A/N: This is it! I hope you all enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. It was a great exercise and challenge for my creativity and I hope to do it again in the future. For those of you who haven't read my other one shot, it's available on Ru-Doragon's profile called "Reciprocal emotion." It was a collaboration of our two perverted minds. Please give it a read and review.
Thank you to all who have reviewed, recommended my story to others and have just faithfully followed this from the beginning. I don't think I would have completed this without the positive reinforcement.
Big Thank You to Kitsune Heart for editing this chapter for me. Thanks, girl! ^_^ I know my English sucks...
Speaking of Kitsune Heart, she has finished the podfic of this story and it is available on the following links in both mp3 and m4a formats. Please give it a listen!
*Note that I had to replace the actual "." with the that it would post the link. There are 3 per address. Let me know if you have problems figuring it out but I should hope most of you are tech savvy enough to get it on your own.
mp3 file link: s/8cwp1boeqc1poos/An%20Unexpected%20Turn%20of%
m4a file link: s/cr2o22d6daz5cx9/An%20Unexpected%20Turn%20of%20Events%
Once again, I do not own the rights to Artemis Fowl... no copyright infringement intended.
Holly moaned as the scream of the child woke her from her direly needed slumber. Too tired to move, she elbowed Artemis in the side. "It's your turn." she mumbled.
Artemis groaned as he got out of bed and headed for the kitchen. I'm too old to be doing this again... he thought briefly, then, I guess 43 isn't that old.
He yawned hugely as he took the bottle out of the fridge and headed towards the nursery. As he picked up his screaming child, he wondered once again why Holly refused to allow him to hire a nanny. At least for the first few months. It's not like they had the help of his mother now like they did for A.J. Apparently, Holly felt that parenting was the parents' job and wasn't to be shared or 'dumped on' the help. Artemis didn't understand or share her opinion but it wasn't worth arguing with her. Especially when she was a roller coaster of hormonal emotions.
"There, there, Coral. Calm down. I have your milk." Artemis spoke soothingly to his daughter and went to sit in the rocking chair in the corner of the nursery. "Sorry, sweetie. You're stuck with Daddy right now. Mommy needs to sleep." So do I...
Artemis stared down at the brown-eyed baby girl as she gripped the bottle and nursed down the expressed breast milk. Artemis had gotten used to Holly's breasts leaking by now. She had nursed A.J. until he was nearly 4 years old, which in Artemis's opinion, was a bit disturbing. However, his 4 year old son didn't develop like a human 4 year old. By that age, Artemis Julius had only reached the physical development that would be on par with a 2 year old pure blood human. Though that was only his physical growth. Mentally, he was always advanced even by human standards. It was because of this that Holly and Artemis decided it was best to raise their children in the Lower Elements. At least until they reached physical maturity. Now at 22 years old, A.J. was about the equivalent of a 13 year old human boy. Artemis groaned dramatically when Holly had told him that elves adolescence lasts, on average, for 30 years. Artemis tried to console himself with the knowledge that his son was a hybrid and therefore, may hopefully be through the horrid stage of life quicker.
Completely devouring the bottle, Coral drifted back to sleep in her father's arms. He gently placed her back into her crib before returning to his own bed.
Sighing from exhaustion and exasperation, Artemis laid down next to his wife of now 23 years. Holly slightly stirred next to him as he spooned next to her.
"She fall back asleep?" Holly muttered, half into her pillow.
"Yes. Thank God."
"Mm... Thanks, love."
"Mm hmm." Artemis replied sleepily.
That was the extent of the exchange. Completely exhausted, both of them drifted off, trying to snatch the last few hours of sleep they could be afforded.
As Artemis tied the Double Windsor knot into his black neck tie, the voices of young boys suddenly flooded the house. Artemis peeked into the living room to see Colby had arrived to pick up A.J. to travel to school together with him. Artemis gave him a brief wave before returning to his room.
Having finished getting dressed, Artemis stared at himself in the mirror and frowned. His eyes were bloodshot and there were dark circles beneath them. Even magic didn't help against a lack of sleep. Aside from looking bushed, Artemis had to admit, he did look very good for 43 years old. He was certain he had Holly's life force to thank for this. Really, he could very easily have passed for mid-twenties. Holly hadn't aged at all. It was another reason disappearing from the surface world for a while seemed like a good idea.
"A.J.!" Holly bellowed from the other side of the house. "Do NOT be late coming home today, you got that? We're going to see your grandparents and uncles tonight so no late afternoon trips over to Hazel Kelp's house."
As Artemis walked into the main living space that connected to the kitchen, he caught sight of his son who was standing in the doorway with the centaur boy. A.J. was a deep shade of red while Colby punched him in the arm. "You are so busted." He said to him. Artemis smiled wryly at them.
Still in her night gown, Holly handed Artemis a cup of tea with toast and kissed him gently on the cheek. Artemis smiled sympathetically at her as he noticed she looked just as haggered as him. "Holly, why won't you let me hire a nanny?"
"No, Arty. I know you were raised by a nanny and so was your father and every other Fowl child. That's not how we do things down here. Domestic help is one thing, and still frowned upon, let me tell you, but having someone else raise your children is despicable." Holly had allowed Artemis to hire a maid and a cook who worked only 3 days a week and lived outside of their home. Other than that, Holly had taken on the majority of the domestic duties herself.
The battle is lost from the beginning... he thought. Shrugging his shoulders at her outburst, he quickly ate his breakfast and resigned to drop the issue.
"I have to go. The conference will start without me if I'm late." Artemis said.
"No they won't. You're the chairman. But still, it's rude to make people wait." She smiled at him.
"All right. I'll see you soon. It is only supposed to take a few hours. I should be home before A.J. I'll brief you when I get back. Try to get some rest in the meantime."
"'Kay. Love you."
"Love you too." He pecked her on the cheek before heading out the door.
Even though Artemis lived more than 300 miles away from the center of Haven, he still arrived at Police Plaza in 25 minutes. Why humans hadn't managed to even come close to the transportation technology of the fairy race, was beyond Artemis. Of course, being a tenant in Haven, he was forbidden from sharing the technology. However, that could change in the near future.
"Please excuse my tardiness. My daughter is keeping me up lately." Artemis announced to the Council as he entered the boardroom.
"How's Holly doing?" Raine Vinyaya asked Artemis, her voice filled with motherly concern.
