“He wants you to what?” Tybalt exclaimed.
“Marry Juliet,” Mercutio repeated, in a low voice, trying to shush his lover lest the whole palace wakes up and wonders what the Capulet is doing here this late at night.
“And don't tell me you're accepting?” Tybalt asked, lower but no less angry.
Mercutio chuckled, but there was no humour in it. “D'you think I have a choice ?”
“Of course you do, you can...”
“What would you do if Capulet finds you someone to marry? I mean, really finds you someone to marry, not just wave women around in the hopes that one will catch your attention. If he tells you you can't stay in his home anymore and that you need to marry? He won't keep feeding you forever.”
Tybalt breathed out slowly. “I'd have to agree.”
“See? Don't think I didn't try to convince him otherwise. But since my cousin didn't take too well to her trying to elope, and since he's been more... compliant, so far, my uncle is willing to give him a pass. Something I can't really hope for. Anyway, he's to marry a Montague girl so both houses are allied to ours and no-one fights the Prince's family.”
He tried talking about if matter-of-factly, to hide the panic that had seized him since he knew.He had a plan, yes, sure, but that was assuming Tybalt would agree to it, and that would entail more... sharing... than Mercutio was comfortable with. Anyway, Tybalt was too caught up in his own anger to even notice.
“I can't believe you're going to marry my cousin. I warn you, if you hurt her in any way...”
“Oh. And here I thought you were worried on our... on my account,” he corrected himself.
Tybalt calmed down as fast as he'd been wound up. “That too,” he whispered.
“Look, d'you think I'm happy about it? I don't want anything to do with Juliet... Not to mention what Romeo will say about that!” he added, as an afterthought.
“Romeo? What's he got to do with any of this?” And there you go, Tybalt was angry once again.
“ooh, come on, love, don't be jealous!” Mercutio teased. His smile vanished quickly when he realised that, actually... “Wait, you don't really think I...”
“How the hell would I know?”
“Weeell, if you knew he's into your cousin, maybe you would...”
“He what now?”
Mercutio sighed. Why was he the one having to break all the bad news to him. Being so serious wasn't his strong suit.
“Look, it's all good,” he tried to smile, “I marry Juliet, they get to be together, and no-one bothers us. They won't be wondering why you spend so much time around my place, everyone knows how fond you are of your little cousin.”
“That your idea?”
“Yeah. Look, hum...” He sighed. If he was to do this, he might as well do it properly. “I get that you wouldn't trust me. Hell, if you even think I'd be with Romeo behind your back, it's pretty clear you don't. And alright, alright,” he said, raising his hands when he saw Tybalt would protest, “that's my fault, I know. But you should know I'm not playing with you, ok?”
Mercutio made a tentative to stroke his cheek, and contrary to his expectations, Tybalt didn't pull away. He could see, though, even in the pale moonlight, that Tybalt didn't quite trust him.
“I'd like...” He stopped himself. “I'd like a lot of crazy things, and we both know that's not gonna happen. But, look, your cousin knew, or at least suspected, and unless you've told her, that means people talk. I hate to be the reasonable one, here, but we can't go on like that. And I'd... rather not stop altogether.”
“”Right, so you get yourself a trophy wife and you still get to fuck me behind everyone's back, it all works well for you doesn't it?” Tybalt got up and went to the window.
“Wait!” Mercutio cried out, before he caught himself and swore under his breath. Hopefully no-one would be around that part of the palace at this hour of the night, because he didn't need someone to barge in right now and complicate things. As Tybalt turned around, he caught his hand. “I can only blame myself for acting like I don't care about anything, but you really think I'd risk it? I must say, it's quite fun teasing you, see how you react, push your buttons – but I don't think I'd have bothered – don't think I'd have taken the risk if I didn't...” didn't what? He couldn't bring himself to finish the thought, let alone say it, and he was grateful when Tybalt didn't push it. He knew he would have. As it was, Tybalt relax ever so slightly – and at least he didn't seem about to leave just yet.
“Look,” he went on, changing the subject, “as much as you hate my friends, I'm sure you don't want your cousin married to some guy she'll hate.”
“How are you any better? I've seen you around women.”
Mercutio tilted his head, not quite sure what Tybalt was talking about.
“Come on, I even saw you bully Juliet's nurse one time.”
“Capulet women. I don't make discriminations.” He tried to defend himself, but he knew there wasn't much of a way out...
“An old woman, really? Even Paris isn't half that bad. Why should I trust you with my cousin?”
Mercutio looked at his feet. “Alright, look, I've talked to your cousin, she's... she's clever, alright? Seriously, I respect her. I mean, if I don't, she'd probably eliminate me for it if you didn't do it first.” Capulets and their temper... though Mercutio wouldn't say he didn't enjoy that. Come to think of it, he wouldn't be caught saying he enjoyed it either, though. Well, except that'd have to change once he was married to one. But the thought was still so foreign and strange... and he had trouble shutting down the voice in his head that kept telling him it wasn't the right Capulet, because there was nothing he could ever do about that. In the meantime, he looked expectantly at Tybalt. No matter what he had agreed to with Juliet, he didn't know what he'd do if Tybalt decided it all ended there. For so long they'd been seeing each other without quite ever acknowledging it. Between teasing remarks thrown at each other on the streets under pretence of hate, and nightly encounters, still they had never quite admitted to anything, and even though more often than not Mercutio thought he knew, sometimes it just felt like it couldn't be real. And even if, then, well, there were so many reasons Tybalt would push him away even so.
But Tybalt did no such thing, instead sitting back against the armrest of an armchair. He sighed, and asked casually when the wedding was to take place – or tried to do it casually, because Mercutio wasn't sure if it was some remnant of anger, or something else, but he could tell Tybalt wasn't quite alright. But if he wanted to stick to the practical, Mercutio certainly wouldn't complain. Especially since it meant he wouldn't have to own up to anything, any... feelings he might have had. And they'd figure it out, eventually. Hopefully. Not that they'd have much of a choice, or family dinners would become slightly complicated.