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Mercutio cursed hotly and scrunched his eyes shut again as he made the painful mistake of opening his eyes. The sun was shining through the open window, posing a bigger hindrance than he wanted to face. In truth, all he wanted was to sink back into the bed, pull the covers over his head, and sleep until it no longer felt like a war was going on inside his head. The mattress was so soft, he was so comfortable, the sun was so bright; it was unfair, cruel, and mean that he had to get up, really.

But there were some needs that didn't listen to any person, and so he got up from the bed with a sigh—shielding his eyes as good he could from the accursed sunlight—and made his way to the bathroom. Before he walked back to his bedroom he made a quick detour to the kitchen, grabbing some aspirin and dry-swallowing them. His plan was to curl up in his bed and go back to sleep, and then when he woke up again the pills should have worked on his headache. It was a good plan, he thought and yawned wide, barely avoiding hitting his shoulder against the doorframe as he stumbled into his bedroom.

It was a good plan, but one that quickly was forgotten when he saw that his bed wasn't actually empty.

"What the hell?"

The sound of his own loud voice caused another flash of pain to go off in his head, and Mercutio rubbed his face. In the bed Tybalt groaned and sat up, glaring darkly. At least he seemed worse off than Mercutio.

He also didn't seem to be wearing any clothes.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Mercutio hissed, keeping the volume of his voice much lower than earlier. He marched forward and pointed at Tybalt. "This is my apartment, my bedroom, my bed! Why are you here? Naked, in my bed?"

Mercutio noticed how Tybalt's hands tightened around the covers, but he definitely did not notice anything else, absolutely did not follow the sight of Tybalt's bare chest, did not force himself to look away from the glimpse of hip bones. Absolutely not, because he didn't look.

"How should I know? Last I remember I was drinking with Gregory, far away from you and your minions," Tybalt said with narrowed eyes. He opened his mouth, but hesitated and looked away. Was his face a little redder, or was it just the sunlight? "Besides, I'm not the only one naked."

Mercutio blinked and realized how true Tybalt's words were. Suddenly his face felt hot, and he crossed his arms tightly, telling himself he was not blushing, he was not blushing. "It's my apartment! If I want to go around nude, then I can do it, because I live here. You don't, so I demand an explanation."

"I. Don't. Know. If I knew I wouldn't be here, trust me. God!"

With a sniff Mercutio walked around the bed, back to where he had woken up, and sat down heavily, his back to Tybalt. What had happened? The night before they had both been at the party Paris had thrown, which even Mercutio had to admit was spectacular. It had felt like everyone had been there; Capulets and Montagues alike had partied together, albeit in different sides of the house. There hadn't even been a fight, as far as Mercutio could remember. He did remember Benvolio at his side, laughing as Mercutio participated in that tequila challenge. There was also the very faint memory of Benvolio dragging away an unwilling Romeo, but when it happened, where they were going, or if they came back Mercutio didn't know.

A buzzing noise caught his attention, and Mercutio looked around. It took a bit of listening and fishing around in his clothes, but finally he had his phone in his hand; in retrospect it felt like less of a victory. Seventy-three facebook notifications, seven missed calls and three text messages from his uncle, fifteen texts from Romeo, and one from Benvolio, simply asking him if he was awake. The last message was what truly hammered in the sense of terror, and Mercutio swallowed heavily as he replied that he was awake, then opened his facebook.

A few minutes later he was torn between laughing and crying, and so ended up somewhere in the middle, which brought about a coughing fit. Tybalt's hand against his back brought back half-remembered sensations that made his coughing worse, but eventually he managed to calm down and turn around to face Tybalt. If he had still been naked it might have triggered yet another fit of some sort, but while Mercutio had been off in his own world Tybalt had managed to get half-dressed. Mercutio firmly ignored the itch to run his fingers over the bare chest in front of him, instead pushing his phone at Tybalt.

"What is it?" Tybalt asked, eyeing the phone as though it might explode the moment he touched it.

Mercutio closed his eyes and pushed it directly into Tybalt's hands, then turning around to look for his own clothes. Underwear at least. No matter how funny he normally found it to study Tybalt's reactions, this was one time he preferred to look away. "Status update from last night. Or, super early this morning, whichever you prefer. I believe it explains our current situation."

