aphelion (a synaesthetic fugue) [artemis fowl; holly short/juliet butler, domovoi butler/artemis fowl ii, briar cudgeon/julius root, angeline fowl/artemis fowl i; pg-13]
title: aphelion (a synaesthetic fugue)
summary: perception is more important than sensation
fandom: artemis fowl
pairings: holly short/juliet butler, domovoi butler/artemis fowl ii, briar cudgeon/julius root, angeline fowl/artemis fowl i
original story: Over The Rainbow, by blueyeti
They know how to fly, these yellow birds: the world is a dream skidding past them, and they, they, this pair on the motorcycle, they are flying through a world that they never want to know, they are flying through a dream that they never want to find. Yet this world they run from, where one is human and the other fairy, where one must hide in secret and the other in the open, where one is a mistletoe and the other retrodicts her Romeo… do they fly from this fool’s gold world, or from each other, with each other? Yellow birds flying down a long silk road through nameless barbary: can they learn what they do not wish to understand, or is it only a flight from nothing, fleeing the end of all things?
The birds get shot in the wings and thrown in steel cages the blue-pale of the springless sky. He is old, and he is cold: with those weary blue eyes he looks out from his cage and into hers: how she has watched over him, how she has cared for him, how she has loved him, how she has refused his death and by this turn refused her life—
Her love defines the bars of his cage; and his, the bars of hers.
They are no longer sure who they cry for in the night anymore…
…but it’s a good year for hunters: your prey has long since slipped between the bars of the cage where the proud man could not go and found a peace of sorts—somewhere. You wonder what peace this is, what peace is possible so far from the Emerald Isle—from you. And then you remember that the hunted flees, and the hunter pursues until he can follow no further.
In these dark, sweaty nights you cling to your dreams where you have followed him through the slit in the cage to those presumably greener fields of
…since sometimes, one does not have even the chance to dream, and without dreams, it is difficult to be human: and without nightmares, impossible.
He does not fear: and he is not human—and yet he is not ready to close his eyes yet, no, he must watch the red flower unfurl on his chest for a while longer yet, he must watch the petals unfold into the soft darkness of Armani in the night.
He stares at it as if he does not understand the meaning of the rose: even as his hands move to feel the wet flower, to feel the slow bloom of his life take a sudden, unexpected passion, he does not understand anything but that he was shot point-blank in the chest, and that there is no tall man to save him from the dahlia darkness, anymore.
But he will survive, he must! the hunt must go on…
…and he slides down the wall and closes his eyes, worn and wearied from the toil of sensation: but even half-slumped, half-asleep, he can feel it: the heavy weight, the ruddy gold that smiles of cupidity in one light and clarity in another, smooth against the polyweave of his uniform. It’s a year of Christmas parties for him, a year for polishing himself to that golden boy glitter to the whim of Haven’s conservative aristocracy, a year of LEP power ladder ascendancy. Fate has a peculiar fondness for difficult choices, and they split and twine before them in all their fractal multitude and yet, they all begin from a single page of a stranger’s tale.
A People of Morality, for their faith, choose a Booke of Gold.
Why gold? he cries out, why gold, why is faith a thing of gold—
His head upturns to a soulless sky: the white fluorescent lights of an elevator. There is music; how I hate elevator music, he asserted silently, wearily, how I hate…
The thought trails, obsolete. The music is happy, and it wants him to be happy as well, a bouncy, tremulous creature that pouts and pleads with him until he taps his foot along halfheartedly without really feeling much of anything.
—it reminds him of flashing badges and Danann brandy and tabletop jigs and disappointed barmaids and glittering smiles and tumbled apartments and—
His foot stills, and the music, ignored, trickles to pianissimo clarinet.
He can remember soon enough.
Little white lights mark his standardized journey through the hospital: Here is where fairies are born, Here is where fairies are fixed, Here is where fairies—
He stares out across the world of white, closing his eyes to the scent of lavender and patchouli, and she walks through the door with her wedding day smile to the tune of a fugue, and she’s smiling and crying and dying but she don’t mind when there’s purple flowers twined in her hair, she don’t mind even when that girl of gold and blue makes her take out her purple empress voice in the way they fight about for the flowers, she don’t mind even when the blue girl is left there silent: she’s smiling, she’s smiling, she’s smiling, since she’s The Bride and everyday is her wedding day.
