After going to dinner with Marcus, I decided to teach him a few lessons on how to act like a normal human bachelor. I felt like I was at a slight disadvantage in teaching this because I didn't interact with the former very much but I felt like I was still able to whip him into shape.
"Now, I don't think I really have to elaborate on this topic but the first rule is to not start blabbering on about Didyme. I know it hurts, but girls wouldn't like having to listen to you go on and on about your past love. You got that?" Marcus nodded looking rather sad but that just simply couldn't be helped; I was trying not to be overbearing but there are times in life when simply laying the law cannot be avoided.
"Second norm is: don't be a recluse. I know how much you like to stay at home for…long periods of time and that isn't really a turn on either. Go out into the world; do things that are, dare I say it, fun. For example, the beach is an excellent way to meet people or to go with friends whom you already know. Also, enjoy the outdoors, go to restaurants, some sort of entertainment show; there's plenty of options, all you have to do is look."
"But what am I going to do during the day, when it's sunny?" he asked.
"Parade about in your underwear," I said sarcastically. "Do something that involves not going outdoors and if it is unavoidable wear something covering."
"Yes, that would make sense," he muttered looking away.
"As for your wardrobe," I said, eyeing his dark robes which could be mistaken in the modern day for a dress, "we're going to need to work on that first. Let us dedicate to shopping tomorrow. By the way, are you up for cutting your hair? Don't get me wrong it's very, erm, pretty, but a little out of date, you know?"
"The hair stays," he said and I knew nothing I said was going to change that.
"Fine then, the hair stays," I sighed, but then again, at least I had something to work with in the first place. "Well Marcus, the good thing is we don't really have to work on anything about your personality; you're about as gentlemanly as they come when it comes to manners, as long as your not angry, and us girls appreciate a well-bred man."
"Then why did you marry Caius?" he asked. Was Marcus making a joke?
"My dear brother, I still ponder that question to this day," I said, and finished disposing of my dinner.
"Master Marcus and Mistress Athenodora," Demetri said, coming into view from the surrounding foliage, "Master Aro desires your return for the meeting; which he would like to remind you was supposed to happen an hour ago."
"Tell him we'll come back whenever we want," I said. Demetri squirmed at having to tell his beloved 'master' that his order had been refused.
"Come now sister, let us not make poor Demetri suffer," he said. "Demetri, tell him we will return as soon as possible."
"But Master Aro said—"
"Just go," Marcus dismissed him and Demetri left looking none too happy about what had transpired.
"Do you live to irritate Aro?" Marcus asked as we began to return.
"I wouldn't say I live for it," I said, "but it does prove to be entertaining every once in awhile. I should like to think if it weren't for me everyone would be just a bit too tense. If we're going to live forever we might as well live good naturedly."
"Caius was lucky to find you," he said enigmatically.
"I know," I smiled, "and I never let him forget it." Marcus ran ahead but something had significantly changed: he was laughing.
"You're late," Aro said, glaring at the two of us from his study.
"Hello, love," Caius said, giving me a very different reception.
"Hi Marcus," Sulpicia said, I think just to make Marcus not feel left out.
"What were you doing that you were late to this counsel?" Aro asked, tapping a pen absentmindedly.
"Well wouldn't you like to know?" I smirked, "Oh Aro, for once could you just…stop being yourself; it's very unbecoming." Sulpicia laughed whole heartedly and I knew they had sorted out their problems…temporarily, that is.
"It's rather difficult for me to not 'be myself' as you put it," Aro said, "it's not something that comes naturally to me."
"And let's face it, what actually does?" Caius asked, smiling.
"Did someone create a 'let's annoy Aro Day' without telling me?" Aro asked pointedly.
"No," Marcus said in his usually apathetic voice, "it's more of an ongoing holiday."
"So says the saint who is revered only once a year," Aro snapped.
"Yes, but the key difference, is that the people love me. You…that is…questionable."
"Do you see what I mean?" Aro asked Sulpicia, "They're all attacking me. It's hurting my feelings." So, as per usual, the five of us were going back to our usual, pointless yet entertaining, bickering which would get us absolutely nowhere.
"Good," Sulpicia said, taking hold of his hand, "you were becoming a bit too conceited for my liking. I was about to go to Felix."
"What is it with Felix?" Caius asked, "Every time they get angry at us they go to Felix. Why not go to Marcus?"
Sulpicia and I both looked at Marcus who seemed to want to disappear at that moment, "No." we said at the exact same time. "No offense," I added, hoping Marcus wouldn't take it personally.
"I have something to say," Marcus said, taking center stage; metaphorically of course, literally he was still off in the corner by the door.
"Go ahead, brother," Aro said, genuinely curious.
"I'm coming out of the closet." The first thing I noticed was that Caius and Aro had never looked more alike: jaws dropped, eyes wide, a look of confusion and disbelief. Sulpicia looked away, pretending that she hadn't heard Marcus because she couldn't believe what he said. I laughed.