Tybalt was quiet for long moment—Mercutio was absolutely not counting the seconds—then he burst out, "You proposed to me? I accepted? This can't- this is impossible!"

It was only fitting that Tybalt sounded so freaked out, but at the same time there was a small sting in Mercutio's chest. Of course he hadn't really expected anything, but to hear Tybalt sound so uncomfortable...

Plastering a big smile on his face and pushing away his annoying feelings—it's not like he wasn't used to doing it—Mercutio turned around and waved a hand towards Tybalt. "What can I say, apparently I was completely out of my mind. Gregory commented that he managed to get it all on video, by the way, if we wanted to look at it."

Tybalt was pale and he didn't react at all when Mercutio grabbed his phone. "Gregory- you mean he saw this? With this horrible spelling and grammar I didn't think anyone would see it or understand—"

"Well, excuse me for being bad at writing when I'm drunk," Mercutio muttered.

"—but you mean that it actually reached out? And people has seen it?"

"I managed to tag you correctly, so yes. And I wouldn't look down on my drunk-texting too much if I were you, because you could understand it."

Tybalt stared blankly. "There's no way you have Gregory on facebook. That means he saw it on my wall, because you tagged me. That means everyone on my list has seen it." He paused and then said slowly, carefully, "I'm going to throw up now."

"Bathroom! Go to the bathroom!"

 

-----

 

Tybalt would have thought he'd be pleased about Mercutio actually being quiet for once, but the silence that hung over them was more suffocating than any he had experienced. After Tybalt had come back from the bathroom Mercutio—taking the opportunity to dress while Tybalt was otherwise occupied—suggested breakfast. Needless to say it was the most awkward breakfast Tybalt had ever participated in, and for some reason it never seemed to end. They sat silently around the table in Mercutio's kitchen, avoided each other's eyes, and ate so slowly it felt like they would still be sitting there when dusk came.

Thoughts were swarming around in Tybalt's head. He did have a faint and blurry memory of Mercutio kneeling in front of him and grabbing his hand. But that couldn't be real, it had to have been a prank of some sort. They weren't even dating!

Movements caught his attention and he stared intently as Mercutio drank all of his coffee in one determined move. It wasn't like Mercutio, neither the proposing nor his behavior now, and Tybalt could remember that Mercutio had drunk even more than he had done the night before. If it had been a prank Mercutio would have acted different, laughed at him and teased him madly. Tybalt certainly wouldn't have ended up in his bed.

The thought brought abrupt, half-remembered snippets of bodies moving against each other. Tybalt choked on his brioche.

"You okay?"

Tybalt waved at Mercutio to stay where he was, even though all he had done was put down his empty mug. It was almost a blessing to have the excuse of choking, because Tybalt's face burned and he was certain his whole face was red. At least he could now blame that on the lack of air. The fact that he couldn't look at Mercutio without his face heating up even more was a problem, though.

"Mercutio?"

The choking and wheezing had drowned out the sound of the front door to the apartment opening and closing, but the voice was loud enough that both Tybalt and Mercutio startled. It was a voice almost as familiar to Tybalt as Mercutio's was, and for a moment he wondered what Benvolio Montague was doing just walking into the apartment. His next thought was that, of course he would just walk right in. It was Mercutio's apartment. If anyone would just walk in without any hesitation it would be Benvolio, considering how close the two of them were.

The panic that filled Mercutio's face caught his attention, though, and disrupted his line of thinking. If anything, shouldn't Mercutio be relieved that he had someone who could act as a middleman to the whole situation? Benvolio was often found in that role, so it wasn't as though it would be particularly demanding. Even Tybalt was comfortable with the idea of having Benvolio as someone to talk to instead of talking with Mercutio directly—or as comfortable as he could be with anyone in the situation. So if Tybalt was fine with it, why in the world was Mercutio panicking?

"Benvolio! I- I didn't think you'd come here already." Mercutio stood up slowly, and it was so clear that he was struggling to talk.

