Disclaimer:

The following is a work of fanfiction. All characters and situations belonging to the animated feature film "Atlantis: the Lost Empire" are copyrighted to Disney Enterprises, Inc. This story includes dialogue and actions taken from the screenplay written by Tab Murphy. Everything else, including original characters, is of my own creation.

Author's Notes: This story is a "missing" scene from "Atlantis". It is my attempt to show how Milo and Kida realized that they were in love with each other, as was implied at the end of the movie. It is nothing more than a short romantic piece.
All comments and questions may be sent to me at:
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the story.

Lost and Found
by
Julie Horwitz

The first thing I noticed upon awakening was the feeling of being held. I did not remember losing consciousness, but there could be no other explanation for why I did not know where I was or how I had gotten there. My last memory was of Mahtihm's voice...

What had happened? I remembered being surrounded by light, hearing Mahtihm's voice, and then nothing more. Why could I not remember? Had the great crystal done something to me?

Question after question flooded through my mind. Had the evil Rourke been stopped while I was unconscious? Were my people unharmed? Was Tahbtoap all right? Was Milo?

Milo...

Slowly, I began to open my eyes. I had to know what had happened. I had to see if my beloved Atlantis and all of her people were safe.

I looked up and was greeted by a very welcome sight.

"Milo...?" There was a look of concern on his face, but I had a feeling that it was for me. Did that mean that everything else was all right? I smiled at him to show him that I was fine.

He smiled back and I knew.

Atlantis had been saved.

As I continued to smile at him, the strange warm feeling returned. It was located somewhere in the center of my being, but I could not exactly place it. It was just there, as it had been from the moment I met Milo. I did not know what it meant, but I was not afraid of it. Perhaps Tahbtoap would be able to tell me when I asked him later.

It was then that I noticed that I was clutching something in my hand. A cold feeling shot through me as I gazed down at my closed fist. I had not held anything since Rourke's strange weapon had knocked my knife from my grasp. What could this be? And where had it come from? Why could I not remember anything?

Nervously, I opened my fingers...

And smiled as both relief and surprise flowed through me.

It was my bracelet. The one I had been wearing the day of the mehbehlmoak.

The one Mahtihm had taken with her when the "star" had stolen her from Tahbtoap and me.

I raised it up to get a better look at it.

It was so small. I had forgotten how little I had been when we were banished to the center of the world. I had only been four years old. Now I was over eighty-five hundred, still young, but a grown woman nonetheless. A woman who had grown up without her mother.

A wave of sadness passed over me. I could hardly remember Mahtihm. She had been in my life for such a short time. Now this bracelet was all I had left of her.

I miss you, Mahtihm.

It was not as if Tahbtoap had not been a wonderful father. I knew he loved me. We had had only each other for so long and I felt incredibly close to him. The only part of our relationship that I hated was how he treated me as if I were still a child. I knew he knew that I was an adult. I had been since my thirteenth birthday. I knew that he meant well and was only trying to protect me, but I wished he would see me as the adult I was. Of course, this incident would do nothing to convince him. After all, I was the one who had insisted we invite the outsiders into our city...

I looked up at Milo. He was one of the outsiders, yet I felt as if I had known him forever. The one day I had spent with him had been the most wonderful of my entire life. I did not at all regret allowing him into my city.

As my eyes met his, something came over me. I did not know what it was, but it was again something I did not want to fight. It felt...right.

Our gazes held for what seemed like an eternity. Was Milo's expression mirroring my own? Was he experiencing what I was? Did he know what these new feelings were?

Our faces began to draw closer.

Suddenly, I became afraid. Too much was happening at once and I could not handle it all right now. I did not understand what was happening and that scared me. Maybe after I talked to Tahbtoap...

Overwhelmed, I just threw my arms around him and held him tightly, hoping he would not be offended by my behavior.

((((())))))

As Kida hugged me, one thought and one thought only ran through my mind: Kida's hugging me! Not exactly the most appropriate one given the situation, but I could not help myself. For the second time in my life, I was in love and I did not care about anything else at the moment.

I'm not sure when I actually fell in love with her. I just know the exact instant when I realized it. It was when the Heart of Atlantis had chosen her as host. As she was drawn towards it, I had occurred to me that I may never see her again and that had caused me such pain. More pain than I had experienced after losing Grandpa...

