16 Late Night Meetings(Part Two)

King Atlas didn't show it on the outside, but internally; he was flipping out. 'Why would she word it like that?! Could she be like me?! No, there's no way. I would've noticed Something familiar about her mannerisms or something if she was..'

'Then again, it's not like I really know Queen Iris. We've never talked outside of politics before.. But still! How can she Not tell who I am by now?! Her eyes are all better, right? We've met a bunch of times over the past couple of years! Is it the amnesia from being sick? Why else wouldn't she recognize me!?'

As thoughts bombarded 'Trident', Iris added almost stuttering; "I-I'm being told that the way I am, who I am, basically isn't good enough. That I need to be like how I was before I got sick.. How am I supposed to be something I'm not?!"

Unfettered distress edged her voice, making Queen Iris sound almost desperate. It was disorienting to see and hear the shy, yet immovable Undine Queen nearing tears over her existential crisis.

The situation unnerved him to the point of taking her hand, and gently squeezing it. The gesture surprised her for a moment, then she clasped his with both of her hands, prompting 'Trident' to do the same.

They stood together in silence a few minutes until her friend finally spoke; "I don't think you should change who you are, just how you go about doing things.."

Iris snapped her head up; "What do you mean?"

"Maybe it's not about going back to who you were.. Maybe it's about becoming something even better? I can only assume that this has something to do with your powers, right?"

Iris nodded in the positive before he continued; "Instead of trying to be like the old Iris, just maintain the most important piece of you from now, and build from it. Make your foundation as solid as possible.. Without a foundation, everything falls apart.."

"You sound like you're speaking from experience," Iris added, offering an ear without trying to pry.

Trident donned a somber smile; "Let's just say that I lost something very dear to me years ago, and I've had to do a little rebuilding of my own.."

Not wanting to push, Iris simply said; "I'm sorry you had to go through that.."

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It was the first time that anyone from their harsh water world had cared enough to take an interest in him. 'Is that why my heart is beating so fast? Am I really That touch starved?! It's only ever felt like this with Serenity..'

As he looked at the Undine Queen in surprise, Atlas finally paid attention to her features. Her face was almost heart-shaped, and her nose was perfectly placed and proportioned. Looking into her eyes only made his confusion grow. 'They look just like Serenity's..'

Whether it be from lack of emotional connection or something else; Atlas removed his top hand, and cupped her cheek.

Iris' eyes shot open, and her exposed cheek flushed prettily. They lost each other for a moment as there souls recognized a kindred spirit, but had no rhyme or reason to explain the connection.

As soon as he realized what he was doing, Atlas pulled his hand away. The mixture of confusion and hurt in her familiar eyes made his heart waver. 'Was she actually sad that I took my hand away?'

"Sorry.. It's not my place," 'Trident' stated as he cleared his throat numerous times.

Iris didn't understand why she'd been saddened when Trident took his hand away, but she had an idea. 'His eyes.. They look exactly like Matt's..'

"It's alright.."

Iris wanted to say more, but the words stuck in her throat. She was sad and homesick for her world. When she looked into Trident's eyes, she saw Matt's staring back at her. The ease she felt with him was both calming, and unsettling.

They went silent again for a few moments before Trident started coughing again. Realizing her throat was irritated as well, Iris asked if he'd like a bubble bite. After agreeing with a nod, he held his hand out, expecting her to have them on-hand.. She did not.

All the bubble bites Iris had brought with her were fed to her little fishy friends. When she'd asked him if he wanted any, she meant from inside the Undine palace..

"Hey?! I can't go in there! Iris! IRIS!" Trident yelled in a hushed tone as he caught up to her.

Iris flashed a cheeky smile; "I thought I was 'Your Highness'? I prefer that."

Atlas quietly scoffed as he trailed after her; "That was a joke.."

"It was your own words, and I like the way you say it," Iris quipped back.

"...I'm never gonna hear the end of this."

Trident had stated it rather than asked, but Iris replied anyway; "Nope.. I should make up some kind of song for you so you don't get bored saying it."

"Or I'll just pronounce it as Your Highn-ass', until you stop," Trident taunted with a grin.

They had reached the top of the wall right as Trident had made the joke. It took everything she had not to either burst out in laughter, or smack him. Given a choice; she smacked him.

'Trident' quickly glanced around as they hit the top of the wall, to make sure no one could see him. After checking the walkways and overlooking windows, he finally looked around her courtyard.

It was much bigger than the others attached to the palace. Most likely because it ran the entire length of her quarters. The royals always had the largest living space in the palace.

The sea grass lawn looked very similar to the lawns found on Earth. It was nicely manicured, and a small, but long hunk of coral ran the length of one of the walls as a kind of garden. A small table and chair set sat off to the side of the door to her room.

As they descended the wall, Iris was conflicted. She'd rashly asked if he had wanted a refreshment, like she was back in her world. Running into her tiny apartment to grab a soda out of the fridge, or having him sit down to watch a movie on her mostly comfortable sofa. 'Just like I used to do with Matt..'

Their similarities were beginning to make her wonder, but Iris brushed the thought aside. 'I thought it was possible for a second when I mentioned the flipper thing, and he got all weird about it..'

'But Matt would've added to the joke, or made a new one out of it in some way. It's an involuntary personality quirk for him, so I guess I'm just being blindly optimistic.. It can't be him.'

When they entered her room, Trident was surprised by how simple it was. Only a bed, a nightstand, another two-person table set, and a few bookshelves were visible. With no paintings or knickknacks to be seen.

Atlas' room was similar, much to his mother's displeasure. She was furious when he had donated the overly expensive trinkets and paintings to the Merfolk School. It benefited the children much more than him.

"Sorry it's so plain, but I'm a simple person.. apparently. But please, take a seat wherever you'd like. The bubble bites are there on the table. I just need to use the bathroom," Iris stated as she swam towards a smaller door near her bed.

"Don't be, my room is similar to this, just bigger. I do have one painting on my wall, but otherwise; it looks similar to yours," 'Trident' swam over to her nightstand, and grabbed a couple of the bubble bites as he spoke.

After she came back out, he noticed that Iris had fixed her hair. She really was attractive; as far as half-fish beings go. As she moved through the water, he noticed that her posture had returned to normal, and that her movements in general were more synchronized.

Swallowing what was in his mouth, Trident asked; "Has your memory returned yet? You seem to be getting around easier now."

"A little, but people and places are still muddled.."

The two went back and forth for a good twenty minutes or so before Trident suggested he take his leave, before they got caught. Iris reluctantly agreed, but had a saddened expression when she did. She was clearly lonely, and he could relate.

"I don't have any powers myself, but can I give you some advice?" Trident inquired as she opened the door to her courtyard, and looked around for any guards.

After a silent nod in the positive, Trident spoke with conviction; "Maybe it's because you've lost your memories, but I don't think you fully accept who you are.. I don't think your powers will work until you do."

Iris forced a scoff; "I know who I am-"

'Trident' moved closer to her; "You didn't even attempt to use your powers when I saved you.. Whether you could've used them or not, you should've at least Tried.."

Iris didn't know what to say. She barely knew she had powers at the time! Selena and Levi had mentioned them, but she had only recently started to Attempt to use them.

Trident was only inches from her as he spoke in a strained tone that did odd things to her stomach; "Until you accept your role in this world, you'll be used as others see fit. You're the Queen of the Undines: don't forget what that title means, or the weight it holds.."

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