Disclaimer: I do not own Romeo & Juliet.
"Do you know," Sampson said as he walked along the street, "what I really hate?"
"The fact that we do not get paid nearly enough for all the work that we put in?" Gregory guessed.
Sampson frowned. "Oh, well, I suppose there is that but I wasn't talking about such trivial concerns. I'm talking about real, deep hatred."
"The plague?" Gregory tried again.
Sampson rolled his eyes. "I'm talking about something serious here!"
"And wiping out such a sizable portion of our population wasn't serious?" Gregory asked, surprised.
"Not when you compare it to the very existence of our hated rivals, the House of Montague!" Sampson declared grandly.
Gregory just stared at him. "Since when was the House of Montague our hated rivals? I don't remember agreeing to this…"
Sampson knocked him on the head. "How can you not know our history? The mighty Capulets whom we loyally serve and the despicable Montagues who aren't worthy of living in the same state!"
"No, I know about all of that," Gregory told him. "It's just that I don't see why you care so much about it. Me, this is just a job for me. I need to eat and, aside from my wife, my family members won't get jobs themselves and seem to expect me to support them. I take pride in my work, certainly, but this isn't my whole life."
"But what about Capulet loyalty?" Sampson demanded, outraged.
"I am not a Capulet and neither are you," Gregory pointed out. "And I doubt either our masters or the Montagues would even notice if we did try to get involved. They kind of don't pay any attention to us unless we do something extremely wrong and they're going to yell at us about it. I've actually been fired twice and just reported to work the next day and they didn't notice the difference."
"It's not surprising you've been fired if you have so little pride in serving the great Capulets!" Sampson cried out. "And the Montague servants care about this bitter, bitter feud between our two households."
"It's not our households," Gregory reiterated. "And are you seriously saying you'd rather be like a Montague?"
"Well…I…" Sampson looked flustered for a moment before shaking himself. "Look, all I'm saying is that I want to kill all Montague men and sleep with all Montague women!"
"All of them?" Gregory asked, making a face.
Sampson nodded. "Yes, all of them. Why do you ask?"
"Well, it's just the fact that some of them are really old or really young or really ugly," Gregory explained. "And why would you want to sleep with them if you hate them so much?"
"It's because I hate them," Sampson replied.
Gregory started backing away from him. "Okay, now you're sounding like some kind of sexual predator…"
Sampson was easily distracted. "Hey look! Two Montague servants! Quick, help me brainstorm ideas about how to provoke them into a fight without breaking the law."
"I will not," Gregory said crossly. "I don't want to get into a fight. And why do you want to provoke them anyway? They haven't done anything!"
"They've dared to exist within my line of sight," Sampson growled. "And before you say anything, no I don't care that they're probably just trying to feed their families. Oh! I've got it!" He looked right at the servants, waited until they were looking back at him, and bit his thumb right in front of them.
They immediately went crazy and tried to kill him.
"A little help here!" Sampson cried out.
Gregory shrugged and continued on his way.
"What's this?" Benvolio Montague cried out as he stumbled upon the scene. "Silly servants, whatever are you getting into scrapes for? Break it up."
The two Montague servants reluctantly withdrew.
"Yeah, that's right!" Sampson said, coughing up blood. "You'd better run!"
"What's going on here?" Tybalt Capulet demanded as he, too, happened upon this very well-travelled street.
"Nothing much," Benvolio told him. "I was just stopping our servants from trying to kill each other for no real reason."
"I believe you," Tybalt said after a moment's consideration. "Unfortunately, there is literally nothing else to do here besides fight and so I say let's try to kill each other!"
"I'd really rather not-" Benvolio began but Tybalt lunged at him and he was forced to defend himself.
"Look! A fight!" a random citizen yelled, punching another random citizen in the jaw.
The random citizens started to pummel each other.
"They're at it again," another citizen grumbled. "I say that we beat up the people who started this fight and hopefully make them think twice about starting another brawl when decent people are just trying to get on with their lives."
He and several others took out clubs and went to go after the still-fighting Montague and Capulet supporters.
The brawl abruptly stopped when Lords Montague and Capulet entered, trailing behind their wives.
