Author's Note: I fail! I am sorry it took so long to update. Real life has been kicking my ass, but I promise to try and update more quickly from here on out. I feel pretty awful, because as a reader i know how frustrating the wait for chapter updates. Not that I am trying to flatter myself by thinking that people are desperate to read my work, but I am writing this for you guys, the readers, and I don't like leaving you hanging.

I really love all the nice reviews and the story alerts. I welcome all feedback and suggestions,for I love to hear what you guys want or don't want to see, so don't be afraid to throw your thoughts out there, or to nag at me for an update; I'll take what I can get. :D

Disclaimer: I don't own anything really, just an overweight Chihuahua and my pride.

Never Tear Us Apart (Part Three)

Max Blanc had always noticed the unusually tight bond his sons had formed over the years, though he wasn't sure if their closeness was a cause for concern or not.

When Arthur was a baby, Marcus would hover over his brother like a mother hen, becoming very territorial whenever anyone outside of the family would hold or play with him. Hell, there was hardly a second where the boy's ever watchful gray eyes left the sight of his little brother. Of course at that time, it just seemed to Max that his stepson was doing what he felt an older brother was supposed to do for their little brother, and their mother didn't seem too worried about the older boy's protective streak.

"He will get over it in time, love." His wife assured him with her radiant smile that still made his heart melt every time; the smile that always made his believe anything was possible.

However as Arthur grew, the more protective Marcus became of the boy, to an extent where it was almost impossible separate them without repercussions.

When Marcus's father had flown in to take his son back to England with him for the first time since Arthur was born, the boy-while ecstatic to see his father-was absolutely devastated when it came time for him to leave his brother for two months.

"I can't go mum!" he cried through broken sobs as a then two year old Arthur latched onto his leg; not yet old enough to understand why his brother was so upset. "What if something happens to him while I am gone?"

Max, his wife and the boy's father all exchanged horrified glances as the boy continued to cry and cry.

"Now darling, your father has missed you very much and wants to spend time with you." Julianne had tried to reason with the boy. "I promise that Max and I will take good care of him while you're away."

The boy calmed down after that and they where able to get him on the plane, but the whole time he was a way, they would get a call at absurd hours in the morning from Marcus inquiring about Arthur.

"Marc, didn't your dad explain to you that it is very early here?" Max had asked the boy in a sleepy voice. He had a class to teach at eight o'clock and someone had to put a stop to this.

"Yes, but I was just making sure Arthur was still okay." Marcus explained innocently. "I'm really sorry I woke you up Max, but I had a bad dream that something had happened to him."

What the hell was he supposed to say to that? "Stop calling you little punk, your mother and I are trying to sleep?" No, despite his annoyance, Max knew the boy was going through some separation issues, and that he would have to try to claim his stepson's fears the best he could.

"Marcus, your brother is in his room safe and sound." He reassured the boy in a claim and collected voice. "You don't have anything to worry about."

"Okay." Was all the boy replied, though Max could hear the doubt in his voice.

"I promise that we are taking good care of him." He tried again. "Now go have some fun, and we will call you later so that you can talk to your brother."

"Okay." The boy repeated, though this time a little bit more lively. "Tell Arthur and mum I love them. Please."

"Of course son." He replied with a smile gracing his lips.

And with that, Max couldn't find it in himself to be mad about the calls anymore, though he and Marcus had a long talk about time zones when the boy returned later that August.

Splitting them up never got any easier, but Max always hoped that one day it would be, especially when Marcus-who suddenly insisted on being called by his last name—became a teenager.

Max might not have been an expert in sibling dynamics, but he knew what it was like to be a thirteen year old boy: you start noticing girls, begin the inevitable rebellion against your parents, and leave your childhood behind, which was what Max feared the most.

Marcus was six years older than Arthur, which quite a difference, especially when it came to maturity. He knew the boy was going to want to spend less time with his brother and more time with his friends, and when that happened, it would hurt Arthur deeply.

So he waited for that day to come, and was prepared to be there for Arthur- his only biological child-when Marcus would start to distance himself from the younger boy.

As it turns out, Max Blanc's wait would be a lot longer than he anticipated

The call came around one-thirty, shortly after Max dismissed his afternoon art history class.

He had just sat down in his desk; exhausted after giving a rather long lecture about the Baroque period, when the phone rang.

Although he was in no mood to talk after gives a two hour lecture, he picked up the heavy receiver and placed it up to his ear.

"Professor Blanc speaking." He answered dryly, the weight of the days stress pressing painfully on his shoulders.

"Hello Professor Blanc, this is the school calling about your sons Marcus Eames, and Arthur Blanc." the sharp voice of an older woman said with the up most seriousness in her tone" There has been an incident involving the boys and I need either you or your wife to come down here as soon as possible."

The worst kind of feeling rose in the pit of his stomach.

"Are they alright?" he asked with rising panic.

"They are both fine," the woman assured him "but I do need you to come to the school."

"Alright." Max replied, relieved that the boys where okay. "I'll head over there right away."

He hung up the phone and scrambled to grab his coat and briefcase, all whilst trying to imagine what trouble his boys could have gotten themselves into.

