Holly Short prided herself on her ability to solve problems.
Of course, in her every day life, there were few problems which couldn't be solved, sooner or later, by arresting the someone or several someones causing said problems. As for her more extracurricular activites, the same often applied – but making the arrests was rather more challenging. There was generally a lot of running and shooting and extended periods of being very nearly dead, but sooner or later, Artemis's plan would work out and the world would be saved again.
And then this happened.
This time, there were no bad guys. The world at large was in no particular danger. It was only Holly's world that was crumbling, and there was no-one to arrest for it but Artemis himself.
Or, perhaps, Orion.
Holly Short hated Atlantis Complex.
She wished most of all that there was something she could do to help, instead of watching and waiting and hoping for the best. She knew she wasn't the only one. Butler, Juliet, even Mulch – all of them were stuck in limbo, waiting for some news. If it had taken fighting a troll to bring Artemis back, they would have done it already.
After all, it wouldn't have been the first time they had taken on a troll for Artemis Fowl.
All of them had been through so much together. Not one of them didn't owe their life to each of the others in turn, although the precise algebra of total lives saved and endangered between them would probably stump even Foaly. It was how it had always worked: they all saved each other.
And then Artemis saved the world.
They didn't often put it like that, because egos were egos, but all of them knew it was true. It was always Artemis's plan which saved them in the end. Everything else was just staying alive long enough to carry it out. When it came down to it, the rest of them almost didn't matter – they were just a means to an end. The final responsibility always belonged to the mud boy.
She had never even realised how heavy a weight that must be for him.
He had never seemed to mind. Until recently, he hadn't seemed to care, and she had never understood how he could be so unflinching in the face of impossible battles and unbearable risks. When Artemis Fowl had a goal, he would stop at nothing to achieve it.
The world would never know how lucky it was to have him.
Sometimes she wondered what precisely it was that had left him feeling so guilty. It seemed that there were as many possible answers as there were reasons to discount them.
Artemis had done a lot of things which Holly had once considered terrible, but never without a good reason: his mother, his father, his friends. Although she had hated him more times that she could count, Holly could not claim she did not understand his motivations. Artemis had put his own life in danger dozens of times to save a world which he didn't belong to – which, for a long time, had hated him – and he had lied to everyone, even the family he had worked so hard to rebuild, to keep that world safe.
He had even let them take his mind.
Holly had been trying not to think about that, but the facts were hard to avoid. Artemis's condition was based around his memories.
Fairy technology could fix that.
The idea of it horrified Holly. Mind wiping Artemis in his current state would feel like murdering him – deleting the person she had come to know, and replacing him with an identical doppelganger, even less him than Orion was. She had barely been able to stand it last time, when Artemis had given full and informed consent – and look what had happened then. Artemis had reverted to his criminal ways.
He hadn't even recognised her.
And the fairy world had nearly paid a high price for it.
That was what worried her most, sometimes – that the Council wouldn't dare let go of Artemis Fowl, even if it was in his best interest. He had saved Haven more times than they cared to admit. Would they ever willingly surrender that safety net?
If that was what it took to cure him – a second mind wipe, this time with no subconscious triggers – they wouldn't be able to turn to him again in the next emergency. He would be just another clueless mud boy.
Holly hoped that she could stand that, if it was really the only option.
She hoped there was another way.
There had to be. There was always another way if you looked hard enough – Artemis had taught her that. There was always something you could do, some genius plan that would make everything right again.
But Holly had never been very good at that kind of thinking. That was Artemis's department.
For the hundredth time that morning, Holly Short sighed and tipped her head back against the wall of the hospital corridor.
Please, she thought to herself.
Another trickle of water on the silent prayer wheel.
Come back Artemis.
I need you.