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Ian raced through the water faster than he usually traveled. He hugged the Artifact, the box he'd despaired of ever finding, to his body a bit tighter to feel the hard edges dig into this stomach. He liked it that way. It reminded him that here he was and here it was. That he was actually traveling home with the Artifact and the answers to the murdered Atlantians, and it hadn't cost him nearly what he'd thought it would. Instead, he had regained an old friendship and rekindled his romance.

A small smile turned up his lips in spite of the waves pushing at his face. The one hand he used to guide the bike tightened as he threw his head back and laughed in joy, happy after all these decades that the mystery was solved. It is over, he thought, it is finally over.

Ian passed a large school of blue tuna with some almost as large as him, the light that filtered from above glinted off their silver-sheened skin. It was good to be home, to have the familiar feeling of the water press against him like a lost friend, to feel the small waves within the sea ripple against his skin like a caress. He was eager for his first glimpse of Atlantis. He had left there a broken, angry man. He returned a hopeful, optimistic one. His family would be pleased.

The ache was with him, it would be until she remained at his side, but he knew he could endure it as long as he could see its end. Even Blake, as against the match as he was, seemed to be coming around to Ian's way of thinking, with one restriction.

Of course, arguing this afternoon, Ian had been quick to remind Blake that since he had turned his back on all things Atlantian, it was not a restriction, merely a request. Ian thought back on their heated conversation.

Blake had brought a mug of coffee to Ian as he sat in Blake's living room while the two prepared to discuss the heist of the Artifact that evening. Ian sipped at the bitter brew, but he had never developed a taste for it.

"I have something to ask of you," Blake said as he sat stiffly in the chair opposite of Ian.

Ian raised an eyebrow.

"I'm sure you want Sunny to leave with you when you go, but don't ask her. At least for a while. I know what she means to you, you know I do. But you cannot give her what she needs."

Ian felt the shock of Blake's intrusion, then the swirl of anger. "I know what she needs more than you, old man. It is the Atlantian way."

Blake pulled in a breath before letting it out slowly, trying to keep his own temper over Ian's imperious tone in check. "I had a human wife. It isn't the same. I tried so hard with her, but the connection was always missing. I couldn't be what she needed, and she was completely unaware of what I was missing."

Blake looked into Ian's angry eyes and knew he was getting nowhere so he tried again. "Remember the French Angelfish pair your mother used to keep? The one had lost its sight, and though it still had other senses, it would endlessly wander around the tank as if it searched for its mate. That is the way it feels, always searching, never finding."

Ian rigidly sat as he glared at Blake. "She is starting to sense me. Sonora has Atlantian in her, there is more hope for a normal relationship than you had."

"Still, I ask you to think of her, what is good for her."

"I am! And you would ask this of me? Knowing what kind of monster that life made of you?"

Blake winced, but couldn't stop himself from saying, "Go back to Atlantis and leave her. Leave her here with her family. I beg you."

"You do not mean for a little while. You mean forever!" Ian punched his finger at Blake. "You have no idea what goes on with me and my Intended. It is not up to you to decide anything for us."

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