Old Meets New
Feeling her lips on his skin again, in any form, did well for Ramon's mood. "It's the least I could do after giving you so much trouble," he admitted, shrugging a shoulder. Marcelina saw right through him. "I'm asking a lot of you, Ramon, and for you to accept so readily, it means the world to me." She rubbed his cheek and he briefly leaned into her touch before sitting up. Marcelina rose as well, taking Ramon's hand loosely. Now that he'd truly given up on trying to force her away from her bond, touching him no longer felt wrong. It felt calm, uplifting, like touching a friend should.
The tear on Ramon's lip had already healed, creating the faintest light spot on his tanned face, going in a wiggly line along the curve of it. Marcelina stared painfully at it, frowning. "I'm so sorry...your face-" Ramon covered her mouth with his hand before he could finish, a resolute look in his eyes. "I deserve it." His tone left no room for argument, so she yielded. It was true, after all. However, Marcelina pushed it from her mind, perfectly ready to put that horrible moment into the abyss. By the looks of it, so was he. Marcelina rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb, starting to lead him back to her cave--to Emilio.
She was gone longer than she realized, the sun had moved well past afternoon. It wasn't quite evening yet, though, there was still a few hours before then. It seemed much faster going back than leaving, aided by Ramon's speed and Marcelina's slowly building excitement. This was how she imagined taking her friend to her future mate, and it was invigorating to have it come true.
Emilio had been worriedly swimming in a pace-like manner at the mouth of the cave. He'd eaten at least four fish, hungry from last night. The moment he caught sight of Marcelina, he very nearly rushed out to grab her, glad to see her safe and relatively happy. Then he registered the new arrival behind her and instantly became nervous. At first, he wondered if Marcelina was aware that she was being followed until she turned around to talk to him. Emilio realized that the other was her old friend Ramon.
Emilio was glad for her, but he couldn't shake the feeling of distrust and jealousy about Ramon. Nereids were naturally tricksters and possessive. They could be feisty and manipulative over things or people that they felt strongly about. Ramon had a century plus years with her, and a bond that strong would not be easily adjusted for another. Emilio would watch him closely. For now, he smiled and waved to the pair, waiting patiently for them to get to him. They didn't make him wait long. Marcelina released Ramon's hand to gesture to Emilio. "This is Emilio, Ramon. Emilio, this is Ramon." Marcelina had the most hopeful look on her face, wishing hard that the two would get along. Emilio continued to smile pleasantly at Ramon, who looked plenty friendly. Though, Emilio did notice that fresh scar, and the last trails of acidic tears.
Much had gone on between then and now, but Emilio had confidence that no more would continue. "Salve, Ramon. Any friend of Marcelina's is a friend of mine. I trust that you both were able to reconcile things?" He clasped his hands behind his back, making it clear to Ramon that he knew all about what happened yesterday. Ramon's smile was tight, but he didn't rise to the subtle taunt, simply tipping his head. "Salve, Emilio. I assure you, there is no enmity between us. I understand well what has happened since Marcelina last left me." Marcelina gently rubbed her fingers along Ramon's forearm, gently squeezing in a show of support. Ramon smiled at her, fighting his baser emotions to take her and leave. It all happened in the briefest of moments, but it was enough for Emilio's chest to tighten.
Marcelina entered her home with Ramon and Emilio close behind, going straight for her small reserve of fish. She didn't eat at all since waking, so she made quick work of a couple of them. "Ramon, come eat, then we can all talk," she offered, which he readily accepted. He ate just as fast as Marcelina did, almost in a frenzy from not eating for a solid day. When they both were sated, Marcelina took stock and made a note to hunt later today. Their time for stalling was up, though, and a thick tension settled in the cave. Emilio had seated himself on an ottoman, watching and waiting calmly. His gaze didn't waver from Ramon at all, making the latter more unsettled than he already was. Marcelina sighed, gently soothing Ramon again with her touch, leading him to a second ottoman to sit.
When she sat down, between them, it looked like two rivals trying to steal the prize in a game. Emilio was closer to Marcelina than Ramon, however, silently emphasizing that she was indeed taken. Marcelina was aware of Emilio's posturing and fixed him with a look. This was stressful enough for all of them, nobody needed Emilio or Ramon to add to that. Emilio backed off immediately, easing the atmosphere. Surprisingly, it was Ramon who spoke first, "I am aware that you are a halfling, and the Geminius, and are to converge with Marcelina. Before I give my full support and aid, I would like to hear more about your family history." He forced himself to talk as smoothly and calmly as possible. This was simple tradition, routine.