She falters, and the flowers leave her with the rippling silence of petalfall. She cannot be the purple empress if she does not have the purple scarf, she cannot be his purple empress if she does not have her purple noose—
The Bride slowly screams, tensed screams past yet future, plural yet singular: we are all screaming and there is a harmony even in dissonance. In our dreams we note the many and the one, for we cannot—disregard the black sound of the colorless silence if we were to cease to sound as we resonate to our little earthquakes, and lost birds and hunted hunters and uncertain undertakers to us all are all murmuring countermelody—here we go again with our little earthquakes that stir us to a song and it takes scarce a sound no, it doesn’t take much to rip us into pieces of a rainbow, doesn’t take us much at all to forget that we are of one another and of one color and this color is not black no—
They had danced in graveyards, so very long ago: the dream tortures the hunted hunter amidst the sweaty knots and twists of the sheets, the wet soil heavy and smooth against hot silk torn and tearing, his family crest an abandoned emerald glint in an open grave, the rain above them washing away their sins even as they are committed, and he’s staring up into the rain, up into the storm, and he knows it’s all a dream and—
—the asphalt’s still wet though the storm has long passed. The flying motorcycle throws up water in its wake, golden wings by the grace of the full moon. They are flying from nothing, or everything: but it doesn’t matter since they don’t know, and as long as they don’t know they are suspended between their worlds, there are no questions but for those that linger at the edges of sleep—the sort that give her papercuts unsuited for bandages—
‘to wound’—they flee the like: they are flying through an air filled with the whisper of vampires til dawn makes them stop and slip cloves on their fingers and whisper Good Morn to each other as they hide from each other: one behind the curtains and the other behind cosmetics.
But I must wear my dauphin mask: though all those other times that I had laughed in the faces of kings I had been allowed the small mercy of truth: here it is made… complicated.
Death is more important than asystole.
Perception is more important than sensation.
His hair is vividly, blindingly white; it’s hard to look away from that business slickback, as if there were a suit under those sheets. His first word is to ask for water, —Don’t spill, boy.
His son is dead.
The world of white glistens; I blame the enthusiastic fluorescent lighting, and comment lightly upon my return. His lips curl in disdain even as he accepts the glass, and he asks with an edge why one should even bother with young folks these days, what happened to the stoics of his time?—only women these days, look, your hands are shaking—
Somebody’s son is dead.
I close my eyes, willing the tears away; but they will not even as you stand, even as you steady, even as you walk. It’s a long ways to the center of the bridge, longer yet with the slow pendulum of the Booke of ruddy gold swinging back and forth in your pocket, tipping you first one way with first assurances of magic and then the other with promises of mischief, first with curses of homosexuality and then with whispers of hypocrisy…
You stagger; slump; falter: you had never been afraid to burn all those times before, why should you be afraid now, how could you have ever been afraid before, how will you ever be afraid again, burning, it’s not only for witches anymore, don’t be afraid of the roar of the orange flames, don’t be afraid, for his sake, don’t be afraid—
—but she’s so afraid, the wedding dress a flurry of dreams around her as she whirls around, long cross-nooses slapping against her breasts as she pirouettes, leaps, crawls, rolls, combing the room for the purple scarf of his purple empress.
The girl of gold and blue had left her long ago: Timmy, she had whispered, , she had screamed, to find your Timmy, will that make you happy?—will that make you sane—
She falls to the ground in a pool of silk and brocade, always careful to clutch without tearing the lace, always careful to cry in the kerchief: she’s always been careful with her prisons, even as they disintegrate around her: and how she hates disintegration
in those that she loves. She is reminded of the cold slabs of pharaohs: but the peace of the pyramids cannot find its way into this tomb. There are still tears, those celestite tears, and inspecting she sees them there, coloring his eyes that stoic titanium blue.
He’s dying: why does the world assume that he’s already dead? There is still something within him, but the place they’ve put him is nothing more than a tomb: he cannot be anymore if he cannot see past walls of stone, he cannot remember what he once was if he cannot reach past cages of rust… She stares into those fading eyes, and she sees her thoughts reflected on the mirror of his tears: God what have I done?—what have I done to those who I love—what have we done—watching ourselves wither away—
…but we do what is expected of us: nothing more than what we expect of ourselves, for ourselves—but what can possibly be expected of him when there is so little time?
