Marcelina returned just after dusk, in the best mood of her life. So much had gotten done today, from dawn to dusk. Her fish pouch was empty, instead, she was towing a large white shark behind her, eager to share this with Emilio. After Ramon returned to his cave, they spent some time with the girls, explaining gently that Marcelina was converging with someone else. They were disappointed at first but didn't react badly, knowing that Marcelina wouldn't be taken away from them permanently.
She called out to Emilio once she entered her cave system. He wasn't in the main cave, so she tracked him into one of the deeper caves. He was curiously observing the sea light clusters. One group was attached to the nearest wall, though most preferred the ceiling. It provided a soft glow akin to moonlight in the otherwise dark area. Marcelina's smile softened, letting the shark go--it wouldn't float anywhere but up to the roof, so she didn't have to worry about losing it--to sneak up on Emilio. He had no idea she was coming until she was on him. Feeling her lips just barely brush his shoulder made him startle and a yelp escaped his mouth before he could stop it. He relaxed hearing her laughter, turning around with a huff. "That was dirty, dear."
Marcelina's eyes glowed in the low light, merry with her good mood and her giggling. "No, you stealing that kiss was dirty, and you know it. How did it go with Ramon?" She knew how it went, of course, but she wanted to hear his opinion as well. Emilio grinned at her, gathering her up in a loose hold. "It went extremely well, he's got an easy-going, relaxed charm about him, but he's also very protective and invested in you," he replied, his hand rubbing up and down her arm. Marcelina hummed softly in agreement. "Yes, he's always been like that. I was rather restless and quick to act in our youth, he always had to watch out for me, pull me out of danger. I watched out for him, too. He was a slow grower, and I'm the stronger of us two," she added. Emilio noticed the shark on the ceiling and if it weren't obviously dead he would've shrieked.
"Marcelina, how long has that shark been there?" He asked, staring wide-eyed at it. She beamed predatorily, swimming up to it and dragging it back. "Oh, I caught it on the way back. It'll last longer than regular fish and it tastes great, I promise." Marcelina looked eager, while Emilio looked confused. "How do you even hunt these?" He asked, frowning lightly at it. Marcelina seemed happy to answer, "Well, you stalk it from above for a while, then you ambush it. My personal favorite kill is to stuff your hands right in its gills and destroy them, as fast as you can," she explained, showing the mangled gill slits and bits of red gill rods sticking out. "Then you flip it upside down and drag it back. It can't escape and it'll die relatively quickly with no mess. Saves all the good parts for eating."
Marcelina puffed her chest up, proud of herself for making such a clean kill and providing for them. Emilio was lost on the finer points but smiled supportively. "Well, you did great, then. Thank you." She kissed his cheek, then turned on the carcass with her natural enthusiasm. Her fingers easily tore into the soft belly, causing a bit of a mess, not that she cared. She tore large chunks of meat off and savored eating them, offering slabs to Emilio as well. She took pity on him and gave him mostly the muscle parts. Marcelina preferred the organs like the heart and oily liver. When they each had their fill, she left briefly to discard of the carcass a safe distance away. The swim helped clean her up as well, absently licking her lips when she came back.
Emilio wasted no time cuddling up to Marcelina again on the lounge pile, well sated from the large meal. "That did taste good, though it was quite an experience." He said, in a low rumble. She hummed back, feeling lazy and cuddly. "Just imagine, tomorrow, we could be relaxing like this as mates," he cooed, his eyes sliding closed and giving her a light squeeze. Marcelina began braiding her hair, watching the real moonlight play through the open water from the mouth of the cave. "It still sounds so far away. I feel almost too young to say such things," she whispered, nearly done with the braid. Emilio almost laughed, turning on his side to nuzzle into her side. "You being too young would be like me being too old. You deserve this, Marcelina," he replied, smiling against her skin.
Marcelina smiled down at him, done with her hair. Her hands went to his now, running her fingers through it. "Want me to braid yours, too?" she asked, changing the subject. Emilio perked up enough to accept, sitting up so she could reach. Marcelina half-massaged him as she plaited his hair, treating each lock gently, kissing where his neck met his back, across to each shoulder. By the time she was done, Emilio was half-asleep, absolutely lethargic and floating on bliss. Marcelina kissed his cheek and that did him in, falling into a dreamless, pleasant sleep tucked in her embrace. Marcelina stayed awake for a while longer, watching the open ocean for the last time as a single person.