I knew it was unusual to fall in love so fast but it was typical for me, though this was faster than my one other experience. Falling in love with Lisa had taken a week. I had only known Kida a day. Yet, it felt like I had known her my entire life.

From the moment I had met her, I had felt drawn to her in a way I couldn't explain. At first, I had just thought that it was because she was so friendly towards me. Most people took a long time to warm up to me while others never did. My first moments with Kida had been her healing my wound. There had been no questions asked, just concern for me, something I had rarely experienced outside of my own family. Now, after getting to know her, I knew my feelings flowed from much deeper inside myself.

We stood there like that for what seemed to be a wonderful eternity. I didn't want to let her go. If we could have remained like that for the rest of our lives, I wouldn't have minded at all. As long as Kida was by my side, I felt complete.

Then I remembered that I had bad news to tell her.

How do you tell a person that someone they love has died? I remembered Grandpa telling me that my parents were dead. He had tried to put it as gently as possible since I had been so little, but I had understood and refused to believe it at first. When the truth had finally sunk in, I had cried for weeks. Kida wouldn't even have that luxury. She had a throne to assume.

Feeling terrible about the task ahead, I looked up, intent on pushing her away from me so I could tell her about her father. Instead, something else caught my attention and made me forget about what I had planned on doing.

Atlantis had been restored!

Quickly, I nudged Kida. She had to see this.

She looked up and I smiled at her, gesturing with my chin for her to turn around. I knew this would make her happy. And all I wanted was for her to be happy...

She turned around and, when she started slowly moving forward, I knew that she was as delighted by the sight as I had hoped for her to be.

I followed her, barely noticing the rest of the crew coming to stand by the same ledge Kida was headed for. All I cared about was Kida. This was her moment. It was her home that had been restored. I and the others were just outside observers. We had all played a small part in the restoration, but we were not the ones who had been waiting thousands of years for it.

I stood beside Kida and looked out over the city. It was truly breathtaking. How I wished Grandpa could have been there beside us...

I felt something brush against my hand. I looked down to see Kida reaching for it. Not questioning her actions, I took her hand in my own and squeezed it gently.

((((())))))

I could not believe what I was seeing. Atlantis was back to the way it had been before the mehbehlmoak! And it was more beautiful than I remembered!

I reached for Milo's hand. I wanted him to know how grateful I was, but I could not find the words. Hopefully taking his hand would be enough until I could speak. It was because of him that we were standing here in awe of such beauty. Without his knowledge of how to read our language, Tahbtoap would have kept the crystal hidden forever. While I regretted that it was only because of Rourke's evil that I learned of its existence, I was glad that it is back where it belongs.

Milo took my hand in his and it sent waves of warmth throughout my body. I still did not understand why I was having these strange reactions to him, but I was determined not to let them frighten me again.

"Is it just like you remember it?" Milo quietly asked me.

"Better," I said, having finally found my voice, not looking at him. "It is so beautiful."

We fell silent, our fingers still intertwined. Again, this felt right, as if his hand and mine should always be together like this. I could hear Milo's friends commenting about the city's new beauty, but I paid no attention to their words. My entire focus was on my hand as it sat in his.

What were these strange feelings? I had never experienced anything like them before. They were distracting me from everything else around me. Everything, except for Milo.

I looked at him again. He was smiling as he studied the city below us. He had such a beautiful smile...

Was he feeling any of the same things that I was? And, if so, were they affecting him the same way? Did he know what they were? Should I ask him?

No, I couldn't ask him here. Not in front of his friends. Later, after I had delivered the good news to my father...

Tahbtoap! Tahbtoap had to be told right away! Now he would see that I had been right about the visitors helping us. Atlantis had been saved from ruin, thanks to them...to Milo...

"I must tell my father," I announced to Milo, gently pulling my hand away from his. "He needs to know of this miracle!"

Milo looked surprised by my statement. "Kida..."

"I will find you later," I promised. "There is something I wish to discuss with you."

"Kida," he tried again.

"Thank you for everything," I was finally able to say. "Until later."

And then I ran off to share the wonderful news with Tahbtoap.

((((())))))

"Kida, wait!" I called after her, but it was too late. She was too fast and had gone too far to hear me. "Kida..."

"She doesn't know, does she?" came Sweet's voice from behind me.

"No," I told him, turning around. "I didn't have a chance to tell her."

"Didn't have a chance to tell her what?" Audrey wanted to know.