"Marcus, dear," I said leaning over to whisper in his ear, "that's not the term you use to signify your reemergence into society. That means you're gay and becoming public about it." If Marcus could blush, he most likely would have been the color of a nice ripe tomato.
"JUST KIDDING!" he said, trying to pull it off as a joke. "I had you all there."
"Well, Marcus, that was um, quite the prank," Aro said still stunned.
"Let's never bring this up again," Caius said seriously disturbed. Sulpicia was still pretending to not have heard anything and was now admiring her nails.
"Good one," I said, patting Marcus on the back with perhaps a bit more force than necessary.
"Going back to the original agenda," Aro said, trying to bring the meeting back to its original purpose, "we still need to decide what to do in order to serve justice. I was recently alerted that the humans have already pinned the blame on a serial killer known as the 'vampire killer'."
"How original," Caius scoffed. "And the video?"
"It has been passed off as a hoax due to the bad quality," Aro said.
"Well then, is there really a need to place the blame on anyone?" Sulpicia asked, "If the humans think they have already resolved the mystery than is it really necessary for us to intervene? Perhaps it would be wiser to simply do nothing."
"Ah, Sulpicia," Aro said, "you're so beautiful." In a very unexpected turn of events they ended up kissing while the rest of us were left to wonder what exactly Aro had done to woe Sulpicia in all of about an hour and a half. Caius coughed to grab their attention and succeeded.
"Well, I'm glad to see that you two are no longer at odds, but can we stay focused please?"
Aro grinned, "Of course."
"Well, since we're all amiable at the moment," I said, "I'm kidnapping Marcus tomorrow to go shopping." I knew they all would assume that I was shopping for me and that I had somehow managed to convince Marcus to accompany me.
"Oh! Shopping!" Sulpicia exclaimed, "How exciting, I wish I could go, but Aro and I made plans. Right dear?"
"Just for you," Aro said tenderly and put his arm around her waist.
"You're leaving me all alone with them?" Caius asked, twitching.
"I'm sorry, love," I said going over to where he stood, "I do wish I could be here with you. But, don't you think it would be beneficial for Marcus to get some fresh air?" Caius didn't seem too pleased, especially considering I had ditched Marcus the last time he was supposed to go 'protect' me but I had my ways of convincing my silver-haired husband.
"Brother, the way she manipulates you is so simple I would barely even call it manipulation," Aro said.
"Of course not," Sulpicia cut in, "it's called seduction."
"Aro, aren't we being a little hypocritical?" Caius responded, "Have you seen yourself when Sulpicia wants something? You melt at her gaze and evaporate at her touch."
"You both become lovesick puppies at the hands of your wives," Marcus said apathetically, "not one more than the other."
"You're missing out," Sulpicia said, "have you decided to move on yet?" I caught Marcus's gaze and quickly shook my head; I didn't need Sulpicia to interfere and ruin my plans.
"Of course not," Marcus said.
"If I had known my little sister would have had this effect on you I don't think I should have introduced you two."
"Your little sister is the best thing that has ever happened to me," Marcus said indignantly, "regardless of what you say." It was times like these when I wondered what exactly Marcus would do if he found out Aro's dirty little secret—now isn't that a paradox?
"C'mon Marcus," I said, pulling him out of the room, "we've got work to do."
Marcus insisted on driving, saying that his Lamborghini Murcielago had been left in abandon for far too long. While he was driving to Milan I questioned him on what clothes sizes he was as well as colors; I mean, he can't go wearing black all day, every day, and still try to look like a happy camper…he needed a little color in his life—literally and metaphorically. I debated whether to ask him about his preferences in women but decided that there wasn't anything I could do for him there; it was solely up to him to get over Didyme and move on.
"If you're going for human women might I suggest not driving so fast," I said, drumming my fingers on the window. I watched as the marker moved upwards, as did the corners of his mouth. "Rebellious," I chuckled, "a plus."
The drive, due to the speed and tenacity of the driver, was very short. As we walked into a mall I mentally laughed at the fact that this might very well have been the first time Marcus had stepped into a mall—after all, this is the 21st century.
Our first stop was at a rather nondescript place that sold men's casual wear. I took my chance to measure Marcus properly and see what size he was in pants and shirt. He was larger than I would have thought—Marcus might have emotionally wasted away but his body hadn't, he was bulkier than Caius but not as much as Felix. He was tall which proved to be a small problem when we tried to find some suitable jeans, but after a little bit of searching I found a section in the store with merchandise that fit him perfectly.
"Are these necessary?" he asked, holding up the four packs of boxers I had bought.
"Marcus," I said, putting my hand on his shoulder, "I don't want to know what kind of undergarments you have worn up until this moment, but from now on, you will wear boxers."
"I was referring to number, not type," he muttered but didn't bring it up again.