In the morning, it was Marcelina who woke first, still cradling Emilio to her bosom. This was new, cradling somone like this who wasn't Ramon or a child, but it was just as nice as if it wer one of them. In fact, it was better, because this was Emilio, and he was still holding her tight, nuzzled into her chest like he belonged there. He looked the most relaxed he'd ever been in his life, so at peace. Marcelina didn't know how long she laid there, staring at his sleeping face, feeling his warmth mixed with hers, the smoothness of his skin over the hardness of muscles, hiding a strength both physical and not. She was actually startled when he woke up, blinking impossibly blue eyes at her, watching her face register in his mind. He smiled with his eyes before his lips, excited but calm all the same. "Funny, yesterday I was watching you sleep," he replied, not even yawning. It was funny to her, because Marcelina wasn't a morning person, but Emilio just woke up and seemed ready for anything.
"The only reason I'm awake is because I ate well last night," she answered, all drowsy-voiced and rumbly. It was too early for suaveness and romantics, future converging day or not. Emilio chuckled at her, kissing the dip of her throat. "Will you take me hunting with you, Marcelina? As much as I like exploring your caves, it'd be a shame to miss out on the beauty of the sea in the early morning." She seemed to perk up at that, nodding with a slow smile. "I think you just get tired of waiting for me all worried like a young child," Marcelina teased, letting him go to rise up and stretch. Emilio didn't reply to that, making her giggle. "I think it's cute how you kept waiting at the mouth of the cave. I like having someone to come back to." Emilio blushed up to his ears, but smiled like a love-stricken fool regardless. "I'd wait eons for you as long as I know you'll come back."
Marcelina liked seeing Emilio blushed, so she fought her own. "I know, come on." She didn't bother to unbraid her hair, grabbing her fishing pouch and taking Emilio's hand. "Stay close, I swim fast, don't want you to get lost." He gently squeezed her hand, giving Marcelina the go-ahead to speed into the open water. Their surroundings moved in a blurr, but Emilio was able to focus on certain things, like a small fish wandering by, the rays of sun piercing through the surface, the undulation of the waves on rocks, on their bodies. It was amazing, a separate world on the same planet. He could live forever in these waters, if he could see beauty like this everyday.
Occasionally, they would pass through a school of fish and Marcelina would let go of his hand to snatch sizable fish. She was swift with each kill, a quick shove of her hand through the gills, a crunch, then collecting it in her pouch. Emilio watched her do this a few times before concentrating. He grabbed one that swam close, struggling to get his hand through, but he did and quickly crushed the gills. It was a strange thing, hunting without weapons or dogs or even other people. Emilio didn't dislike it, though, feeling proud of himself for helping. He gave Marcelina his kill and she smiled appraisingly. As she collected it, she pressed kisses to his cheeks. Emilio puffed his chest, feeling useful and manly. She chuckled at him and almost mindlessly snagged three more, showing off for the sake of it.
He stuck his tongue at her for that. Marcelina laughed openly and the challenge was accepted. They went from school to school catching more fish than they really needed, but it was a fun bonding and learning experience for Emilio nonetheless. By the time they got back to Marcelina's cave, Ramon was waiting for them. He had his arms crossed and that casual crooked smile, widening when he saw the fish in both of Emilio's hands and in Marcelina's pouch. "I see hunting went quite well, good job," he praised, kissing Marcelina's cheek and then Emilio's. "Mhm, you can take the extras for you and the girls, Ramon," Marcelina answered, fully awake now. Ramon tipped his head in thanks before leading them to their seats.
Ramon took a breath, sitting up line straight. He looked them over with a scrutinizing eye, his last judgement, before nodding. "Emilio, you have my support and aid in converging with Marcelina. I accept you into my little family and into the nereid way of life. Do you accept my blessing and my brotherhood?" He bowed his head to Emilio. Emilio smiled a mile wide, bowing his head back. "I gladly accept you, Ramon." Finally, the two clasped forearms and shook twice, sealing their bond. Marcelina felt her heart studder with joy and relief and excitement, kissing both their cheeks. "I'm the happiest girl in the sea."