The situation only got stranger and stranger, and Tybalt felt like he had been confused ever since he woke up. First he woke up in Mercutio's bed, then he discovered he and Mercutio had apparently gotten engaged, and now Mercutio couldn't talk to Benvolio, his closest friend. He clearly needed more coffee to understand what was going on here.

"Why, so you could get Tybalt out of here?"

The tone of Benvolio's voice was strange, and Tybalt quickly averted his eyes and drank his coffee when Benvolio looked over at him.

"No, I-" Mercutio's fingers drummed furiously against his thigh. "I can explain what happened, okay? I didn't mean anything, it didn't mean anything. I was drunk, we both were. Really, really drunk."

"I'm aware," Benvolio said, but neither his face nor his voice betrayed any emotions.

"I- come on, don't be mad at me, Volio." Tybalt glanced over the rim of his mug to watch Mercutio walk over and take Benvolio's face between his hands. "I love you, you know that. I'd never leave you, no matter what stupid shit I do when I'm drunk. Never. I- I don't know, I probably thought he was you, or something?"

Leave? Love?

Tybalt blinked hard, trying to get a grip on the words he had just heard. Love—that didn't sound like words exchanged between friends, even close ones. 'I love you', 'I'd never leave you'. Even if Tybalt hadn't drunk nearly enough the amount of coffee he wanted to to truly get through the mess of a situation he realized what Mercutio said. He understood exactly what the words meant.

No wonder Benvolio walked into the apartment so easily, if he and Mercutio were dating.

Benvolio snorted and shook off Mercutio's hands, passing him by and grabbing the chair next to Tybalt's. He placed it on the short end of the table and sat down, with a smile that made Tybalt more nervous than before.

"Why don't you sit down, Mercutio. I think this is a conversation best suited for all three of us, because we both know you were fully aware that it was Tybalt you brought back here yesterday."

Tybalt was grateful for his phone vibrating, because that meant he didn't have to stare at Mercutio's troubled face as he returned to his seat. Having something else to look at was far less upsetting, even if it was messages from his relatives. Up til now he had received far too many texts—Peter was boasting about how he had always known about Tybalt's feelings, Gregory congratulated him and asked who was going to arrange his bachelor party, and Julia's whole message was so full of joy that it gave Tybalt a headache—but he felt the urge to groan loudly when he saw that the latest message was from his aunt. She wanted to talk with him when he had the time.

Even the conversation currently taking place without him listening to it was better than dealing with that.

"-I really don't know what happened last night, okay? I can't remember any of it, except really short bits and pieces. I understand that you're mad, you have all right to feel disappointed and betrayed and-"

"I'm not, actually."

Mercutio stopped gesticulating and fell silent, staring at Benvolio with a deep frown. He looked so confused that Tybalt wanted to hug him.

Tybalt stayed absolutely still and turned to Benvolio instead, who was looking between the two of them with a thoughtful expression.

"Rather than talking about what happened last night or whether I'm pissed off or not, I think there is something else we ought to talk about. I've been meaning to for a while, actually, but I haven't found a good time or place. Guess you two have now," Benvolio said and grinned widely.

Neither Mercutio nor Tybalt smiled back.

"Okay." Benvolio cleared his throat and closed his hands on top of the table. The position gave the impression that he had something important to say, and Tybalt found himself edging forward. "Normally I would approach this with more tact, but I know both of you well enough to know that it won't work. So here it goes: you two are in love with each other."

Tybalt stared at Benvolio, his mouth hanging open. He had prepared to listen to something important, and then he was fed some bullshit he wouldn't even deign to repeat in his own head? Benvolio was clearly out of his mind, there was no other option. He and Mercutio? Never, ever.

Mercutio seemed to be of the same opinion and burst out laughing. "Is that a joke you've been working on for a long time, Volio? It's a funny one, I'll give you that, but please stop. The situation calls for this kind of jokes, I completely understand you, but can it at least wait until after he's left and we're alone again? You can tease me all you want then."

There was a sharp twist in Tybalt's stomach at Mercutio's words, and he quickly grabbed the coffee cup again to hide the sneer on his face. It was only because of his distaste at the revelation of Mercutio and Benvolio's relationship, nothing else. There couldn't be any other explanation for his sudden bad mood.