Emilio was internally impressed, then settled into a business mode as well, straightening up. "Yes, my mother was human and my father was of your kind. My childhood memories have only been returned to me for a short while, forgive me if I lag on certain parts," he began, receiving a nod in return. "I'll start simple, what were your parents like, specifically your father?" Ramon asked. Emilio adjusted in his seat, taking note of the color of the water. "This is going to take the rest of the day, most likely." Ramon looked to the open water, a brief look of worry crossing his face. Marcelina understood, rising up again. "I'll go watch the girls, Ramon. This way you two can talk in peace." Neither male objected though Ramon did reach out for her out of reflex.
She smiled and kissed the top of his head, rubbing his shoulders. He relaxed, then she moved to Emilio. She aimed for his cheek, but he leaned in enough to catch her lips instead. A noticeable shudder ran through her, making Emilio smile wolfishly. Ramon glared at the man, and Marcelina leaned away with a huff. "Don't kill each other while I'm gone, or I'll never forgive either of you." She aimed her gaze directly at Ramon, knowing he was the stronger of the two. He smiled crookedly at her, making her smile. Taking her fishing pouch, she ran her fingers along Emilio's cheek before leaving them alone.
Ramon sighed, watching her swim until she was out of sight, then turned back to Emilio, who was stupidly smiling at him. "She used to shiver like that when I kissed her, too, you know." Emilio's smile melted off so fast it made Ramon laugh. "Glad you got that posturing out of your system now, though, so we can begin," he teased, winking at him. Emilio huffed, crossing his arms. "You know, I didn't think scars were part of 'perfection'." Ramon sighed, absently running his tongue along the scar in question. "Yes, well, I did say 'used to'. I don't hunt humans as often as Marcelina does, I doubt it'll affect my results." The pause between them spoke volumes more than actual words. Emilio smiled at the older male, one eyebrow arched. "I trust you won't try again, yes?"
"Enough, I'm here to talk about you, not the other way around. That's my and Marcelina's business alone," Ramon snipped pointedly. "Fair enough. My father's face looked just as I do now, more or less. The only difference was that he was blond and I have my mother's dimples. My whole body spare gender and height is like my mother. I do have my father's hands, though," Emilio began, gesturing to himself. "My father's tail was like the sunset: deep gold and orange. It was as long as I am tall, strong but sleek, graceful. He was extremely fast. I remember, when he would have my mother and I with him for months at a time, he took me hunting."
Emilio paused to think, looking at the ceiling for a moment. "When I was with him, he treated me well, taught me everything about his kind: Latin, music and the arts, romantics, but also to be, bluntly put, savage. To protect what was mine, who I loved, with every tooth and nail. All this stuck subconsciously, I guess. I don't remember when I stopped remembering the other details, maybe just before I became an adult and I went seafaring with Arturo," he finished, going quiet. Ramon hummed thoughtfully, then tilted his head. "That's all well and good, but how was he related to the original Geminius to be able to pass it to you?" he questioned, getting to the point of it all. He couldn't hide the bite in his tone, though. He knew that it because he was related to the Geminius that he was matched to Marcelina at all. It would take him a while to truly get over that.
Emilio took no offence, though, smiling placatingly. "Truthfully, I think it skips a generation. Poseidon told me it was my grandfather who was the last Geminius. Not the original, no, but one of the early descendants. It skipped my father and came to me." There were no holes in his explanation, no traces of a lie that Ramon could see or sense. It was a relief to know that Marcelina was indeed with the right one, undisputably. No matter what Ramon felt against that fact, he accepted it as just that, fact. He was no fool. He sighed, nodding, leaning against the wall of the cave.
It was quiet, then Emilio got up and swam to the other, sitting next to him. "I understand that you loved her, Ramon. I don't think anyone couldn't love her at least a little. You and she have something I hope to build with her someday, too. A bond like that, so genuine and long-lasting, it's a beautiful thing. It's an admirable thing. I appreciate that you put aside your hurt to do this for us, to endure this and know that it means the end of what was yours." Emilio put his hand on Ramon's shoulder. It may be an effect of being bond to Marcelina, but Emilio was just as charmed by Ramon as she. Emilio could see why she valued him so much, and needed to have him by her side.
Ramon was taken aback by Emilio, more so his sincerity. He could see why Marcelina was to converge with him. He was exactly what she needed to feel truly happy. He smiled back at the man, huffing a small chuckle. "To be honest, I still have half a mind to steal her away and pretend this never happened. We don't get over loss as easily as humans do. We are possessive over beautiful things, people, relationships. More so now that there are so few of us left. However, I owe it to her that she doesn't live without that crucial piece of herself. That piece just happened to be you and not me."
Ramon pulled away and rose off his seat, hands on his hips. "I'll come back tomorrow with my final decision," he said, reverting back to his calm, flat tone. Emilio nodded, still smiling amicably as Ramon swam away.