"She is well, thank you. Tired, like myself. But otherwise, she is adapting well to the responsibilities of two children." Artemis replied levelly. Vinyaya always had a maternal protection over Holly that honestly made Artemis a bit homesick. He hated the fact that his parents only got to see their grandchildren twice a month. At least this weekend was going to be one of those times.
"So good to hear." Lieutenant General Kelp curtly interrupted the greetings, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Can we get started already?" He wanted to get this conference over with and get Artemis out of his face.
"Of course, General." Artemis did nothing to hide his distaste for the former Commander. The fact that he now sat on the Council irked Artemis to no end. Especially since it meant personally working along side him day after day. Not to mention Holly too, before she went out on maternity leave.
"Let's get started." Artemis agreed flatly.
"I don't know about this whole thing, Fowl. You're exposing ALL of us to potential harm! Or does that not matter to you since your little perfect family can masquerade as humans so casually that you risk very little danger to yourselves?"
Artemis scowled fiercely at him. Trouble never ceased to seriously piss off Artemis. Artemis tried very hard on most days not to give him the satisfaction of knowing he was so aggravated by the man still. Yet with the lack of sleep, Artemis was finding self-control was hard to come by and found himself blowing up more often at the General. Recognizing that he was losing composure, Artemis automatically switched his thoughts over to ones he found comfort in. Like that Trouble was fat and balding despite his relative youth for an elf. Aside from that, Lili had divorced him 6 years ago and taken up with Grub. Nothing could have been a bigger slap in the face than that. Except maybe one that was to come... Hazel Kelp, one of his three daughters.
Hazel was definitely the most beautiful of the three girls. Willow and Ash were identical twins and took after their father while Hazel was a fraternal sibling to their set. Hazel was almost a spitting image of her mother, but was quite a bit more clever. Not necessarily what Artemis would consider intelligent, but she certainly did have her wits about her. And she was a real fire cracker. Artemis could see why his son had taken such a shining to her, despite his distaste in her family relations. Besides, it never bothered Artemis nearly as much as it bothered Trouble. Artemis had no problems with his son being involved with an elf girl, because really, if he did, he'd be the biggest hypocrite in history. However, Trouble did have problems with his pure blood elf daughter being involved with a human hybrid. More than the fact that Artemis the Third was part human, he was a Fowl. And that was worst choice his daughter could possibly make in a prospective mate.
"The risk is high for all of us. Yet I think you'd even agree with me General, that I don't want my children living the rest of their lives underground. The Earth is a very large planet and can certainly be shared. We need to give humans time to adjust to the idea that they are not the only sentient beings on the planet."
"Sentient?" Trouble started, "Barely. I think barbarians would be a much better adjective." He mumbled. Artemis ignored him.
"Moving on." Artemis anxiously tugged at the bottom of his suit jacket before continuing.
"Talks are going well at the UN's General Assembly. Representatives of the house have assured us asylum in four nations thus far; the United States of America, Great Britain, Sweden and of course, Switzerland, though I will not be sending anyone to the U.S. or Great Britain for some time yet. Their pasts are far too shaded. I have proposed a small colony in Switzerland just south of Geneva to begin with. The area was chosen due to their social tolerance and efforts towards peace keeping before the International Democracy took control of mankind's governments. Those who are sent from the Lower Elements have to be just as tolerate. We cannot permit circumstances to breed prejudice and fear in the humans based on intolerance on our part. A committee will need to be formed to interview potential pilgrims who will choose to live as a vast minority amongst the scary Mud-Men." Artemis smirked at the last part of his statement.
"Sounds promising, Fowl. But how are we to know that the instant we get up there, they don't decide to capture us and stick us in a lab or worse?" Lope asked.
"Because they have known of our existence since the Tenth Plague. When you chose to assist the Mud Men with the epidemic, you exposed yourself but also warmed their hearts to you. Humans know that, for the most part, you are a peace loving society. If they really wanted to take that course of action, they would have at least made a diligent effort to capture a fairy by now. In addition, they have agreed to allow our own security personnel to be stationed on the colony. Of course, they will have their own bordering their land as well. Trust will have to be earned and no doubt, will take a great deal of time. The safety of our people is still our primary focus. Construction of the new shuttle bay in the city will be completed shortly. Of course, this information has not been divulged to the humans. The colony will be small enough that we can fully evacuate in under 4 minutes, just in case. The tunnel entrance is equipped to collapse by remote detonation. They would not be able to follow us, even if they had the equipment to do so."
"How can you have so much faith in your blood-thirsty race to put lives at risk?" Cahartez finally spoke up.
"The world has changed a lot since I left the surface over 20 years ago. And to say its' changed drastically since you left, would be a vast understatement. You do not give humans enough credit. They have made enormous strides in equal rights and social tolerance in the past 50 years. Humans age quickly and thus, die quickly. The generations you are familiar with have long died, along with their great grandchildren. If we don't make efforts to move forward with positive change, if we don't take chances... then we shall live forever in fear under the earth's crust, waiting for the humans to develop the technologies that the planet desperately needs us to start utilizing now. Frankly, that is not the future I want for my children."
"All right, Fowl. We get it." As a father himself, Trouble had a measure of understanding behind Artemis's drive. Frankly, if it wasn't Artemis, he'd actually admire his ambitious actions to improve the lives of the future generation. "Who heads up this 'committee' that gets to choose who goes and who doesn't?" Trouble asked.
"I do. Along with Holly." Artemis replied as if the answer should have been obvious.
"Of course." Trouble muttered sarcastically under his breath.
"I'd like at least two others to join me. Council members. Those who feel they themselves could join this colony, because in fact, I am expecting them to." Artemis's vampiric smile graced his face as he took in the shocked expressions of the fairies around him.
"What about you, Artemis? You prepared to live amongst humans with your family and be associated as an outsider?" Vinyaya asked.
"I am an outsider no matter where I am. And yes, I am prepared. As is my family." Artemis answered levelly but inside he was torn. His son's entire memorable life had taken place in the Lower Elements. Geneva wasn't exactly next door to Dublin so he wouldn't even have his family on the surface. His son's commute to and from school will become long and possibly dangerous as he'd need to sneak in and out of the shuttle port each day. Perhaps he'd need to be home schooled. Though he knew A.J. would hate that idea. He was far too much of a 'social butterfly'. Besides, he'd never want to quit the Crunchball team. At 4' tall, he was their star player right now. Artemis would have never thought his son would turn out to be such a jock. A jock with a brain... it should be an oxymoron, he thought to himself, but was nonetheless very proud of his son's accomplishments. Even the physical ones. No doubt his mother's genes.