Benvolio's smirk made him even angrier. "After you've spent a night together you honestly expect me to believe that? Or did one of you sleep on the couch? Heh, I didn't think so. You're even both sitting civilly and eating breakfast together. Even if both of you refuse to accept it, not even your thick heads can deny it any longer."

Mercutio frowned and crossed his arms tightly. It looked more like he was trying to hug himself, in Tybalt's opinion. "It was a mistake made when we were both drunk. It was a mistake that didn't mean anything. What is this, Benvolio? Have you tired of me? If you want to break up there's easier ways to go about it, and most about any way would be better than this."

He tried to sound flippant, Tybalt could hear it clearly, but Mercutio couldn't stop the hurt from showing. It was hard to keep himself still and silent, and Tybalt's hands clenched around the cup rather than reach out towards Mercutio. Out of all the people Tybalt knew Mercutio was the one who should never sound sad; he should be laughing, grinning bright, proud and defiant in any situation. Not this.

Before Tybalt did something he would most likely regret Benvolio moved, shaking his head and leaning forward to grab one of Mercutio's arms. "No, I'm not trying to break up with you. I love you, so much it scares me at times. I don't ever want to lose you."

"Then what is this?" Mercutio didn't sound convinced, and Tybalt agreed with him. What was Benvolio's goal with the conversation?

"I love you, very much—we've established that—and you love me back. The thing is, you love Tybalt too- no, no protesting! There's nothing wrong with loving more than one person, absolutely nothing. And you have such luck too, because both the people you love loves you back."

"I am not-"

"Please." Benvolio rolled his eyes and looked at Mercutio with such a fond and exasperated expression that Tybalt couldn't hold back a snort. He avoided Mercutio's glare. "All these years you've run after and around Tybalt, making sure that he couldn't help notice whenever you were around. All the long hours I spent listening to you go on and on about Tybalt—which, frankly, was so annoying. You would spend so much time planning out exactly what you would say when you met, or what you would do, or even what you would wear, don't think I didn't notice."

Mercutio had the most amazing flush spreading across his cheeks, and Tybalt couldn't stop smiling. He took back every negative thought he'd had; this conversation was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

"I remember plenty of times when you complained to me about Tybalt ignoring you," Benvolio continued. "And no matter how much you insisted you hated his guts, you were always moping around after every real fight you guys had. I'm pretty sure I don't need to actually tell you, but you haven't fought for real for several years. Like, I'm not the only one who's noticed that at least. Everyone thinks you're just keeping pretenses up, or it's a habit, or something or the other. There are lots of theories," Benvolio said and shrugged.

"I'm... I don't..."

Mercutio didn't seem to know what to say, and apparently Benvolio had tortured him enough because he smiled quickly and turned to Tybalt, who definitely didn't feel like smiling any longer.

"Do you remember that time a couple months back when Mercutio accidentally fell after one of your spits? I saw how worried you were and how you trailed behind to make sure he wasn't seriously hurt. You don't even insult him any longer, not for real. Do you, honestly, think of Mercutio as an enemy?"

Feeling much like a deer caught in headlights Tybalt opened his mouth, managing to produce a very eloquent 'uhh.'

Benvolio grinned and leaned back in his chair, looking far too victorious. "And even if the looks you throw each other all the time or the way you act wouldn't be enough, please be aware that I remember everything that happens while I'm drunk. Everything. And you two are not the most subtle, especially when drunk. I can tell you that I have discovered both of you in very 'compromised' positions several times; thinking about it, I think Peter has found you just as many times, if not more. Now I finally get to ask: do neither of you remember or have you just pretended not to?"

Tybalt rubbed his hand over his face and very carefully avoided looking at Mercutio. So all those images, they weren't just remnants of stupid dreams or fantasies, they had actually been real memories? When he saw him next time Tybalt would make Peter tell him everything.

"Okay! Okay, fine!" Mercutio's outburst made Tybalt look at him, and then he couldn't look away. Even if Mercutio wasn't looking at him—was very pointedly not looking at him, in fact—the intensity in his face and the words he said captured Tybalt's full attention. "There might be some truth in what you're saying. I want him, have for a long time, but so what? It's just lust, it'll go away in time."

