Caught up as he had been in gathering and packing up his possessions, Marc hadn’t noticed that Blake had taken his cue from him and was doing the same. He grimaced and looked away, dragging his bag to the bathroom. A comb and first aid supplies were shoved in with his clothes with little care.
“So?” Blake repeated from the door. “Where are we going this time? I thought you wanted to finish training the town before moving on. They’ve come a long way but they’re not ready yet.”
A thread of regret curled itself tight around him with Blake’s words, but Marc shattered it with a shrug. Pushing past Blake, Marc stepped into the living room and to the wooden chest in which they kept their arsenal. He sorted through the weapons and chose a few of his favorites. A heavy crossbow and a few steel bolts, a sword and its sheath, heavy with the memory of past fights. They went into a second travel bag with much more care than Marc had showed so far.
Blake had stopped packing by now and a scent of uncertainty was wafting about him. It wasn’t a scent Marc had ever associated with his Childe, and he rubbed his nose absently at the unfamiliarity of it.
“Sire?” Blake finally said, his voice barely making the word a question.
Marc forced himself to look at him then and hardened his gaze.
“Jen heard about a town across the country. They’ve got mages working on closing a breach there. That’s where we’re going.”
The grin that bloomed on Blake’s lips was one Marc had seen often enough; the anticipated delight in front of the upcoming battle. It made the next words a little harder to pronounce.
“I want you to stay here and keep organizing the militia.”
It was difficult to tell what Blake thought of that, but Marc knew him well enough to guess. His face slowly closed off, his wariness obvious. He was beginning to understand.
“Where do I join you when I’m done here?”
Tightening his hold on the bags’ straps, Marc hoisted them over his shoulder.
Marc had expected Blake to protest at the news, to laugh it off, to complain or demand an explanation. Instead, he sneered.
“I knew Jen was a bitch.” He spat her name as though it were poison. “I see I had it wrong. You’re her bitch, not the other way around.”
Before he knew what he was doing, Marc had dropped both bags to the ground. The next instant, his fist was connecting with Blake’s face.
Marc was used to Blake’s particular brand of disrespect, and the insults thrown at him had long since to matter, not when Blake could curse him in one breath and suck his brain out through his cock with the next. But he couldn’t, wouldn’t tolerate the same disrespect toward Jen. Granted, she wasn’t Marc’s Sire, but in the past weeks he had come to regard her as such. She was his elder, she shared his views on the Pacts and his determination to see the demon invasion to an end, and Blake simply had no right to insult her.
Marc and Blake had fought before. Their scuffles had always had a playfulness about them, and even when blood had been shed, when bruises had been inflicted, they had always ended up clawing at each other’s clothes and fucking until exhaustion. This time, sour despair tainted the air whenever Blake struck at his Sire or received a blow in reply.
When, bloodied and panting uselessly for breath, Blake remained lying on the floor, Marc picked up his bags again and left, feeling his Childe’s eyes on him long after he had left the building.
Jen gave Marc’s bruises a critical look when she climbed into the car, but she didn’t question him, or ask for an explanation. All she said was, “I knew this kid was trouble. You’ll be better off without him.”
Marc didn’t reply and started the engine.
Between a Sire who shared his commitment to fighting demons and a Childe who only cared about his own enjoyment, the choice was easily made.
He hadn’t thought he would start regretting it so fast, though.