After buying enough clothes for the lower half of his body I focused on finding shirts that complemented his shape and build. I bought an assortment of short-sleeved shirts which fit nicely, as well as a few long-sleeved shirts and sweaters which were for the occasional 'sunny day' but still complemented his stature. I wasn't a very big fan of the button-up shirts but they were a staple to any man's wardrobe so I had to by a few in shades of blue, wine, black, and green.
Last, but certainly not least, we went to a high-end suit shop. The clerk took all of Marcus's measurements again, too make sure the custom made suit would fit perfectly, and we went on to choose materials and color. It was here that black reigned in color choice since a black suit was just so classy. I selected a few other dark colors just in case back up suits were needed but let Marcus have his fun in creating his own classic black suit without my supervision. While he was busy I bought a wide assortment of cuff links and shoes, normal and formal.
I hadn't been away from him for very long but when I returned he had already finished and done some other shopping.
"I bought this for you," he said, handing me a small silver gift bag.
"Thanks, Marcus, bought you shouldn't have," I said, giving him a brief hug.
He shrugged. "You've shown me the most kindness than anyone in the past millennium. Open it." I obliged, expecting jewelry but instead found something more valuable. He had given me a little wooden angel holding a silver heart. It stood on a pedestal and simply read: The Angel of Gratitude.
"Wow," I said, putting the gift back into the bag, "it's wonderful, I love it. Thank you."
"You're welcome," he said and we walked back to the suit store to finish paying. We set the date for when to pick up Marcus's suits and then left.
"I couldn't decide whether to buy the Angel of Gratitude or the Sister Angel," Marcus said as he drove back to Volterra.
"The Angel of Gratitude was great," I said, glancing at the little figurine on my lap.
"I'm glad you like it," he said, "it's just that the other figurine reminded me of my own sister."
"I didn't know you had one," I said, curious.
"Few people do," he said, "but Aro does, in fact she is the reason I even met Aro; she's the reason I'm here.
"Her name was Zifalia, meaning 'bird.' She was the youngest of the seven of us and she was the happiest and liveliest. She loved to sing—I suppose that's what drew Aro to her at first. It was my drop as an older brother to watch over her and guide her but she had her own agenda and could easily manipulate anyone to get her way."
"Aro and your little sister? Is that some odd sense of Déjà vu or something?" I asked, curious about discovering the very beginnings of the Volturi.
"Yes, he gets angry at me for 'corrupting' his little sister yet he remains very quiet about his own affairs with my sister. Quite the charlatan, isn't he?" I wasn't sure to what, or when, he was referring to but I nodded because there are many sides of Aro.
"Back to the story, so my short little sister started seeing Aro more often until Aro finally asked for my father's, as well as my own, permission to have her as his bride. My father said yes but I said no because there was something about this 'Aro' that I didn't trust. My opinion was disregarded and they were set to be married. On the evening of their matrimony Aro was visited by a vampire, he says he doesn't know who, and was changed. When Zifalia was dropped off his house to literally become his bride he couldn't resist the newborn temptation for blood, and he killed her. He loved her, but that was nothing compared to his bloodlust…he was an out of control newborn and nothing could stop him except his very own, very weak, will.
"I had left the village before since I was angry that my favorite sibling was marrying someone I didn't approve of. Aro destroyed all of the village and would have destroyed me, had I not left."
"He killed your entire family?" I asked, completely taken aback.
"Back then, family ties, especially with sons, weren't very strong. Moreover, I can't really blame Aro; he didn't know any better."
"Are you crazy?" I screeched, "I would be so angry! Now I want revenge on your behalf."
Marcus laughed. "It's okay, your revenge is not needed. And I do hate Aro, but for…other things he's done." I momentarily wondered if Marcus knew, and was waiting for something, an opportunity... "As it happens, Aro didn't find me for a few years. When he did, he had learned to control his thirst and was in a very poor state after realizing what he had done. Despite his remorse, he still felt that this new life was better, once properly controlled, and searched for me, the last link to his 'beloved' wife, and turned me. I was the first person he turned and that idiot only bit me once, with the small traditional neck bite, making me suffer for almost five days. You can use that as a valid reason for revenge," he said, referencing my previous outburst. "So there you have it, the short life of my sister, and the beginning of my own very long life."
"Your beginning is so…different than I imagined," I said, realizing that I had never really thought about Marcus's beginnings or Aro's for that matter. I momentarily realized that Sulpicia wasn't Aro's first love and pondered what she thought about that, that is, if she knew; which I assumed she did because she could wheedle anything from Aro.
"It is different," he agreed, driving past the gates and into Volterra, "but then again, all the best things in life are unique."
(A/N: so this chapter is long-ish. It really didn't want to write itself so excuse the crappiness of it all. Also, referring to MArcus's story, I decided I wanted to write something that hadn't been written before so that's why it's kind of random. Anyway, happy reading and don't forget to review. P.S. I'm starting to reply to all the reviewers (since I never used to, sorry). VL.)