He looks up into the soulless city sky, into the darkness that slithers into the streets around him and into the heart within him. Dying, and he cannot find his soul: it must have fled somewhere when the bullet hit, yes, must have sprouted wings and flown away into the night, he’s always had a soul, there’s been something more, he’s known it all along of course, must have be finding the killer haha to give him a bouquet of red red roses, red red roses that will ease to black with the rising of the city shadows, black winged roses that safely change their color somewhere, somewhere in the night, that’s why I can’t breathe, that’s why I can’t be—I’m already dead—
—and our lips part and though we’re only dying we’re singing the dead man’s song of the black black night that threatens what it is to be human: what it is to be afraid for no more than mere life, what it is to fear that the night will descend and we will not know the colors that surround us in all their shaded glory, that they will all be black in the night of trickling flickering moments
It is parting our lips to sing the dead man’s song: it’s a prayer, though we dare not admit it.
Fear is with him now, taking him by the hands and guiding them to his sides and opening them to gasping crescents that glisten the fantastic crimson of life against the entropic darkness. Around him the shadows flicker in false symphony; he watches desperately, helplessly as the color seeps slowly from the world. Yet his lips—there is still color—where the blood slowly bubbles forth with each gasping breath—and only there for his hands, his shirt, they began to blend in with the shadows—red looks black in the gloom—
—as does the sickly orange of handmedown streetlamp reflections, they realize, as does the ravenous indigo of skyscraper shadows and the dull white glitter of stardeath in a dying sky and the sudden impassivity of that final golden gift on the hand and the faded weeds that struggle on a diet of pollution and personality, as does—
—no we scream into our forged silence, no I want to—need to—must—
—I can’t reach you—
And he’s flung backwards onto a bridge over troubled waters: but he’s looking across orange skies and he knows he doesn’t have long before it all comes falling down, falling down, falling down: matte indigo-black bricks into the twisting yellow waters where faded leaves of a failed spring are swirling in the dirty white foam of the river, that false river that can only reflect the forged sun-sheet of a sky and he can trace by the riverside the pale purple silhouettes of others, others like him, others as him, we are all—we are all—walking besides the river after the bridges are all gone, we are waiting for those who cross the dark waters for we—we can’t reach you—ourselves—like the rhyme— London Bridge is falling down, falling down, fall—
—ing to the door. Mother’s there with her slim femsuit and conservative hair. She looks so old, and you turn to a mirror as you pass through the door and you, you too, you look so old… But the thought’s in your mind as you look into mirror, the thought of—what might have been—if you would only hunt—if you would only call his name—
Your eyes close, and you are taken by your dreamnightmarememorypremonitions: how it must be, to take him by those hands of his, worn smooth and pale for they can never be clean enough for a lord, never know enough for a lover, to take him by those hands and to drown for a time in a golden afternoon, shameless, sinless, never needing the nights no more, but the thought pervades so sweetly still: shadow on indigo shadow, the flash of red of your bruised mouth when you must part lips to breathe, drowning in serpent-green sheets and so casting them aside like those clothes, but—
—throughout it all, you hold each other’s eyes, steel on sapphire, throughout out it all you hold on to the hope that it is more than an idle, desperate daydream, you hold on to the mirror for you know when you look away it’s going to disappear
like the scarf, Christ—her hands flutter to her lips even as she utters those words. Never blaspheme, even when Timmy won’t—oh God—she forgets and her hands move to her throat and she touches the cross there: feeling the heavy black silver between her fingers, feeling it with long-cold fingers that are pale with fear, feeling the silence stretched taut in this world as she sings to her Mary and her lamb oh with fleece as white as snow and wherewherewhere did the spider go? Fear the rain, for God is in the rain and oh God I think I forget the forgotten—
The cross is silent, even when she tears it from her neck leaving a new necklace of ruddy bruises behind, blue shadows twining down to a black cross in white hands, stained poisoned-life where crushed and that orange flicker to the solitary light, flickerflickerflicker for the millisecond night that makes the yellow promise on her finger shine like an apocalypse star…
