Marcelina exited the infirmary in complete silence, blood smeared on her face and on her arms. Sergio looked quite uncomfortable seeing her and the lack of Arturo's voice or body was proof enough of what she'd done. "You're truly free now, Celi," he whispered. He put on a soft smile, remaining supportive while he mentally tried to process the fact that she did indeed murder his brother. Marcelina slowly slid her gaze up to him. "Yes, dear Sergio. I've finally done what I wanted to do ever since I was brought here. Now I can go home..."
Marcelina began to walk back to the deck. Sergio looked a bit panicked, walking alongside her. "Home? Now? We can't afford to turn back so soon, Celi, you know that! I'm not too keen on having the navy catch and hang us," he gave her a concerned look, frowning. Marcelina gave a distracted hum in reply, half-dazed. Sergio's concern shifted to her now, and he put a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, are you alright? You're fading out on me." Suddenly he stopped, most definitely panicking. "Why are you crying? Celi, talk to me!"
Marcelina blinked, feeling the warm stickiness on her eyelashes and cheekbones. The rhythmic padding of her bare feet on the wood came to a stop, and she became acutely aware of every sensation. Her hand came up to wipe the tears from her face, only to have more replace it. Marcelina tried again and again but to no avail. Blood mixed with tears started to stream down her face and drip from her chin, sometimes landing on her hands. "I didn't know I was crying. I dunno why. Where's Emilio?" She sounded dazed, almost babbling. Marcelina looked around for Emilio, then jumped as a blanket was draped over her shoulders. Looking up at Emilio's gentle face, she saw the confusion and worry in his eyes. He was trying to understand the onslaught of sixth sense emotions she was inadvertently sending his way.
"You need sleep, love. Come on." With a nod to Sergio, Emilio gently led Marcelina to their cabin. Marcelina's feet dragged along, her body growing more and more exhausted at every step. And she couldn't stop her silent tears, her mind processing everything all at once. It had ended in victory for her, but at what cost? She could never just 'recover' from those two weeks of hell, nay, these months of subtle torture. Just because she found happiness and a mate didn't make it all better. It didn't change the fact that her peaceful world had been ripped apart, all that she had known about herself and others was rewritten. For that, Marcelina was crying, and couldn't stop crying. She didn't register Emilio's movements and touch and didn't notice that he had wiped her clean of blood and changed her clothes until she was lifted and carried to bed.
Emilio gently laid her down and stroked her teary face for a while. Marcelina touched her cheek, then pulled away, staring at the sunlight refracting from her fingertips. "These tears don't burn. How odd." Marcelina slid her stare to the curls of her hair draped over her chest. "It is done." She heard Emilio whisper before slipping off into a dreamless sleep.
Marcelina woke to darkness and a cool draft. For a moment, her body turned icy hot, her heart thumped harshly in her chest and her breath was stolen away. She clenched her hands and the moment was gone. The crisp linen of the sheets grounded her. Arturo was dead. She killed him. He couldn't hurt her anymore. Letting out a forced, long breath, Marcelina sat up. Emilio still slept beside her, facing away. After making sure he wouldn't wake up, Marcelina got out of bed. The cool draft became stronger, familiar. It didn't stop her from shivering, though, as she walked to the kitchens.
Ammon didn't try to surprise Marcelina this time, fully manifested and glowing in the moonlight. He looked more solid at night, leaning against a wall and humming to himself. When he noticed her arrival, he turned and grinned at her. Marcelina returned it with a small dip of her head in respect. "All is well again, little one," he said, his voice oozing content. It was true; the entire ship felt peaceful and lighter. Ammon was rocking on the balls of his feet with a child-like ease. "Yes, thank you for helping me, Ammon. We are forever grateful." Marcelina bowed her head again, but deeper.
Ammon preened, but a small pout crossed his face shortly after. "Will you be leaving us now?" Marcelina frowned back, a little lost. "Leave now? No, but eventually. I can't live my life on this ship forever." She didn't look Ammon in the eyes, focusing on the window to his left. Ammon looked deeply hurt. "You want to leave now, I feel it. You want to leave and never come back. You want to have the past back," he didn't question it because he knew he was right. Marcelina crossed her arms over her stomach. "So what if I do? Don't I deserve a break? I need space to process my life as it is now. Why can't I have that right now?"
Ammon took graceful steps to her, putting his large hands on her shoulders. He wasn't cold, but his fingers were tinged blue and his skin felt too smooth, like the smoke that floats from ice. "It is too dangerous for all of you. Little Sergio needs your guidance in his first few years as captain, and you can't have the past again. Process as you must, but don't use this as an excuse to run away," he advised, calling her out again. She took a shaky breath, finally looking at his eyes. "How do I find balance? I don't want to be trapped here again. I don't want to be a servant, even if it is for a good cause," she began to get frustrated, her arms uncrossing.
