Disclaimer: I am not the Bard, nor shall I ever claim to be.

Feedback: Is nice, especially contructive critcism. Glowing praise works, too.


The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.

- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

How helpless we are, like netted birds, when we are caught by desire!

- Belva Plain


The sun is hot and the dust puffs up in clouds everywhere, obscuring vision and making everyone cough on the day that they meet. The road is weather-beaten and hard and baked and they meet because the smaller boy is being shoved around by bigger boys, and the older one comes to his aid.

After Mercutio gives Benvolio his hand to help him stand, he smiles at him, a brilliant grin, like burning embers. And Benvolio can't help but return it and he can feel the calluses from Mercutio's hand rub against his and he drinks in Mercutio's face.

This is the beginning of They.


Three weeks later and they have formed a steady friendship. Benvolio isn't good at making friends, but Mercutio is, and maybe that's why they became They.

Benvolio sometimes likes to look at Mercutio when he knows the latter isn't watching.


Mercutio is tall and wiry when he enters his thirteenth summer and his skin is brown and his hair falls in black curls into his eyes.

He has to shake those curls to see, an impatient toss of his head to get them out of his eyes, then he can finally look around, vision unobstructed. His eyes are sharp and bright and he can see everything.

But he still doesn't notice Benvolio's secret looks.


Benvolio can't understand why Romeo falls in love so quickly, rash and sudden. He's never been in love, while his cousin with as many years as he has been far too many times to count, and he wonders if it's been some kind of defect in him, that his feelings aren't matured enough to look upon some pretty lady with a quick mind and clever tongue and think that he loves her.

He ponders this while sitting on a bench, waiting for Mercutio, when he sees him and his stomach jolts and his face flushes.


They've known each other for eleven years now, and Mercutio is nineteen and Benvolio is eighteen and hardly a day goes by when they don't see each other. It's summer and boiling hot and they sit on a wall and look around.

The flowers are in full bloom now, bright and fierce and Mercutio picks one off a nearby tree. It's a soft pink and red blossom, the same color as a blush on a maid's cheek. He grabs it delicately, softly, as he might touch a newborn. Twirling it around in his long, bony, fingers he presses it softly into Benvolio's hands, smiling gently.

Later, Benvolio would put it in a book and press it and never remove it.


He knows that these thoughts are not natural. Men were not supposed to love one another. He was not supposed to desire Mercutio in this way.

And he knows that Mercutio would never desire him in this way, either.

So he pushes the feeling back, into the back of his mind and life and thinks of Mercutio as a friend.

A friend and nothing more.


He becomes even more quiet and withdrawn. His aunt and uncle begin to worry about him. His skin becomes pale and stretched and his eyes sink back into his head.

Mercutio asks about him and he doesn't reply.

His hands become almost completely bone and he tries not to look at Mercutio's beautiful eyes.


He wonders if he's sick with longing or grief. Maybe a mix of both, or maybe they are one and the same.


It starts out like a perfectly normal night, and that's how Benvolio would look at it from then on.

Mercutio tosses out a few of his lewd, bawdy jokes and makes several indecent gestures at a few innocent ladies passing them by. They've returned from a feast at old Tiberio's house and were leaning against the wall outside his orchard. The night is pitch-dark, but cool, and stars are scattered across the sky, glittering and winking at them and Mercutio's face is bathed in their glow, half in shadows and half painted with silver light, curls shining.

Benvolio wishes he were a painter and could immortalize Mercutio in this one moment, but as it is, he can just try to absorb the image and paint it in his mind.


A few hours later, they're sitting on a bench in front of the Montague's house. Mercutio is twisting tales, waving his hands about with gusto, yelling into the night.

Benvolio relishes every word.

He could watch Mercutio like this for hours, with his eyes alight and hands flying and voice carrying passion and emotion and laughter.


After several more bawdy jokes, Mercutio suddenly becomes dead serious and looks right into Benvolio's eyes. Benvolio's are a nut-brown and Mercutio's are a deep blue, like twilight. Benvolio can see the stars reflected in them.

Mercutio, with such a soft, delicate motion, pushes a lock of Benvolio's dark hair behind his ear and rests his thin hand on his companion's shoulder. "Benvolio mine," Mercutio whispers, his voice like a smooth, gentle caress, "please, give me but one kiss. 'Tis all I ask of thee. And if thou canst not, then leave me to my grief, and I shall never bother thee again."

Benvolio's blood runs ice-cold before blazing hot. He thinks that he's dreaming because this is Mercutio and Mercutio would never say anything like this unless he was jesting. Benvolio thinks for one horrified moment that Mercutio knows of his love, but Mercutio's eyes are so kind and gentle that Benvolio decides that he must be serious.

He smoothes one hand over Mercutio's cheek and Mercutio presses their lips together and Benvolio feels a rush of heat and he wraps his arms around Mercutio's neck, pulling them together.


Hours later, when they lay tangled in the sheets on Benvolio's large and soft bed, bare skin on bare skin, he turns everything over in his mind. Mercutio sleeps on his stomach, one arm flung over Benvolio's chest, a contented smile on his face.

Benvolio strokes Mercutio's thin lips with one finger and thinks about how free he feels now.