Enemy of my Enemy
Marcelina woke up from the warm tingle of dawn on her cheeks. She thought yesterday was a horrible dream, but as she took in the scenery of the infirmary, and felt the bruises on her neck, reality settled in. Marcelina fought off the icy fear building up in her mind to assess the area. She was the only one awake, Sergio lightly snored behind her and Emilio's breaths fanned out gently against the exposed parts of her face. She was cocooned between the two men, feeling warm and for a moment, safe.
She turned onto her back and stared at the ceiling, unable to keep away the ice in her mind. Arturo had poisoned the bond and was hell-bent on forcing her to break away from Emilio. He wanted to break her mind and body enough that she would have no real will to protest ever again. Marcelina shuddered at the idea. To break away from a mate was unheard of, and reasonably so. Legend had it that it was like trying to rip out a piece of one's soul and then ignore the gaping emptiness left. It was a fatal process for both parties.
Now more than ever, Marcelina needed to break her bond with Arturo. That left her on a difficult path, though. In a human form, and bonded just so that her attempting to harm Arturo would kill her, Marcelina couldn't draw from her normally boundless reserves of magic. She would have to figure out a spell and act with extreme care. Marcelina sighed, coming out shaky. The sound managed to rouse Sergio (who, despite appearances and his personality, was quite a light sleeper) and he turned over to face her. "Hey, Celi. You need something?"
His voice was a drowsy drawl, and he rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand. Marcelina gave him a slanted look. "I need many things, but most you can't give," she responded in a low murmur. Sergio blinked the rest of his sleepiness away, staring at her directly, reading her to the best of his ability. "Maybe, but that means I can give some things. What are they?" Sergio had such a warming effect on her, with his gentle optimism and genuine care. "I need a hug, Gio," she answered softly. No sooner than when the last syllable left her mouth was Sergio moving.
He brought her into his chest, holding her loose enough that it would be easy for her to pull away, but Marcelina wouldn't dare. She snuggled in close, and Sergio rumbled out a sigh, curling slightly around her and rubbing his hand between her shoulders. He was so tall, and she so small, it was easy for Marcelina to curl into a ball and still fit comfortably. She hid her face from the world, enjoying the gentle love of a sibling. It was similar to a nereid's concept of a sibling, that it was genuine and long-lasting, but a human sibling was deeper-set. It allowed for real bonds and experiences sweetened by having limited time but so much emotion.
Sergio was like a gift to her, an understanding, accepting, supportive gift that wanted nothing from her but attention and love. Marcelina almost wanted to cry, then hide Sergio away where death couldn't find him, where she could teach him the wonders of the world and see his stupidly bright smile. He rested his chin on her head and stayed silent, but awake. After a while, Marcelina unburrowed herself from him, coming back to reality. Sergio let her go, then dozed back off, facing her with a small smile. His soft snores tickled her hair, and his warm fingers brushed hers with the occasional dream twitch.
Marcelina went back to planning, but with less fear. So, how could she manage to evade exposure and death while trying to plan her secession from Arturo? How would she perform the right spell or summons? And, if it came down to it, could she kill Arturo? Could someone else act on her behalf? Marcelina knew the answer to one of those clearly. No, she couldn't kill him, she already knew that. Though, it was possible that having someone act on her behalf could work. It would have to be done in a very specific manner, though.
Marcelina turned on her side, facing Emilio now. This was a lot to work out on a simple ship, and in the middle of a voyage, she would have next to no resources to begin looking up the proper way to dissolve a bond, violently or otherwise. At least this would give her time, which gave her the room to act slowly. Marcelina would figure this out, hopefully. As if sensing her eyes on him, Emilio began to stir, not feeling Marcelina in his arms triggering a subconscious worry.
She scooted closer so that he could grab her, which noticeably eased him. With a yawn, his eyes slowly opened, seeing Marcelina's small smile first. Emilio breathed out in relief, his worry eased before he could register it. "Even in the midst of unfortunate events, you're still smiling at me, it's inspiring." he reached up to rub her cheek. Marcelina held his hand there, turning her head to kiss his palm, then the wrist. They had a silent agreement not to talk about the hickeys on her neck. Emilio wrapped his second arm around her lower back and pulled her in close so he could kiss her properly.