I turned to her. "The king's dead. Kida's father is dead."

"Dios," Audrey murmured. "When?"

"Right before we went after Rourke," I informed her. "I-I know I probably should have said something, but it didn't really seem important at the time."

"Well, I'd say it's, eh, pretty important now," Vinny commented.

"You'd better go after her," Sweet suggested.

"Yeah..."

Without saying another word, I took off after Kida, dreading what I knew I would find when I caught up with her.

((((())))))

I ran into the palace towards the throne room. I hoped Tahbtoap was all right. When I had left him, he had been badly hurt by that vile Rourke. I was sure a healer had attended to him by now, but he had been so weak for so long... But if anything would make him feel better, it would be the news of our city's restoration.

I slowed down as I approached the doors that had been blown apart by Vinny's strange "thunder sticks". Topish and Bawyahn, Tahbtoap's personal guards, were standing outside of them, which was highly unusual. They never exited the throne room through the front doors. They always followed Tahbtoap to his personal chambers, which were inside the palace, before being relieved of duty, which was in the evening. Why would they be here? Unless...

"Princess!" Bawyahn exclaimed as he saw me. "Great kings, it is good to see that you are all right. When we last saw you-"

"Why are you not with my father?" I cut him off. "Where is he?"

Bawyahn's face fell. "Your highness, I..."

"Bawyahn?" I asked, a cold feeling replacing the warmth I had experienced only minutes ago. "Where is he?"

"Oh, princess," Topish said. "We are so sorry."

"What are you talking about?" I demanded to know. "Where is Tahbtoap?"

"Kida..."

"Where is he?" I repeated, growing ill. Something had happened to him in my absence. I knew it as surely as I knew anything. But what?

"In there," Bawyahn told me, "but it would not be wise to go in-"

"Tahbtoap?" I called, cutting him off as I moved past him. "Tahbtoap?"

"Princess, please," Topish urged, "he-"

"Tahbtoap?" Refusing to hear any more, I rushed into the throne room. "Tahbtoap?"

I saw him lying on his throne.

"Tahbtoap?"

There was no answer.

"Tahbtoap?" I called again as I approached him.

No answer.

Why was he not answering me? Was he sleeping? Was it not too early in the day for one of his naps?

Then again, I really was not sure of the time. I had no idea of how much I had lost. Perhaps I should have asked Milo before running off. If Tahbtoap was napping, he would not be happy if I disturbed him.

The closer I got to him, the more concerned I became. I could not even hear the sound of his breathing, which was usually very loud.

"Tahbtoap?" I quietly repeated.

Finally, I reached him.

He was motionless. I could not even see the usual steady rise and fall of his chest nor hear the labored breathing that accompanied it. His features looked more relaxed than they had been in centuries.

"No..."

I held my hand over his mouth and nose and felt absolutely nothing.

"Oh, no..."

Then I checked his pulse. Again, there was nothing.

"Tahbtoap..." His name caught in my throat. His skin felt cold, so cold...

I leaned down and pressed my ear against his chest.

"Tahbtoap..." I cried as I did not hear the beating of his heart. "Tahbtoap!"

No! No! This could not be happening! This was a dream. A bad dream from which I would wake at any moment.

"Tahbtoap!"

I reached out and touched his face, tracing his features, waiting for him to wake up and chide me for disturbing him as he had often done during my childhood.

"Tahbtoap..."

He could not be gone. He could not!

I fell to my knees by the throne, the tears already flowing. "Tahbtoap..."

He was gone and I was alone.

I was all alone.

Falling over him, I began to sob as I had not done since losing Mahtihm.

((((())))))

I jogged up the palace steps and made my way inside, a terrible feeling of dread accompanying me. There was no sign of Kida, meaning that she had gotten here ahead of me and probably already knew.

As I approached the blasted and warped doors, I saw the two guards that had remained at the king's side until just after his death.

Hesitantly, I asked them, "Is she...?"

One of the nodded. "We tried to stop her," he said, his English as perfect as any other Atlantean I had met. "But she would not listen."

I just nodded mutely and went in myself. Neither tried to stop me.

As I stepped into the room, my eyes fell on Kida and my heart instantly broke.

She was on her knees, hunched over her father's body, sobbing horribly. It was painful to hear her crying. Until this moment, I had only known her at her happiest or angriest. To see her so sad killed me. I loved her so much and only wanted to make the pain stop.

