This was strange.
That went without saying. The past week had gone by in such a wild flurry of events that this felt only appropriate.
The (late?) Count of Vesuvia's spirit is now successfully tethered to my own. The intimacy behind the gesture seemed lost on Lucio, then again, I'm still at a bit of a loss as to why I did it myself.
Lucio is a selfish and arrogant man, that much I could gather even prior to speaking with him. However, I'm not sure I'd be able to live with myself knowing that I hadn't done anything for him at all.
It must have been a miserable three years for him, and I can only hope that I've made the right decision in helping him.
"[Y/n], won't you give me a hand?" Lucio pleads from beneath Melchior and Mercedes, extending his golden claw in my direction.
I can't help but grin at the sight. For a man who was once a revered mercenary and Count, seeing him in such a position is nothing short of amusing.
Though there's a possibility that his hand may simply pass through mine, I still reach out to grab his gauntlet, imagining the feeling of grasping its cold, powerful surface. Solid. Present.
Sure enough, his clawed fingers grasp my hand, dwarfing it significantly, before he pulls me down atop him. His laughter rings in my ears, but it's not mocking, it's amused and delighted. Like the bell carillon on the Summer breeze, it's deep and characteristically melodic.
It happens so quickly that I don't even register the feeling of falling down until my hand is upon his chest, and I'm staring down at Lucio.
"Falling for me already, [y/n]?" He teases with a wink. Melchior and Mercedes are thoroughly unamused with the amount of jostling taking place, and have abandoned the two of us in favor of sunbathing.
I let out a laugh of my own and shake my head, but don't move to get up. Instead, I roll off of him, and lay down in the grass beside Lucio, our shoulders touching.
He seems more corporeal like this, more capable than he had been in his goat-like form. I still have so many questions for him, but those fall to the wayside at his own query.
"Would you kiss me?" It sounds so innocent when he says it, stated as simply as one asks for the time.
Naturally, I stare at the Count like he has three heads.
"Oh, don't make such a big deal out of it! It's just a kiss!" He snaps, giving the impression that he would be blushing if he were capable.
I can't help but giggle at his reaction. It was cute, and oddly endearing. Lucio sits up and turns his head away from me, ego clearly bruised.
"Would I, in the grand scheme of things? Would I, right now?" I'm teasing him now, barely able to hold back a smile as I do.
Lucio all but pouts at me, petulantly crossing his arms over his chest.
"Alright! Ha ha, very funny." He sneers, his pout only growing. "You could have just said no."
"I could have. But you haven't given me the opportunity to say yes yet."
He immediately perks up. "So you will, then?"
He doesn't look nearly as amused as I am, but that makes it the perfect opportunity for me to strike.
Just as Lucio opens his mouth to complain, I lean in, eyes flicking down to his lips.
Any complaints die on his lips, waiting for me to make my move.
I lean in further.
And place a quick kiss on his cheek.
It brings the spectral Count up short, the shock evident on his face, before his pout returns.
"That's not what I meant! And you know it!"
"Do I, though? All you asked for was a kiss."
"On the lips!"
"Hmm. You didn't say on the lips." I state very matter-of-factly.
"It was implied!"
"Was it, though?"
Just as he begins to argue, I dip right back in, catching his lips in an actual kiss.
His mouth is soft, but void of substance, like he's barely there.
But when I close my eyes and think of him, Lucio suddenly feels more present, more warm. He slides his tongue against my lips, and tastes like char and ash.
I pull away with a gasp, warmth spreading from my collarbone to the tips of my ears. I cover my mouth, embarrassed.
Lucio gives an affectionate hum, chasing my hand away from my face.
"Now now, none of that, pet. Where did that confidence just go?"
I reach out to touch him, and he's there. My hand is on his chest.
"I'm just… trying to understand all of this." I confess. I want to know what makes him feel so real, is it being bound to me? Is it because he's now tied to my magic?
"Well, we can always experiment further. So long as it involves more kissing." He croons at me, attempting the close the distance between us, before falling through me entirely.
It breaks any tension that I had been carrying, laughter bubbling inside of me before boiling over. “I never knew the Count of Vesuvia was such a dork!”
“I’m not a dork!” He insists, pushing himself up. “I’m very cool! Didn’t you see me when I looked like a goat? That was cool!”
“Uh-huh. So cool that you had me bind your spirit to me so you could look like your old body.”
“I told you that the novelty had worn off! That doesn’t mean it wasn’t cool.”
Standing up, I brush the grass off of my clothes, and place my hands on my hips. “That’s enough fooling around for now, I believe you owe me some answers.”
“Wait! Does that mean we can fool around more later?”