This was a request for Saphira Winters.

I don't own Atlantis: The Lost Empire. If I did, there'd be aliens.

"Knock knock." Vinny said, tossing a stick of dynamite up and down.

"Room service!" Cookie yelled, aiming his shotgun at some random place in the air. The king's guards stiffened, their spears pointed at the intruders.

"Tell them to lower their weapons. NOW!" Helga yelled as she shoved Kida forward, pointing Rourke's pistol-which she took from him when her soldiers had restrained him-at the princess' head. He looked to his left and saw Milo fighting tears as he clutched The Shepherd's Journal to his chest. The poor linguist hadn't signed on for this, for robbery and genocide. He'd thought he was truly on an exploration mission, only to have the entire crew turn on him, threaten him and use him.

Well, almost the entire crew.

The night before they reached Atlantis, after most everyone else had gone to sleep, Lyle had taken Milo a little ways from the camp, so no one else would hear what he had to say. He didn't want anyone else to know yet, but he'd finally become confident enough to tell Milo. After all, it took guts to tell someone you were in love with them.

To his relief, Milo revealed that he'd felt the same way, but was too afraid to say so, fearing yet another rejection. When Rourke asked what he meant by that, he hadn't been prepared for the heartbreaking amount of rejections and standups Milo had been through that left the young man sobbing quietly in his arms. He couldn't understand it, how someone as kind and sweet as Milo hadn't been taken yet. But he was also glad, for it meant that Milo was his now.

Which was why seeing him like this hurt. Lyle wanted so badly to pull him close and dry his tears. But all he could do was watch as Helga's goon, Clayton, roughly shoved Milo forward, sending him stumbling and almost dropping his glasses.

Rourke didn't pay much attention to what was being said. He could guess what was happening. Helga asked the king where to find the crystal, he refused, and she punched him. Kida yelled something in Atlantean, trying in vain to break away and run to her father who lay on the floor now. Rourke had been in the same position just minutes earlier. He'd tried to get to Milo's side as Clayton yanked him out of the water by his hair, the linguist yelling in pain, only to be pulled back by two more soldiers who then bound his hands.

Suddenly, Helga seemed to figure out the answer to her question as she went out to the middle of the pool, dragging Kida with her. Clayton followed as the platform began to sink, pulling Milo and Rourke onto it with him. Milo held out a shaking hand to brush against Rourke's as they descended. Rourke responded by giving it a soft squeeze, as if to say "I'm here for you.". With his hands tied, the act was hidden behind Lyle's back as he shot a glance at the scared, sad looking Milo.

"Finally!" Helga said when they came to a stop. She took a few steps forward, staring up at the enormous blue crystal, as Kida dropped to her knees, speaking rapid Atlantean. Helga whirled around and jabbed the pistol at Milo.

"You, tell her to knock it off. Now!" Reluctantly, Milo did as he was told. What else could he do? Helga then shoved him aside and started questioning Kida about getting the crystal down. Clayton huffed and kicked a stone into the water.

Suddenly, the crystal turned red, beams of light circling the room as if searching for something. Clayton had joined Helga in interrogating Kida, seemingly forgetting about Milo and Rourke.

"Milo" Rourke whispered, "Can you untie-Milo?" But something strange was happening. One of the beams had fallen on Milo. Suddenly, his eyes changed. Where his pupil and iris had been was now solid glowing blue, just like the Crystal. He slowly walked past Rourke and everyone else, his gaze never leaving the crystal, as if he were in a trance. As he passed them, the others finally noticed.

"Start talkin' princess." Clayton growled, "What's goin' on?"

"I do not know." Kida said. She was spared further questions when Milo turned around and spoke. But It didn't sound like Milo only. It sounded more like someone or something talking THROUGH him. He spoke Atlantean, yet somehow, Rourke knew what he said.

"All will be well, Lyle Rourke. Be not afraid." Then Milo turned back toward the crystal and started walking out toward it...on top of the water. Even Helga and Clayton could only watch in silence as Milo finally arrived at the center of the pool, the other beams of light converging on him, becoming a thin strand that expanded again with a flash over Milo's chest. Now his eyes were closed, as if he were asleep, his brown hair floating weightlessly around him. Despite the situation, Rourke couldn't deny that the sight was beautiful, even as Milo rose into the air, slowly turning around in the beam of light that lifted him high above their heads.