It'd be nice to be rid of you thought Trouble Kelp of Artemis's announcement that he'd be leaving Haven. Though he knew he'd still have dealings with the Mud-Man everyday, they'd mostly be through video. Trouble could hope that he'd never again come home from work to Artemis already at his house, tearing his son away by the ear.
Cahartez gave a disgruntled sigh. "Well, I'm not happy about splitting up the Council. But I do see your reasoning on the matter, Artemis. I would like the two you take to be Generals. At least one of them will need to act as Chief of Security for the colony."
Artemis nodded. "Agreed." Looking around at the uneasy members, he tried to offer a reassuring smile. "I'm not going to force any of you to go. It will be strictly voluntary. Though I do have... preferences... if you're interested."
Trouble raised a skeptical eyebrow at this. "Who?"
"I'd like Raine Vinyaya as Head of Intelligence. Admittedly, I had originally chosen Foaly for this position but as centaurs will not be included in the first wave, I require an elf for the position. Vinyaya has displayed compassion towards the human race in the past and I feel she will be a tolerant person."
Raine hid her shock well and gave a simple nod. She had been giving the surface colony life a lot of thought recently. She liked Artemis's ideals towards integrating their two civilizations and wanted to work with him towards his goals. To hear that he had wanted her for the assignment was flattering. A small smile crept across her face. "I accept."
Artemis smiled in return. "Excellent. I just need my Chief of Security then." Artemis smile began to dissipate to be replaced with one of disdain.
I can't believe I'm actually requesting this... "For Chief of Security I have chosen someone with a long record of successful missions with both Recon and Retrieval. Someone who's record with the LEP that has shown him to be trustworthy to protect The People's interests above all else." He paused to look at the man in question. "Trouble Kelp."
Trouble's jaw hit the table and his eyes nearly came out of his head. The look of utter shock almost made the request worth it. Almost. Still, Artemis couldn't think about his comfort solely. Despite his utter dislike for the former Commander, Artemis had to admit he was the best man for the job. Plus it would mean every other weekend, Hazel would be on the surface to see her father. Artemis imagined he wouldn't see A.J. at all on those weekends.
"I... um, I'll think about it." Trouble spoke quietly, as if he was still lost in his shock-induced haze. Really, he knew he was the best one for the position. His kids lived with his wife, well, ex-wife and his brother of all people. He didn't have the responsibilities that other men had; even Artemis.
"Good. Please do. Now, I will take questions. Please keep them limited to the Immigration Committee. I need to leave early today."
The conference droned on for three more hours with Artemis answering questions he was certain he had already answered in previous meetings if not at that very same meeting earlier. He wondered if anyone was actually paying attention to him in the first place.
Artemis had to cut the Q&A short as time did not allow for him to continue. "Any further questions can be emailed to me. Good day to you, gentlemen," He turned and nodded towards Vinyaya, "Lady." There was still only a single female on the Council to this day. Holly didn't count. She was an ambassador, not an officer.
As Artemis left Police Plaza, he started heading towards the shuttle port but was spotted by an old friend.
No.1 caught sight of Artemis on his way home and hollered out to him in order to get his attention.
"Hey! Artemis! Don't leave yet!"
Artemis turned to see the demon warlock rushing up behind him. He waved at his friend as he caught up to him.
"Hello, No.1. How are you? I hope the family is well." Artemis politely addressed him.
"Families." No.1 corrected him, putting strong emphasis on the back half of the word.
"Yes. I suppose you're right. I don't know how you find time for all those children, let alone wives. I'm more than exhausted with the one wife and two children."
"It's not that bad. The ladies are pretty good about taking the majority of the work with the children. It's common in our culture to all live together. All three of my wives grew up in the compound so they are used to each other already and help one another out."
"Right." Artemis briefly mused how Holly would react if he, even just jokingly, suggested taking another wife. He didn't think he'd survive the prank.
"So how's your daughter?" Artemis asked, changing the subject.
"Claire? Ugh. She's a handful. Both Qwan and I have suffered several burns and unwelcome transformations due to her lack of control. But she's coming along. I think in a few more years she will have it all under control."
Artemis smiled. "That's good to hear. So warlock school has their first witch since, when?"
"Since ever. We didn't even think the warlock gene could be passed onto a female. Apparently we should not assume, since you know what happens when you 'assume'." No.1 smirked widely at the word play he'd learned only recently.
Artemis rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes. You make an 'ass of u and me'". Artemis played along reluctantly. "Well best of luck with her, No.1. I'm sure luck will be the only thing that saves you when she hits puberty." Artemis's smile turned malicious. No.1 visibly paled.
"Yeah, thanks." He paused for a moment, trying to think of a topic to change the conversation to and move away from his impending doom. "How's Juliet doing?"
"Well. Now that Madame Ko has finally bit the dust, she's got the training camp to herself entirely. Butler is still with her, though he only advises and give guidance to Juliet and the occasional student. He is 70 after all. Though, incredibly healthy considering." Artemis informed him, a bit saddened by the reality of having to say goodbye to his friend in a relatively short time.
"So she really was serious?" No.1 said more to himself than to Artemis. Juliet had long ago informed him that she had no desire for a partner or offspring. Of course, these were things that No.1 had pined his whole life for. The differences in life goals, along with various other, more obvious, vital differences was what had ended their trysts years ago.
Artemis placed his hand on his friend's shoulder, wrenching him from his melancholic daydreaming. "I really must be going. I'm heading home this weekend."
No.1 knew what he meant by 'home'. In the past two decades, Artemis was still not at home in Haven. No.1 could sympathize. He too, was a minority amongst the fairy people, though definitely more tolerated than Artemis was.
"Of course. Have a good time and give your family, all of them, my best wishes." No.1 said to his friend.
"Thank you. You too. Perhaps we could meet up for lunch next week."
"I'd like that."
Artemis nodded and smiled to his friend before turning to leave for his original destination.
