Rational Intercourse

Part 3

A hundred and fifteen degree water scalded his bare backside, sending large steamy billows of condensed vapor into the moist air, already thick with humidity. He should have mixed the stream off with cold a while ago now, but the hot sting was distracting, and the last thing Butler wanted to do now was give himself time to think. Thinking lead to trains of thought he had no right boarding—most of which involving midnight hair, smooth as silk, keen eyes, bright with unfathomable wit, and soft, peach lips drawn together in a razor thin smile that could only mean trouble.

You’re welcome to join me.

Butler shut his eyes, drawing a sharp breath through his nostrils and clenching his fists against the cool tile. Why now? Of all times, after all these years, why now? He loved Artemis—possibly a bit more than admirable—but he could accept it, nonetheless. He had grown used to the idea over time and learned to, at least for the most part, ignore it. This though, this was different. This was the Artemis who’d once declared that he would need to research “friendship” pinning him with a deadpan stare and telling him to ejaculate; this was the Artemis who’d once faced down John Spiro without blinking drenched head to toe in wet silk and blushing as he fumbled with his shirt buttons; this was Artemis Fowl shamelessly inviting his manservant to shower with him.

Butler scowled, shut off the water, and stepped abruptly out a moment later. He needed to shoot something, plain and simple. Hot lead, cold steel, and black and white targets with absolutely no shades of grey—that he could handle. A few neat clicks and some loud bangs might even clear his head if he was lucky. Tossing a towel around his waist, he left the bathroom almost smiling. The more he thought about it, the better it sounded. In fact, he was already going through a mental list of available artillery when his daydreaming met a rather swift and untimely end.

“Absolutely scrumptious,” declared Artemis approvingly, his unmistakable voice the epitome of adolescent aristocracy. At that particular moment, it made Butler freeze in his tracks. “You really must send my best wishes to the cook. This congolais is simply to die for.”

Swallowing a dry lump the size of Canada, Butler glanced to his doorway. There, much to his dismay—though not entirely to his surprise by that point—he found the object of his anxieties, one arm propped against the doorframe and the other fiddling with what appeared to be a crisp, golden-brown coconut biscuit. Artemis wasn’t even looking at him.

“I don’t believe I’ve tasted one of this caliber since I last allowed Minerva to drag me off to one of those French cafés she dotes on so highly.” When Artemis finally lifted his head, his eyebrows shot up, but Butler could have sworn he saw the boy’s lips twitch into a smile before he quickly vanquished it. “A tad risqué for dinner wear, no?” the young genius inquired, looking for all accounts as strictly businesslike as ever.

For the first time in several decades, Butler felt blood rushing to his cheeks—among other places—and found himself praying to whatever god would listen that Artemis’ eyes were not nearly so keen as his mind.

“Artemis,” he croaked. “You…ahmm…” Butler cleared his throat and frowned, subconsciously tightening his grip on the towel at his waist. “What exactly…are you doing here?”

“Looking for you,” Artemis answered plainly. “Though it seems…” Artemis eyed his manservant speculatively, utterly oblivious of Butler’s silent pleas for deliverance from temptation. “I was a bit too hasty in my search.” Popping the last piece of coconut roll daintily between his lips, Artemis actually licked his fingertips before stepping into the room. “You’re not half dressed.”

Butler opened his mouth, shut it, opened it again, and finally settled for a muted mumble of, “How very perceptive of you to notice.” Apparently, Artemis still heard it despite its muffled quality and the boy’s lips curved up just enough to make the overall effect very fetching indeed.

“You flatter me, Butler,” the youth murmured in reply, taking the opportunity to cross the room in the direction of Butler’s closet. “You should know better by now than to inflate my ego, though.” Moments later Artemis emerged, one arm draped with dark slacks, the other with a crisp white button-up and charcoal vest—Butler’s characteristic “black suit” attire. “Here,” he said, coming up before his rather bewildered bodyguard and offering up the handful, “make yourself presentable.”

Butler shifted awkwardly. Why hadn’t they prepared him for things like this in basic training? Or any sort of training, for that matter? What were the rules when it came down to coconut rolls, undersized towels, and charges whose hair smelled like tropical paradise? “Artemis…” He searched, but the words refused to come, and eventually he gave up.

“Yes?” Artemis prompted after a time.

“Forget I spoke,” said Butler. “I’ll just…” He frowned, eying the bundle in his arms with unjustified distaste. “…put these on.” With that, he made a sloppy retreat back into the bathroom, more grateful than he’d been in a long time to escape his charge’s presence.