"Really?" Lady Montague asked, gasping. "He said that?"
Lady Capulet grinned and nodded. "Oh, he most certainly said that. I think he might have even meant it, too!"
Lords Montague and Capulet were fidgeting and trying to pretend that their wives were happily chatting like they weren't in the middle of an epic family feud.
Lord Capulet brightened suddenly. "Look, a fight! I'm going to kill you, you Montague bastard!"
"Not if I kill you first!" Montague looked far happier than being threatened should have made him.
"Oh, stop it," Lady Montague snapped. "Can't you see that Elena and I are in the middle of something? If you start fighting then we won't be able to hear a thing!"
"That goes for you, too," Lady Capulet told her husband pointedly.
The two sighed in unison. "Yes dear."
Prince Escalus grandly road onto the scene then. "Everybody, stop you're fighting!" He looked around. "Oh, you already stopped. Good. Now you had better stay stopped fighting because this is seriously ridiculous. People should be able to walk down the street without a brawl breaking out and, more importantly, I shouldn't constantly be called to make peace! The very next person that I see fighting – and everybody I see after that – will be tortured. A lot. Just how much depends on how annoyed I am. In fact, let's just declare that whoever starts the fight is going to be killed on the spot. Now, Montague and Capulet, we'll talk later after my urge to kill you all gets back to a manageable level."
Without waiting for a response, he turned and left. Grumbling, everyone but Benvolio and his aunt and uncle left as well.
"Okay, what happened?" Lady Montague demanded.
"I have no idea," Benvolio admitted. "When I walked by two of our servants were attacking one of the Capulet servants. I broke it up but then Tybalt was bored and so restarted the whole thing. That man needs a hobby or something. He's involved with virtually every altercation our families have."
"Yes, well, life is rather dull," Lord Montague said wistfully.
Lady Montague glared at him.
"But not dull enough to start random brawls in the street!" he hastened to add.
Lady Montague turned back to Benvolio. "Have you seen my son?"
"Not since he was threatening to drown himself in a pond earlier today," Benvolio replied.
"What?" Lady Montague cried out, horrified. "Did you stop him?"
"Well…no," Benvolio admitted.
Lady Montague twitched. "And why not?"
"He still seemed like he was going to be stuck in the planning stage for awhile," Benvolio explained. "He seemed concerned about leaving an ugly corpse behind."
"Did you at least talk to him?" Lord Montague asked.
"I would have except that he looked troubled," Benvolio replied.
"That's why you should have spoken to him!" Lady Montague shouted.
Benvolio shrugged. "Had I done that then I probably would have been drawn into a long, boring discussion about his troubles and I don't actually care."
"We've noticed that Romeo has been pretty upset lately," Lord Montague confided. "And we've resorted to all sorts of methods, including following him around ourselves and paying other people to follow him around, to try and figure out what's wrong."
"Have you tried, oh I don't know, asking him?" Benvolio inquired.
"We have not," Lady Montague replied.
"See! I'm not the only one who doesn't want to!" Benvolio exclaimed, pleased. "And hey, there's Romeo now. Why don't you just ask him-"
"We've got to go," Lord Montague said as he and his wife hurried away. "But let us know what you find out!"
Cursing, Benvolio waited for Romeo to arrive. "Hello, Rom-"
"I'm sad because the love of my life called me a creepy stalker who had creepy stalker parents and joined a convent to try to get away from me," Romeo said tragically. "I think I'm going to die."
"Um…don't do that," Benvolio advised. "And hey, you should probably just forget about her unless you want to end up in a tragedy now that she's a nun."
"I can't just forget about her! She's the most beautiful and perfect woman ever and I love her and will love her until the day I die!" Romeo cried out, stamping his feet. "Why does nobody understand me?"
With that, he ran away.
"Probably because you're a whiny sixteen-year-old with no real problems," Benvolio speculated before reluctantly following after his cousin.
"So, lovely weather we're having, isn't it?" Lord Capulet asked awkwardly.
The prince's cousin, Paris, nodded vaguely. " So, may I please marry your daughter?"
"You do remember that my daughter is thirteen, right?" Lord Capulet replied.
