Tula was a better ruler than he ever was. This place was evidence of that. She managed to keep the bureaucracy of this place running, and hadn't faced a single coup or rebellion. Of course, the civilians here came to Tula, wanted the changes she -- and he -- had been encouraging in Atlantean society. As opposed to trying to create change, the way he had attempted, she merely facilitated it among those who wanted that change.
Democracy. Equality. Personal freedoms. Ideas Garth and Tula had learned from the surface world, which the people of Atlantis needed and deserved.
He'd been dead when she took control of this place, when she basically built this little oasis of freedom right where the surface meets the waves. She had managed to be Cerdian's only parent and established this place all at the same time, while mourning for his loss.
And now he was alive again. And he didn't want to waste a moment; he wanted to spend all the time he could with her. But he also didn't want to distract her from her duties. He would be waiting for her when her day was done. And in the meantime, he walked the edges of the city, with his other family atop his shoulders. The young boy giggled quietly as he tromped along the embankment at the edge of the water, threatening to plunge in at any moment. The boy was starting to get too big for such shoulder rides, but Garth didn't mind. Besides, it's not like the child's weight was a struggle to carry.
He loved Tula with all his heart. He wanted to spend every available moment with her. But he respected what she was doing too much to take up this time right now. So if he couldn't be with his wife and son together right now, he'd focus instead on his son.
He reached up, drawing Cerdian off his shoulders to tuck him in his arms, as he began to tickle the child. Cerdian cackled and kicked defensively.
After a moment of gentle roughhousing, he paused, and beamed down at his son.
Cerdian's caught his breath. "Daddy?" he said thoughtfully.
"Yes, Cerdian?" Garth replied.
"I'm glad you're back."
Garth smiled back at his son. "Me too." He paused, considering. "Cerdian? You know... there have been a few of us who have come back from the dead..."
Cerdian nodded, his brow furrowing in thought.
"You know... that's not how it normally works, right? Sometimes, when people die, no matter how much they love someone alive, they just can't come back, right? Because I love you more than anything, but that isn't why I came back to life. That was just... luck."
Cerdian nodded. "I know, Daddy." He looked intently at his father. "Otherwise, Tula would have come back right away." He bit his lip in thought, as if considering if he should ask a question.
"What's up, little squid?" Garth asked the boy.
"Daddy... if Tula had come back sooner... you never would have been with Mommy. And I wouldn't have been born."
Garth winced a little inwardly, but he nodded honestly. "That would have been very different, huh?"
"If you could... go back and... change things..." Cerdian asked tentatively, "...would you?"
"Oh, oh, Cerdian," Garth breathed, wrapping his arms around his son in a tight embrace. His son was always a very quiet, thoughtful young man; Garth supposed it had just been a matter of time before he asked such a question. "Those years without Tula were the hardest of my life. Her death tore me to pieces for years, and even the time with your mother wasn't really a healthy recovery."
"But do you know what made all that time worthwhile? You." He squeezed his son tightly. "I would never do anything that would risk you. If I had to do that twenty times to have you, I would." He broke from the hug to look into his son's eyes. "You are everything to me."
Cerdian's serious look relaxed just slightly, and he returned his father's embrace. Garth stood, the sea below his feet, down the sheer embankment, holding his son in his arms: father and son, on the edge of the sea.