Not sure how to approach her, I silently crossed the room until I was standing a few inches behind her. She did not notice me.

Feeling as bad as I had in the crystal chamber for having to disturb her prayers, I reached out and touched her shoulder. "Oh, Kida..."

She instantly sat up and turned around, her face covered with tears. Her eyes were wide with surprise.

"I'm so sorry."

"M-milo," she managed.

"I'm so sorry," I repeated, unable to come up with any words of comfort. God, how I wanted to comfort her! It hurt so much to see her like this.

She suddenly shook her head violently. "No," she said in Atlantean. "No!"

She quickly jumped to her feet and fled the throne room.

Too shocked to process what had just happened, I took off after her again.

((((())))))

Why did Milo have to follow me? Why did he have to see me like this? Now he knew how weak I truly was.

Oh, Tahbtoap, I thought as I ran towards the one place that had always offered me comfort, you were right about everything. I am too young. Why did you have to leave me? I am not ready to be without you.

My vision was blurred with tears, but my feet remembered the way. I had traveled here so often that I could find it in the dark. I had even brought Milo here yesterday...

Milo...

The warmth that I had come to associate with thinking of him failed to fill me. There was only the pain. The indescribable pain.

Why did he have to find me like this? Now he knew what kind of person I really was. A weak little girl who was nothing without her father.

Oh, Tahbtoap...

I hurt so much. All I wanted was for it to stop. I did not think I could go on much longer this way.

Why Tahbtoap? Why? Why did you leave me?

First Mahtihm had been taken from me and now Tahbtoap. Even Milo's parents had been stolen from him. Why did life have to be so unfair? Why did I have to be all alone now?

I was not ready for the responsibility this meant. I was now queen. Me! Queen! It was not a reality I was ready to accept. How could I be a good leader for my people when I could not even make the right decisions for myself? I was only just beginning to discover who I was.

I finally reached the base of the statue I had been climbing almost all my life. Early on, it had become my haven, a place to come when the world became too much to handle. Often, this was where I had fled after an argument with Tahbtoap. Milo was the first person I had ever shared it with but I had not told him how special this place was to me. It had seemed so unnecessary to tell him, as if I had expected him to already know...

Wiping at my subsiding tears, I started climbing. I knew I would feel better once I reached the top. Climbing this statue had never once failed to ease my pain.

((((())))))

I hung back as I watched Kida begin to climb the statue. I recognized it as the one she had brought me to yesterday. I had figured that it was a special place to her, but I hadn't had any idea of how special until now.

After Grandpa had told me my parents were dead, I had retreated to my favorite room of the house: the study. I had not left there for weeks afterward. I had felt safe and comforted there.

The study had been the location of many happy events in my early life. Most often, it had just been my falling asleep between my parents as they quietly read together on the sofa but that had only been because I had felt so loved and protected there. After I learned that they were not coming back and had refused to believe it, I had gone there to wait for them. After days and weeks of them not returning, I had given up hope and just took comfort in the memories the study provided.

This statue must have served some similar purpose to Kida. She was hurting so badly. I could only hope this statue could comfort her until I reached her.

As she approached the top, I walked over to the base. Waiting until she had disappeared from view, I began to climb after her.

((((())))))

The pain refused to leave me. It clung to me and stabbed me, deepening the wound in my heart. The hoped-for easing would not come to me.

I hunched forward and hugged my knees to my chest, fresh tears slipping down my cheeks. Why did this have to happen? Why?

It was all my fault. If I had not been curious about the outsiders, my hunting party would never have spent the day following them. I should have listened to Yunahath when he told me to ignore them, but I was determined to watch them. And because of that determination, Tahbtoap was dead.

Maybe if he had told me about the Heart and our past as I had often asked him to I would not have been so foolish. If I had known, I could have guessed what these strangers were after. Then I would not have brought them into our city. But then, I would have never have gotten to know Milo...

Finally, I felt the warmth again. It soothed me in a way nothing else could right now.

What was it? What did it mean? Why did thinking of Milo have such an effect on me? Perhaps his presence would make me feel better...

No, I thought. I did not want him seeing me like this. I wanted him to think of me as the strong warrior he had first met. I did not want him to know how truly weak I was. Not after the day we had had yesterday.

