36 Don’t Hate Me

'I can't wait to tell Trident about today! Should I tell him about Athena? Probably best if I didn't.. I don't want him to worry. Would he worry? Why do I think he would?'

As thoughts bombarded Iris, she slipped out of the door to her courtyard while Levi looked for a book to read. He knew she'd left, but didn't fret over it anymore. She was more than powerful enough to defend herself now..

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While Atlas waited for Iris, he tried to figure out what to say to her.. This would be the last time that they talked before the Kingdom's Summit, where she would finally figure out whom he really was.

Looking up at the pitch-black waters above him, Atlas sighed deeply. He was grateful for the time he'd had with Iris so far, and had realized a while ago that he was fine with her being his wife.. The question was: would she be?

'I can't tell her about that just yet. I never wear my Fate's Spindle around her, so Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll turn out that she didn't notice the glow when we'd first met. She was basically blind the whole time, and she never mentioned it to me..'

Lost in his thoughts; Atlas didn't hear Iris swimming up until she was right next to him. Not realizing it was her, Atlas grabbed her, and pinned her against the rock with force. A grunt of pain escaped Iris as her head hit the rock.

Instant regret covered Atlas' features as he stared at Iris with concern; "I'm sorry! I wasn't, umm.. I was thinking about things, and I didn't see you."

Iris looked into his honey-brown eyes, and felt a sharp pain in her chest. They reminded her so much of Matt's that it was starting to become painful every time she looked too long.. But she just couldn't help herself.

'It's the only piece of him I have.. The only reminder that my world is waiting for me, that he's waiting for me..'

Atlas saw the fleeting pain in her eyes, and cupped Iris' cheek; "I'm sorry that I hurt you.. That I'm.. I'm sorry."

Averting his gaze, Atlas released her cheek and shoulder. Iris was both happy and sad when he'd moved away. His touch was comforting, but his eyes were haunting to her.

'I'm only attracted to him because he reminds me of Matt.. Oh shit! I'm attracted to him!'

The thought rattled Iris to the point of not noticing that 'Trident' was watching her. He was doing it because he was worried about her head, but now it was a different kind of worry, but still concerning her head..

"Iris, there are some things we need to talk about.."

"Okay," Iris replied hesitantly.

Atlas began to swim-pace in a small circle as Iris stayed leaning against the rock. He didn't know where to start..

'Should I outright tell her? No, I need to lead into it somehow.. But How?! I was going to kidnap her when we met! How the hell do I explain that?!'

While Atlas panicked, Iris chimed in; "How about I tell you how my day went, then you can tell me why you're freaking out, sound good?"

Atlas blinked several times out of surprise at Iris before he nodded in the positive. 'The way she speaks sometimes is just.. too similar to Serenity.'

As Iris launched into her tale, Atlas both listened and watched her mannerisms. They weren't exactly like Serenity's, but they were close enough to make his brain want to implode.

The way she moved her hands as she spoke, how excited she'd gotten over beating Selena.. It all reminded him of Serenity. Until she'd gotten to the speech she'd given. That was something that Serenity had always hated: public speaking.

As Iris spoke about the possible revolt, Atlas nearly choked. He knew that the Undine people were anxious about the state of their government, but he didn't know that the situation was so dire.

When Iris told him about Mayor Ugo's reaction, again; Atlas was shocked at how she'd handled it. 'If it would've been me, I would've punched him'.

Finishing her tale; Iris smiled widely. She hadn't told him about Senator Gravi, but she did tell him about Marlo. Atlas had instantly stiffened as she went into detail about the incident.

When Iris had told 'Trident' about how she'd flipped him, he'd relaxed considerably. Getting to the bit about how Levi went after Marlo, Atlas had relaxed further.. Until she'd said that he'd lost the Undine.

"How does a God lose track of someone?!" Atlas asked with obvious irritation in his voice.

Iris quirked an eyebrow at him, feeling a little annoyed herself by his tone; "He swam through some livestock fish, so Levi lost his scent."

"He's a God! Shouldn't he just know where the guy is?!"

"...I don't think it works like that. He's in a mortal body right now. It's kinda unfair to expect him to be able to do godly things in a meat suit," Iris replied with a slightly indignant voice.

Atlas had caught her tone, but pushed further; "Well, meat suit or not: he should be able to track down a single Undine. He could come after you-"

"Clearly you didn't listen to me earlier.. I can take care of myself. Maybe I should head back," Iris stated as she turned to swim away.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry, okay? I just don't like knowing that there's someone out there that wants to hurt you. I can't be here all of the time," Atlas' voice was sincere as he'd spoken.

Iris had caught the concern in his voice, but she was still irate with him for doubting Levi. She didn't know that they'd met already, and neither were going to tell her about it if they didn't have to. Both knew how angry she'd get to find out that Levi had eavesdropped on their conversation.

"I told you that I can take care of myself.. What did you want to talk about? Tell me so I can head back."

She didn't mean to sound as snippy as she had, but Iris maintained her surly expression. 'I was so excited to tell him about today, but he's being too uptight right now to deal with. I have enough on my plate as it is, I don't need his attitude right now..'

Crossing her arms over her chest, Iris wiggled the tip of her tail in annoyance. It was the equivalent to a human tapping their foot impatiently. Seeing her distress, it added to Atlas' own.

'Great.. I need to tell her something that I Know is gonna piss her off, and she's pre-angry at me! I can't tell her if she's pre-pissed! She'll hate me if I do!'

Iris saw panic flit across her friend's features, but she held her ground.

Atlas sighed deeply. They were leaving for the Kingdom's Summit tomorrow, and Iris would learn the truth then if she didn't now. 'Then she'll definitely hate me..'

Looking into her eyes, Atlas sputtered; "The thing is that, I-umm.. Tomorrow, at the Kingdoms' Summit, Ahh-this is a Lot harder than I thought.. Y-You'll see me there, and- I don't want you to flip out, ok? I just.. I don't want you to hate me.."

"Why would I hate you? I already knew that you're a guard-wait. Did you tell your king about me? About anything I've told you?" Iris asked intensely as she swam closer to him.

Atlas held his hands up in a defensive manner; "I swear I haven't said anything to anyone.. That's not the problem.."

"Then what is it?! Are you like, the King's right-hand-man, or something? Are you scared I'm gonna blow your cover by doing something stupid?" Iris nearly yelled, her frustration was so great.

"...Something like that..."

Iris huffed loudly; "Look, I'm ready to drop, I'm so tired. But I wanted to see you and talk to you.. So talk. Stop beating around the bush, and just be straight with me!"

Atlas sucked in a sharp breath like he was going to speak, but just couldn't get the words out. It surprised him to realize that he was more concerned about what Iris thought of him than what the other rulers did. He normally didn't care at all, but with Iris being thrown into it..

Looking at her, Atlas had finally noticed the dark circles under Iris' eyes as her face shifted into a deeper scowl. Even with how exhausted and angry she was, Iris was still beautiful to him as she waited for his reply.

Atlas had to avert his eyes as he spoke; "I'm sorry, Iris. Apparently, I'm a coward.. I didn't think it'd be this hard.. I didn't think I'd care about you this much, or be so scared of losing you.."

The words left his mouth before he could stop them. His head jerked up to see her reaction, but his heart instantly sank at the utter shock on her face..

'I guess the feeling's one-sided..'

As soon as the thought crossed his mind, Iris' face bloomed into a smile as she spoke in a shy voice; "Really? You care that much about me?"

Atlas took a deep breath as he locked eyes with her; "Yes, Iris. I care very much for you.."

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