…but even in a world of white, nothing is an end, only a means for another. You stand there, head bowed, as he tells you, —It’s hardly news, why did you bother? A nurse told me, days ago. She had a nice ass. Made my day, that did—they look so damn pretty when they think something’s wrong—
He won’t stop; he might, if you asked, but then—you move your eyes upwards towards the pale yellow suns of a dying winter world, but there is nothing there: and your eyes move down again to the snow-covered master: so white, so very white that every stain stands out in glorious panorama: from the purple underlining to his eyes to orange age spots freckling arms that are twined with conspicuous lifelines from yellowed nails to sallow green cheeks that deny that he’s dying at all no, merely sick, —My son was always nothing, he says with that stained-straining voice, —My son was always nothing though he could have been something, could have been something damn decent, could have made a father proud but no…
…no, we have to say it, really, no, it’s not true, no, I’ll stay here with you, I won’t leave you, I love you, you know I do, things will get better for us… and we say such heresies because we have to, because we have to know that there will one day be nothing more…
I watch him, my fallen Marat, I watch him for some sign of what we both must know: and slowly, so very slowly, blue lips begin to move to a soundless song:
as my hands encircle his in a hopeless cradle, dunite nailpolish chips flecking his with city dreams
…somewhere over the rainbow…
as purple shadows fall over his eyes and white veils over mine
as strained cinnabar threads twine with realgar down wasted arms
…blue birds fly over that rainbow…
as pale cheeks flush ruby as he remembers so briefly what it is to fly
…why oh why oh why oh why…
as I turn from a dying man only to face my own dying soul
…oh why can’t I?
I know why the caged bird sings
it’s because the yellow world is flying by us, and we don’t know why we have to do this. It’s a dumb question, but once I realize its existence I want it answered, and you don’t, so you don’t, but I do, and you don’t know and you don’t care and I do and I say I do and you don’t and you—
I tempt you with amber promises under a golden moon: as a world darkens around us, I move my hand down the sculpted curve between your shoulderblades, ruddy sienna against clean ivory, and you shudder against the motorcycle. I smile at yours: careless, calm, coral smiles, suffused with a peace that I long to keep pretending exists. I think of roses with curving white buds and curling green leaves, I think of Valentine promises, I think of the soft lavender hollow of your throat... It breaks my heart, oh Goddamnit it breaks my heart so that I can’t reach you, that I can’t—can’t reach you—
There cannot be a silence, there cannot be a conchord: but there can be a sweetness to this dissonance, there can be a sweetness that we can drink deeply of as we drown: for in this sweetness there is a comfort, for in this sweetness there is a kindness…
…I cannot say that this is a world of truth: no human may speak of objectivity. Yet this is—a truth in itself, this is—in these strange, dark twilights that shift with the rise and fall of a dozen distanced stars—there is that strange, sordid sweetness—there is that sudden moment of lucidity even at our farthest from the truth—there is that understanding possible even as the shadows shift and make bare these relative truths—there is the last note of a fugue when all is made simple—
I breathe, and I breathe sweetly of these dark rainbows.
I can’t reach—
—but God, can I see.
I know what dreams burn in my own eyes: I know what particulars think of me, throwing words at this paltry sinner, histrionic, arrogant, pretentious—words that—God—
Even as I stare into those glass curtains they cower behind, those crossed iron bars they raise in fear, I know that it shouldn’t matter—I shouldn’t be here—I shouldn’t be ashamed—
And yet, I am—ashamed of that dark swirl of dreams that takes me, and I seek forgiveness from a ghost of a possibility. What is this? I dare not call it agnosticism: it is far, far more irrational than that unbearably sane principle of uncertainty.
I am human; and I suffer. I do not claim to know why—I am no fool—but I can claim that there can be a reason to these pine-washed days where my thoughts stray so longingly past this soaring cell of stone towards one I long to remember in truth.
I have to stray from the fold: that is the only path before me. There is a bridge, there are two ways off it, the way I came and the way I shall go—
At times—God—at times, it is so tempting to follow the river beneath me: to follow the bolt until it is woven into a single cinnabar ribbon on the painted horizon, and then—to wash up somewhere and have neither path followed and thus somehow both—perhaps in those urgent dreams known to the hanged man as he falls to his perfect ending—
It doesn’t strike me as quite fair that I cannot walk both ways on a road.
