Title: Complexity
Fandom: Twilight series
Pairing: Marcus/Seth
Part: XXI. Preparations
Words: 3180 words
Summary: Volterra was his prison, an entire city, but it didn't make up for the fact that he was alone and tortured. There had to be something to make this death sentence worthwhile.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Twilight series, and I don't claim to own it either. It belongs to Stephanie Meyer, and I only write these things to satisfy the muses and make nothing from it.

XXI. Preparations

To say the least, the next few days were taxing on both Marcus and Seth, along with their relationship.

Seth spent most of that time under Alec's almost strict supervision to keep Aro from pulling anything that could compromise him or possibly put him in the line of harm. Mostly because Marcus would not put it past the other to pull something like that for the simple reason of revenge; leaving, Marcus to deal with the details and keeping him protected.

Of course, that wasn't saying that Seth didn't try to convince both Marcus and Alec that it was completely unnecessary.

And quite promptly learned that there were a few things that Marcus would allow no compromise on; his safety being one of them.

"But I'm sure that Alec's got more important things to do than baby-sitting me," Seth tried to reason.

"No. At this moment, it is entirely likely that Aro would do something that he'd regret," Alec interrupted. "I also don't have anything more important to do; the rest of the guard is mostly just lying about, it's only Aro and Caius who are making such a fuss of this."

Marcus was much more severe; his expression stubborn and unyielding like a brick wall. "I will not let your safety be compromised Seth. No matter what you might believe, Aro still very much considers you to be a curiosity and thus expendable."

"You and Heidi have made that abundantly clear," Seth replied darkly. He would've rolled his eyes too if it wasn't for the downright scary expression on Marcus' face. Fuck, there really was no arguing with him on this. "But–"

"No buts." Marcus glared at him, "There will be no arguments on this; it's for your safety Seth, please understand that."

Since that had been the third argument in one day about the matter, Seth had just decided to let it drop. There was no way that he was going to get either of the two to agree with him, so it was just easier to let them have their way. Besides, he could see their point. Sort of.

That didn't mean that he was happy with it.

Alec was lurking unobtrusively near one of the doors to the sitting room while Seth was half-sulking on the couch with a book discarded on the floor beside him. He still wasn't happy about the entire situation, even if he could understand why Marcus was worried.

"This should blow over in few days," Alec interjected into the silence. "It really isn't something that you should be so upset over."

"Yeah, but isn't guarding me kind of boring?"

Alec shrugged, arms crossed, "Not particularly. If I wasn't guarding you, then I wouldn't be doing anything and at least you are... interesting to be around."

That just made Seth frown, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"That would be my way of saying that I like you," Alec replied with a tiny smirk. "Therefore, I don't mind having to 'baby-sit' you as you put it."

When Seth just continued to stare at him, Alec just chuckled a little, "Honestly Seth, it sounds like you sell yourself a bit short sometimes. You're a perfectly likeable person – if you weren't, than I don't think that you would have endeared yourself to us as much as you have. In any case, you are far from being boring."

"Yeah, but I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't have to have a bodyguard twenty-four-seven," Seth grumbled. "Especially since the Romanians are going to be lying low for a while..."

"Seth, you are Marcus' mate; I'm sure that he's spoken to you about this. Your safety will always be paramount in his mind and, despite what you might believe, you will always be at some amount of risk." Alec sighed; if he had been human he was sure that he would have a headache. "Certainly you have noticed that neither Athenodora or Sulpicia go anywhere without a guard of their own. It's a simple precaution."

"Yeah, but..." Seth blushed. "We haven't, you know, confirmed anything..."

"That comes with time so you shouldn't worry too much about it," Alec shrugged. "When you feel it's time, then it will happen."

That's the problem; I feel like I'm running out of time.

Seth sighed and rolled over on the couch; he'd spent a lot of time recently just sitting around reading or sleeping or engaged in something quiet with Marcus. And while he did want to broach the subject of 'confirmation' with Marcus, the fact still remained that Alec was always within earshot and he just didn't want to further his own embarrassment about discussing that with the younger vampire around.

There were something's that he just didn't want anyone else knowing.

He'd been stewing over the idea of confirmation and what it meant since Marcus had originally broached the subject and while his discomfort with it had lessened somewhat, he was finding that he wasn't as averse to the idea as he would've originally thought. After all, he loved Marcus and knew the vampire felt the same so it would happen eventually...

And Marcus would be gentle with him. Okay, so maybe he did have a dirty mind.

"Yeah, I know." Seth sighed again and threw an arm over his face. "So, have you heard anything new about what's going on with Carlisle?"

"Hm, as far as I know Aro has calmed down from the 'shock' of having his dear friend visit. Caius is still very upset about the entire thing since Carlisle is obviously coming only to make sure that we are treating you well."

Alec watched as Seth let out a heavy breath; really he ought to stop that, he sounded too much like an old man exasperated with his children's antics.

"In any case, the guard are of varying opinion on the entire issue and some of them are a little lacking in their control. Some of them are not too happy with your presence here along with how you seem to have bewitched Marcus, so they could possibly be tempted to take out their frustration on you."