Artemis sighed as he got to the busy shuttle port. As an ambassador and a rich one at that, he had his own shuttle but it still needed to be docked at the stations. It wasn't like a car that could be driven right up to the house in the driveway. There were no personal garages for them. Thus, Artemis had to still endure the stares and whispers of the people he passed everyday. Although famous by this point, not just for being the only 'human' in Haven, but his past wasn't exactly a secret. Several motion pictures had been made at by now that featured his and Holly's adventures. Despite having his best interests at heart for The People, many did not agree with his current plans for "Operation Civilization Integration" as the plan had been coined. Artemis had laughed out loud when Trouble got completely tongued tied the first time he tried to say it.
Finally making his way back to his house, he found Holly in the kitchen desperately guzzling down a glass of water, some of it dripping down her chin and into her cleavage that was already glistening with perspiration. Artemis watched as the droplets disappeared between her breasts and under her green sports bra. His eyes trailed down to her taut and toned abdomen. No one would ever been able to tell this woman had ever had children, let alone two... the second only months ago. Though that's why Holly was so diligent with her work-outs. Not to mention she'd be taking on students again at the dojo within the next month or so and needed to get back into shape.
Holly finished the water and slammed the glass down on the counter with a satisfied "Ahh". She smiled brightly at Artemis and wiped her mouth on her forearm. "Hi Honey." She greeted him. As she approached him, her pony tail swayed back and forth like a hypnotizing pendulum.
Artemis couldn't manage a response further than a smile as the blood was already beginning its' retreat from his brain. While she wrapped her arms around the back of his neck and stood on tiptoes to kiss him, Artemis mused to himself how even after more than twenty years of marriage, his body still would instantly react to her barely clad form. He placed his hands on her hips and held her body next to his. He could feel her lips twitch into a smile around his own, knowing she'd discovered his body's betrayal of just how happy he was to see her.
Holly admitted to herself that it had been a while. Finding opportune times to be alone with Artemis had been few and far between since Coral was born. Lately, she didn't go down for a nap until nearly 3:00 which was right when A.J. would come home. By the time the kids were both in bed, Holly was generally exhausted and just wanted to sleep as much as she could before she knew she'd be woken again. Currently, Coral was still down and A.J. had not yet made his way home, no doubt ignoring her order regarding Hazel, and she still felt rather exhilarated from her work-out. Holly parted her lips just slightly and soon found Artemis's tongue sliding down her own. The sensation sent a thrill down her spine and her legs, quite by themselves, parted around his.
Artemis's hand left her hip and traveled around to her rear, which he paused momentarily to squeeze, before continuing down the back of her thigh. His long fingers wrapped around her leg and he pulled and hitched it to his hip. Holly's hands untangled themselves from the back of his neck and slid down his chest and around his back. Her right hand continued lower and pressed against his ass, effectively pushing his lower half against her.
Artemis was more than happy to find Holly reciprocating his attention and some kind of mixture of a moan and sigh escaped as he moved his lips' attention to the dip behind her ear. He had every desire to tear what little clothing she had on, off in that moment, right there and then, but he was aware of the time. Their relative privacy would be short lived and he should move her into the bedroom before...
Artemis heard the faint hiss of the pneumatic locks triggered and in the less than half a second he had to react, he released her and stepped away from Holly right as the door blew open.
"Hey. I'm home. Didn't go anywhere... came straight home just like you asked." A.J. stated immediately upon entry. Throwing his bag down on the floor, he was heading straight for the kitchen, as usual, when he noticed his parents' expressions. His mother appeared to be embarrassed while his father had some sort of an irritated pout on his face. A.J.'s eyebrows shot up as he mentally questioned their perplexing reaction to his arrival but A.J. was a smart boy and also well into the throngs of puberty himself.
"Oh gross, you two. You know, I didn't have to come straight home. In fact, I think I'll leave now. What's wrong with you guys! You're old!" He shouted as he turned away, grabbing his bag and headed straight for the door.
"A.J.!" Holly shouted at her indignant son as he turned to leave the house. He completely ignored his mother's beckoning and had opened the front door about six inches before a strong arm reached over his shoulder, forcing the door shut.
"Artemis Julius, you are not going anywhere. Now go to your room and get your things packed. We're leaving as soon as Coral is up." Holly demanded.
"Fine." A.J. replied in a rather snotty voice. Artemis was not pleased with the tone he was taking with his mother. As A.J. entered his bedroom, he slammed the door shut behind him, reacting in a very typical moody teenager fashion. The noise from the door slamming woke Coral and her cries caused Holly to slam her palm against her forehead.
"Why?" She began to ask, rhetorically. "Why did I want kids..." She stomped off to the nursery to attend to her youngest. Artemis took it upon himself to deal with their eldest.
Artemis knocked on the door to his son's bedroom. Despite his desire to simply barge in, Artemis had to follow the rules he had set for the household if he wanted others to respect them. A.J. knew it was his dad. His mom would have burst in, despite the rules.
"Yeah?" A.J. asked, hoping his dad had only a quick rebuke or request that could be issued from the other side of the door.
"May I come in?" It was technically a question, but A.J. knew there was only one response.
"Yeah." A.J. pinched the bridge of his nose in anxiety. His father's wrath was something he did not face often but on the rare occasion when he did, it was a truly frightening experience.
As Artemis entered his son's bedroom, he silently shut the door behind him, never turning while he did so nor dropping his icy gaze from his son's face.
A.J. froze in place, his hand buried into his bag, mid-action of packing his toiletries. He unconsciously gulped down his stomach that had suddenly leaped into his throat. His father never shut the door behind him. Even though his father was nearly 2 feet taller than him, he never found him to be much of a physical threat. Part of this reason was because Artemis had never lifted a finger against his son. Not even when he was very young. No, when it came to a physical threat, that was his mother's department. Nonetheless, A.J. felt far more intimidated when he got on his dad's bad side.
Artemis's steely glare mellowed a degree when he saw the fearful look on his son's face. It was one thing for his son to recognize his position of authority over him. It was another for him to be scared of him. Artemis sat on the bed next to his son, his expression melting from stern to one of concern. A.J. cautiously unfroze next to his father, putting his hands on his lap.
"You realize you've made your mother mad. She gave you the full name treatment." Artemis mentioned with a hint of a smile in his statement.
"Well, at least it didn't include 'Fowl the Third' attached to it, then I know I'd really be up... uhm, in trouble." A.J. quickly censored his words. He figured saying 'up shit creek' would be counter productive to his current situation.