"That cave is my home, and now it is Emilio's home. We deserve to live as mates do, in the water. What if I become pregnant? There will be no stopping the urge to leave then." Marcelina sighed loudly, shaking her head. "Talk to your mate and your father, little one. You will find balance." Ammon's face turned sad, and he stepped away from her. "This will be our final meeting, Marcelina. I am glad to have met you and cleansed my home." He sunk into the floor, only this time, Marcelina no longer felt his thrumming magic under her feet.
Marcelina almost immediately missed him, feeling too hot and a little vulnerable now that his cool aura had faded away. She knew his purpose was complete, though, and it wasn't in a sprite's nature to make friends. Returning to bed, Marcelina watched Emilio sleep and braided his hair. When morning came, she was there to watch it, cuddled to Emilio. He mindlessly nuzzled her hair from behind, making her smile. Reaching behind her, Marcelina rubbed his cheek, gently waking him. Emilio hummed into her neck, the arm around her waist squeezing affectionately. "Feeling better?"
His voice was garbled and yawn-stretched. Marcelina chuckled and nodded. "Yes, I'm rested properly now and I've had time to process things." Emilio propped himself up on one arm, resting his chin on his palm. "Oh? And what have you come to?" Marcelina turned to face him, holding his stare. "That I can't go home whenever I want. That the leisure period is over. That I have an obligation as a sister to Sergio and that I can't be selfish," she mumbled, almost like a child repeating a list of chores. Emilio felt that she had more to say, so he waited. "But...I also want you to know that something has changed for me. What Arturo did, it affected me inside, deep enough that Ammon couldn't heal me completely."
Marcelina shifted nervously, feeling vulnerable in a different sense now. "I might have...moments where I am not here, where things won't make sense. Can I depend on you to help me out of those moments?" Emilio moved in for a kiss, but she stopped him with her hand on his mouth. "Emilio. I need your word," she whispered, staring him down. Emilio sighed and gently moved her hand away, holding it tightly. "Of course you can depend on me," he started. Marcelina shushed him before he could keep going. "That's all I needed to know on the subject." Marcelina tucked her head under his chin, releasing a long sigh.
Emilio rubbed his cheek on the top of her head. "A part of you is still unbalanced, though, I can feel it," he pushed softly. Marcelina frowned at the word 'unbalanced' as it fit her situation perfectly. "I'd rather talk to Poseidon about it first, come on." They rose together and left. Marcelina walked with a faster pace, intent on calling Poseidon and having the matter finally settled. By the time Marcelina got to the stern of the ship, she was in a trance. A slow hum floated outward, starting low and soft but growing stronger. It captured everyone's attention, all activity pausing to watch. In a matter of minutes, the hum had turned into a true nereid call, resonating with the waves and making them quiver. Foam began to build up and take shape.
When it towered above the ship, it became alive with Poseidon's being. He smiled at his daughter, lifting his great, foamy hand to cheek. His eyes gleamed with pride and joy. "You've done well, my child. You have resolved your bonds and your mate has no threats. A true Gemini Queen." Marcelina naturally soaked up the praise, bowing her head in thanks. Poseidon looked to Emilio after, encouraging him to come closer. "You have been a true Geminius to her as well, and for that, I bless you." Poseidon straightened up and briefly flicked his gaze to a gaping Sergio, though he didn't speak.
A salty sigh ruffled everyone's hair. "I understand you are seeking the balance between land and sea, Marcelina." Poseidon looked back to her, his voice booming. "I feel the call of my home, of security. I don't want to stay away forever, but I don't want to deprive Emilio either," she answered, clenching her hands. Emilio offered his silent support by kissing her temple. Poseidon hummed thoughtfully. "Do like the last pair before you: spend a few decades on one front, and a few decades on another, until your twilight years descend upon you. This allows time for children as well as balance," his advice was more like instructions.
Poseidon gestured to Sergio, making Marcelina turn and see his hopeful but nervous face. In a way, he was more than her brother, he was her first child. "You accepted him and saved him from a cruel fate. You know your responsibility," he gave Marcelina a telling look and she submitted immediately. With a finite nod, Poseidon dissipated into the deep, leaving the sea quiet and tame. Sergio fidgeted sheepishly, pleading with Marcelina. "Please don't leave, Celi..." he whispered, ready to burst into tears if need be Marcelina felt her heart go out to him, this sweet, earnest boy. She spoke the words before she could register them.
"Of course not, little brother. I vow that I won't abandon you. You're stuck with me now." She smiled to lift the mood and Sergio's grin was reward enough. Marcelina turned back to the water, nervous and unsure of what would happen next. However, she knew she had made the right choices. Emilio smiled at her, kissing her cheek with as much love as he could muster in it. Marcelina smiled back, closing her eyes and inhaling the salty air. Her future was sealed.