SPOILER WARNING: Occurs after the events of Dawn of the New World, and contains end-of-game spoilers.
The past five days since Emil was reunited with Marta seemed to whiz by. The two of them had settled in Luin, Emil still living with "his" aunt and uncle and Marta living in one of the room at the inn. Emil was glad for the decision. He wanted to be near Marta and didn't want her to live alone in her old house Palmacosta, or in Meltokio to be near her father. However, Flora and Alba had wanted to give living as a family with Emil another try. With everything he put them through, he owed them at least that much. Besides, he didn't think it would be right for Marta and him to live alone together. It would have been too big a step in their relationship for him, and he didn't want to sully Marta's reputation. He also recalled that stunt she pulled at the Communion Hot Spring some weeks ago.
Marta had officially disbanded the Vanguard, though she learned that over fifty members had formed a brigand gang. She would have to track them down, and of course, Emil and the others would help. Brute was due to be moved to Meltokio soon as he was almost fully recovered and was to go on trial. Marta thought she would be tried, too, but she was pardoned due to her involvement with stopping the Vanguard and after saying that she would stop the remnant-turned-bandits. Before he was to be moved, the young couple paid Brute a visit with the secondary goal of formally introducing Emil as Marta's boyfriend.
"Don't worry so much, Emil. I'm sure Daddy will like you," Marta said as they approached Brute's room.
The boy's expression looked uncertain, "I did beat him into submission only a few weeks ago."
"Hey, it's not like you were alone," Marta replied with a half-hearted chuckle.
"I guess," he remarked, still looking uneasy. Brute did seem grateful that he and Marta stopped him, but how would he react to his daughter dating the guy who fought and beat him? Though to be fair, Emil wasn't the one who nearly killed Brute. Even barring that, maybe Brute was one of those overprotective fathers.
The Altamira Hotel was perhaps an odd place for a formerly crazed convicted criminal, but considering the previous severity of his injuries, it was understandable that he couldn't have been moved from there. The pair soon made their way to Brute's room, one of the guards letting them in. Seeing her father awake, Marta put down the food she was carrying on a nearby table and called out, "Daddy!"
"Ah, Marta, my dear," he greeted, sitting up. Marta hurried over to embrace her father, careful not to squeeze too tightly. When she let go, Brute continued, "And Emil is here, too, I see."
"Yes sir," Emil said a bit stiffly, "How have you been feeling?"
"Much better, thank you," the man replied, apparently not picking up on the boy's nervousness, "I am glad that you decided to visit me before I'm sent to Meltokio Prison."
"You make it sound like we won't visit you after this," Marta said.
Brute raised an eyebrow, "We?"
Marta's faced flushed slightly, "Well, you see, Emil and I came here for another reason. We didn't get the chance to tell you with everything going on before." She took one of Emil's hands in both of hers, leaning a little towards his shoulder. "Emil and I are dating. We thought we should properly introduce-"
"WHAT?" Marta's father growled loudly, cutting her off.
"Daddy?" Marta asked hesitantly. Emil sweat dropped, his eyes widening a bit. This was just what he was afraid of.
"Absolutely not! Not while you'll be out there without any guardianship!" Brute shouted.
"Daddy, I'm almost 17. I'm old enough to date," she said sternly.
"Perhaps, but what about him?" Brute pointed an accusing finger at Emil. The boy tried not to shrink back at the gesture, "What will stop him from taking advantage of you?"
Didn't he thank Emil from stopping him just a few weeks ago? Brute didn't really know Emil, but he was still jumping to conclusions. Emil did somewhat anticipate this, but it stilled intimated him to see this reaction from Marta's father.
"Emil isn't like that!" Marta replied angrily, "We've traveled together for months and I know he'd never do anything like that."
Mustering up his courage, Emil said, "Mr. Lualdi, I would never hurt Marta in any way. I care too much about her for that."
"Emil…" Marta said in a dreamy tone, smiling at Emil. The boy blushed slightly.
"That's what they all say! I know what teenage boys are like, I - ARGH!" Brute reared up as he spoke, but then he slumped back down upon feeling a sharp pain in his chest.
"Daddy, are you okay?" Marta asked in concern.