"Yes then you'd really be up shit creek." Artemis chuckled softly as his son gawked blankly at him. Artemis was very careful with his language around his children but he could tell what his son was thinking and was trying to lighten the mood slightly. However it only seemed to result in throwing his son into shock.
"Uhm, yeah." A.J. choked out.
"A.J. Please understand that your mother's hormones are still unbalanced not to mention she's an elf on top of simply being female, thus making her terribly unpredictable. Please try not to anger her. I usually end up bearing the brunt of it when you do. I'd appreciate your cooperation in the matter."
That sounds more like him. A.J. mused as his father's tone changed back to one of a business exchange. "Yeah, I mean, yes, of course. I apologize."
"Very good. Now, there was something else I wanted to talk to you about."
"Something else?" A.J.'s could feel the cold sweat already forming on his face.
"Yes, well. I've noticed you're spending quite a bit of time with Hazel Kelp these days. As your parent, it is my responsibility to educate you on certain matters."
OH MY GAWD NO! A.J.'s stomach lurched as he realized his father's intentions. "Dad! Seriously! I'm all set. I mean, you know I've already finished my Master's in which, I had to complete a basic biology course on both fairies and humans. I don't think there's anything you need to talk to me about that I don't already know."
"Really?" Artemis just slightly smirked at his son's very apparent discomfort. He debated really seeing him squirm by asking him something terribly inappropriate like if he was participating in cunnilingus but decided against it. He snickered quietly as he imagined his son's assured reaction. No doubt exactly how he'd react if it was his father saying it to him. Being in the father's position now, Artemis realized only now how much fun his father had tormenting him.
"Really, Dad. I'm all set." Fear gleamed in his eyes as he pleaded for him to change the subject.
"I just want to be sure you're taking precautions." Artemis decided to give this conversation a measure of the seriousness it warranted.
"Yeah, Dad. I don't exactly want to be a father myself before my 25th birthday." A.J. replied, his complexion going paler than his father's.
"What's wrong with having a child before your 25th birthday?" Artemis asked with mock offense. Of course A.J. wasn't quite as physically developed as Artemis had been at 25, but still, Artemis was married and a father at 21. By 25 he was already down in Haven and working on the Council.
"Oh! Uh... nothing I suppose." A.J. realized quickly that he had stuck his foot in his mouth as his own father was only 21 years older than him. By fairy standards, he was more like a brother in age. After all, Coral was 22 years younger than him.
"I think I'd just rather be, uh, married... before I starting thinking about kids of my own." A.J. was treading on very thin ice. He was also aware that he was conceived out of wedlock not that that meant much down in Haven especially since they were already partnered at the time.
"That's understandable." Artemis said, not taking any offense whatsoever to his son's comment. "So, then you two are physically intimate?"
"What? No! Oh Frond help me... It's not like that. I assure you. It's not." A.J.'s voice shot up an octave in his panic, though in the back of his mind he was thinking 'unfortunately'.
Artemis released a breath he was unaware he'd be holding in until now. He casually gave his son a brief pat on the back before standing to leave. "Good. I'll leave you to finish packing."
A.J. was just about to return to his packing when his father paused at the door, his hand already on the knob.
"A.J. I wouldn't mind if you were. Your mother and I just want you to be responsible." And then he left. His son gawked at the closed door, trying to process the strange and uncomfortable exchange he'd just experienced. He knew this would soon prompt another discussion regarding birth control methods and A.J. was already cringing at the thought.
While still staring blankly at the door, it spontaneously blew open. No knock.
"A.J.! Get ready! We have to go!" His mother shouted as she burst in, baby hitched to her hip. "C'MON! Haul it!" She disappeared, leaving the door wide open behind her.
The shuttle landed at Fowl Manor, shielded, and Artemis called his parents on their communicator to let them know they had arrived. His father, despite being in his mid-sixties, was still very lithe. It most likely had something to do with the fact that Artemis and Holly took care of any minor ailments that struck him and his family. In addition, 12 years ago No.1 had come up to regenerate his missing leg. Artemis Senior didn't look a day over 50 and acted as if he was still in his thirties. He was retired for the most part, though he did still coach Myles from time to time, who was currently the President and Chairman of the Board for Fowl Enterprises.
As the family came up to the door, Beckett burst open the door, a huge smile plastered on his face. "Holly! How the heck are you?" He bellowed.
Artemis frowned. "Hello to you too, brother."
Beckett smiled. "Oh, hey Artemis." he nodded then moved over to A.J. "Hey kiddo! How's it going?" He ruffled A.J.'s hair as he greeted him.
"Uncle Beckett, I am only 6 years your junior despite my physical appearance." A.J. said flatly, scowling at the juvenile treatment his uncle gave him.
"Yes of course. Such a big boy now." He said, slightly mocking him. He turned his attention back to Holly. "So how's my favorite sister-in-law?"
"You shouldn't say that too loudly, whether it's true or not." Artemis said, mumbling the last part. "Minerva might hear you."
Beckett rolled his eyes. "Let her. And it is the truth." Beckett couldn't stand Minerva. That's why he moved out 4 years ago, leaving Ireland entirely to pursue his hobby of snowboarding as a profession in Vancouver.
"I'm well, Beckett. Thanks. Just tired. You wanna take her?" Holly asked him, holding out Coral.
"Er, I think you should just pass her on to Mum. She's been jumping out of her skin since I got here... constantly shrieking about how she was having her grand babies coming for the weekend and had all her boys at home. Ugh. Best of luck to you, mon capitaine." He turned back to Artemis and gave him a sarcastic salute.
Artemis groaned. His mom was a little off the wall these days. Even though Myles still lived in the manor with his wife and daughter, Angeline seemed to be suffering with some kind of empty nest syndrome ever since Beckett had moved out.
"Great. Thanks for the warning." Artemis moaned.
The warning hadn't come a moment too soon. Angeline came sprinting out to the front avenue, arms open wide, searching out her grand kids.
"A.J.! My little sweetie! Come see Nana!" She shouted, her voice shaky with emotion. As she wrapped A.J. into a tight hug, Artemis could see his son grimace and couldn't help but smirked at him. The poor kid had already endured so much torture today.
She released him from her constricting hug only to hold him by the shoulders. "Let me look at you. You're getting bigger!" she declared before placing a wet smooch on his forehead, leaving a bright red lipstick mark.