"That's progress, I suppose," Benvolio muttered and rolled his eyes. "Tybalt, you've been awfully quiet. What do you say?"

The next moment Tybalt found himself being stared at by two pairs of eyes, and he clutched the cup in his hand like it could save him from having to get involved in the conversation. "I might have, too," he said slowly, awkwardly.

Benvolio grinned and raised an eyebrow. "Have what? You need to speak more clearly, my friend."

Jumping out of the window to his left suddenly seemed like a very good idea, even though Tybalt wasn't quite sure which floor they were on. It was far to the ground, that much he was certain of.

"Feelings. Non-hostile feelings, towards Mercutio, as you said," Tybalt heard himself say instead. His voice was somehow calm; inside he was a hurricane of confused thoughts and feelings. "I want him, very much, and I wish he wants me back as badly."

"I am absolutely positive he does," Benvolio said and smirked at Mercutio who was staring at Tybalt. "The question now is, what do we do about this?"

Without taking his eyes off of Tybalt Mercutio said, "Don't try to pretend you don't already have a plan."

Benvolio chuckled and tilted his head. "Have either of you considered a threesome?"

He continued to grin while Mercutio and Tybalt turned as one to stare at him.

 

--------

 

Benvolio sipped his drink and sighed in pleasure. The weather was unbearably hot, even in the shade of the café cover, and after fifteen minutes he was already on his second glass Coca-Cola, feeling like he should have asked for more ice. Next to him Mercutio was enjoying a large ice cream; instead of eating like a normal person, however, he licked it as slowly and provocatively as he could. Benvolio had long since learned to ignore him, but Tybalt's scowl got deeper at the same speed as his face colored. He had about ten minutes before his face caught on fire or he went on a homicidal rampage, Benvolio idly thought. It would be interesting to see which outcome prevailed.

"Ben!"

Benvolio smiled and waved a hand at Romeo who was making his way past occupied chairs and tables. The smile faltered a little when he noticed there was a girl following Romeo, walking closely behind him with her hand in his. The smile disappeared completely when he realized who exactly the girl was, and he glanced at Tybalt, waiting for the moment when he would notice.

"Julia? What are you doing here?"

Instead of seemingly transforming into a tomato Tybalt looked like someone had removed every bit of blood from his body. The paleness would better fit someone wandering a cemetery late at night, Benvolio thought idly. He did have the hair and tall figure for it, came immediately after.

He did feel a little bad for the thought when he finally registered Tybalt's horrified expression.

"Why are you here now, and with him? Are you- why are you holding hands? What is going on?"

Mercutio realized his ice cream stint didn't have an audience any longer, so he pushed it aside and leaned forward. "Welcome, welcome. Romeo and lovely Julia, what a pleasant surprise. What business might you have here? And together?" He wasn't even trying to hide his smirk, and Benvolio rolled his eyes.

Julia smiled as Romeo pulled out a chair for her, then sat down in the one next to her. She didn't seem to notice that it put him between her and Tybalt, but the way he tensed showed that he did.

Benvolio vowed that he would buy the largest and prettiest bouquet he could get his hands on for Romeo's funeral.

"Tybalt," Julia began, softly reaching out and grabbing her cousin's hand, "You've always been like an older brother to me, and I love you as if you were. You haven't really been home since mom and dad found out about your relationship, which—" she raised her voice, ignoring the way Tybalt started to protest, "—I understand. You've always had so much pressure on you to be perfect, and you didn't want them to know. But, I need you to know that there's no reason for you to avoid coming home. Dad was shocked, that's true, but mom immediately talked him out of it—you know how she is. She loves you just as fiercely as ever, as do I. It doesn't matter who you love."

Benvolio tried to hide his smile by pretending to scratch his nose, although he wished he could take a picture of Tybalt's face. He wasn't about to say anything about it, of course. Tybalt might not have said much about it, but Benvolio knew that he had stayed in Mercutio's apartment for the last three weeks. It hadn't taken a genius to understand that there was a reason for it, but Tybalt had been less than pleased whenever it had been brought up. It warmed Benvolio's heart to hear Julia put Tybalt's fears at rest.