Holding his hand over his bandages, he grunted, "I'm fine."
"You shouldn't have overreacted. You might open your wounds back up," Marta said. She then started to walk back to the table where she left the food, "If you eat first, maybe you'll calm down and we can talk this through."
Brute, having put his hand back down, gave a noticeable shudder when he heard the word "eat." He correctly surmised that his daughter had prepared the meal. Emil recalled that Marta once told him that her father liked her cooking back when a bite of the stuff could render the boy unconscious. Just as he thought, her father had a strong constitution, but found the food terrible.
"Good thing it's still warm," Marta thought aloud as she carried a tray back to her father's bed. On it was a bowl of penne gratin, which she then placed on Brute's lap.
"Uh…thank you, Marta," Brute said cautiously. There was a split-second look of hesitancy, which he mostly covered up with a smile. The expression looked less stiff upon getting a better look at his lunch. Marta's food at the beginning of her and Emil's journey looked questionable at best, and it likely didn't look much better before then. The gratin, however, looked normal. Brute paused in surprise long enough that Marta asked him,
"Is something wrong?"
"Oh nothing, nothing at all," he replied. He quickly used his fork to take a bite of the pasta dish. His face had a slight look of amazement on it as he chewed.
"This is…quite good, Marta," he said, a hint of awe in his voice.
"I hope you're not just saying that," Marta said, looking down, "I know my cooking was pretty bad before."
Emil smiled, "It has gotten a lot better since then."
Blushing slightly, Marta said, "Well, it's only because you made me want to improve. And you and the others gave me a few pointers."
"I didn't really do that much," Emil replied sheepishly.
"But you did!" She insisted, "And you've done much more for me, too."
Brute suddenly sat up straighter, then lowered his head and put both his hands palms down on his bed.
"Young man, you are a miracle worker!" He exclaimed as the teenagers looked on with varying expressions of surprise, "I'm sorry if I acted harshly before."
While Emil still looked taken aback, Marta's expression brightened. She giggled and said, "I knew you'd warm up to him, soon. You'll see; Emil is a great guy."
As she spoke, she walked over to a nearby pitcher on a dresser. She lifted it up, peered inside and said, "Oh, you're out of water. I'll go and get you some."
"Yes, please," Brute replied, "I am feeling a bit thirsty."
With that, she walked out of the room, calling cheerfully that she would be back soon. Emil suddenly felt awkward being alone with Marta's father. Brute's sudden change in his attitude towards Emil made him a bit more nervous than less.
"Emil," Brute said. The boy managed to avoid jumping up. He thought to himself how funny it was for him to come so far in conquering his fears, only to be intimidated by Marta's father. He was somehow less threatening when he was the mad leader of the Vanguard.
"Let me apologize again for how I reacted earlier. Marta is my only child, so perhaps I am a bit overprotective."
Perhaps? Emil thought. Aloud he said, "I understand. I mean, you're her father and all."
"I can see that Marta cares about you deeply," Brute said.
Emil blinked, "How can you tell that, from her cooking?"
Brute chuckled, "Not quite, though it's part of the reason." He turned from looking at Emil to at the wall straight in front of him, adopting the look people tend to get when they recall an old memory.
"I imagine you remember how Marta was like only months ago?"
Obsessed? The boy thought, though his actual response was to nod.
"Starting when she was 13, Marta would always be talking a boy she liked, and the many times he had been turned down. I knew it wasn't serious; she just had a tendency of getting carried away. She was a romantic. She got that from her mother."
"She still is. Marta is just…more reasonable about it, I guess. More mature," Emil said.
Brute nodded and said, "And she thanks you for that."
The boy shyly rubbed the back of his head, "The journey changed the both of us for the better. I didn't really do anything. Marta…Marta's the one who helped me to become a better person."
The man smiled, "I think I overreacted because I didn't think Marta would ever be serious about a boy and jumped to conclusions. I see, though, that you also care for her. Your sincerity speaks volumes."
This caused Emil to flush again. He worried that Brute would think him a wimp rather than some teenage hooligan if he kept doing that.
"I…I do, sir. I love Marta. I'm still…I don't know a lot about dating and romance, and we just starting going out, but I know how I feel about her. I want to be with her."