There were not enough words to describe what my day with Milo had been like. It had been a day of discovery for both of us. He had found the city he had been searching for his whole life and I had learned that the world above had continued on after our banishment. We had had so many questions for each other and hardly enough time to ask and answer them all.

But the part I had enjoyed most was simply his companionship. Being with Milo had introduced me to emotions I had not known I possessed and still had yet to understand. The instant I had approached him I had begun to feel them. What were they? What was it about him that triggered them?

There was only one person I would have confessed these new feelings to but he was gone now.

Tahbtoap.

Fresh tears began to well up and fall as I thought of him again. The warmth was fading and the pain returned full force.

Tahbtoap...

((((())))))

I clutched at the edge of the statue's head and grunted as I hauled myself up. I landed flat on my stomach, but I did not care. I had made it to the top...

And Kida.

There was no mistaking the sound of her anguished sobbing as I quietly got to my feet. I saw her sitting on the side of the head the furthest away from me, hunched over her knees, her body violently shaking.

She was in so much pain and just knowing that caused me pain. All I wanted to do was make that pain go away.

Why had she run away from me in the throne room? I know I had startled her, but she had only fled after seeing that I was the one who had done it. Did she not think I would understand what she was going through?

God, if anyone would understand, it was me. I had only lost Grandpa three years ago and the pain was still there. Yes, it had faded somewhat, but sometimes, when I was thinking about it, it could be as fresh as it had been the day I received the call from the hospital. Just like Kida's pain now.

Carefully, I made my way over to where she was sitting. Amazingly I didn't make a sound. She didn't even notice when I sat down beside her.

"Kida," I quietly said.

Finally, she looked up, her eyes red and her face tearstained.

I opened my arms.

After a moment's hesitation, she fell into them, once again sobbing.

I wrapped my arms around her and just held her as she cried.

((((())))))

I buried my face against Milo's chest. I no longer cared about what he would think of me for losing control like I had. I was only happy that he was here. In his arms, I no longer felt so alone.

"Let it out," he urged as he ran a hand up and down my back. "You'll feel better if you just let it all out."

I couldn't even bring myself to say anything. All I could do was continue to cry.

Why did you leave me, Tahbtoap? Why?

Milo just held me and rubbed my back, something I remember Mahtihm doing when I cried as a very small girl. It was both soothing and comforting and helped to slightly ease my pain.

The warmth slowly began to return.

((((())))))

Kida's sobbing eventually began to subside, much to my relief. I hated seeing her like this. I loved her so much. I only wanted to see her smile again.

"Why did he leave me, Milo?" she finally whispered. "I am not ready to be alone."

I pulled her tighter against me. "You're not alone, Kida." How could she be alone? I had seen her with her people. They loved her.

I felt her shift in my arms and she looked up at me.

"But I am," she told me. "My father was the only family I had. And now he is gone."

"What about your friends?" I asked. Surely someone as wonderful as Kida had many friends to spend her time with.

She looked down. "I have no close friends, only acquaintances." She paused for a moment and then returned her gaze to mine. "You are the first person I have ever felt close to."

I tried not to react to her words. Was she saying what I hoped she was saying? Could she...?

"Why did you run away from me?" I had to know.

She pulled away from me. "I did not want you to see me like this."

Didn't want me to see her like what? I didn't understand. "What do you mean?"

"Like this," she repeated, gesturing to herself. "I was afraid you would think of me as weak."

"Weak? You? Never," I assured her. "Y-you're the strongest person I've ever met. No one would ever think of you as weak."

"I am not strong," she informed me. "And I am not ready to be queen."

"You'll do fine," I said, knowing that she would. Kida had demonstrated her abilities as a leader from the moment I had met her. This doubt was probably just stemming from her shock of losing her father.

"No." She shook her head. "I will not. My father never taught me how to be queen." She grew very quiet.

"And now he is gone."

I saw the fresh tears roll down her cheeks. She was still in so much pain and all I was doing was making it worse. I felt horrible.

"And I am all alone," she repeated.

"No. No, you're not," I told her. "You have me.

"And I'm not going anywhere."

Truthfully, until this very moment, I had not given any thought to what would happen next. I had been so focused on finding Atlantis that I had never planned ahead to after I found it. The quest to discover it had been my whole life, especially after Grandpa died. It hadn't been just for me anymore. It had been for the both of us.

Now that I was here, I had no idea of where to go next. Yes, I had found it, but I couldn't share it with the world. Not like I had dreamed of. How could I do that to these people? To Kida?