"Milo!" He gasped as the scholar was taken into the crystal. The stones around it started to spin faster and faster, until there was a blinding flash of light. When it faded, all that was left was a sliver the same color as the crystal. As they watched, it changed and morphed, taking the shape of Milo without his glasses. He had become the crystal.

Milo, what have we done to you? Was all Rourke could think about as Milo was slowly lowered down to the water and it seemed the water would not even touch him. For as he stood on the water a perfect circle that surrounded him. Rourke took a step forward somewhat horrified by what he was seeing and what they may have caused the scholar to become, but before he could take another step Helga and Claton grabbed his arms stopping him.

"Hold your horses, lover boy. Let's see what happens." Helga told him gazing at Milo with greed. Rourke glared at her, then looked back at Milo with sad eyes.

"Milo." He softly called seeing that the man had his eyes closed and his head down. At the call of his name, the crystal being lifted his head and opened his eyes showing a pure light blue glow. Gone were Milo's soft brown eyes, replaced by pure power.

"No!" Rourke gasped, a tear forming in his eye, "Milo!." He repeated unable to believe that the man he had fallen for, the man he loved, had become this living crystal. If it could even be called living, that is. There was no color to Milo except bright blue, almost as if he was just made of that flowing power which caused his hair to flow almost as if a wind was blowing it around.

Rourke bit his lip hard to keep from crying as the crystallized Milo moved toward them, the stones that had been floating above them began to fall into the pool one by one showing that they were carved with faces. Milo finally walked onto the shore and began to walk toward the hidden platform. He went to stand in the center of the platform that had brought them down here. Once they had all joined him, the crystal being lifted his arms out to his sides and the platform rose up again. Kida freed Lyle's hands as they rose, but he was too heartbroken to care.

A few minutes later, Rourke watched helplessly as Milo was shut into an airtight, watertight container. The glass in the portholes crystallized, obscuring Milo from view as armed soldiers pushed him back

"How can you people do this?" Kida cried, "He is one of your own! He trusted you! All of you! He-"

"Save it." Rourke said, "They don't care about him. They never did. They only pretended to so he would lead them on their damn treasure hunt. That's all they care about. Money. Riches. Wealth. And obviously, they're perfectly fine with killing people to get it." He saw some of them flinch at that, but he didn't care. The one thing he cared about was sealed in a metal prison on the back of a truck.

"You seem to care about him." she pointed out, "Why do you and not them?" Rourke sighed. There was no point in hiding it anymore. Just then, Vinny spoke up.

"We did care about him, Rourke, but-" Vinny was cut off.

"No you didn't!" the commander yelled, "None of you did! None of you EVER did! You treated him like dirt the whole way here!"

"And what did YOU do?" Audrey demanded, "Why do YOU care?" Rourke recoiled at that.

"I...I LOVE him, dammit! And I'm losing him so you people can get rich! I didn't realize people's lives meant so little any more. I bet you'd all still do this if that was someone you loved in there!" Audrey's eyes went wide. She obviously didn't expect that answer.

"Oh boo hoo, Lyle, you lost your little boy toy. No one cares." Helga said.

"HOW DARE YOU!' Lyle roared, "I would NEVER treat Milo like that! Ever!"

"Whatever. Here, you can have this. Let's go, people!" Helga tossed something into his hands that he realized was Milo's bag, filled with his pencils, notebooks, and journals, as well as his beloved photograph of his grandfather. Lyle pulled it out, staring sadly at the tiny child Milo leaning on the old explorer's knee, his smile almost too big for his little face. Lyle was dimly aware of doors slamming, until a moment later, he was joined by Audrey, then Vinny, then Mole, Cookie, and Packard. Sweet was still back at the palace. Suddenly, Kida jerked the photo from Lyle's hands.

"It cannot be!" she gasped. Before anyone could ask what she meant, she raced for the palace. Rourke turned around in time to see Helga driving across the bridge.

"We can't let her do this! Milo!" Rourke yelled, running after her.

"Wait a second. It's bombed." Vinny warned. A second later, the bridge exploded.