"I thought that Carlisle was on pretty decent terms with the Volturi," Seth remarked in an almost offhand manner.

"With Aro and Marcus, yes. His relationship with Caius has been a little more antagonistic on Caius' part, and the guard has always held... mixed opinions on him and his choice of lifestyle." Alec shrugged, "Some of them have bought into Aro's views than others."

"And you?"

"Jane and I were created shortly before Carlisle left to make a new life for himself in the Americas. I never actually had a proper conversation with him, but I never have begrudged him the choices he has made. Jane is... very much Aro's little... pet."

"But he'll be okay, right?"

Alec nearly laughed at that. "He and Aro have a history; the guard would never dare lay a hand on him."

Blanching, Seth sat up and gave Alec a hard look. "That doesn't sounds particularly... innocent."

Oh. At that Alec did snort with amusement. "That's because it isn't meant to."

The priceless look of almost abject horror made the entire thing worth it. Honestly, the entire debacle was no secret among the Volturi who were well aware of Aro's predilections when it came to attractive young men or women.

"But – what – how–" Clearly, Seth was trying to figure this out and was in the process of breaking his brain while trying to comprehend it.

"Really, this should not surprise you. Aro is particularly good at seducing people into his bed if he takes a liking to them. His and Carlisle's history is really nothing new to any of the members of the guard. As well, newborn vampires do experience difficulties in controlling some of their more base desires in their first few years of this life; Aro simply takes advantage of that, so to speak."

"... I really don't want to have to think about that."

"Be glad that your scent wasn't particularly pleasing at first or he would have had you too," Alec murmured. "And that Marcus would kill him if even tried anything of the sort."

Alec realized that he might have gone a little too far when he saw how white Seth turned as he said that. He hadn't meant for that...

"I'm sorry; I shouldn't have said that."

Having buried his face in one of the pillows, Seth's response was muffled and it was only thanks to Alec's superior hearing that he was able to make out what he said.

"Thanks for that Alec."

"Really, I'm sorry Seth. It's much more complicated than that and I should not have told you. Please, I'm very sorry." He was well-aware of how much Aro genuinely did scare Seth and it had been wrong of him to even joke about such a thing.

"Just shut up."

.:-o-:. .:-o-:. .:-o-:.

Several days later, Seth wound up taking a very long shower, stewing in his thoughts under the hot water. He had talked Alec into standing guard out in the hall to give him a little bit of privacy while he showered. The hot water helped him think and he didn't want to have to deal with the other vampire's presence while he was thinking. It was kind of a delicate subject and he didn't want Alec asking him questions.

Carlisle would be there in the next day or two and he was nervous about it for a number of reasons.

He knew that while Carlisle might have a higher opinion of the Volturi leaders than the rest of his family, but there was still that air of suspicion. And knowing that he had a history with one of them... well, then he probably had good reason for his concern about Seth.

But Marcus was... Marcus was everything that Seth had thought he could ever want and more. He was kind, thoughtful, handsome, intelligent, funny, and so much more. He loved him and trusted him, wasn't that enough?

So maybe the situation for them meeting and falling for each other wasn't ideal, but it had still happened. That was something that he would just have to get the Cullens to accept – although it was more just Carlisle that he was worried about at that moment. If he could win over Carlisle, than the others shouldn't be too difficult.

Maybe... maybe some physical evidence would help?

He'd been thinking about that; about confirmation and consummation and sex – even though they all meant the same thing – and his first time with Marcus. He wanted it to mean something though, not be because Aro or Caius or whoever had forced them to go through with it. Marcus... he wanted Marcus to know that it meant more to him than that.

Marcus had told him that it would happen when he was ready. He didn't feel like he was, but Seth knew that he wouldn't ever feel completely ready. His nerves stemmed from a lot of things; that this was his first relationship, that he was a virgin in almost every sense of the word until he met Marcus. But he still wanted to him.

The thought of doing... it with Marcus set his cheeks aflame and caused a fire to settle low in his stomach and make his heart flutter with nervousness and anticipation. He kind of wished that he maybe had Jacob there to help him out with this – he had no precedent to go on or advice.

He certainly wasn't going to be trusting anything that Heidi told him. After all, she had done nothing but make him feel nervous and anxious about the entire thing. Stupid woman being a total perv.

Pressing his hand up against the tiled wall of the shower, he stared at it. The contrast between his hand, tan and warm, and the tile, cool and white, reminded him of the differences between him and Marcus. It got him thinking.

Maybe it was better to get this over with before he really did panic and do something crazy and rash.

And if they were officially recognized as mates, then maybe Marcus would stop worrying about him so much. The talk didn't bother him, but the physical repercussions definitely did. Despite both Marcus and Alec's reassurances, he was sure that Jane would pull something if she thought there was even the slightest chance that she could get away with it.

It would make Marcus' position a little less awkward too, he thought.

The more he thought about it, the more the positives weighed out over the negatives. His nerves would only be settled if he went through with this – those stupid worries that came hand in hand with his virginity. He would always have them until he actually went ahead and had sex with Marcus.