Marcelina reciprocated gently, her other hand also cupping his cheek, tiny breaths tickling their noses. It was tender and full of a slow, rejuvenating affection. They kissed for several minutes, silently so as to not wake Sergio, never submitting to the wilder feelings bubbling underneath. It was just a soft expression of gratefulness to be together. Marcelina was the first to gently ease off. "Bonum mane, amica mea," she whispered, almost completely at ease. Emilio smiled and repeated it breathing slow and deep. "I wish I could stay here, with you and Sergio. I don't want to face the world," she admitted, sitting up regardless, starting to stretch.
Emilio followed and their collective movement woke up Sergio again. He yawned largely and rolled over, definitely awake, but not willing to get up yet. "I wish the same, but if Arturo is to steal out nights away, then we rule the day. What kind of rulers would we be if we let the opportunity pass? We must take full advantage of our time," he replied, gently patting her hand. He rose from the floor after and left the infirmary. Loath as he was to move, Sergio followed shortly.
They both had duties to follow through with, to arouse as little suspicion as possible. Marcelina was loath to watch him go, but she knew it was the smart thing to do. It just hurt to not be able to feel him through their sixth sense, or that she couldn't touch him as freely. It was like Emilio was slowly fading away until he was a small point in the back of her mind. Marcelina took her small gifts, though, like being able to share essence scent. Marcelina shivered once he reached that point, and Sergio put an arm around her in a short squeeze.
"S'alright, I'll be with you for support as long as you need," he whispered, smiling down at her. Marcelina smiled back, resting her head on his arm. "I need to get to my cabin, I'm dirty," she replied, making him laugh. "Come on, then." In near-sync, they set off for Marcelina's cabin. The room seemed to be safe when they entered it, giving her enough security to close the door. Going to the wash basin, she filled it with water and washed her face before undressing.
Sergio stood guard at the door, whistling loudly on the other side. He was the only sound that carried in the room, though Marcelina still felt like drowning in the sullen gloom hovering. When Marcelina rested the cloth back on the edge of the basin, a piece of paper caught her attention. It most certainly hadn't been there before, making her nervous. However, she sensed that the paper had something important to offer her, so she read it.
'Don't go anywhere alone. I can help you, but this requires trust on your part. Go to the kitchens after breakfast and I'll explain.' It was signed 'big brother'. Marcelina re-read it twice, once in the sunlight, to check for any hidden messages or codes, but found none. It was straightforward but creepy. Still, Marcelina knew she'd have to take any ally she could get through this ordeal. She dressed quickly, tucking the paper in her sleeve before exiting.
As she and Sergio entered the mess hall for breakfast, Marcelina tried to scan the crowds for something or someone revealing but found nothing. It was uncomfortable, making her grip Sergio's arm a little tighter as they mixed with the crowd. Breakfast was an awkward affair at best. Crew members who were present at the conflict yesterday were hesitant to approach Marcelina or Sergio, in fear of what could happen to them if they got involved with this sudden development.
Marcelina hated it, it felt like she was being ostracized and that hurt her deeply. When before she would've preferred it, now Marcelina had accepted the crew and needed the acknowledgment. Ten minutes into sitting down at breakfast with nary a word spoken to her, Marcelina met her breaking point. She stood up with a jerky movement, slamming her hands on the table to command the attention of all. "You are all acting like cowards!" her shout startled the sailors, including Sergio.
"Cowards? Nothing cowardly 'bout staying out of your magical mess!" One shouted back, hands on his hips. Marcelina raked her eyes across the crowd, ending on the other. "Acting as if I don't exist when before you would at least greet me! As if these last months were nothing! How dare you?" she finished, hands shaking. "Emilio and Arturo are dangerous enough on their own, but now their fighting over you and half crazy! You expect us to act is if nothing changed?" He shouted back, and Marcelina responded with a quick, "I'm not some toy that is suddenly unshareable! Emilio may be my mate, but he isn't my ruler, and Arturo certainly isn't either!"
Her answer echoed throughout the mess hall, all the men staring at her in various degrees of guilt, awe, and restored respect. Marcelina suddenly sagged, running a hand through her hair, looking tired and somber. "What is going between Arturo, Emilio and me, that's our problem. Don't make it yours, don't shut me out. I need a sense of normalcy on this ship to solve the problem. Please, don't make this harder than it already is," she finished, sitting down and rubbing her temples. The mess hall was entirely quiet for a few minutes, making Marcelina lean on Sergio in defeat. Then, in a rush of motion, the men stood and lined up to say good morning to Marcelina and Sergio, as it should be.
