|sealonging (sealonging) wrote in nevermore_logs,|
@ 2012-04-24 21:12:00
WHO: Ceana & Bertie
WHEN: Sunday morning
WHERE: Their apartment
WHAT: Not-quite-married life between sort of kidnapper and kind of kidnapee.
Ceana supposed it was a nice enough apartment, but it was hard to tell when she had little else to compare it to. The last time she had lived like a woman on land had been in 1822 with a fisherman who lived on the coast of Mississippi. Jeffrey had been his name and Ceana had loved him madly enough to remain on land for the seven years she was allowed before returning to the sea. She never saw Jeffrey again. It was the rules of her kind.
But Ceana had never - in all her long life - had her skin stolen from her. Bertie was the first one to manage that little trick and now she belonged to him as surely as anything else he owned. He wasn't a bad type though and as much as she searched for her skin and sometimes hated him for keeping it hidden from her, she understood it. There weren't any tales where the mortal men willingly gave a selkie back her skin. Not one. Maybe he was just as bound by rules as she was.
Bertie had given her a room of her own right from the start, even though she'd told him it wasn't necessary. The man who had her skin was her husband - that was just how it worked. But still she had her own room and observed him from a distance. He with his odd ideas that were sometimes so right and so utterly wrong at the same time. He who wanted to hold her up as proof of the other world that remained hidden.
This morning she padded out from her room, barefoot and clad in the long shirt she slept in, even when it had been colder. She needed no warmer clothes and the blankets he'd made her bed up with in the beginning had only made her too hot. She was a creature of the icy waters.
"Good morning," she greeted upon seeing him at the kitchen table.
"Hullo!" Bertie chirped happily, midway through his toaster strudel and morning tea. It still startled him a little when Ceana walked into a room unexpectedly, because he was used to living alone. Having a roommate, let alone a selkie (let alone a selkie that he was technically keeping prisoner) was an entirely new experience.
"Sleep well? I can make waffles, if you want."
"I did," Ceana told him. "But once the weather gets warmer I'll sleep badly on land. The house will need to be colder." She wasn't looking forward to a summer spent out of the ocean. She remembered those hot summer days centuries ago as being excruciating.
To his breakfast suggestion, though, Ceana nodded enthusiastically. She'd grown fond of waffles although the toppings he always wanted to put with them were far too sweet for her. She had better toppings. "Are there any of those oysters left?"
"We'll get some more fans, that should help if we can't get the house cooler," Bertie said, jotting down a note to himself on the pad of Post-Its. He liked to keep them on hand in case he had any sudden ideas that he was worried about losing if he didn't write them down. "And I think there's a few left in the fridge."
A few minutes later, midway through getting out the waffle iron, he asked, "Wait, you aren't going to put the oysters on the waffles, are you?"
He was a decent captor, Ceana pondered as she watched him writing his note. She could have ended up with much worse.
She stood up, going to the fridge to seek out the oysters and being pleased to find they weren't all gone. Technically her body was nothing more than human now and anything they could eat would sustain her, but she still preferred seafood to everything else.
By the time he asked his question Ceana was once again seated, one leg drawn up as she leaned against a slender, bare leg and slid oysters into her mouth. "Yes," she told him, putting down the shell she'd just emptied. "Much better than maple syrup or lemon or anything else."
Bertie stared, vaguely horrified by the concept of waffles and oysters combined. Perhaps selkies had different taste buds? That would make sense. Or maybe oysters actually tasted good on waffles?
No. He wouldn't try it. Not even for science.
"We'll have to agree to disagree. Do you want some tea?"
"Just a glass of water, please," Ceana said and then, after a moment of consideration, she added, "when are we going to get married, Bertie?"
Bertie dropped the glass that he'd been filling, leaving it to bounce against the floor spilling everywhere. He would clean it up in a second. Really, he would. Once he was done being confused.
"Whaaaaa?" Oh, very articulate. "Huh? What?" Not better.
Ceana had no flinched or moved at all, watching Bertie calmly. "Have you ever read a story about where a man captured one of my kind and didn't marry her?" she asked him honestly. "You would be the expert with all your research. I just am, so I don't read up on myself."
"Well, well, no, but..." Bertie flailed a bit internally. He certainly hadn't expected this question to come up. "I mean, do you want to get married? I just assumed those men wanted to get married."
Leaning forward, Ceana's long hair draped over her knee as she watched him with curiosity. "Does that mean you don't want to marry me?"
"I-I-I-" This was the time for decisive action. Unfortunately, Bertie had no idea what that decisive action should be, so instead he just started scrubbing at the spilled water with a paper towel.
After about a minute of frantic scrubbing, Bertie finally felt calm enough to say, "You seem like a very nice girl! A very nice selkie! I just...I think you would be happier not married to me."
"I would be happier," Ceana corrected him, "in the sea. Yet here I am. On land but unwed."
She leaned forward further to where he was scrubbing. "Most men catch a selkie so they can have a bride, Bertie."
"I caught you for science!" And also, he wasn't sure 'caught' was the right term. 'Stumbled upon' might have been closer, but that was beside the point. "I...would it make you feel better if we got married?"
"Yes," Ceana said without thinking about it, ignoring his comment about her being a scientific discovery. She didn't like to be thought of like that, as some thing. "I already use your name," she told him, "and I already live in your house."
"Oh. Well. All right?" This probably wasn't the strangest semi-marriage proposal, but it came close. Bertie fidgeted, wondering belatedly if the waffles were starting to burn. How had the conversation ended up here? It wasn't even nine o'clock yet.
"Would just getting married in a church be all right?" Bertie asked. "You don't have a birth certificate or Social Security Number, I'm not sure the government will give us a license..."
He wasn't entirely sure how marriage worked in the States. He hadn't anticipated it would be something he needed to know.
Ceana frowned, considering this challenge. "I hadn't actually thought about that," she admitted. "The last time I spent any serious time on land... it was a really long time ago and none of those things mattered all that much." Ceana looked at him and said, "there are other options to marrying me, of course." Ceana couldn't really directly ask him to give her skin back, but she could hint around it.
"N-no, I can marry you, I just..." There was quite a difference between telling people Ceana was his wife and actually being married. He popped the (slightly burnt) waffles out and brought Ceana the first plate. "Do you, I mean, do you want to buy a dress, or-"
This flailing was really unbecoming.
"Breathe," Ceana reminded him, pouring one of the oysters onto the top of the first waffle. "Considering that I'd happily wear nothing at all if the mortal world allowed it, I don't think I have any need for a wedding gown. The more layers between my skin and the air, the more stifled I feel."
She bit into her oystery waffle and watched Bertie with interest while she chewed. Once she'd swallowed she said, "all I need from you is a vow of faithfulness." Her tone was more serious now. "While I'm yours, I want you to have no other women. I can't stop you, of course, but I would be happier. And in turn I am only yours." Ceana bowed her head to him respectfully. "You have my skin and so I am your faithful and dutiful wife. All that you wish of me, as a mortal wife, is yours."
Bertie could do that. He'd never had an extraordinary amount of interest in sex, and dating had been an awkward experience at best. This wasn't an unreasonable request, all things considered.
"I can do that," he said seriously.
Ceana smiled then, a genuine expression, and pointed to the plate in front of her. "Are you sure you don't want to try this?" she asked him, sweeping a finger through the oyster juice that had leaked onto the plate. "It's actually amazing."
Bertie stared at the oyster-covered waffles and tried to keep his stomach from rolling.
"No, no thank you, I'm fine." He took a long drink of tea to steady himself. As mornings went, this one had been a doozy.