A.J. wiped his face on his forearm, scowling the entire time. "Grandma, I haven't grown a millimeter since I was here last. It's only been two weeks."
"Well, you look bigger to me." She smiled at him. She moved on to Holly, much to A.J. relief, and instantly held out her hands to hold Coral. "Let me see the little one! Ooh... Hi Sweetie!" her voice kicked up a few octaves and she spoke to the infant in a sugary sweet tone. Coral cooed at her grandmother. "You're so adorable! You look just like your mother." Angeline said. It was true. Coral was almost an exact replica of Holly aside from the fact that her ears were slightly more rounded, her hair a shade darker though still quite red, and her skin just marginally lighter than her mother's. Her lips were just as cherub-like and her eyes a warm hazel.
Holly graciously handed over her daughter to her mother-in-law. It was hard not having much help with the baby this time around, but that didn't warrant hiring someone to do it. Even if they could afford it, it was still unethical.
"Well, aren't you going to come in?" A voice from the doorway asked. Artemis looked up to see Myles smiling at him, a bouncing 4 year old girl around his knees excitedly clapping her hands. With each jump her blond curls uncoiled slightly only to spring back into their tight ringlets.
"Oncle Ah-temis!" The small girl couldn't contain her jubilation any longer and burst towards Artemis, grabbing him around the knees in a tight embrace.
"Bon soir, ma cherie. Comment ça va?" He asked his niece, unconsciously switching to French.
"Trèsbien. És tu?" The girl's voice was so sweet it could have given one cavities.
"Bien, merci, Josephine." Artemis kissed his niece on the forehead before she ran over to give both Holly and A.J. a welcome hug.
After giving Holly a much less enthused hug, she crushed A.J. in an embrace, kissing both his cheeks. "Cousin!" She cried.
"Hi Josie." A.J. said in a completely flat tone. These weekend trips were starting to become taxing. If it wasn't for the fresh air and the horses, he'd beg to opt out and stay with Colby for the weekend. Though his dad was teaching him how to drive these days and he really, really loved his mom's car.
The small girl smiled hugely at him before running back to the doorway where her father had been previously, where her mother now stood.
"Mama," Josephine asked, "can Ah-jay takes me to the horses?" Her accent was a mash-up of Irish and French, making her words indistinguishable to most.
"Quickly. We'll be having dinner shortly." Her mother said with a nod, evoking a squeal from the girl and an enormous sigh from A.J.
"All right. C'mon pipsqueak." A.J. motioned for his only cousin to follow him out back. The two of them left their parents and uncle in the front avenue. Angeline had long disappeared inside with Coral to find her husband and show off the baby.
"Artemis. You look... amazingly well." Minerva noted of her friend. Though Artemis was also in his forties, he could have easily passed for the missing triplet to his brothers. Despite the fact that he was 2" shorter than them.
"As do you." Artemis said politely. It was true, she didn't look 40. Maybe early thirties. Having a father who's a plastic surgeon had its perks. And speaking of perks, Artemis's couldn't help but notice her breasts appeared quite a bit fuller than the last time he'd seen her...
A sensation of impending doom struck Artemis suddenly, making him terribly anxious. He quickly recognized the sense was being emitted by Holly and being her partner, he was sensitive to her moods, especially when they involved injuring him. His eyes trailed over to her, standing about 10 feet behind Minerva talking with Beckett. Holly had her fists balls down at her hips and a dangerous, wild look in her eyes. Artemis was almost certain he could see some kind of burning blue battle aura around her and realized she had caught him ogling Minerva's tits. He very hurriedly finished up his pleasantries with Minerva before stating he was heading inside to get settled before dinner. Holly stalked behind him, her laser beam glare boring holes in him the entire way.
When they reached their bedroom, Artemis opened the door, holding it so that Holly could enter before him. She stomped in, not saying a word or even glancing in his direction. Artemis internally groaned as he followed her inside then gently shut the door. He more than half expected her to start tearing him to shreds as soon as the door clicked shut, but instead she said nothing.
"Holly." He tested her reaction to him simply talking. Sometimes that's all it took. Yet she still was quietly stewing. She continued to completely ignore him while she unpacked her toiletries into the bathroom.
"Holly, please don't be mad with me. I was simply noting that it appears as if she has had more work done and am curious as to why. I'm concerned as to whether or not she does it of her own volition or if Myles is pressuring her in some way because if that is the case, I will need to have words with..." Artemis tried to offer excuses but Holly butt in.
"I don't care Artemis. I understand you're a man with working eyes. I don't expect you to not notice a set of Double D's staring you in the face." Holly said. Her words didn't match her body language though, Artemis noted. She sounded as if she wasn't mad with him yet with each item she pulled from her bag, she'd slam it down on the bathroom counter.
"Then why are you angry?" He asked.
"I'm not angry."
"Yes you are. What's bothering you?"
"What makes you think something is bothering me?"
Artemis shut his eyes while he breathed in sharply through his nose. Patience...
"Holly. If you'd like to talk to me, I would love to hear what you're thinking. Otherwise, I will not pressure you to share." He decided to leave it at that. That usually melted her a degree or two.
Sure enough, Holly sighed, her shoulders that had been completely rigid dropped down and the fierce expression on her face melted. "Artemis..."
"Aren't you... bored with me?" Her voice was so quiet he wasn't sure he heard her correctly.
"What?" He asked, certain he must have misheard.
"We've been together for over 20 years now. I mean, you've only ever been with me. Aren't you, you know... getting sick of me?"
"What on EARTH are you talking about it?" Artemis exclaimed, finding her question unusually absurd.
"C'mon, Artemis. You can tell me if you want a break. I know I'm not the easiest person to be with."
Artemis's hands flew to his temples, his fingers threading and fisting in his own hair. He groaned loudly at his wife's hormonal swing. "Holly. You are talking nonsense." He moaned as he closed his eyes, pulling at his own hair in frustration.
"Am I?" She asked, her voice sounded far away, as if she wasn't really replying to Artemis at all. "I've had two kids now. I'm not as young as I was when you first fell in love with me. I'm not the same person as I was back then."
Oh God, when are her hormones going to stabilize? "Holly, love, I assure you that is not the case."
"Then why'd you look?" She asked, now very audible.
"Because! As you said, they were in my face! You noticed, didn't you?" Artemis tried to make a defensive argument.