Kida.

How could I leave her? I loved her so much and she needed someone who loved her. She was hurting so badly. I wanted to stay with her so I could take away that pain.

There was nothing left for me back home. (Well, there was Fluffy, but I'm sure Mr. Whitmore could give her a better home than I ever had.) I had no job, no apartment...no family. At least down here I could be doing some good. I was the only one who could read these people's written language, making me the sole person who could restore it to them. To leave without helping them would be wrong.

More importantly, I would provide Kida with the companionship and love she needed. I didn't think she would have been able to make it without me. She was in such pain.

I had to stay.

((((())))))

Milo's words sent a jolt straight through me. He was going to stay? In Atlantis?

With me?

The warmth that had been slowly spreading surged to every part of my body at once. The pain of my loss was immediately pushed aside.

I looked at him in surprise. "Milo?"

He reached out and took my hand.

"I can't leave you, Kida. You...you...mean too much to me."

Did this mean that he had been having the same strange feelings as I was? Could he know what they meant?

I searched his face. There was something there that I had noticed before but had not taken the time to identify. It was a look very similar to ones I had seen on both Tahbtoap and Mahtihm's faces. A look of love.

Love...

Was that what I was feeling? Was that what these strange feelings were? If it was, why did it feel so different for the love I had had, still had, for my parents? Is that why I could not recognize it? It felt...stronger than what I had felt for my parents.

Having never been in love before, I could not be sure that that was what this was. But, what else could this be? I knew what friendship felt like and what I felt for Milo far surpassed that. I do not think I had ever considered him just a friend.

Our gazes held, his hand still holding mine.

And, in that moment, I knew that what I feeling was indeed love. I did love him. I was in love with Milo.

And he was in love with me. I knew that as surely as I knew anything.

I had observed countless couples in love over the course of my life, including my parents, and there was one action that they all performed. It was an action I now wanted to do.

So, I leaned in and placed my lips against Milo's, kissing him.

((((())))))

Jiminy Christmas!

Kida was kissing me! She was kissing me!

I started kissing her back, throwing my arms around her. I couldn't believe that this was happening. Did this mean she loved me as much as I loved her?

I felt her place her arms around me and I pulled her closer. The kiss we shared was so sweet and wonderful. It was the most incredible experience of my life.

Finally, she pulled away from me, a questioning look on her face.

"Did I do that right?" she softly asked.

I reached up and caressed her cheek. "It was perfect," I assured her and she smiled. "I love you."

"I love you," she said, answering my unspoken question. "I...have never felt like this about anyone."

Unfortunately, I could not say the same. But, I didn't think it appropriate to bring up my past now, especially a part of it still painful to me. So, I instead pulled her back into my arms and she laid her cheek against my shoulder.

"I am so glad that you are staying."

"Me too," I agreed.

((((())))))

As I laid against him, all I could feel was the warmth that I now knew to be love. It was an incredible feeling and I was happier than I had been in a very long time. Of course, my heart still ached from losing Tahbtoap and I feared the future, but none of that seemed to matter now as Milo held me.

I still could not believe that he shared my feelings of love and was going to stay. Did he not have anyone or anything to return to on the surface? Would they not miss him? Was he truly willing to give up everything to stay with me? Did he love me that much?

I turned to look up at him. "Are you sure this is what you want?"

He kissed me again. "There's nothing I want more. I love you so much, Kida. I don't want to lose you."

"But what of the people you are leaving behind?" I pressed, worried that he was leaving them only for me. That would not be right, no matter how much he loved me.

"I don't have anyone," he told me. "Well, actually, I do, but I don't think she's gonna mind too much. She's probably much better off where I left her than she was with me."

"She?"

"Fluffy," he said. "My cat."

"'Cat'?" This was a term I had never heard before.

"A cat is an animal," he explained. "Fluffy was my companion for the past two years. I got her when she was just a baby."

"And you do not mind leaving her?" If he had had Fluffy since she was an infant...

"Trust me when I say she's in a better home now," he assured me. "My apartment was really small. She's now living in a place that's the, um, modern surface equivalent of a palace."

"Oh," I replied, feeling better. If Milo thought this was what was best for Fluffy, who was I to argue?

"I'm not going to change my mind. I'm staying here with you," he promised. "I love you."

I leaned against his shoulder again. "Thank you."