"NOOOOOOOO!" Lyle screamed. But he knew it was hopeless. Milo was gone. Forever. Reluctantly, he turned and went back to the palace where Sweet had called him, the others following him.

He arrived to find Kida sitting beside her father, crying as Sweet told her he'd done all he could for the old man.

"I'm so sorry." Was all Rourke could say.

"You have lost someone, too, Rourke." Kida reminded him. As if he needed reminding

"Why him? What did Milo do wrong to deserve this."

"It is not anything he did." the old king rasped as Rourke came over and knelt by his side, "It is who he is that got him chosen. This man-" he held up Milo's photo and pointed to Thaddeus, "-I know him. He is my younger brother, Prince Talos."

"That's Milo's grandfather." Rourke said. The king nodded.

"Talos left us sometime after the great flood. No one knew where he went or why he went there. Until now, we've found no trace of him since he left."

"But what does that have to do with the Crystal and Milo?" Rourke asked.

"In its time of need, the Crystal will choose a host, one of royal blood, to protect itself and its people," the king explained, "This host can be any member of the royal family, even if they do not hold a throne. Since your companion is a blood descendant of Talos, he is royal blood. Thus, the Crystal chose him." The old man's eyes closed. "I hid the crystal to prevent this from happening, to keep anyone from ever meeting the fate of my wife."

"What fate?" Rourke asked, worried now, "What's going to happen to Milo?"

"If he remains bonded to the crystal, as he is now, he could become lost to it...forever." Rourke gasped. So he really COULD lose Milo forever!

"No. Please, there's gotta be a way to save him. I'll do anything. I-" He cut off as the old king took his hand.

"My daughter has told me of your love for the one called Milo. It is not unlike that which I have for my daughter. Thus, I can understand your pain. But there is only one way to save the ones we love now. Take my daughter with you. Return the Crystal...Save Atlantis..." the old man coughed, "...Save your dear Milo..." His hand suddenly went limp and fell from Rourke's. But there was still a warmth in his hand. Rourke opened his hand to see that the old man had given him his crystal. The old man who now lay as if he were asleep, with his eyes closed. Kida cried softly at her father's side, and Lyle could tell they'd been close. He silently backed away to give her a moment with him. He looked down at the crystal in his hand and Milo's photograph. It killed him that the king's last image of his great nephew had been seeing him crystallized and taken away. And poor Milo hadn't even known he was related to the man. Well, at least he still had one living family member left in Kida.

But his relief at this didn't last, as he remembered that he was trapped here, in the doomed city. He couldn't save Milo.

"I know I'm a physician, not a psychologist," Sweet said, "but if I remember correctly, I think Thaddeus Thatch once told you that when you hit rock bottom, the only place left to go is up."

"Great, Doc, but none of us can fly." Rourke said bitterly. Kida's head shot up at the word "fly"

"Rourke...I may have a way after all." All eyes fell on her as she took Rourke's hand. "Come, I will show you." He let her leadhim out of the palace to where a large stone fish sat. Without missing a step, the princess leapt onto the fish and sat on it like a horse.

"It is a vehicle." she explained, "Milo showed me." She inserted her crystal, put her hand on the pad, and turned the crystal, just as Milo had instructed. A small crowd had gather and now they gasped in awe as the stone fish suddenly came to life and slowly rose off the ground. Rourke couldn't believe his luck. Of all the vehicles, the fish turned out to be a flying machine! Exactly what he needed!

"Kida, you're a lifesaver!" Lyle cried. He then turned to the crew and small crowd of Atlanteans.

"I'm not going to ask anyone to do this with me, as it may very well be a suicide mission. But I'm going after her. Yes, Audrey, I'm aware it's a crazy thing to do. But it's also the right thing to do. It's..." a tear shone in his eye, "'s what Milo would want." No one argued with him. No one said a word, until an Atlantean standing beside the stone fish called out "How is this done?" Rourke let Kida spout off the instructions as he jumped into a long narrow vehicle that looked like a hammerhead shark. Using the king's crystal, he started the vehicle, its low hum filling the air, joining the others as more of the vehicles rose into the air with it.

"We will return the Heart. We will save Atlantis! Or we will die trying!" Kida called out, the cries of the Atlantean warriors answering her. But what she said next, what earned the loudest response, took Rourke by complete surprise.