Holly frowned, knowing he was, once again, right. "I know, I know. I'm just, I guess... a little insecure. I'm sorry, Artemis. I know I've been a little crazy since Coral was born." She gave a meek smile in spite of herself.
"Holly. I've been with you as your partner for over two decades. I've known you for three. You are my best friend. My soul mate. I try my utmost to be as patient as I can possibly manage. I do understand that your hormone levels are unstable right now. But rest assured, I don't have eyes for anyone other than you. Minerva is my sister-in-law, so please don't think I could possibly be interested in her."
"I know. Sorry." Holly said as she hugged him.
Artemis smiled warming at her. "Don't be. I'm the one that's sorry. If it had been reversed, and you were looking at Trouble..."
Holly cut him off, again. "Yeah right. Like that would happen. What on earth is he eating that's making him so fat?"
Artemis didn't say anything though he knew of the General's issues with alcohol. And frankly, alcohol does have quite of bit of calories in it.
"Perhaps he's just not as active as he used to be." Artemis offered, trying to sound civil.
"Artemis. You've turned too nice." Holly smiled and pecked him on the lips before leaving the room to meet the family for dinner.
There is such a thing as 'too nice'? Artemis wondered. Perhaps the children have turned me 'soft'. He thought briefly before following her out of the room to meet the rest of the family for dinner.
At the dinner table, Artemis's parents were completely captivated with Coral. A.J. once was slightly irked how he felt completely tossed aside now that there was a baby, but he was older now and he already got all that jealousy out of his system when Josephine was born. Now, he was actually happy someone was taking his grandmother's attention away from him. He was sick of wiping lipstick off his face and lately, his grandfather was asking... questions. In fact, he wouldn't doubt that his conversation with his own father earlier was prompted by his grandfather. A.J. ate his meal silently, answering any question asked of him with one word answers.
Holly was captivated with Beckett's stories of his new life in western Canada. When he started going into a detailed description of one of his female students, Holly smirked at him.
"What happened to Diana?" Holly couldn't keep the amusement from her voice.
"Oh, she's still around. As is Veronica. And Stacey." Beckett's smile grew and turned more mischievous.
Holly burst out laughing. "Oh gods, you're such a player." She choked out. Angeline heard this, saw Beckett's nod in agreement and shameless smile, and scowled at him showing disapproval in his lifestyle. Even though Beckett didn't catch her expression, Holly did and cleared her throat nervously.
"So, how often do you get to come back to Ireland?" She asked, completely changing the topic.
Meanwhile, Artemis and Myles were in deep conversation about stock holdings and product development for Fowl Enterprises. Occasionally Minerva would chime in as she was still head of R & D, but Artemis would simply smile and nod in acknowledgment and continuing talking with Myles.
"What are you going to do about Phonetix?" Artemis asked.
"Oh, I already bought them out last week. They will be our foothold in the U.S. After that, I'm looking at Australia." Myles explained.
"You bought out Phonetix? Nicely played, brother." Artemis praised his younger sibling.
"Yes. Within the next two years, wi-fi and cell phone coverage will virtually be available absolutely everywhere. Of course, we haven't figured out the whole 'tunnels' issue."
"I can probably help with that... in time. The People's satellites are far more powerful. After all, we need to penetrate the earth's crust, not just the subway." Artemis smiled.
"Really? You think you'll be permitted to share fairy technology?" Both Myles and Minerva's eyes widened at the thought.
"In time. I'm not at liberty to discuss matters in details, but," Artemis's vampire smile crept across his face, "we should be moving back to the surface shortly."
Myles's feelings about this were mixed. He missed his brother and loved his niece and nephew. But he couldn't help but feel slightly threatened by the idea. If Artemis would be moving home, would he expect Myles to simply step aside as Chairman over the company? Not to mention his insecurities about his own wife...
"Really? That would be awesome!" Beckett had no such reserves. "You moving back into the manor or you heading elsewhere?" He asked the question that was on everyone's mind. Angeline had stopped cooing to her youngest grand child to listen with bated breath.
Artemis eye slightly twitched at his brother's terrible grammar but had long ago given up on correcting him. "Elsewhere. I can't say anymore right now. But I'll visit just as often as I do now. Maybe more so. I don't know exactly how busy I'll be."
Both his mother and brother released the air in their lungs in a huffed sigh. It was odd how a simply sigh could express so much emotion. Angeline was just as visibly disappointed as Myles was relieved. Artemis understood his mother's reaction but was a bit amused by his brother's.
"I am very busy with my work, Myles. I'm afraid I won't be able to offer you much assistance with the company." Artemis continued, suspecting Myles's fears.
"Oh, no I understand. I've manage thus far." He said, a bit embarrassed that his brother had picked up on his insecurities.
"Of course you can." Artemis smiled genuinely before returning his attention to his meal.
The rest of dinner wrapped up quickly. Timmy made a comment on Holly's truly graceful eating habits and Angeline lectured Beckett on finding someone to 'settle down with'. Before long, A.J. had fled to his room, very thankful to have his hand-held communicator with him so he could give Hazel a call. Artemis and Holly also shortly left to retreat to their room for some 'personal time'.
Artemis rested his head on Holly's collar bone, sweating and panting for air. Holly gave a mild laugh when Artemis very quietly huffed out 'thank you'. Artemis listened to her pounding heart as she ran her fingers through his hair.
"We got to get more friends to agree to take the kids more often." She said.
"I've been saying we should hire a nanny now for..."
"No, Artemis. Not an option." Holly cut him off.
"What about a sitter? Just for an evening or weekend at the most?" Artemis tried to offer a compromise.
Holly groaned. "Maybe."
Artemis rolled on to his side of the bed, shutting his eyes and preparing for sleep. Holly, however, had something on her mind.
"What did you talk to A.J. about earlier?" She asked.
"Oh. I wanted to know if he was sexual active with the Kelp girl." Artemis answered, very blasé.
"AND?" Holly's heart jumped into her throat at the thought.
Artemis peeked an eye open at her, who was now sitting, completely awake. "And he's not."
"How do you know he wasn't lying?" Holly asked, suspiciously.
"He's not. He's too scared right now. Though that will probably change as Hazel matures and becomes more... expressive in her interest."
"How can you be so calm about this? You can't possibly want him to be promiscuous! You should have threatened his life should he decide to change his course of action!"
