“I told you that you didn’t have to kill anyone anymore!” Atlas all but yelled into Amadhay’s face.
She rocked back on her heels, staring up at him in shock. “What?” she asked softly, sure that she had missed some kind of joke. She looked at Ribbon for back up, but the woman was looking at Atlas with as much surprise as she had.
“There was absolutely no reason to drag her into that, Ribbon,” he said, turning his anger to a new target. Ribbon raised her eyebrows. “That was Palnoki business. Amadhay should not have had to kill anyone for you.”
“I offered,” Amadhay argued.
Atlas ignored her, continuing to dress down Ribbon. “Really, I expected more from you, but considering the twins were plants in your friend group, I suppose I should already know I can’t trust you to make good decisions on your own.”
“Whoa, hold up,” Amadhay tried to interrupt when Ribbon looked stricken.
“If checking if your friends are going to attempt to kill us all is too hard for you, maybe you shouldn’t leave home,” Atlas stated, making Ribbon nod.
“You’re the one who kept inviting them in to be your models!” Amadhay exclaimed, still not gaining Atlas’ attention, but she did get Ribbon’s.
The woman shook her head. “No, he’s right Red Bird. It’s my fault. I should have been more careful. I thought they were trustworthy and obviously, they weren’t. Atlas only followed my judgment of them.”
Amadhay shook her head, staring at her friend with worry. She sounded like she was close to tears, which wasn’t something Amadhay had seen before. Ribbon had always been so determined and excitable, never sad or at least never upset enough to cry. “No, screw you, Atlas!” she yelled, moving forward to Ribbon. “Ribbon didn’t do anything wrong. Everyone has a mistaken friendship. Everyone,” she made eye contact with Atlas pointedly when she put emphasis on the word. “So don’t you dare try to make her think she did something wrong.”
Atlas and Amadhay stared each other down for a few clicks, neither backing down until Ribbon cleared her throat.
“Whether I made a mistake or not,” she started, gaining Amadhay’s attention. “I shouldn’t have brought you in on it. I’m sorry,” she apologized to Amadhay, “That was Palnoki business and even though you’re part of the family, you are not a part of the war. I wouldn’t have asked you to help me with a Phoegani member.”
“That’s different and you know it,” Amadhay argued. “I have no qualms against using my skills to help you out or keep you safe—”
“That’s the thing,” Ribbon cut her off. “I didn’t need help. You defended yourself and that was fine, but I didn’t need your help sending a Palnokian message to the Skouras’s.”
“But I wanted to,” Amadhay emphasized, glancing at Atlas, who had a blank expression. “I wanted to help, to make sure they knew not to mess with us ever again. I want to help keep us all safe. If I don’t, what am I doing? Why am I here? Should I just sit around and take up new hobbies? I liked my job for the Phoegani. If I could, I would do the same for you guys because I want us to be safe and happy.”
“We don’t need your help,” Atlas snapped before Ribbon could say anything. With that, he turned and left the room, leaving Amadhay and Ribbon to stare after him.
When Ribbon put her hand on Amadhay’s shoulder for comfort, the younger girl shrugged it off and stormed after Atlas. “What is your problem?” she demanded, running to catch up with his fast, angry strides. Each one of his steps was equal to three of her own.
“What is my problem?” he turned so abruptly that she ran right into him. He grabbed her shoulders and placed her steady on her feet in front of him. “I bring you here, away from the Phoegani so that you can have a life where you don’t have to kill, where you can make your own decisions on what to do with your life and all you can think to do is keep killing? What is the point of saving you from them if you’re just going to play the same part here?”
“I keep telling you that I didn’t ask to be saved!” she yelled in his face, “You didn’t save me. I didn’t need saving. And if I did, I could do my own saving, thank you very much.”
“I’m starting to think you need saving from yourself,” he snapped before turning on his heel and leaving her again.
“Excuse me?” she yelled after him before jogging to catch up with him again. “I don’t need saving! Get that through your thick skull! I’m not some scared princess hiding out in a room, needing some strong hero to come and save me. I’m better than that. I don’t need you telling me that my decisions are wrong. I’m not going to sit around and let others save me when I can do it myself!”
“I didn’t ask you to!” Atlas yelled, stopping again to say it to her face.
“No, you’re telling me to right now!” She yelled right back at him. She grabbed the collar of his shirt when he tried to turn away and pulled him down to her height, forcing him to lean down. “I am not going to let you make me into a damsel in distress just because you have a hero complex. If you want someone who will sit around and wait for you to save me, you abducted the wrong sister.”
“I’m just trying to give you a choice,” Atlas said through clenched teeth.
“No, you’re trying to make it for me,” Amadhay corrected him. “You don’t want me in the Palnoki, that’s fine, but don’t you dare try to hold me back if I want to use my skills. If I have to go outside of us to find work, I will, but I didn’t want to. I really thought this would work. I really thought I could help you out.”
“You’re not killing for us,” Atlas told her, taking her hands from his shirt. He forced her hands back down to her sides. “Never again.”
This time, she didn’t follow him when he stormed off.