"FOR MILO!" the princess screamed, the warriors repeating her cry despite not knowing who Milo was. His heart went out to these people, who rallied behind the name of his love, and who were willing to fly into a fight they may not return from, to save a person they didn't know. His heart warmed at this as he came alongside Kida and the two shot forward with the rest behind them. Rourke could only hope they weren't too late.

Rourke was a master strategist, but Kida knew her people's skills better than he did. So instead, he focused on his own crew. The minute they saw the Gyro-evac rising into the air, the crystal hanging from a set of black chains below it, Rourke ordered Audrey and Sweet to try and free the crystal, while he and Vinny would be decoys, to draw attention away from them. Mole was sent to cover them.

Then Rourke saw her.

Helga. The traitor. The one who stole his Milo away. The one who would kill an entire race of innocent people. For money. The fact made him sick, and as Helga shouted some inaudible order to her soldiers, Rourke surged forward into the fray, dodging the very anti-aircraft weapons he'd been trained to use.

The stone shark actually handled better than any other vehicle he'd ever driven, responding to even his slightest action as he flew toward the huge balloon in a curving, serpentine way. He spotted Milo's container and saw Audrey on top of it sawing at the chains as she yelled something at Sweet and he responded. He heard buzzing engines and saw small, single pilot portable airplanes launching from one of the trucks, some headed right for him.

"That's right," Rourke snarled, "come and get me." He steered them away from the balloon. Having been trained to fly one in preparation for this trip, he knew his stone shark was faster and more maneuverable, more agile. That, and the dimwits flying the planes kept almost hitting each other, then hurling swears at each other for doing so.

Clayton dropped one of the balloon's weights onto Sweet and Audrey's vehicle. Fortunately, Mole was there to pull them out. Helga was firing wildly with her big gun, that is, until an energy bolt from Vinny's fish sent it spinning to the ground. But the dratted balloon was still rising. Rourke knew there was only one way to fix that in time. He whipped around and shot like an arrow toward one of the secondary balloons. At the last moment, he jumped out, grabbing a cable on the main balloon and watching as his shark slammed into the secondary balloon, exploding it, and finally, the balloon began to reverse direction.

"We're losing altitude. Lighten the load!" Clayton yelled as he and Helga started throwing things overboard.

"That's it." Clayton announced, "unless someone wants to jump."

"After you." Helga smirked, shoving a surprised Clayton over the side of the gondola. He managed to grab the bottom of it and was now hanging from it by his hands.

"You said we were in this together!" Clayton roared, "You promised me a percentage!"

"Next time, get it in writing." Helga sneered as she stamped hard on the man's fingers, causing him to let go and fall, screaming, to the ground below.

"Nothing personal!" Helga yelled.

This whole scene had angered Rourke even more, with the way she backstabbed her most loyal partner as well her lack of remorse for likely killing him. Helga barely had time to turn around before, out of nowhere, Kida leapt onto the platform, engaging her in a hand to hand fight. Helga had good training, but she didn't have the warrior princess' experience or strength.

"You will NOT be allowed to destroy my people, vile witch!" Kida yelled. At least Rourke hoped she'd said "witch". It was difficult to hear when he was being shot at by machine guns.

Unbeknownst to any of them, Clayton had survived his fall. He'd sustained serious injuries, maybe even life threatening ones, but he still had a bit of strength left in him. It was painful to move, but his anger at Helga's backstabbing quickly overshadowed that. He groaned as he pulled out a flare gun and aimed at the main balloon.

"Nothing...personal." he snarled as he pulled the trigger. A flare shot from the barrel, blazing toward the huge balloon leaving a pillar of smoke in its wake. Clayton strained his eyes to follow it. Only when he saw the impact, and the balloon burst into flames, did he let his arms and the gun fall, a smile on his face.

Kida had just started to gain the upper hand when something slammed into the craft and it erupted in a blazing inferno. Kida barely managed to jump back onto her vehicle in time, the ends of her skirt and hair singed by the blaze.