The pants were stiff and confining and tight in all the wrong places, the shirt was loose but awkward, and despite the fact that he’d been dressing himself without difficulty for forty years or more, he couldn’t, for the life of him, get the buttons to cooperate with his fingers. Regardless of all that, he appeared minutes later fully dressed, at least for the most part. His hands were still partially distracted by the fact that somehow, he’d skipped a button somewhere along the line, and his shirt was skewed.

“Ah yes, much more respectable,” said Artemis appreciatively, instantly taking Butler’s attention. The young heir sat—poised—on the edge of Butler’s bed, left leg dangling freely over the edge and right tucked neatly beneath him. “Unfortunate that it’s required for propriety’s sake, however…the towel quite became you.” He flashed an unsettling grin that did nothing to help the state of things below Butler’s belt, and Butler wondered, not for the first time, if the teen prodigy could possibly be as clueless as he’d come to believe.

“Mm, indeed, yes,” said Butler, wincing as he altered his stance as discreetly as possible, futilely attempting to ease the strain on his nether regions. “Uncomfortable… Ah, no, unfortunate!” he corrected himself hastily. “Yes, very unfortunate.”

Artemis tilted his head inquisitively. “Something the matter? You look…pained.”

Butler shook his head. “Nothing, Master Artemis. Could I interest you in dinner?” he asked, quickly changing the subject.

Artemis frowned, obviously not buying it. “Butler,” he said, “I…” He paused, rethinking his words. Eventually, he sighed. “Butler, I’ve been foolish,” he said, sounding as he were admitting to murder. “I…I’ve realized that I don’t know everything, and…” He licked his lips uncertainly. “I need your help. I need you to…teach me something.”

Butler raised his eyebrows. This was new. “Teach you something? What exactly do you have in mind? In my experience, there are a rare few subjects, if any, that I’m more fully versed in than you.”

“True. However-” Artemis’ sentence ended cleanly as if cut with a scythe. Finally, he exclaimed, “Oh, gracious, I can’t stand it one moment longer,” and promptly slid from the bed, standing up and eliminating all but the last few inches of distance between them in a matter of moments. “Butler, whatever you do… Don’t. Move,” he commanded, and Butler had every intention of obeying his young master’s command—that is, until Artemis began removing his shirt.

“Artemis! What on earth-”

“Shh!” the genius reprimanded, that single sound silencing the hulking manservant more effectively than a boulder blow to the head ever could. “This…has irked me since you the second you emerged from the bathroom.”


“No, your buttons,” said Artemis with a concentrated frown, fingers moving deftly over the small white circles even as he spoke. “I would have assumed that by this point you’d have learned to dress yourself, but-” Butler caught his charge’s wrists, halting the boy mid-breath.

“Artemis,” he warned, “I’m quite capable of doing that myself…”

Artemis only scowled. “Well obviously you’re not,” he argued, “for if you were, you’d have done it right in the first place, now wouldn’t you?”

“Artemis,” Butler’s breath hitched, the utterance scarcely a step above a moan. “Please…just…” He swallowed. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“Well of course I don’t!” Artemis snapped, looking altogether cross and dissatisfied as he finished up the last of the buttons in a flurry. “If I did, I’d be naked in your bed by now.”

Butler choked.

“But no…you insist on obdurate chivalry, perpetual abstention from that for which you obviously yearn, solely for the purpose of abiding by the clichéd moral standards of the plebian public. Can you even begin to fathom the myriad frustrations this flawed line of thinking has caused me thus far? The figures are absolutely-”

Butler clamped a hand over his charge’s mouth, silencing him most effectively. “Artemis,” he said carefully. “Could you…for the sake of my massively more limited vocabulary…back up, slow down, and repeat everything important in very slow English?”

Artemis narrowed his eyes, but only after he nodded did Butler remove his hand. “Very well,” he agreed sullenly once returned the use of his mouth. “However, I find it difficult to believe even your vocabulary could fail to comprehend the first, and albeit most critical, of my admissions. That said, I have reason to assume that by this point you are in either shock or denial—neither of which are desirable means to the ends I wish to achieve—and whichever the case may be, I hope it is shortly remedied, for I do like getting what I want. You would agree I make quite a habit of it, wouldn’t you?”

Butler swallowed. “Ah, yes.” He was almost four times the boy’s age, three times his weight, and nearly twice his height; why the hell did he feel like cornered prey? “Most definitely…a habit.”

