Shaking the thought from his head, 'Trident' refocused on Iris' tale. She'd already launched herself into the story of 'Levi Vs. The Angler Fish'. When she had mentioned the reason he went to the Deep, his curiosity spiked, but was cut short..
"Oh yeah! Levi also said that he smelled you outside of the wall when my powers went berserk. Why did you come back? You must've been halfway to the boarder by then."
Not thinking, Trident gave his honest answer; "And I could Still see the Giant swirling vortex from there! I was worried, so I came back.."
Iris beamed; "Awe! You were worried about me? You're a good friend, Trident.. Thank you for that. I don't have many."
"You still have more than me," Trident replied, instantly internally kicking himself for continuing to talk.
'Why would I Tell her that?! Dumbass! You're so stupid sometimes, Matt..!!'
Atlas froze. 'WHAT?! I haven't thought of myself as 'Matt', for two freakin' years! Why?! ...That's a dumbass question; she's sitting next to me..'
Turning to look at Iris, the King of the Merfolk lost himself to his thoughts..
'Atlas..Trident..Matt.. What the hell am I? Who the hell am I? There's so many names now, so many different parts that I've hacked off because they made me weak.. But if I really wanted to forget my old life, then why did I make that drawing? Why did I keep it? ...Why can't I stop seeing Serenity when I look at Iris?! The fuck is wrong with me?!'
"Trident?! TRIDENT?! Did you hear me?! I asked what you know about the Deep!"
Iris was only an inch or so from his face when Atlas snapped back. He stared into her fiery eyes, eyes that looked exactly like Serenity's...
As Iris stared into Trident's, she recognized the conflict within them. 'Matt's eyes looked the same whenever he was struggling with something..'
Instinct drove her hand to his as Iris gently squeezed it in camaraderie. The gesture was so familiar that it completely freaked Atlas out. He gripped hers back softly, so as not to hurt her feelings, then released her hand.
The sadness expressed on her face brought a new kind of pain to his already aching heart. 'What do I do?! I want to get closer to Iris, but she doesn't even know who I really am! She reminds me of Serenity so much.. Is it better if I just never see her again? ...No. I'm already in too deep.'
As the two sat in silence, each battled with their inner selves. Atlas was debating on telling Iris the truth about himself, but it was still technically a lie. The idea of telling her the Full truth had crossed his mind, but he'd shoved it down and buried it instantly.
'If I tell her I'm from another world, she'll think I'm crazy.. I'm starting to wonder if that's true..'
As Atlas dealt with his identity crisis, Iris argued with herself. She wanted to tell him about Poseidon, but considering how secretive he had been about who heard them talking; Iris ultimately decided to keep it to herself.
After they sat a bit longer in amiable silence, Iris groaned, breaking the calm. It had been so loud and abrupt that Trident had actually shot up from his seat in the sand. She giggled at his overreaction, then told him her latest issue.
"I got a summons from the Undine Council tonight.. I have to go before them tomorrow to 'prove my competence'.. What am I suppose to say?! 'Hello Senator guys I don't know, but should. Please let me keep my crown', even though I don't-"
Iris caught herself in the nick of time. 'Oh shit! I almost said that I'm an American! That I don't believe in Monarchies! Geez.. Why the hell did Poseidon pick me again?!'
Trident stared at her with a concerned expression; "Are you ok? Your face, it's.. it's doing a thing.."
Iris realized that she must've looked insane. Her bottom lip was curled up, and her nose was scrunched like she'd smelled something foul. Lowering her head and sighing deeply, Iris lamented what she could about her situation.
"I just. Can't. WIN! How the hell am I supposed to convince the Council that I should keep my position when I'M not even sure I should?!"
Trident took on a serious expression as he genuinely spoke to the Undine Queen; "I can't tell you what to do, Iris. All I can do is tell you what I know about you."
Clearing his throat a bit nervously, Trident continued; "When I met you, you were pathetic.. Don't give me that look. A baby sea turtle could've kicked your butt, and you know it."
