Marcelina woke that morning hoping yesterday was but a cruel dream. She was wrong. She was still in this dry hammock, still in the awkward body, and still a prisoner above water. She felt cheated, listening to the waves with deep longing. It broke her heart to be so far away from familiarity, yet still so close. Forcing herself to focus on something else, Marcelina peeked under the blanket to stare at her legs. It wasn’t as though they were misshapen or ugly, quite the opposite: they were smooth, just as tan as the rest of her, and healthy, but Marcelina thought them ugly nonetheless. They didn’t belong to her, they were entirely unnatural. She very well had no idea how to use them, either.
Marcelina slid her gaze over to Arturo’s bed, watching him sleep. His seemingly always wild blond hair looked like rough, unpleasant coral, but somehow managed to catch the light and look inviting. Emilio had told her last night, in an attempt to calm her down, that Arturo’s hair was actually very soft, but she was far less inclined to believe him this time. Arturo’s face was entirely relaxed, a hand under his cheek and the other on his hip above the sheets. She could tell he was curled up from the shape of the sheets. It was like watching any other person sleeping: boring, but able to hold one’s attention for hours if the person was interesting enough. Marcelina didn’t stare for very long since she would need his help to get out. “Arturo, wake up.” The man mumbled but didn’t wake, turning onto his back.
Marcelina huffed, propping herself on her elbow. She wiggled in the hammock, not at all good at balancing herself like this. “Arturo, get up!” She’d raised her voice considerably now, but it didn’t get him up beyond more mumbles. Now she was annoyed. She would’ve crawled out on her own if she could, but the hammock was too high off the ground and with only half of her body mobile it would be too risky. So she took drastic measures. “ARTURO!” The shriek did wonderfully. He jolted up with an audible gasp, eyes wide and blinking hard as he forced himself to wake up. Marcelina was kind enough to let him come to his bearings, then directed his attention to her with a sharp whistle. “Up here, unfortunately.” she greeted, voice dry. Arturo stared at her blankly at first, wondering just how the nereid had gotten up there.
A quick glance at the lack of a container did well to remind him. With a sigh, Arturo rose from his bed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Don’t scream like that ever again unless your life is at risk.” Marcelina saw his annoyance as natural. Pirates were more than a little paranoid over loud, sudden screaming. He walked over until he was within arm’s reach, yawning in a way not unlike a cat. He held his arms out for her to grab, and though Marcelina was hesitant, she was able to be coached out of the hammock. Her human weight was much easier to handle, so Arturo managed to hold her, half-suspended and gripping his arms hard enough to bruise, until Marcelina was able to plant both feet on the ground. She wobbled like a small child, but managed to balance in a few moments.
“Teaching you to walk is going to talk a while, I see.” He let her go and began to go about his usual routine, leaving Marcelina to stand in one spot awkwardly. She was afraid to even move her arms, lest she disrupt the delicate balancing act she was stuck in. Sergio’s shirt hung to her knees, the light from the window only slightly outlining her body under it. Arturo took his time in staring at her from his peripheral vision. He felt a mix of sorry for her, being stuck immobile like that, and a casual heat in his stomach that comes from looking at someone attractive. After all, pirates, much like nereids, are attracted to beauty. When Arturo finished up his routine, he went to his clothes chest and drew out the clothes set out for Marcelina. He set them at the foot of his bed, unfolding the shirt first and passing it to her.
She took it, and then he led her to his bed to sit. “This way you won’t topple over while putting that on. I know you can handle this part. Emilio’s shirt will be long enough to keep you decent while I help you with these trousers.” The look on her face was blank, but Arturo could tell she wasn’t pleased with having him that close to her. If he were honest with himself, he wouldn’t put such feelings against her; it’d be awkward for them both, really. Regardless, Marcelina did pull off Sergio’s shirt, temporarily showing Arturo her body entirely, then put on Emilio’s. She went slowly once it settled over her, concentrating on the ties and buttons on the shirt. Arturo wasn’t unappreciative of her slow speed at all. When Marcelina looked up at him, he unfolded the trousers and knelt in front of her. “Watch closely, hm? I know we both don’t want to have to do this every day.” Marcelina’s eyes were hyper focused on his hands and the trousers, not straying during the entire process of Arturo sliding the trousers up each leg until he got to her thighs.
From there, he took her hands and put them on the waistband. “Pull them up as high as you can, make sure to move a little so they slide over your arse.” As she did this, Arturo entertained the thought that usually he’d be doing the opposite of helping a woman like Marcelina dress herself, but he stomped the thoughts out seeing the way her body was tensed and the withdrawn sadness in her eyes. It only served to remind him that Marcelina was in every way out of her element, and it was his fault entirely. She managed to get the trousers on and buttoned, fitting her a bit snugly but not uncomfortably so. Arturo patted her knee, then presented the boots. Marcelina didn’t look at all willing to put them on. “Arturo, I don’t want to wear those-” He ignored her, however, taking hold of her leg and stretching it out to start sliding the boot on. “You can’t roam the deck barefoot. The wood is hot and your feet are much too soft. They’ll blister. Trust me, you don’t want that.” “How am I supposed to walk if I can’t feel what I’m walking on?” Marcelina protested, her hands grabbing the sheets a bit tighter. If Arturo had less self-control, he would’ve laughed at her. She was almost like a pouty child. “Walking isn’t all about feeling the surface. It’s more about keeping balance as you move. I'll have Emilio teach you the nuances later.”
As he said this, he used the distraction to slide the whole boot up her leg. Her foot fit snugly inside. Marcelina made a face akin to a child tasting a food they didn't like. Arturo did laugh, lightly. "One more to go, Marcelina." He showed her the second boot. "How do you manage to put these nauseating things on for an entire day?" Marcelina shivered at the clammy texture inside the boot. Her foot felt confined, almost like it was a fish's toothless mouth. Arturo gave a shrug. "Usually, we wear socks over our feet before putting the boots on. We don't have any to lend you, so you will have to do without." Marcelina's pout was full-set and her huff of annoyance ended the conversation. Arturo slid on the second boot and stood up to get a good look at her.
He had to admit: she was a damn pretty woman. Marcelina was something akin to his teenaged fantasies, even in man's clothes. The idea of her in an airy, pretty dress was titillating on principle. "Will you stop ogling me and help me stand? I get enough of men staring at me when I sunbathe--which I still have to do." Marcelina had a flat look on her face, and Arturo roughly cleared his throat. He guided Marcelina back to her feet and waited for her to get some form of balance before letting go. "Stay here and I'll get Emilio to begin teaching you." Arturo turned away to head out, but he didn't get far. "Why aren't you going to do it?" Arturo looked over his shoulder at her face, which revealed nothing. "I'm the captain, that requires much of time tending to duties. Teaching anyone to walk is a long process, and I don't have the leisure to help you."
Marcelina rose an eyebrow at him. "The same rule applies to any crew member on a ship like this. You're bypassing me for whatever reason, but since you don't feel like sharing I won't care. Go fetch Emilio, then." She watched Arturo's face lightly redden and he fixed her with a glare--which rolled off her like water rolls off skin-- until he left.