“Excellent,” said Artemis, his smile grim and uninviting. “Now, to comply with your previous request…” He fixated his manservant with a heavy stare. “I have known you all my life to be a man of action. You are clearly attracted to me, and I am trying—rather unprofessionally, I must admit—to make it known that your attentions are acknowledged and welcome. Why do you persist in denying yourself what is so openly offered?”

Butler fought the urge to clean out his ears. Could he really be hearing all this correctly? “Artemis, don’t you know-” He stopped there. Of course Artemis knew. Artemis always knew. Why bother asking? Sighing, he dropped his hands to his sides and started over. “Artemis, you know I’m multiple times your age, and a relationship of any...physical...sort would be, among other things, illegal. I-”

“Oh, and I’d never dream of making you do something illegal,” murmured Artemis sarcastically. “Butler,” the Irish boy sounded exasperated if nothing else, “You’ve killed people. There is no way you can start an argument with ‘it’s illegal’ and expect to win. And besides, technically-”

“Artemis, I wasn’t finished-”

“Neither was I,” Artemis interrupted. “As I was saying…” Butler scowled. “Legally…I’m eighteen.”

Butler’s interest peaked. “Oh?”

“I lost three years in the time tunnel, yes, so my body has only aged fifteen years, however…when I returned to earth, those three years had still passed, and now, as far as the law is concerned, I was born eighteen years ago. Even if I didn’t experience all those years personally, I may still legally drink, drive, and…engage in sexual intercourse with anyone above of the age of eighteen who’s willing to humor me—albeit not all at the same time.”

Butler blinked. “How long have you been planning this?”

Color crept up Artemis’ cheeks in a rosy pink stain, and the genius dipped his head, ushering his face behind a dark curtain of obsidian. “Approximately seven minutes,” he murmured shamefacedly. “About the time I intruded upon your personal space without forewarning only to find you…mm…ill-prepared for dinner.”

Torn between laughter and a dutiful poker face, Butler compromised with a quiet cough to the fist and a bemused twinkle in his eye. “I never would have taken you for the impatient type, Artemis. Seven minutes?”

The young mastermind scowled befittingly, looking rather put out. “That’s not as if to say the thought had never crossed my mind previously,” he defended sulkily, “merely that I hadn’t summoned the courage to act on my intentions until…” He stopped, his words dying out swiftly as a cold shadow settled over his features, and Artemis swallowed, looking suddenly paler than usual.

“Artemis,” Butler cautioned, instantly wary. “Until what?”

“Until…I…” Artemis brought nervous fingers to his neck as if to check his pulse, eyes downcast and brow fraught with guilt. Guilt. Odd. For the longest time Butler didn’t think Artemis had a conscience. “Forget I mentioned it,” the boy said eventually, his voice parched and distracted. “I never should have…” He shut his eyes. “No. Just…forget I said anything.”

When he turned to leave, however, Butler objected. “Artemis, wait-”

The boy’s steps stuttered, slowed, and finally ceased. A foot from the door Artemis halted and reached out, resting his hand on the frame and eyeing it as he might any other object worthy of intense study. After a brief eternity he said, “In the prison cell…” Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to plan on continuing the sentence any further.

“We’ve been in several, could you specify?” Butler prompted after several long moments. When Artemis glanced up, the look was enough to silence a raging troll on a sugar high. Butler held his hands up in surrender. “Alright, the prison cell, yes, I seem to recall that. It left you with a guilty conscience?” he guessed.

Artemis pursed his lips, tapping out a crude, rhythm-less beat on the doorframe with his fingertips. “If you recall from the time tunnel incident, I managed to…obtain…a minute portion of useable magic for my own—nearly insignificant, really, inconsequential. In a tight spot, however…”

You used magic to make me cream my pants? “You used magic to help us escape?”

Artemis flushed as clearly as if Butler hadn’t censored his words and gone straight with the first thing that came to mind. “I…in a sense, yes, I suppose. You wouldn’t…” He strummed his fingers once more, frowning. Then, all the words came in a rush. “I used you,” he admitted in a flurry. “For the first time in our history together you ignored my instruction and I was too foolish and impatient to come up with a more reasonable course of action on the spot so I…” He winced. “I mesmered you.”

Butler blinked. Well that explained some things. Still, Artemis Fowl on a guilt trip because he’d mesmered someone sounded a lot like Domonvoi Butler hesitating to do something because it was illegal. Artemis thrived off of taking advantage of the world around him—and the people in it—daily, by any means necessary. Using a little magic to save his own skin didn’t sound like much of a crime in comparison. Perhaps rules changed depending on the people they dealt with?

