Marcus though wasn't gone for the day. He had an errand to run but was assured that the debriefing of the envoy would not take place until later in the afternoon. So when he arrived home, it was much earlier than anyone had intended.
Titus poked through the books, trying to find the oldest of Marcus' personal documents. Some of them were difficult to read so he took them out of the chest they'd been in and sat down by the window to go through them.
Marcus looked around, his servants up to their usual tasks. The routine made him smile at times. He could feel another on the property. He headed down to the study, wondering if Remus had still not left or if it was just Titus sleeping in again.
Titus looked up, surprised to feel another immortal near so soon. He looked around the study and swore to himself. It was a mess, books stacked everywhere. He'd thought there would be more time to clean up before anyone got home. He looked down at the journal in his hands. He'd just found a reference to the "monsters" Marcus had once spoken of, a story of trip and a ruined village.
Marcus turned a corner down the hall before looking through the door to the study. He was more than a little shocked to see his student there, "Titus? Are you looking for something?"
Titus looked up from the chest, having hastily tossed the books back inside. "I was just..." he faltered, trying to decide whether to lie and possibly escape any punishment worse than beign barred from the study, or tell the truth and have it out in the open. He settled on a combination. "I was looking for something to read."
Marcus looked at him strangely, "Since when do you read for pleasure? These are all records and similar texts. None of these interest you."
Titus shrugged and edged closer to block the chest from Marcus' view. "I have little to do with my time until the envoy returns."
"Sleeping the days away is no longer enough?" Marcus frowned at the stiffness of the young man's movements, "So what are you reading?"
Titus shrugged. "Nothing important," he said, trying to sound casual. "I had not found anything yet." He reached behind him and quickly shut the lid of the chest.
Marcus let out a small sigh. When did all the youths in his house think they could be sly around him? "Did something fall behind you?" he mentioned just as casually when the lid fell closed.
Titus glanced back at the chest. "Ah... I had hoped to find something interesting in there." He looked back at Marcus. "The prop for the lid must be faulty." He hoped that Marcus would leave it there so he could go back and finish his reading later, he'd barely had time to catch a few references to the ones who had destroyed the village.
"That holds my personal writings." The soft disappointed look had turned into a glare, "You know very well you are not to go in there."
So much for letting it go. Titus glared back. "If you insist, I was trying to find a story you told me once."
"So you actually listen to me." Marcus replied dryly, "There are times I wonder, Titus. Exactly which were you looking for?"
"It was nothing, just some little tale meant to turn me into a good boy." Titus shrugged. "I remembered it being fairly engrossing."
"Don't play coy, Titus, it doesn't suit you." Marcus folded his arms, growing rapidly irritated with the boy's behavior, "If you mean to question me, do it now while I'm here and we're both alone."
Looking away, Titus scowled at the wall. "You told me about a village being burned, razed to the ground. The people were slaughtered. You told me others like us did it."
Marcus stiffened and took a breath, "And that was true. What of it now?"
"You said there were four of them, nomads, monsters. Where are they now?" Titus demanded.
"I do not know. I've not heard of them in a few years but.. I assume outside our borders," Marcus admitted, at the very least, what he knew of the remaining three.
"All of them? How could you be certain?" Titus shook his head. "I did not believe you then, not that they were real..."
"Trust me, I am certain. Do you suddenly believe me now?"
"Yes, yes I do believe you." Titus spat out. "How can you be certain? How would you know if one snuck into the Empire? Into your house?"
"I told you not to be coy. One can know if an Immortal nears whether they can feel them or not. You simply must be attentive," Marcus scolded. "And I told you before, no one in this House wishes me harm."
"And if they were a skilled liar?" Titus inquired intently. "How would you know you were speaking to one of them?"
"You mean to accuse Remus of being one of the Raiders," Marcus stated sharply.
"I do. Or someone similar. Why else would you keep him a slave here? Any other like us would either be dead or a guest in your home. He was dangerous when he arrived, he repeatedly threatened the mortal members of the household..." Titus started to pace about the room as he ranted.