Mercutio didn't have the same opinion about tact as Benvolio did.

Without hesitating a moment Mercutio pulled out his phone and snapped a couple quick pictures, grinning wildly. "I believe I will print out these pictures and put them on a wall. You look absolutely charming in red, dear."

While Julia giggled and Benvolio groaned Tybalt pulled back his hand and growled Mercutio's name darkly, making a grab for Mercutio's phone with his other hand. The phone had already disappeared down one of Mercutio's pockets, however, and after a quick struggle he managed to grab Tybalt's hand instead and kissed the knuckles. Tybalt shook him off, but now his ears were flaming red as well. This time Mercutio was kind enough to not mention it.

"That's really great to hear, for all of us," Benvolio said with a smile. "Although, no matter how relieved I'm sure it makes Tybalt, you didn't actually answer his question, and I have to admit I'm curious as well. Why are the two of you here?"

He wasn't sure exactly what response he had expected, but the sight of identical flushes spreading across Julia and Romeo's faces was frankly speaking adorable. The flash from his left told him that Mercutio had thought the same and decided to save the moment. Tybalt, the poor dear, was looking utterly confused. The blushing had confirmed Benvolio's suspicions, but he didn't have the heart to bluntly tell Tybalt. He had already had that sort of conversation once, now it was someone else's turn.

"Well..." Julia hesitated, threading her fingers into Romeo's, then took a deep breath. "I thought that, now that you are in a relationship with Benvolio and Mercutio you might not freak out as bad. Romeo and I are dating!"

Everyone around the table waited with bated breaths, watching as Tybalt blinked slowly. He began talking slowly, a frown on his face, "I'm only dating Mercutio, Benvolio is my frie- wait, what did you- what?"

It was clear to everyone the moment Julia's words registered for Tybalt, as his eyes widened and he rose from his seat. His voice got louder and louder, and Benvolio wondered if he was going to throw himself at Romeo. He sure looked angry enough. "Are you serious? You! You despicable little brat, you've dared lay a hand on my Julia? My precious, innocent little sister? You with your womanizing ways, I should have known this would happen sooner or later, you- I'll kill you!"

Before Tybalt could get it in his head to make real of his threat Mercutio pulled him down and put an arm around his neck with a cheery grin. Tybalt struggled, but stilled with an affronted noise when Mercutio turned his face around and kissed him. Benvolio decided to leave it to Mercutio to keep Tybalt somewhat calm, and turned to Julia. Romeo was watching Tybalt and Mercutio with terrified eyes.

"I'm happy for you," Benvolio said. "How long have you two been a couple?"

Julia followed his lead and ignored the others, focusing only on Benvolio. "About two months now. He had been courting me for a couple weeks before that, sending me poems, coming to my window to read other poems aloud, even serenading me, but it's been two months since our first actual date."

Benvolio sniggered and nodded in Romeo's direction. "That's a surprise, you actually giving him a chance. I know my cousin and I have heard enough of his poems to last me a lifetime. Don't tell me you actually liked them?"

Julia laughed, a bright and joyful sound that brought a smile to Benvolio's lips. "Dear lord, no. They're the most awful things I've ever heard or read. But I suppose that was what made him so charming, his earnestness. He tried so hard and he was so sweet. To tell the truth, I fell for him the first night." She giggled behind her hand. "But boys are, well, you know. You are a boy. A man."

Benvolio nodded and leaned back in his chair. In the corner of his eye he noticed that Mercutio and Tybalt had stopped making out, but since Tybalt stayed in his seat Benvolio decided he could keep on ignoring them. "True. A lot of guys are jerks, and I completely understand you not wanting to do anything until you knew him better. Of course, Romeo really isn't like anyone else, but you couldn't know that, now could you?"

The smile Julia gave him was dazzling, and Benvolio felt like he finally understood Tybalt's protectiveness. If anyone threatened this girl's smile he wouldn't hesitate to fight them, and he had only really talked with her for a few minutes.