Marcelina counted it as a small victory and kept it dear to her heart. After breakfast, Sergio took his post at the helm, and Marcelina went to the kitchens. Surprisingly, Emilio wasn't there washing dishes or working on lunch and neither were the other cooks. The silence was unsettling, giving the dust motes dancing in the sunlight an ethereal quality. It seemed to beckon her further in the kitchens, to the deepest parts far away from prying eyes and ears. Marcelina began to worry that she'd been tricked, but at the last second a person appeared from seemingly nowhere.
"Hello!" The light, childish voice startled Marcelina to the point where she let out a small shriek before turning around. The man was, in a word, huge. He was surprisingly pale for a sailor, with hair as black as charcoal but with eyes a surprisingly odd shade of blue, if she could call it blue. The lavender of his eyes shone with a childish excitement and a great power. Marcelina had to take a few steps back to see him fully, though her neck was still craned to stay eye-to-eye. "Hello?" She responded back, her voice pitched high with her confusion and nervousness.
The man smiled big and wide, disarmingly sweet. It was like Sergio's but where his was entirely sunny, Marcelina felt tendrils of cold whip around her legs. "My name is Ammon, you are Marcelina, yes?" He asked, small gusts of wintry air tickling her face even from his great height. Marcelina winced at the sound of her name but felt no sudden interference in any bond because of it. Hesitantly, she nodded, and somehow Ammon's smile grew. "Good, you saw my note! I am big brother, here to relieve you and my home of Arturo," he explained, his smile softening.
Marcelina relaxed a great deal, pulling the note out from her sleeve and looking it over again. "How come I've never seen or heard of you on this ship?" she asked. Ammon looked at her down the line of his nose. "I work deep in the ship. My kind avoids sunlight at the best of times. This isn't best of times, so I am here," he replied, sending another blast of cool against her. Marcelina's face dawned in realization and she gazed at him in pleasant surprise. "You're a ship sprite!" she gushed, making him blush and shift his weight from foot to foot.
"Yes! Poseidon woke me so that I could help you and cleanse my home of Arturo's bad deeds. Then I will sleep", he replied, his chest puffing up. Marcelina felt giddy and ready to cry from her good luck. "I am immensely grateful for your aid, big brother," she tipped her head respectfully. Ammon preened at the praise, his blush bright on his cheek. "Arturo has been an enemy of mine for a long time, it is good to have a reason to end him," he answered. He seemed very imposing and dangerous then, with his sweet smile but determined and vengeful eyes. Marcelina was glad to have him on her side. "How long has he captained your ship?" Ammon tilted his head back, thinking for a moment. "He commandeered me back in Greece, my home, two summers ago," Ammon paused, looking sickly in the sun. "I must go, the light is too much. I will call for you soon, but no worries, I will watch for you below," he finished, starting to fade into the wood of the floor.
Marcelina felt his cool, massive aura under her feet minutes after he left. She felt it there, in the air, everywhere, tickling the hairs on her arms and neck. It was comforting, having such support. Marcelina left the kitchens with a small smile on her face, her steps sure and confident. She found Emilio and Sergio chatting on the deck, paused in the bustling activity. She snuck over to them and wrapped her arms around Emilio's waist. He didn't startle much, just a twitch, then settled his hand on her shoulder. "Sergio, look, I've found a treasure," He teased, making both her and Sergio snort.
"More like a treasure found you, lucky dog," he teased back, adjusting the helm for a moment. Marcelina hummed approvingly, then straightened to deliver her good news, "Poseidon has recognized our plight and has provided us with the best help he can offer." She showed them the note, then explained her encounter with Ammon. Naturally, they were unsure, but Marcelina quelled their doubts. It was best to trust her in matters like these, after all.
Arturo emerged from his cabin almost an hour later when the sun was highest. He walked out of his cabin like he was possessed and half dead. His face sported raccoon circles around his eyes and was paler than normal. Arturo's fingers were fully tinted black, the mist clinging to He grimaced every time he moved his right leg, the one Marcelina kicked. However, his eyes were wild and alive, unnaturally aglow with dark magic. It fed him power and multiplied his desires.
Marcelina's throat went dry and she felt every bite and hickey ache at once, making her shudder. Arturo caught her eye and smirked, teeth looking sharp. Every breath he exhaled tickled in the back of her mind, invading every sense of privacy and safety. He seemed to feel her discomfort and raked his eyes down her neck, straightening his posture. Despite being in a public sphere, this was an intimate moment, a dark, awful one. Marcelina swallowed down her nausea and anxiety and stood straight as well, glaring him down.
Arturo's smirk faded into a withering glare, promising many things come the night. He continued walking past, just barely brushing against her. "See you tonight," he whispered, but it rang in Marcelina's ears.