Brute looked at the boy thoughtfully, not saying a word. He finally asked, "What are your intentions for my daughters?"
With a perplexed look, Emil replied, "Intentions?"
"What are your plans with her for the future? Do you perhaps wish to get married?"
Emil's face turned a deep red. Thank goodness Marta wasn't around. It was taking her a conveniently long while to get that water…
"Uh…Uh…well, it's not that I don't want to. It's just—I mean we're still kids. It's too soon to really think about stuff, and it's such a big step and…"
Emil stopped himself. He was starting to babble, and likely not leaving a good impression on Brute. He couldn't say for certain as the man still had that thoughtful look. Emil took a moment to think and quickly settled for saying what he truly felt.
"Like I said before, I love her and want to be with her… probably for the rest of my life. If that means getting married…then…yes, eventually." Emil felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment. He hadn't even openly admitted that to himself or Marta, yet.
Brute smiled, "Even though it seems you haven't given it much thought before, I can see that your feelings for her are genuine. I would normally be suspicious of a boy your age saying this, but you two aren't rushing into things. That, I think is quite important in a relationship at your or any age."
Emil nodded in understanding.
"Knowing Marta, even if she is more mature now, you two will be married in the near future," Brute said, chuckling as Emil blushed slightly again, "As such, I feel easier about you courting her."
Who says "court" anymore? Emil thought, but smiled and said, 'Thank you, sir."
"Please, call me Brute."
The talk surprisingly made Emil feel more relaxed despite how embarrassing it was. He didn't have to worry about her father disapproving of their relationship.
"Since, as you say, you are inexperienced with this, can I believe that you haven't had…relations with Marta?" Brute asked, his face looking serious again.
Emil cocked his head slightly, "What do you mean by that?"
"That is to say, have you two…become intimate with each other?"
The blonde understood what he meant by that, his entire face turning beet red in response.
"N-no, of course we haven't! I-I mean, it's not that I don't want to—gah! What am I saying? I mean—"
Brute still looked serious and Emil was too busy stumbling over his words to tell if the man believed him or not.
"While I have my doubts, I'll believe you for the time being," Brute finally said, Emil sighing in relief that he could stop talking, "Even though I can't stop you two, I would much rather you waited until you were married before you engaged in such activity."
Face still crimson with embarrassment, Emil responded, "Yes sir, um, Brute!"
"Regardless of when you do so, I trust that you wouldn't force or trick her into it."
"O-of course not, sir!" the boy replied, shaking his head furiously.
Brute's expression and voice darkened, "I hope so. Because if you do, or hurt her in any way I will beat the living tar out of you and feed you to that wolf monster of yours!" He was likely talking about Ziemia, Emil and Marta's Orion, who participated in the battle against Brute when he still held Solum's core.
Emil could only nod in fear. Didn't he just say how he could tell that Emil was sincere about his feelings for Marta? His emotions could really turn on a 10-Gald coin.
Like father, like daughter, Emil guessed.
"I'm back!" Marta's voiced chimed, "Sorry it took so long. I thought a fancy place like this would have more ice around than in the kitchens." The girl noticed Emil's face, still flushed and asked, "Why do you look so embarrassed, Emil?"
"Oh, we were just discussing your relationship," Brute replied for the boy.
"Ah I see. Good. I knew you two would get along," she said cheerfully.
Get along…right… Emil thought. A small part of him was suddenly glad that Brute would be spending the next few years in prision.
Author's Note: If anyone has read my story "Taking Their Time," this fic is essentially a fleshed-out version of the time when Marta told her father that Emil is her boyfriend. So yes, it's also connected to my previous two stories. I've been meaning to put this up for a while, but certain circumstances prevented it.
If you've read omegafire17's great story Epilogue, you may also notice some striking similarities between my fic and chapter 3 of his fic. It looks bad, I know, but let me assure you that it's pure coincidence. I wrote about half of this story on paper months before omega even posted Epilogue, including the parts that are most similar to his. One reason I took a long time to finish this story was because I felt awkward putting it up due to the similarities. In the back of my mind, though, I still wanted to finish and post it. I recently decided to ask omegafire himself what he thought and preferred I should do. I discussed it with him, and he is fine with me putting up this story as is.