((((())))))

"I guess I have to figure out how I'm going to tell the guys now," I said as I continued to hold Kida.

Kida once again looked at me. "Guys?"

"You know, the people I came with," I explained. "Sweet, Audrey. You know."

Kida's eyes widened. "The ones who betrayed you?"

"Betrayed?" I repeated. "No, they didn't be- Well, at first they did, but then they changed their minds when they realized how wrong it was to take the Heart of Atlantis." As I watched her expression, I realized she didn't know what had happened. Hadn't she seen them with us before running off?

"You mean they are still here?"

My question answered, I hugged her tightly. "The ones who helped save Atlantis are, yes. Don't worry, Rourke is gone. I...saw him die."

"You trust them?"

"Yes," I assured her. "They made the right decision in the end all on their own. Without their help, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now."

I heard her sigh in relief.

"You're safe now," I promised. "I won't let anyone hurt you or your people ever again."

I meant every word.

((((())))))

How much time had I lost? Milo was telling me things that I did not know. I remembered his companions turning on him, but I had no idea that they had returned to his side.

I just let him continue to hold me. I felt so safe and warm in his arms. I did not want to leave.

((((())))))

As much as I wished we could stay like this forever, I knew we had to return to reality. Kida had to take her place as queen and I had to tell the others that I would be staying.

I looked down at the beautiful woman in my arms. She looked so content now, a welcome change from the horrible sadness she had experienced only a short time ago. I hated to disturb her, but we had to return to the city. I'm sure everyone was wondering where we were by now.

"Kida," I murmured.

"Yes, my Milo?" she answered, her eyes meeting mine.

My Milo. Those two simple words touched me deeply. They meant that I was hers. I would not have it any other way.

"We need to go back now," I told her. "We've been up here a long time."

"Yes," she agreed. "But I wish we did not."

"Everything's going to be okay," I promised. "I'll be with you every step of the way."

"But I am still afraid," she confessed. "And I still hurt."

"I know," I soothed. "I know."

"Will it ever go away?"

I couldn't lie to her. "No," I truthfully answered. "But it will fade."

"I miss him."

I kissed her forehead. "I know. You always will. But just know that you're not alone. You have me and I have no intention of going anywhere."

"I love you," she repeated.

"I love you too."

((((())))))

"Before we go back, may I kiss you again?" I asked him. As much as I wanted to stay here forever, I knew he was right. I had to go back. I had to face my fears and do what was required of me. Atlantis was depending on me now.

"You don't ever have to ask me," he said.

"Very well," I smiled as I leaned in and kissed him deeply.

This kiss was as sweet as our first. I loved the feel of his lips against mine. I hoped we would share many more kisses in the future.

I ended the kiss and rose to my feet. "I am ready."

Milo stood up and placed a hand against my cheek again. "Everything's going to be fine. I promise you."

"I believe you," I told him. "I love you so much."

"I love you too," he said. He removed his hand from my cheek. "Now, let's go before it gets too dark to see our way back to the ground."

I laughed at his joke. "I will go first."

I walked to the rear of the statue and got to my knees. Gripping the ledge tightly with both hands, I lowered one foot, then the other, until I found my footing.

Milo's face appeared above me and I smiled at him. He smiled back and sent the warmth flooding through me once again.

As I continued climbing down, I thought about everything that had happened thus far this day. I had lost my father, but I had gained so much as well. My city had been restored to its former glory. The long-forgotten Heart had been replaced in the sky. And, most importantly, I had found someone to share the rest of my life with.

I had found someone to love.

((((())))))

As soon as Kida was far enough below me, I began to climb down after her.

My mind and heart were reeling from everything that had happened. I still couldn't believe that Kida loved me as much as I loved her. It was a miracle to me.

Because of her love, Atlantis felt more like home than anywhere else I had ever been.

I had found where I belonged.

((((())))))

I waited for Milo at the base of the statue. He was not far behind me, but he was a slow climber. (This would change as soon as he built up some muscles.)

Finally, Milo arrived and I kissed him yet again, still marveling at the feel of his lips against mine.

"Are you ready?" he asked me.

I reached out and took his hand. "Now that you are by my side, yes."

He smiled his beautiful smile at me. "Then let's go tell the others."

I nodded my agreement and we began to walk back to the palace.

We had both lost so much in our lives, but we had found each other. And, in each other, we had found love.

And that was enough.