Helga was now beyond furious. She was INSANE. She finally pulled out Rourke's pistol and started firing like mad at any target she could find. The flames were rising up the canvas toward Rourke, leaving him no choice. He took his cable in both hands and swung down toward the gondola. Helga turned and saw him at the last second before he collided with her, his weight and momentum carrying them both over the side railing, where they caught another cable that dropped them onto the secondary gondola, just above the huge rotor blades that spun beneath the craft, trying to push it up.

A pierce of the upper railing, which had broken apart when they fell through it, lodged itself in the blades, stopping them from spinning. While Helga was still somewhat disoriented by their fall, Rourke seized the chance to haul himself over the railing and climb down through the blades to the chain rig holding the crystal. Holding Milo.

Ordinarily, he would've done more actual fighting than he had this whole time. But that wasn't what he was here for. His main objective, above all else, was to get the crystal back as soon as possible. The king's warning about Milo being lost to the crystal echoed in his mind as he tried to find a way to detach the crystal from the balloon.

Hold on, Thatch, he pleaded silently, Just a little longer.

"Where do you think you're going?" Helga growled, climbing down after him, a fire axe in her hand. She swung crazily at him, even breaking one of the glass portholes on Milo's container. Immediately, Rourke's instincts had him duck under her swing, while also grabbing a large shard of the glass, which he noticed was crystallized like Milo.

"Nothing personal, Lyle." she grinned as she wound up to take the swing that would rend him in two.

And that's when Rourke struck. As she turned her back to him in the wind-up, he gave an almost feral cry as he drove the shard into the traitor's back, tearing a scream of pain from her. Rourke couldn't ignore the irony of his attack. Helga, who had backstabbed even her most loyal man, had literally been stabbed in the back herself. But instead of collapsing with blood rushing out, Helga was changing. She became a crystal version of herself, dark blue with cracks of red all over. Empty pits were her eyes, a fiery hole was her mouth. Before she was done changing, Rourke was on his way back up the rig, the monster following him.

The piece of railing that had jammed the blades was finally broken and they spun freely again, trapping Rourke where he was. The crystalline nightmare that had been Helga finally caught up to him, climbing up onto the support ring and slowly inching toward him. the rig shifting slightly whenever it moved.

This gave Rourke an idea for one last possible defense. He wasn't even sure it would work, but if it didn't, he was a goner either way. He waited until Helga was all the way up onto the ring before he launched himself backward off of it, holding on with only his hands. As he had hoped, his weight and speed jerked his side of the ring down and sent the other side-and Helga with it-shooting straight up into the rotors. Rourke looked away as he heard her awful screech as she was shattered. The flying crystal shards were enough to sever the chains that held the box up. Rourke dropped onto it and landed beside it in a pile of soft ash, having only a second to move it before the fiery skeleton of the balloon came crashing down.

The next few moments were a blur for Rourke, as they attached the crystal to the stone fish to fly it out, only to have the hook break. He remembered jumping back down and securing the chain around the box, riding out on it.

You're safe, Milo. he thought as they raced back to Atlantis. Without waiting for the box to even touch down, Rourke was already prying it open with an Atlantean's spear. Suddenly, a blinding light shone from within, and as Rourke backed away, the box broke apart on its own, its parts spinning around the crystal Milo, who now stood in the center of the landing area. The pieces of the box flew away, splashing harmlessly into the water.

All around them, the carved lines and symbols started to glow with the Crystal's light. When the entire city has been lit, Milo raised his arms out to his sides. The ground shook as the huge carved stone faces, now glowing like the rest of the city, broke through the ground and rose into the air, along with Milo. The stones then spun around him, getting faster until they were a single, blurry ring around Milo. Beams of light shot from Milo out to the edges of the city, and wherever a beam struck, an enormous statue rose out of the water and walked out to the cliff's edge. They stood in a circle around Atlantis. Then they clapped their massive hands together, and when their hands parted, a glittering shield spread outward as the statues opened their arms out to their sides.

Rourke couldn't help but be amazed as the glittering shields merged with each other and expanded upward, until they finally converged above Milo, sealing Atlantis inside a glittering dome. And not a second too soon, for a tidal wave of lave rushed over top of the dome, covering it completely. Something about the dome instantly cooled the lava into rock. For a moment, nothing happened. The, glowing cracks appeared in the rock, spreading from the top of the dome downward, the rock finally flaking off and falling in huge chunks which raised enormous dust clouds with their thunderous crashing down.