"Holly. Of course I want him to exercise proper morality. I just know he's going to do what he wants regardless of what you or I tell him to do. All we can do if offer guidance. If we are to tie him down with unbending laws, he's just going to lash out."
Holly frowned but didn't offer any argument. A.J. was a very smart boy. She was going to have to learn to let go at some point. Maybe he did deserve a measure of trust since he'd never caused them any strife.
"Well, good night Artemis." Holly said as she settled in to the blankets.
"Good night dear." He said, half in a yawn, before passing out.
The weekend passed, rather uneventful. Artemis ended up working most of the time with Myles on his current projects. A.J. was stuck with Josie and his grandfather the entire time, going riding and watching old Disney movies with his young cousin. Angeline was inseparable from Coral and Holly ended up going shopping with Minerva. It was the typical weekend at the Fowl Manor. And as usual, it went by far too quickly. Before Holly knew it, she was packing her stuff back up to return to Haven. Angeline, once again, bawled her eyes out as they hurriedly boarded their shuttle and took off. Beckett waved madly at the blur disappearing from the back lawn.
Upon their arrival home, A.J. danced through the front door, very happy to be home. He immediately retreated to his room. Holly heard him talking on his communicator within 30 seconds in an exaggerated deep voice. Obviously Hazel was on the other end of the line.
Artemis hadn't even shut the front door before his communicator buzzed against his hip. He looked at the caller ID to see who it was and frowned. Holly saw his reaction and raised an eyebrow in suspicion before Artemis began walking into his office to accept the call. This piqued her curiosity but she didn't ask anything. Even though she was also an ambassador, she knew there was information that she wasn't necessarily privy to.
Once Artemis had the door closed, he pressed the "accept" button. "Yes?" He answered.
"Are you home now?" The caller asked.
"Yes, I am."
"Good. I'm coming over." The caller hung up abruptly, not giving Artemis a chance to refuse.
Artemis emerged from his office, his expression appearing displeased. Holly cautiously asked him if everything was okay to which Artemis just gave a rather unconvincing nod. She could sense his apprehension.
Less than five minutes of uncomfortable silence passed before the door bell rang. Artemis opened the door to his expected 'guest'. Artemis waved in a very formal fashion, inviting the visitor into his home.
Holly's eyes widened as she saw Trouble enter the house, appearing just as uncomfortable as her own husband. He gave her a weak smile and 'hello' before taking a seat across from Holly on the couch.
Artemis shut the door and took a seat beside his wife who held their sleeping daughter in her arms. "What can I do for you, General?"
"I need to talk to you about some things. First of all, your son..." Trouble started.
Holly's shoulders went rigid at the mention of her child. She instantly went into 'mother lion' mode and glared dangerously at Trouble. "What about A.J.?" She asked, her voice dangerously low.
Trouble ignored Holly's threatening tone and looked straight at Artemis. "I just wanted to see if you discussed what we talked about earlier."
"It's been handled." Artemis answered curtly.
"Good. And?" Trouble replied.
"And you needn't be concerned." Artemis replied, irritated.
"What? What's going on? What are you involving A.J. in?" Holly barked at the two men, angry they were leaving her in the dark.
"It's nothing, love. It's been handled. General Kelp was concerned for his daughter. That's all." Artemis tried to calm his wife before she blew up at both of them.
"His daughter?" She asked incredulously. "Hazel?"
Artemis nodded. Holly went silent but the vibe she emitted told Artemis he better spill every detail as soon as they had privacy. She figured it was the 'talk' he had had with A.J. before they went up to the surface that weekend, but why Trouble was asking Artemis to have this discussion with him threw up some red flags for her.
"That's not all I came here for, Fowl. I... I thought some more about what you said on Friday." Trouble continued, suddenly becoming even more uncomfortable and stuttering slightly in his speech.
"And?" Artemis asked, a smirk already forming on his face. Artemis could read body language on even those who were skilled at hiding it. But Trouble was pretty much an open book to just about anyone.
"You..." Oh gods...cut out my tongue now..."and you are right." The words came out sounding like they tasted like eight day old vole curry mixed with shame.
Artemis's smirked developed into a full vampire grin as he heard the words that he loved so much. As much as he liked hearing it, it meant something he wasn't overly keen on.
"I guess we'll be seeing more of each other then." Artemis replied. The words didn't sound all that enthused.
"Yep." Trouble's reply sounded just as unenthusiastic.
"You'll need to officially accept the position at the next Council meeting. But, until then... welcome aboard."
Holly finally realized what was going on. Trouble was joining the Immigration Committee. Which would mean he'd be living in the colony with them... a very small community. She'd be seeing him everyday...
"Wait! Trouble, are you sure? What about your girls?" She asked, hoping he had dimly overlooked this.
"I only get them every other weekend. They can either come to me or I'll visit them down here. Hazel has already expressed an interest in living with me full-time but that still has to be decided with her mother and the courts. She may be the same age as your boy, but she's not quite as mature. I won't be home that often and I'm not sure it would be the best choice for her. Besides, I know she has ulterior motives in her request." He hinted, looking behind Artemis and Holly to where A.J. bedroom was.
Artemis smiled at a distressed looking Trouble. "Your daughter is a sweet girl. I believe having some of the younger generation living on the surface will breed acceptance in our culture."
Trouble grunted in some sort of displeased agreement. He stood abruptly and began to head towards the door. "Well, I suppose that's it." He muttered.
Artemis rose and see him out. Before he opened the door for him, he extended his hand to him. "Trouble. Thank you."
Trouble shot a glare from his hand to his face, which appeared genuinely sincere.
"I'm not doing it for you, Fowl." He grumbled.
"I know. Regardless, I'm thankful."
Trouble hesitated slightly but with a giant sigh, he shook Artemis's hand. Artemis smiled warmly in response.
"Excellent. Let's build a new future for our children together."
Trouble gave a small, meek smile in return. "Sounds good... Artemis."
The end! Thank you to everyone who read my monster-sized story! I'm very happy that many of you enjoyed it. I hope you will add me as a Favorite Author and check back periodically.
**UPDATE** 7/30/2014: The sequel to this story is in progress. I have no ETA at this time. I have started a twitter account that you're more than free to follow me on. It's under my author's name KaoriKisaragi. Thank you all for the encouragement to continue writing. I'm truly grateful that you've taken the time to read and review. You have no idea how much it means to me. :'-)