"And I told you he changed!" He shook his head, "I will not say one way or the other. I made a promise his past stay his and I would not like to break my word. However, as you grow, you'll see why it's so important that others are able to change."
"He is isn't he? He's one of those monsters you spoke of. And you sleep with him? You allow him anywhere near you?" Titus asked in disbelief. "Why did you not take his head the moment you knew?!"
He grabbed Titus by the arm roughly as he started to yell, "Because he is not the same man! The man he is was not the one who burned those villages or murdered those people! I saw that. He would not wish me harm. Not ever!"
Titus pulled away. "You are blinded by him! He's twisted you around so much you cannot see the threat he poses!"om
"And you are a fool if you think I can be turned so easily," Marcus jerked him over when he tried to pull off.
"Just a few years ago he was chained in the cellars every night. Now he shares your bed? The matter of a year or two here erases hundreds of years of slaughter?" Titus growled at him, trying to yank himself free.
Marcus narrowed his eyes and threw the boy down, "We age slower, yes. But time remains the same. A few years can change everything."
Titus picked himself up off of the floor and stared at Marcus. "Yes, you've changed. You would never have touched another of us before he came here. You would have taken that post in Alexandria. Now you spend your time and attention on some barbarian who'd have been better off dead before he crossed our borders."
"I suggest you hold your tongue, Titus, lest my patient wears thin! He's a barbarian no longer. And I have my reasons to not have taken that post. That of which I owe you no explanation."
"What shall I tell Nefirtiri then? She will want word of you when I return, a reason why you are not with us, she knew your name was mentioned for assignment there."
"I will send a message with you. I will not explain myself to you any further, as proxy or otherwise. You are lucky that you are so close to me, Titus, that I can forgive you for what I might have killed any other man for. But if you ever question me again, you will be cast out of my company. Do you understand?"
Knowing he had pushed further than he'd ever dared, Titus merely nodded. "I understand."
Marcus was making a conscious effort not to seeth. As he tried to present some semblence of calm, he finally realized someone else had been there. "Put my things back in order," he directed as he turned and headed out into the hall where Remus had been.
Remus had heard the arguing but not the words until the end. He looked nervously at Marcus. "I'm sure I was at the heart of that..."
"Never mind it. It will not happen again."
"It will not?" Remus looked worried.
"If the boy knows what's good for him, it won't." The edge on Marcus' voice was unmistakable as he started past Remus and headed to his own chambers to calm down.
Remus started to go after him and stopped. Marcus had not looked as though he wanted company. Instead he turned and walked into the study to replace the account books.
Titus was rather painstakingly returning the books back to their natural order. He almost grumbled, but didn't for fear of his Teacher hearing.
Remus sighed and slid the accounts into place on the shelf before crouching down to pick up a few volumes Titus had dropped in his haste at Marcus' return.
"I'll take care of it," he said lowly.
"It is part of my job to keep the house clean." Remus murmured, checking the books over for damage. He picked up a few more from the chair by the window and carefully put them in order on another shelf.
"He told me to do it," Titus looked over, the anger still in his eyes, "So I will."
Remus shrugged and straightened the books on the shelf, leaving Titus to restack the ones in the chest. "Far be it from me to question you."
Titus opened his mouth to say something but stopped. He couldn't help but see the man as nothing but the monster Marcus always referred to. He bit his tongue and returned to the books. He knew anything would push Marcus at that point. He hadn't wanted to test that.
Glancing over at the books in the chest, Remus looked at Titus, knowing he must have been looking through them. He shook his head and walked to the door. Even he knew better than to touch the volumes in the chest, tempting as they were. "Dinner will be late tonight." he said from the doorway, turning slightly.
"It's fine," Titus did his best not to growl as he placed the last back into the chest and closed the lid. "Remus..."
He paused in the hall outside the study. "Yes?"