And then it was over.

All was silent as the dust rose above the city. Rourke looked around, not believing what had just happened. A few gasps turned his attention back to the area where the crystal had risen from.

A single beam cut through the dust clouds. Rourke stared up at it, his heart all but leaping out of his chest at what he saw.

Milo. Restored to his former self, his brown hair floating around him as he descended, his eyes closed behind his glasses as if he were sleeping. As he neared the ground, Rourke stepped into the beam of light, arms out to receive him. For a moment, the scholar hovered there. Then the light faded and Milo dropped into Rourke's waiting arms with a heavy sigh. Rourke wasted no time hugging him close. It didn't matter who saw right now, all that mattered was that Milo was safe and in his arms. Tears stung the commander's eyes as he held the small man close, his fingers dug into soft brown hair.

"mmmmm...Lyle?" Milo said softly, tiredly.

"Yes." Rourke answered smiling through tears, "Yes, Milo, I'm here. Everything's okay now. You're okay now." He hugged Milo again.

"I thought I lost you, Thatch." That was an understatement. Rourke had been in pain from the moment Milo was chosen, pain caused by the idea that he would never see the young scholar with his nose in a book again, never hear his voice rattling on about some dead language, and never get the chance to hold him close again, to feel Milo's hair brush against his chin, so softly he almost didn't notice it. He'd thought he'd never look down into those warm brown eyes so full of wonder and innocence again. But here he was. Milo was back with him, head now resting on Lyle's shoulder. Milo then lifted up one hand that Rourke just noticed had been closed. Slowly he opened it and his eyes went wide.

In Milo's hand lay a crystal pendant, but it looked much older than the ones on the other Atlanteans. Also attached to it was a small metal compass. It looked like it had seen better days, but Milo's eyes filled with tears when he saw it. Rourke was about to ask him what it was, Milo answered him with a soft whisper.

"Grandpa." And then it clicked. Of course. The compass and the crystal had both belonged to Milo's grandfather, who had raised him and loved him up until he died. Rourke gently took it and slipped it around Milo's neck.

"It's okay, Milo," he said, "They all know about us now. You don't have to hold it inside anymore." He placed a soft kiss on Milo's forehead. Milo looked down at the compass, whose needle still spun to point North. At the moment, it also pointed to Rourke.

Without warning, Milo leapt up into Rourke's embrace, throwing his arms around the huge man's neck. Rourke gladly accepted, lovingly stroking Milo's hair out of his face and gently drying his tears.

"I love you, Milo. I love you so much and I never want to lose you again." Milo smiled at this.

"I love you, too, Lyle." Milo said, showing that smile of his Rourke loved. He couldn't help it anymore. Right there in front of the crew and at least half of Atlantis, Rourke full on kissed the scholar on the mouth.

And Milo kissed him right back.

It was like every love story they had ever heard, the two lovers sealing their bond with their first kiss at the end. Except this was real. This was actually happening. Though he hadn't come looking for it, Rourke had discovered the greatest treasure he could ever imagine on this trip. And it was all his.

As for Milo, he finally felt like he'd found his place in the world. In Atlantis, the place he'd always dreamed of finding, he'd found the person he never thought existed. A person who loved him so much that they would face all the terrors of hell and even Death itself, just for him. He'd never thought such a person could be real. Until he'd found Lyle Rourke. He would later hear from the crew just how much his being taken had hurt Lyle, how much the commander had worried about him. Rourke too had once thought he would die alone. But then he came here and met the selfless, brave linguist who had still stood by what was right, even with guns trained on him, his life hinging on whether or not their fingers moved. It was such actions that made him admire Milo, and showed that Milo's true strength was far greater than any of their own. His strength was in his heart, so overflowing with love now. He knew Kida was talking to the others and loading a vehicle full of treasure for them. Of course Rourke had decided to stay in Atlantis, knowing how happy that would make Milo. After their last picture, the commander waved farewell to the giant fish vehicle. They could have all the gold and silver and jewels. Rourke would have traded it all anyway to be with Milo.

Neither of them had any money, or influence, or power, but neither cared. As long as they had each other, they were the richest, most important men in the world.

Hope you liked it, Saphira!