Little strikes us as fair, anymore.
But—that doesn’t make it—
—all the rationalization in the world cannot excuse the sense of injustice we feel—
—nor can all the suffering in the world make us that which we yearn to be.
But as you cross a river of sin, you look up to marmalade skies and a sensible shore: and in your hands you clutch at your excuses with a bitter, fulfilled smile that whispers prayers to a ceaseless god.
god or God? you wonder, trapped in your endless, whirling pirouettes in a world of crystalline crosses that flash and glitter past your eyes, which would take my Timmy from me first—
The girl of blue and gold comes in again: she gives you pills, and tells you, —Do not wait for Timmy any more, only young Sir does that still and he’s—
And the girl breaks off with a strange, strangled cry, and she flees—you dare not follow—for you are forced to reconsider that strange silence in the chapel—the Bride fears more than any bridesmaid possibly could—
A purple empress—of the violet hour—of the faded, twilight world around her—
She closes her eyes against the sudden fears: she closes against her eyes against the fear that threatens her immortality, against what—might—not—be—
Stilling and taking the cross by broken chains and tying them, sweetly so, around the neck: one must have their chains, even if they are freed for but a moment
The wedding must go on, after all.
She executes a perfect plié. She has no scarf, but she can dance, she can dance for them all, she needs no scarves, she is no Salomé…
…and the girl of blue and gold flees from the curtain shadows and falls into a curious night: she hears a lover moan softly into a roaring wind, but is she hers, are they? And for a moment her hands part from the motorcycle and they are free to the air: she feels the golden night slip through like rain, and for all the impetuous sound of a lonely night, there is some small—comfort in this, that though there is no understanding there is a peace, for discord can be both beautiful and terrible, it can be—so strangely sweet—how the sweet the rain—
—but in the night the girl of blue and gold is drawn through a window and through—
—she can’t stop listening to the song: she can’t shut her eyes to the man, twisted and twisting as if this might be it: as if there should be one last shudder, histrionic?—maybe, but he’s dying, it’s hardly—
You remember the sound of silence, you remember how the song felt: how your lips moved to it as well, how the soullessness of it all seemed to slip down, stilling the clock on the wall as words were murmured and excuses exchanged via mirrormirror who’s the fairest one of all?—Why, the girl who hates to sin, you know it’s so—
His smile is nothing to you as the words slip through: smiles are nothing anymore, it’s more the morphine than the time of day, —Clock’s winding down Sir, sirsirso go ‘for the clock strikes midnight and there’s a pumpkin on the palace porch—‘happiness’ is only a word—only a false word one uses in the thesaurus to find the proper antonyms—it’s only—it’s only—
—it’s only a word in the song we sing; but we know that all hear the blue birds crying so sweetly, the softest gale the night can offer, and we know that the ode speaks of the strange sweetness that we find in our long silences of song. And the words pass by our lips, and we
are walking so swiftly away, we are walking with all the speed of a little earthquake, the ripples are spreading swiftly in our wake: the wards are slipping into our silence behind us, they see a man in tears and they wonder why we weren’t stronger—but we don’t, we know: we know, for all our fractured perception, we know that there is no strength to their stoicism, that there is no truth to their geisha masks. We know, we drink this knowledge, we weep this knowledge: even as we step out of the world of fimbulwinter, even as we step out of that strange, strange winter, even as we breathe—even as we breathe so deeply of the sins of our fathers—even as we breathe so deeply in why fate is merely a creature of perspective—whywhywhywhy we play the impertinent child to our own minds—whywhywhy we play the good shepherd for the volley and the win—and as if to celebrate, you sing along to the elevator song and
the world’s breaking into its redundancies: you trace the patterns flickering in the stiffening shadows that still sweetly glisten in a frozen rivulet to the gutter. You sing to the silence: you sing your strange, broken song with your strange, broken voice: you sing to the sanguine cup: you sing to the death of the stars: you sing to the way your breaths stutter in staccato toccata: you sing: you sing: you sing: you sing
give me life
—and we breathe
give me pain
—and you breathe
give me myself again
and we are breathing—
give me life
—and we are stilling
give me pain
and we are breathing—
give me myself again
—and we are falling
give me life
and we are
give me pain
give me myself again
we can be
give me life
give me pain
give me my—