Which really was all it came down to.

He could either go through with it, tell Marcus he was ready and have sex with him, or hold off until he finally just snapped. The latter would not end well, of that he was sure.

Sighing, Seth reached out and turned off of the water but he remained in the shower for a few more minutes. Eventually he climbed out of the shower stall and grabbed a towel that he'd left on the toilet to dry himself off before he got dressed. Even though Heidi had spent a lot of time and money on giving him a more formal wardrobe, he'd still gotten to keep several pairs of jeans and tees.

Easy to take off and easy to put back on. Seth figured that they'd work for what he was planning. He'd made his decision, now he just had to put it into action. Maybe not right then, but sometime in the near future before he had time to question his decision too much.

And preferably before Carlisle arrived.

.:-o-:. .:-o-:. .:-o-:.

"You're planning something, aren't you?" Alec leaned over the back of the couch to look down at Seth.

"What makes you say that?" Seth frowned as he set his book to the side. He did need something to occupy his time with after all, until he could find Marcus and tell him that he'd made up his mind.

Alec frowned, "You are very thoughtful right now. Did something happen that I should know about?"

"No. Just a little nervous."

"About Carlisle's visit?"

"Yeah, I don't know how I'm going to explain Marcus and I to him... you know... make him understand." Okay, so maybe some honesty could win out in this situation. He felt bad about lying to Alec and usually the young vampire was pretty good at catching onto his lies.

"The truth?"

"Of course! But it's just... the Cullens don't really have a great relationship with the Volturi so they'd be, you know, really suspicious. And well, I didn't come here under great circumstances so that probably doesn't help."

Alec gave a thoughtful frown before he continued, "I think that you would be surprised. If it was one of the guard than yes, I can see them being unhappy – but before you, Marcus was... he has changed and it is for the better. They would have to be blind or stupid not to see that."

"Well, Carlisle would listen to reason... I'm just – what if I do go back?"

"Then Marcus and I will be with you." Alec shrugged, "You will not have to face them alone. I know that Marcus would never leave your side."

But that's just it; I'm afraid... that I might have to choose between them or him.

"And besides," Alec continued. "I'm sure that they are familiar with the concept of mates; they would not do something that would hurt you or begrudge you for that. It isn't a connection that you can ignore."

"Yeah, but..."

Alec sighed, clearly a little exasperated, "Seth, I am trying my best here but you need to realize that there is only so much I can do. Clearly I don't know the Cullens like you do and I am not the one who you love, maybe you should speak to Marcus about this. He could probably better assuage your fears than me."

"I haven't seen him the past few days," Seth replied. "He only stopped by for a little last night to make sure that I was asleep."

"Well, he should be out of his meetings with Aro for today..."

Seth sat up almost immediately, "Do you know where he is?"

Quirking an eyebrow, Alec said nothing about his reaction, "I think that he said that he would be in the library to... cool down were his words."


"You're... welcome..." Alec could only blink as Seth tore out of the sitting room like a bat out of hell. He started jogging out after him, keeping the young shifter in his sights until he disappeared through the heavy doors of the library. What has gotten into him?

Meanwhile, Seth had just gently closed the doors to the library behind him. Taking a deep breath, he found that Alec was right; there was a fresh scent trail of Marcus' layered over the stale ones. Of course, given how often he was in here, it was hard for him to tell just where Marcus might have been – but he was in there. That was the most important thing right then.

Remember Seth, you said you would do this and you will. You can do this.

Keeping up his internal pep talk, Seth stalked through several of the aisles until he found Marcus sitting in one of the arm chairs in the little sitting area where they had first met. The vampire's head turned to him as he entered.

"Seth? Is something wrong?"

Seth could hear his heart thundering wildly in his chest and he knew that Marcus was all too aware of that. But he sucked in a deep breath and steeled himself. He'd promised that he would do this, that he wouldn't back down and that he could do this.

There was definite purpose in his stride as he crossed the short distance between him and Marcus. He climbed onto the chair, straddling the vampire's lap as he slid his arms around his neck. The vampire's arms came around his waist in response, his touch sending shivers up the young man's spine and warmth pooled low in his stomach.

Leaning in close, Seth took one last deep breath before voicing his request.

"I want you to take me."

.:-o-:. .:-o-:. .:-o-:.

Whoo hoo! YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS PEOPLE? Yep. There's gonna be some smut next chapter. ;D For those of you reading this on , then I recommend that you either check my LiveJournal or my AFF account (once I actually get around to posting this story there...) where you can read that chapter in its full smutty glory. It'll be really short on here since I can't post it here without possibly getting in trouble.

Sorry about the long wait, next chapter to be up soon!

EDIT: For some reason was being a bitch when I first tried to add this, it kept giving me an error message... so I apologize profusely for the delay in posting this here – thank you to Starry for telling me how to correct the error and get this part posted. I'm so, so sorry about how long this took to post. But seriously? What the fuck ? I'm posting this story on AFF now, so if you want to read it uncensored, that's where it will be.