowl jet arrives to pick him up - a very ample time since he didn't have much to take with him; only the necessary gadgets consisting of his laptop and the tablet where he kept his journal. Apparently, it took him twenty minutes to make sure his room is secured during his absence though he doubt anyone would even dare to try to break into his room; even Quintus. Since it was easier to leave the campus inconspicuously than to have people question as to why he was always away, Artemis opted to walk to the departure area using the long route through the greenhouse again. Only a handful of students visit the greenhouse so he doubt he would run into someone and even if he did, he doubt they would pay him much attention given his infamous cold demeanor towards others.
As expected the departure area was nearly empty except for a few students who were there for the same reason as he was. Some of them were submitting their passes to the administrator in charge while others were either waiting for their own private planes near the landing area or sitting on benches as they waited for the school shuttle bus to take them to the airport. As he got closer, he took notice of one particular passenger; a girl sitting at the far left of a long bench reading a book she seemed to be enraptured with. The slender physique, wavy brown hair tied in the usual ponytail, black rimmed glasses - only a few meters away from him was the very person he seemed to be unintentionally ignoring yet unintentionally meeting for the past days; it was the de Ark girl herself.
Artemis mentally sighed, remembering he should at least have something to report to the headmistress if ever she decided to ask about his progress again as she had been doing the past days. With an effort, he willed himself to walk towards the girl's direction. She must have heard his footsteps because she immediately looked up as soon as he was within earshot, her hazel eyes unintentionally met his. Her gaze rested on him for a mere three seconds before turning her attention back to the book she is holding.
Artemis scowled. He never liked starting small talks, he found them irrelevant and time consuming. Why ponder around a subject when one can acknowledge them face on. However, some people find comfort in such acts and in order to direct things to his liking, he had to bend a little to their comfort zone before yanking them out again.
"A pleasant day. Miss de Ark I presume?" the Irish boy began, mentally frowning at the choice of greeting. For the average teenager, it was a tad bit formal but it was better than saying something obnoxious like 'Hey there' for a greeting.
de Ark focused her attention back to him, hazel eyes meeting his again and in a clear Italian accent she replied, "The same to you, Mr. Fowl and yes your presumptions are correct. Though I'm sure you already knew that even without asking,"
Artemis resisted the urge to raise an eyebrow at her; the way she carried her tone, it wasn't spiteful or prideful of sort but one can detect a sense of dignity and stubbornness; something that didn't fit quite well with her meek façade.
"You don't have to act formally Miss de Ark otherwise I feel opted to address you the same," he said mirroring her choice of addressing people and ignoring the last part of her statement, feeling no need to justify it.
"I know." She answered without batting an eyelid, "So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your time Mr. Fowl?"
This time Artemis raised an eyebrow, "Can't students greet one another?"
This time the girl gave an amused smirk, closing her book as she leaned back a little and crossed her arms across her chest, raising an eyebrow also, "But not the great Artemis Fowl II. Usually when he approaches someone, it's purely business related not socially related."
Artemis frowned. She was right of course, but that doesn't mean he liked it. Her remarks could easily rise up to par with Minerva Paradizo if de Ark added a little more sophisticated flair, more deep vocabulary and changed her Italian accent to French. Why were females difficult to talk with?
"You don't have to you know," the girl he was talking to was placing the book she was reading to her backpack, her eyes no longer on him.
de Ark looked back at him, "The guidance program. The principal assigned you to me, didn't she?"
"She did," Artemis nodded.
"What did she - never mind. I'd rather not know," she looked impatiently at the side, as if wishing the bus to appear to escape this conversation. She looked at her watch seeing that she still has a few minutes before the expected pickup, she sighed and looked back at the Irish genius, "Like I've said, you don't have to do this program. They'll find a replacement for you as soon as you tell them that you don't want to continue anymore. You look like you would rather be somewhere else than to be here talking to me, I won't get in your way,"
"Miss de Ark, I'm sure you might have heard this many times already but it is a well-known fact that problems are handled well when one is with the company of another." Artemis answered almost automatically, his mind already forming a short lecture regarding the matter when she cut him off by raising both hands in mock surrender effectively stopping him.
"Stop. You are a genius I know. You don't need to elaborate." she told him in a half whisper clearly mocking him, "Besides, who ever told you I have a problem?"
"I know you have," Artemis answered simply, "Everyone does,"
The girl lowered her hand, "Fair point. But why would I share them with you, someone who barely acknowledged my existence until today. I'm sure you would think the same if you were in my situation, am I right?"