"So now that you know about us, I feel like I get to ask about the three of you," Julia said easily. "I knew Tybbs was so in love with Mercutio, and when I saw the facebook status I was so happy. Confused and surprised, but happy. Then I find out through Romeo, and Mercutio's facebook, that you three have begun a three way relationship? But now Tybbs say something completely different. What is going on?"

Benvolio snorted and shook his head, glancing at Mercutio and Tybalt again. Mercutio was leaning on Tybalt's shoulder with a wide grin while Tybalt was talking lowly to Romeo. Judging by Romeo's expression Tybalt was most likely telling him all about what he would do if he ever hurt Julia. Benvolio probably should be a bit more concerned for his cousin, but he could only feel warmth in his chest as he watched Mercutio and Tybalt. "Mercutio and I are dating; we have been for a couple of years, although we've kept it on the down low. Mercutio and Tybalt are dating now too, but Tybalt and I are not. We like each other well enough, I would even count him as a good friend, but it's nothing romantic. We just both happen to love the same person, who loves us both back. Nothing more complicated than that."

"A lot of people wouldn't agree with you," Julia said. When Benvolio looked back at her she had a serious face, and a small wrinkle between her brows appeared as she continued talking. "Having a partner of the same sex isn't as unusual as it used to be, but what you are doing—having several partners, all of the same sex too—that definitely is. As long as you are all satisfied and happy then it's all good, but I'm afraid people won't see it that way. I don't want any of you to regret this or feel bad about it."

Julia might talk about Romeo's earnestness, but it was her own concern that warmed Benvolio. He would definitely have to talk to Tybalt about adopting her as his little sister as well. "You don't need to worry about it. It's not like we flaunt it to begin with—or well, most of us don't." He rolled his eyes as he thought of Mercutio, who was far too happy to flaunt everything that was even remotely provocative. "But even if anyone would disapprove, it doesn't matter to us. What the three of us are feeling is the important thing, and those who are not part of us have nothing to say. That's what we all agreed on."

"I'm glad to hear that. There is just one more thing I have been wondering about." After Benvolio nodded Julia continued, a weak tinge of red on her cheeks. "What happened with that proposal? Mercutio proposed to Tybbs, who said yes, right?"

Benvolio couldn't help but laugh. "Yes, yes, you're right. We even got a hold of a video afterwards, and it was all true. So, since Mercutio is true to his word, he dragged Tybalt with him to get matching rings a few days after."

"Oh. Okay." Julia hesitated, and when she spoke next she said each word carefully, as though she was afraid of actually saying them out aloud. "But what about you?"

Benvolio grinned and raised his right hand, showing her the simple but elegant gold ring on his finger. "Cutio thought it was unfair to leave me out if it, so he proposed to me too. I couldn't exactly do anything but say yes, of course, so we ended up buying rings too. So Mercutio and I have one pair of rings, and Mercutio and Tybalt has one pair."

Julia gasped and pulled at his hand, studying the ring closely. When she looked up again she wore a smile that could rival even the best of Mercutio's, and Benvolio decided that if Romeo ever hurt her, by mistake or otherwise, he would be first in line to make him pay for it. "That's amazing! I am- wow, that's- that is so-" She stopped herself and took a deep breath. After she seemed calmer again. "I really am so happy for you three, and I wish you the best."

Benvolio squeezed her fingers and smiled warmly. "Thank you."

Still with the same smile Julia added, in a tone as flippant as if she was talking about the weather, "Of course, I hope you know that if Tybalt ends up hurt I will hurt the both of you more than you can imagine."

The smile froze on Benvolio's face and he felt the hair on his arms rise. "Okay," he managed to force out.

"Good," Julia said sweetly, then turned to smile at Romeo who was clutching her arm. Tybalt was reaching for him, but since he was once again constrained by Mercutio he couldn't quite reach.

Benvolio decided it might be a good idea to just sit back and take a moment to recover from having the sweetest girl he had ever met turn into the scariest one. For now the others were concentrating on other things, and soon he would have to intervene and make Tybalt see reason, but for now he just focused on calming down his frightened heart. Maybe he should reconsider that adoption.