Titus locked up the chest, and he was obviously livid even as he kept his voice low and mostly even, "If Marcus throws me out over this.. then fine. But I don't know who you are. I know that you are dangerous and I've known that since I first laid eyes on you. I don't know how Marcus sees you fit for mercy. But, if his act of kindness turns to harm him at all, I swear I'll have your head for it."
Remus blinked and swallowed. "There is no need for that. I will not harm him, nor will I allow harm to come to him if it is within my admittedly limited powers."
"Limited," he repeated disbelievingly. "Marcus tells me the same. I am not so confident. Excuse me." Titus headed back to his room. He wanted to start yelling but he knew Marcus wouldn't allow it.
Remus sighed and went back into the study to put the books on the shelves back in order. The chest Marcus would have to deal with himself.
Marcus was at a small table in his chambers, trying to calm himself over an early goblet of wine and flesh out a letter without letting any of his anger slip into it by mistake.
Remus rapped against the door, knowing Marcus was within.
He looked over his shoulder, "Yes?"
"Ah... dinner will be late tonight. Will you want anything before then?" Remus asked quietly.
"No. I'm perfectly fine at the moment."
"Alright then. You might want to go through the chest in the study if you kept its contents in any sort of order." Remus shrugged. "The shelves should be fine though."
"I'm sure they're both fine."
Remus nodded. "I will be downstairs then." He waited for a moment before turning and heading down the hall.
"Wait a moment," he sighed as he heard the footsteps turn.
Pausing midstep, Remus turned back. "Yes?"
"How much did you hear?"
"I heard your arguing, but all I made out was Titus asking what you would tell Nefirtiri."
He seemed a bit relieved, "Ah.. Alright then."
"I assumed he meant about me." Remus continued.
"Actually, he referred to my post in Alexandria," Marcus said with a heavy breath.
"Ahh, I am sorry." Remus nodded and looked down at the floor.
"He believes you to have bewitched me," he said, waving Remus into his room so they could talk.
"Oh yes, I have mesmerized you, I'm certain." Remus entered the room and rolled his eyes. "He has said something similar to me."
He leaned against the table, rubbing his eyes. The frustration obviously still nagging, "The boy is stubbourn, but he's never acted out this way before."
"I do not know what to tell you. I... I never had such a student."
"Never at all or not one like him?"
"Not one like him."
"He is unique. And amazingly hardheaded. Not to mention quite short-tempered."
Remus nodded. "That much I know."
Marcus sighed, "Of course." There was a short pause. "He knows now, though I denied it."
Remus stared at him, then slumped back against the wall.
"I'm sorry. He doesn't know your name or even what you were called." He stood up and walked over to him.
"He knows..." Remus whispered. "He knows what I did, who I was."
Marcus frowned and very lightly brushed his cheek, "I'm so sorry..."
Remus shook his head. "He is one of us, and he has lived in this house... it would have happened eventually." he said softly, almost to himself.
"Only because he invaded my privacy." He brought Remus to look at him, "You're still safe here, you have my word. He won't dare repeat it to anyone."
It was a show of how much Titus' revelation had bothered him that Remus did not question how he had found out. "I believe you."
"That means a great deal to me."
Managing a weak smile, Remus leaned forward towards Marcus. "He won't be young forever."
Marcus chuckled, putting his arms around him, "If he's so lucky..."
"He won't lose his head to me." Remus promised.
"That I know," Marcus nodded.
Remus sighed. "Any idea when he will be leaving?"
"The envoy returns to Alexandria at the end of the week. He is attached as their escort."
Nodding, Remus leaned back against the wall again. "We will all live until then, I am certain."
Marcus nodded, "I'm sure of it."
"I was out all morning, I should go see to things." Remus took a breath and let it out slowly, standing up straight.
He nodded again, "Of course. I.. truly am sorry about this."
Remus shrugged and waved it off. "I really must go."
Marcus pursed his lips and nodded, "Of course." He stepped back.
Remus gave Marcus a thoroughly forced smile and retreated from the room quickly, hurrying downstairs to the kitchens to busy himself with the day's work.