A honk draw their attention to the sleek black bus that came rounding up the corner. The other students already stood to line up at the sidewalk, waiting for the vehicle to stop in front of them. Taking that as a cue, de Ark stood up and slung her bag on her back.
"I'll be on my way then Mr. Fowl," de Ark said with a chip smile then motioned at the direction of the landing area with a slight tilt of her head, "Have a safe trip,"
And with that she turned around and ran towards the bus, catching up just in time before the door of the bus pulled into a close. Artemis placed a hand inside his pocket as he himself walked to the entrance of the landing area. After giving the administrator in-charge the slip he needed to collect, he then approached Butler who was standing near the gate; his eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses and his face a mask of indifference. Artemis suppress a smirk at the sight of the campus guards becoming obviously uneasy by the mere presence of the manservant.
"Everything alright, Artemis?" the Eurasian asked as Artemis came into earshot.
"Splendidly so," the genius answered with a nod, "Is everything ready Butler?"
"So far," The manservant nodded, "Should I bother what was that all about? I didn't sense any immediate danger so I just observed you from this point."
Artemis shook his head slight, "No need to trouble yourself with that. Just a few unnecessary tasks."
The manservant looked at his charge then to the now empty benches then back. If one were to order the priorities the Irish genius have at the moment according to importance, the scene from before would certainly be the least of his problems. Besides, if anything, it just looked like some teenage school drama waiting to unfold.
"I suppose. Shall we go then?" the Eurasian asked, reaching for the folding umbrella beneath his large coat.
"Yes Butler," the genius answered walking towards the direction of the Fowl jet without even waiting for the guard to open the object despite of the heat of sun beating down from above.
That's a clear message enough to the bodyguard that the young genius was acting strange.
Juliet Butler glanced at the rear view mirror of the Fowl Bentley for the umpteenth time since they left the Manor.
It wasn't just because she was the assigned guard for Artemis. It was just that, there was more to than just guarding him from physical harm. She may not have been as close to the Irish genius compared to his brother but she has her share of interactions and moments with him to at least read and determine if something was amiss from his usual air of confidence. It was not that it was not present, oh no - confidence was something that one cannot simply take away from Fowls without the proper reason or situation - it was just suppressed by something else.
Artemis Fowl II was looking out the window, mind obviously somewhere else aside from the passing scenery. His eyes had the same faraway look in them, a sight she used to see every time the young genius lets his guard down for a few seconds (such as this one) when Angeline Fowl was having problems with her depression during Artemis I's disappearance.
Juliet bit her lip. She always treated Artemis as her younger brother - the one she never hoped to have yet at the same time delighted to have. Back then she gave him advises even if she knew her advises won't par in comparison the information he gained in the numerous books that he have read. Sometimes she was just someone who is ready to listen if he has anything to say; even if it would lead to a lecture on something later on.
It was something that won't change anytime soon.
"You are very quiet Artemis. Is something wrong?"
The Irish genius didn't look away from the window, "That is a broad question Juliet,"
"Are you nervous about meeting Holly?" she asked. And as usual, her tactlessness is spot on.
The Irish genius didn't bother to answer, his eyes still refused to meet hers. They were nearing the port now and dusk was fast approaching, coloring the skies into different mixtures of hues from pink to red orange.
Juliet bit her lip again. "Don't worry much about it. I'm sure everything will turn out right in the end, you'll see. For now let's focus on getting Holly safely to the Manor,"
When she didn't get a reaction for her charge she looked at him through the mirror again, "Artemis, are you alright?"
"I'm fine," came an immediate reply.
Juliet was not fazed, "You are worried about Holly staying at the manor,"
"You could say that," the genius replied, "I'm more worried of what might she remember when she sees the manor,"
Juliet feel silent at that answer.
Fowl Manor didn't exactly give the home and welcome feeling for the fairy. If anything it holds one of her unpleasant memories; being captured by Mudmen in order to get her hostage fund.
"You really cared about her do you?" Juliet said as they round a curve, a few more minutes before reaching their destination.
Artemis remained silent but it was enough for Juliet to know the answer without being spoken out loud.
Uhm…sorry for the long wait. Life got in the way. I'll spare the excuses as well as the excuses if this chapter came out rush. I suddenly had some free time and decided to add a chapter since it was forever since my last update.
And here we introduced, Rii de Ark. She'll be appearing more and more in the latter chapters. Tell me what you think about her.
Till the next update. Peace out.