When he walked into the school's main office, he immediately spotted Arthur and Marcus huddled together on two wooden chairs: Marcus's right arm was draped protectively around his brother's shoulder as he stroked the little boy's dark hair gently while they sat in comfortable silence.

Max stood in the doorway for what seemed like forever watching how his stepson handled Arthur. It was innocent, and yet it brought up an extremely uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach, one that he had been ignoring for seven years; the feeling that closeness between the boys was not normal.

He did his best to repress this distressing thought as he approached his son's; hating this ugly feeling that was nagging at him, and try his best to make sure the boys did not sense his discomfort.

"Hey kids." Max said to the brothers, who immediately looked up at the sound of their fathers voice.

"Dad!" Arthur cried with joy as he jumped up from the chair and into his father's welcoming arms. Whatever the incident Max had been called down to discuss with the principle, hadn't been bad enough to dampen the little boy's spirits. His son looked up at him with those soft brown eyes that where identical to his own, and smiled. "Dad, you won't believe what Eames did! He fought three eighth graders by himself, and they didn't even scratch him. He was like superman, or something."

Max shot a look of disappointment towards his stepson, who in turn shot a look of defiance right back at him.

"Marc, is this true?" Max asked, although he didn't really need a verbal confirmation; the shamelessness in Marcus's face proved that it was true.

"Yes, and I am not sorry I did." Marcus responded flatly without a trace of remorse for his actions in even the slightest form. "They deserved what they got."

Max wanted to hear more of what had transpired from his son's—especially from Marcus—but before he had the opportunity to let them elaborate on the situation, the school's principle Miss Bay, a crinkly old bitch in her mid sixties-who Max was convinced had never gotten laid once in her miserable life—waddled out of her office with a scowl pinned on her face.

"Mr. Blanc, step into my office please." The principle beckoned in her flat monotone voice, and for the first time in years Max felt like he was back in school again.

The discussion with Miss Bay proved to be complete disaster.

She explained to him that three older boys in Marcus' class had teased his son's close relationship when they had seen the two boys walking around the playground holding hands. Apparently their "teasing" had made Arthur upset to the point of tears, and unsurprisingly enough—at least not surprising to Max—Marcus had responded to the boy's bullying with his fist.

"He is very protective of Arthur." Max attempted to explain to the principle the second she had finished explaining what had gone down. "But he is not usually violent kid, by any means."

It wasn't a lie; Marcus was a very even tempered kid. It was Arthur who had a rather short fuse, though really only when he was being defensive or provoked, but when it came down to it they were both very good kids.

"It isn't Marcus's use of violence that concerns me in this case, Mr. Blanc," Miss Bay explained "It is the closeness between your sons that I find to be the issue here."

Christ not that, Max couldn't help but think as a sick feeling of mortification rose reared its ugly head for the second time that day. It was bad enough to think that your own children may be too close, but for somebody to bring it out in open so casually the way this woman was doing—well it just pissed him off.

"I don't understand what you're getting at." Max replied almost defensively, though he knew exactly what she was talking about.

Miss Bay let out a long exasperated sigh and directed her steely eyes away from Max's and off to the side, so that she was no longer looking him in the eye.

"Marcus and Arthur spend every recess together, and do not interact with any children their own age." She said gravely. "What concerns me is their lack of interest in anyone else, but each other. It isn't normal behavior Mr. Blanc, and I think you and your wife need to have a talk—"

"Hold on a second," Max interrupted, unable to listen any longer "Who the hell are you to say that my kids aren't normal? I think you should be more concerned about those boys bullying my sons."

"But don't forget Mr. Blanc, Marcus reacted in a way that does not adhere to Saint Mary's code of conduct, and I could have him suspended, even expelled for his actions." The principle responded coolly. "As for you questioning my authority on child behavior, I feel very confident in my ability to spot abnormal behavior amongst my students, and what I see developing between Arthur and Marcus is well..."

"Well what?" Max snapped impatiently, dreading whatever it was she was going to suggest.

"Disturbing, Mr. Blanc." She replied in a very matter of fact manner. "If you and your wife don't take action now, you will never be able to fix this potentially detrimental problem."

Deep down Max knew that she had a point, but he couldn't stand to here anymore. He loved his children and he couldn't bear the thought of his sons being casted out by others; however he didn't think he had it in him to sit those boys down and tell them that there was something wrong with them and their behavior towards each other; at least not now anyway.

"I appreciate your concern, Miss Bay," Max lied, secretly hating her for bringing to light an issue which he would have liked to have stayed buried "but my wife and I will handle any concerns we have with our sons the way we see fit."

The principle had nothing to say to that, and Max was relieved she didn't press the issue further. Instead she sent the boys home for the day, to which Arthur happily responded with a simple request: "Can we go to McDonalds?"

The car ride on the way home was quite, except for the sounds of Arthur slurping loudly on the chocolate milkshake in his hands.

The conversation with Miss Bay was still on the front burner of Max's mind, especially when she called Arthur and Marcus' relationship "disturbing," but when he looked in the rear view mirror only to see the boys sitting side by side, staring peacefully out at the world through the car window, he buried the notion deep down inside him and silently vowed to never let it surface again.