Miguel dreams of gold. The buildings of the city spring up around him from memory, beckoning him onward and up the steep steps. He follows his memories, running his hands along the smooth gleaming stones. Ahead he hears the sounds of people, the pock of the game ball hitting the paving and the giggling of children bouncing off the walls. Above it all is the round-bellied chuckle of Chief Tannabok. In his dreams, he lives on in El Dorado, among the people who showed him warmth and a welcome he had never known. He could barely remember his parents and had been turned out after their early deaths to earn his own way in the world. Meeting Tulio had been the best gift he had ever received, but the time spent in El Dorado, brief as it was, merited a very close second. Part of him wishes he hadn’t left, which he assumes is why he dreams so often of the city. He doesn’t indulge that traitorous part when he is awake, and really he knows it never would have worked in the long term. Even his con skills and Chief Tannabok’s generous spirit wouldn’t have kept up the mask of divinity forever. But still. That’s what dreams are for. And when he is awake, he knows he is happy with the way things turned out, too. He has Tulio, and Altivo, and even Chel. Sure, he was jealous for a little while. “Forget Miguel?” He thinks not. But he and Tulio have weathered worse arguments when it comes down to it. In the end, he sees that she cares for Tulio as much he does. So he wakes, yawning and blinking in the morning light and leaves behind the comforts of the city of gold.
Tulio dreams of gold, mixed with long dark hair upon a pillow (or more often, a sort of pillow shaped rock or clump of bushes.) He knows they think of him as the cynical one, and he’s certainly the pragmatic one. Still, deep in the part of him that he buries away from sight for his own protection, he has a dreadfully romantic sensibility. Miguel shows his feelings far more often and is more easily swayed by the passing breeze of sentiment, whereas Tulio’s feelings are deep like the underground river leading to El Dorado. It’s mostly buried, rarely seen, and yet powerful enough to sweep everything away if it flashes in the wrong direction or at the wrong time. Tulio thinks Miguel and Chel both would probably laugh at him if he revealed the depth of the tenderness he holds for them both. He’s well aware of how good he has it, his partner and his girl getting along so well now that the initial scramble for territory has subsided. It’s one of the reasons he would never dare to confess his secret wish for more, his newly found love for Chel mixing in his sleeping mind with his not-entirely-new love for Miguel. Even if Miguel did feel the same thing for him, Tulio doesn’t think he can afford to take that chance, so he keeps it under wraps. It’s good for him, he rationalizes; Miguel is insufferable enough as it is. Give him something like this to hold over his head and he will never hear the end of it. Tulio believes in following the odds and playing the con he’s mostly likely to win. So, he cuddles Chel close at night and punches Miguel in the shoulder companionably before settling down to sleep, and he resolutely doesn’t think about gold hair mingled with dark as he drifts away to greedy dreams of love.
Chel dreams of gold, of sunsets and sunrises over lands she has never seen before. She knows both Tulio and Miguel don’t entirely understand why she would want to leave behind the splendors of El Dorado. For them it was a temporary place, even for Miguel who seemed willing to stay until the very last. They found it by accident, and made plans upon to just leave, to walk away like it was only a stop on the road or a little X marked on the map. At first she had been furious that they had spoiled her escape with the idol. It wasn’t much, just a small piece of the God’s treasure, but it would have bought her freedom well enough when she traded it for food and supplies. Instead, she was dragged back with these wild-eyed barbarians in their strange clothes who didn’t even know they were supposed to be gods. But then they had inspired her with a whole new plan to escape the boredom and drudgery of a life spent in the service of the God’s temple. Sure, they were ridiculous and highly likely to be executed at any time, but they were fun. She loved to watch the interplay of their patter and the easy with which they batted conversation back and forth between them. They weren’t exactly hard on the eyes either. She had fallen for Tulio more as a matter of availability than anything else. She loved how he thought his heart was hidden from anyone who wasn’t determined not to see, and she loved his passion for life. But again, it was more a matter of him being the easier nut to crack. For all that Miguel wore his sympathies on his sleeve, he had a huge blind spot when it came to Tulio and their obvious feelings for each other. Tulio saw it; he just ignored it. She fully intended to make sure they both kept her entertained for years to come. Chel dreams of golden horizons, and she believes in making her own dreams come true.
In later years, after hundreds of miles traveled and untold adventures survived by hook and crook and smile and con, both Miguel and Tulio will take the credit. They’ll sit together around the fire, Miguel’s head in Tulio’s lap while Chel rests hers against Miguel’s shoulder. (Always the left one, not the right, which still aches from that time with the thing and all the arrows.) Miguel will launch into the story of how he seduced a wide-eyed and blushing Tulio, who will poke him on the forehead and counter with how he seemed to have become addled in his old age. It was clearly Tulio who romanced the innocent Miguel and overcame his shyness with much manly prowess. Chel will sigh and roll her eyes, tempted to point out how both of them would likely still be in denial about the more creative possibilities of love without her. But really, her boys know who they owe this to, and it shows in their devotion to her and each other. And a good story is always better in the telling anyway.