"...You really Suck at motivating," Iris' voice was thick with sarcasm as she'd spoken.
"I wasn't done yet! Anyways.. Look at you now," Trident said as he gestured to her.
"...That's it? That's all you've got?"
As his ire flared, Trident spoke briskly; "Why?! Do want a list?!"
Iris crossed her arms; "Yes, actually, I would. So please: continue."
Huffing in defeat, Trident spoke rapidly and honestly; "You were like an infant before, and now you're faster than most I know. You didn't even Know how to use you powers, and now you can defend yourself. You can-"
"How do you know that? I've only been practicing regularly during the day," Iris replied, surprised by his information base.
Panic flitted across Trident's features a moment before it returned to it standard stoicism. A sound akin to a snort escaped him as he replied; "What? You think guards don't gossip?"
Nodding her head in agreement, Iris waited for Trident to continue talking. It took him a second to rearrange his thoughts. 'Crap.. I can't mention things I've read in reports!'
After mentally forehead slapping himself, Trident went on; "You aren't some scared little child. I mean, I watched you nearly take out your own palace.."
Iris glared at him; "Again: Not Helping here.."
"My point is that you Could Have.. You're A Lot smarter, and a hell of a lot more powerful than you think you are, Iris. Don't run away from it, own it.. And if those Council guys piss you off too much: just do a bit of remodeling.. Maybe they're in the building, maybe," Trident shifted his hands up and down like the arms on a scale.
The smile that he had flashed her when he'd finished made her heart flutter. 'That's just like something Matt would say to me. Especially the joke at the end.. He always tried to end our conversations on a light note.'
"...Thank you, Trident. I really needed to hear that.. Although, there is one more thing you could say that will make me feel better."
Unnerved by how Iris had worded herself, Trident sputtered; "Huh? What? Say what? I-I mean, tell you what?"
Chuckling at his stammering, Iris spoke with a cheeky smile; "I think I'll feel more like a Queen if someone called me, 'Your Highness'.."
Seeing Trident's eyes go wide was the last straw. Iris laughed so hard that she had to bend over while sitting on the ground. Her mirth echoed into the night, automatically putting Atlas in survival mode.
Before Iris knew what was happening; Trident had lifted her up by the arms, and covered her mouth with his hand. Somehow, his other one had wrapped itself around her waist. He was pinning her against the rock with his body as they listened to nothingness.
All Iris could hear was the thunderous beating of her own heart within her head. Trident was actually pressing up against her!
The wrap she wore around her upper body didn't cover Iris' stomach. She could feel his solid, muscular body and cool, smooth skin pushing against her.. 'This is just like what happened in my room'.
Leaning up to peer over the massive rock, Trident couldn't see anyone approaching. There hadn't been anyone on the wall, so he assumed that they were safe. Easing up and lowering himself; Trident brushed noses with Iris..
They locked eyes for an uncertain amount of time, then Trident jumped back, and immediately started apologizing. Iris giggled at how flushed his cheeks were, but kept her joviality to a minimum.
'Although I did kinda like-no! No! Stop it! Don't get too attached! You might be sold off tomorrow if you can't figure out a way to deal with the Council!'
Deflating slightly, Iris decided to call it a night. Between her day and her night; Iris' heart was ready to give out. They talked for a few moments longer until Trident felt that she wasn't mad at him. After he was sure, he watched her swim off, then up and over the wall. Disappearing from his sight.
Too busy staring at where Queen Iris had gone, he didn't realize that he still wasn't alone..
Turning around to leave, Trident came face-to-face with whom he knew to be the Great God Leviathan. Frozen in both shock and fear, Trident's mouth gaped, and his eyes bulged at the sight in front of him..
Increasing his size slowly for a dramatic affect, Levi mixed in a low guttural growl as he spoke in a menacing tone; "Good Evening, King Atlas..."