“With you in that state, I spoke to you and…you said things.”

“Things,” Butler repeated, almost incredulous. Not exactly up to Artemis’ usual standard of verbal eloquence.



“Yes?” Artemis snapped his head up as he said it; his body was trembling.

“Are you alright?”

Artemis laughed, the sound coarse, dry, and humorless. “My vital signs are all functioning within reasonable limits, I feel neither faint nor feverish and show no symptoms of recent intoxication, if that’s what you mean.” Butler frowned. “My face does feel rather flush though, and now that I think about it, I’m not sure my heart’s performing quite up to standard. I’m trembling uncontrollably though I’m neither cold nor afraid…and I’m speaking utter gibberish.” Artemis matched Butler’s frown, looking rather vexed and uncharacteristically frazzled. At length he asked, “Do you recommend I consult a doctor?”

Butler threw his charge an odd look. Artemis sighed.

“You told me you loved me,” the boy confessed, his words clear but quiet, barely above a whisper. If Butler had not had such keen ears, trained to pick up even the smallest of sounds, he might not have caught them. “More than a father would a son. I assumed…” Artemis cleared his throat, shifting his weight anxiously and refusing to meet Butler’s gaze. “In retrospect, I see I had no right to assume. Neither did I have the right to take the information from you, however, I…” A sharply drawn breath. “I apologize. I am causing you unnecessary discomfort and it was not my intent. Do forgive me, I was…wrong.” He spat the last word like a vile insect, the single most hated syllable in his vast mental dictionary. “At this point I can only hope my unfortunate lack of judgment has done nothing to jeopardize our friendship—for it is incontrovertibly the most successful relationship of that type that I’ve managed to maintain thus far…I’ve grown rather dependent upon it.”

“I told you I loved you?”

Artemis raised his head, apparently startled by the questioning tone. “You do not?”

“I do,” Butler answered, not seeing the point in lying. Artemis was far too smart for that anyway. Slowly, he began closing the distance between himself and his charge. “Is that all I told you?”

The Irish boy flushed. “Well…no. You…may have said a bit more. I…don’t quite recall.”

“Mm.” Butler didn’t believe it for a second; Artemis remembered everything. “And from this…bit of stuff I might have said, you assumed…what?” In the midst of his leisured pursuit, Artemis had somewhere along the line turned to face him, and now had his back to the wall, mismatched eyes turned upward with a curious expression somewhere on the borderline between interest and mystification. “That I entertained unprofessional fantasies about you behind a clever mask of stoic indifference?”

Artemis’ cheeks flared, reaching an all new high in red coloration content. “I…well…it’s just…” His breath fluttered, rushing from his lungs with a sound that reminded Butler of a flock of butterflies rising from a spring field all at once. Ebony lashes drooped shut. “You’re sending mixed messages, Butler,” Artemis accused quietly, his voice once again scarcely above a whisper.

“Am I?” Butler had one hand propped to the left of his charge’s head, the other dangling free by his side, fighting with his common sense for permission to reach out and trace the rosy pink cheeks only inches before him. “Maybe I’m confused,” he said.

Artemis’ response was surprise—bewilderment, even. “Confused? But you’re the calm, cool, collected adult in this situation…aren’t you supposed to have all the answers?” He obviously wasn’t serious, at least not entirely, but the irony behind the statement still brought on a faint twitch of a smile to Butler’s lips.

“Not by a long shot.”

“I see,” said Artemis. His gaze had dropped to Butler’s hand—the one that kept wanting to reach out and touch, the one that was becoming harder to ignore by the second. “What a shame. I would have liked to have had all the answers.” Artemis reached out, brushed his fingers along the hand, then caught it delicately, tracing his thumb over the top as if finger-painting some invisible design. When Butler didn’t withdraw, Artemis smiled. “Would you do something for me?”

Anything. Butler silenced the initial thought instantly, startled by its validity. “Am I allowed to ask what it is first?” he asked instead.

“No,” came the reply.

“Then, yes,” said Butler.

Artemis tilted his head, ushering several stray strands of dark hair from his line of sight and allowing him to meet Butler’s gaze dead on. “Kiss me.”



This free website was made using Yola.

No HTML skills required. Build your website in minutes.

Go to www.yola.com and sign up today!

Make a free website with Yola