"Hey there, sweetheart."
Startled from my looking-around, I turned to see a man not unlike myself – his horns had the same shape, his curly dark hair my same length and mess, and a light brown fur on his feet. However, he was much paler, taller, and, well, much skinnier.
"Are-are you referring to me?" I asked tentatively.
"Well who else would I be?" he answered, sliding up to me with an obnoxiously suave demeanor. He leaned on an elbow on the wall behind me, smiling. "I mean, I don't see many of our kind in these parts. So of course I'm fancying you."
"I have a boyfriend," I said automatically, hoping that would send him away.
"Oh really? I haven't seen any other velibo."
"Well, he's... he's not..." I stammered, which made him snort a half-laugh.
"Oh, not one of us, huh? You poor thing, got a little desperate, eh? Don't worry, I'm here now."
I looked around. Where is he? He said he was going to the bathroom. But in this crowded club, in my dark, quiet corner, it was hard to see much.
"I-I'm not-not, uhm, interested," I stammered again, my strength fading. I looked around again. Where is he!?
"Oh, come on now, surely he doesn't know how to please you right. And does he have muscles like me?" He flexed, then smirked and put an arm around me.
I squirmed away immediately. "L-let go, d-don't touch me! Leave me alone!"
"Come on babe," he said, leering over me and reaching out again, grabbing my shoulder. "I promise I can treat you right!"
I started feeling cold again, "L-let... let go..." I whimpered quietly.
Suddenly Marcellus's heavy hand came out of nowhere and snatched the man's hand, twisting it off of me.
"Oh hello!" he said in a cheerful tone that dripped poison. I ducked behind him, peering out like a shy child from behind their parent. "I see you've met my boyfriend. Well, my name is Marcellus." He bent the man's arm in an incorrect way, causing me to cringe and wince, and making the man to cry out. "It's so nice to meet you!" The cheerful tone was rapidly dissolving into a deadliness that made me anxious.
"L-LET GO!!" screamed the man.
"Oh, so you do know what that means," said Marcellus, twisting hard. "Well, just to make sure you don't forget again, I think I'll go ahead and break your hand, maybe even your wrist..."
I looked between them in alarm and panic, and knew Marcellus was absolutely serious, his smile having taken on a dark and cruel snarl.
"D-don't!" I squeaked out. "Marcellus, don't!! Let him go!!"
I heard a derisive scoff, but, with an aggressive jerk, he released the man, who scurried off while holding his hand and arm. "Yeah, and I better not see you here again!" Marcellus bellowed after him.
"Marcellus!" I exclaimed.
He turned to me. "What?"
"You-you can't just say things like that! You can't just DO things like that!"
"Zed, that guy deserved to have his hand smashed to pieces! He wouldn't leave you alone after you told him to fuck off. People like that have to be taught a lesson."
"Twisting his arm could have been enough; you were going way too far! Wh-why do you have to be so violent!?"
"Because people like him don't learn until you beat it into them! And now," he gestured with wide arm behind him, "he's going to go after someone else! Someone who probably won't have someone like me around to kick his ass!"
"That's not—Marcellus his behavior is on him! We don't need to add to the violence!!"
"Oh, and how do you propose he is dealt with then? Just wait until he becomes a better person? Like Zen!?"
I gasped. Tears stung my eyes. "What are you saying!? I just don't want to see any more violence, that's not wrong of me!! I've been through enough violence, I can't stand anymore!"
"Oh you think you're the only one who's been through violence!? HUH!? I've been through it since I fucking was born! I've had creeps like that groping me since my balls dropped!!"
I suddenly deflated, feeling cold, rocked by his statement. "Y-you..." I whispered, grasping for words. Yes, I knew he was a victim of rape as an adult, but... but...
He turned around, I could see his shoulders shaking and his hands were clenched.
"M-Marcellus, I... I'm—"
"Fucking FORGET IT!" he yelled, storming off, marching swiftly through the crowd.
"W-wait! Marcellus, wait!" I called after him, following, squeezing past the people he had no problem bowling through.
And then, I was outside, free from the congestion. I looked around and saw he had started down the sidewalk already, in the direction of our home.
"Marcellus, stop, just wait... Stop!! Marcellus!!"
Finally, he halted. He still didn't turn to face me as I caught up to him, and I wasn't sure what to say. For a moment I reached out to touch his back, but balked. He was more visibly shaking. And did he just sniffle?
I sighed, and then slowly, tenderly, I took his hand in both of mine, and laced my fingers through his. He was shaking very hard. I leaned against his arm, hugging it close, and for a moment we stayed like this.
"I'm sorry. I don't want to fight," I said at last, snuggling into him. "Let's just go home, okay?" I looked up at him, and could just barely see part of his face, seeing tears stained on his cheek, though his expression was tight, still refusing to look at me. He nodded.
I called a cab down, and tugged on his arm gently towards it. Wordlessly, he climbed in, and I went in after him. We put the privacy window up.
We were quiet in the cab for a while. I laced my fingers through his again. He was still shaking, though less now.
"Hey..." I said softly, tucking a hand under his wet chin and gently pulling him to face me. "It's okay, come here..." I put my arms around his neck, and he dipped his head into my chest.
"Do you hear my heart?" I began. I'd said this before, it seemed to soothe him. "Just listen to my heart, it's right here for you, with you. It's real, I'm real, you're real, and we're here together, in the present, not the past. Listen to my heart... It beats for you. We're here together, right now, we are here and we are alive and well. Hear my heart..."
As I spoke, I could hear him sniffling more and starting to hiccup and give little whimpers and sobs. He put his arms around me and gripped me tight, his fingers gently digging into my skin and tugging at my shirt. He curled as best he could into me, tucking into a sort of fetal position and wrapping his tail. I began to pet his hair.
"I'm... I'm sorry..." he said eventually.
"I know. It's okay. I'm sorry too," I responded. "We can talk more about it some other time, though."
I now understand, and because I do I can help him overcome these behaviours, these outbursts and lashing-outs.
We held each other all the way to home.