"I am aware of that, yes," Paris assured him. "Though I do appreciate your efforts to make absolutely sure that I know."
"I'm not going to have my daughter getting married at thirteen!" Lord Capulet growled.
"She's almost fourteen," Paris protested. Seeing as how that didn't soften his prospective father-in-law up any, he added, "I can wait until she's fifteen to consummate the marriage."
"You can wait until she's sixteen to marry her," Lord Capulet countered. "If you're still interested then then of course you may marry her but if there's one thing I don't want history to remember me as then it is as a bad father!"
Paris made a face. "But two years is forever."
"And a marriage would last even longer than that," Lord Capulet said unsympathetically. "But hey, I'm not heartless. Come to my masquerade tonight. It would probably be for the best if Juliet met you and maybe got to know you before your probable wedding."
"Two years is more than enough time to meet her," Paris grumbled.
"Look, you're the one who doesn't want to wait," Lord Capulet said tetchily.
"I would love to be there!" Paris exclaimed, smiling nervously.
Lord Capulet's eyes widened suddenly. "That reminds me…Peter!"
One of the servants came up to him. "Yes, my lord?"
"The masquerade feast is tonight! And I haven't invited anyone!" He took out a list of names and handed them off to Peter. "Make sure everyone knows when and where to come, alight?"
Peter nodded. "Of course, my lord."
Lord Capulet and Paris walked away.
Peter stared helplessly at the list in his hand. "I really wish that I could read…"
Fortunately, Benvolio and Romeo came across him then.
"I shall die without her!" Romeo was crying out.
"Then do it already or stop talking about it," Benvolio told him, annoyed. "But seriously, you're sixteen. You'll get over it."
"I will never get over it!" Romeo swore.
"Excuse me, can you read?" Peter asked desperately, hesitantly approaching them.
"Yes, we can," Benvolio assured him. "But we are Montagues and you serve the Capulets."
"Is it weird that we know that?" Romeo wondered.
"With all the times we're suddenly ambushed by anyone who has ever met the Capulets, I don't think so," Benvolio replied.
"I don't even care," Peter said flatly. "I just know I have to invite all these people to that masquerade tonight and I cannot read at all."
"I don't think we have enough time to teach you how to read," Romeo said reluctantly. "Maybe if you had given us a little more notice."
"That's very kind, sir, but I really just need somebody to read these names to me," Peter corrected him.
Romeo frowned. "I would prefer a little more self-sufficiency in the world but I suppose you do not have much time."
Benvolio took the list and began reading off of it.
"What was that last name?" Romeo asked him.
"Sorry, Romeo, no repeats. I already said it," Benvolio insisted.
"But you just mumbled it," Peter protested. "I don't know who I'm supposed to deliver it to."
"Then you should have been listening, too," Benvolio said stubbornly.
Romeo reached for the list. Benvolio tried to keep it from him but eventually Romeo managed to get his hands on it.
"Rosaline," Romeo said dreamily.
"Why are you inviting nuns to your party?" Benvolio wondered. "And don't even start, Romeo."
"Start what?" Romeo asked innocently. "Say, is it alright if we come? Since we helped you and all."
"Normally I would say 'of course' but you are Montagues and I don't want this feast to turn into a bloodbath so-" Peter started to say.
"Great!" Romeo said enthusiastically. "Good luck with your inviting!"
As the pair walked off, Benvolio sighed. "At least now you'll be able to see that she's not half as attractive as some of the other girls in Verona."
"Are you kidding?" Romeo asked, laughing. "She's a nun. That automatically makes her at least twice as beautiful as she was before!"
Benvolio rolled his eyes. "Kinky teenage fantasies…"
"Nurse, I can't find my daughter," Lady Capulet complained.
"I'm right here, Mother," Juliet said, standing up.
"Oh, I didn't see you there," Lady Capulet said, flustered.
"I should hope not," Juliet said dryly.
"I think she's in here, my lady," the nurse said, entering the room and pointing at Juliet.
"I had figured that out, yes," Lady Capulet informed her. "Thanks anyway."
"No problem," the nurse said cheerfully. "Hey, did I ever tell you about the time that I was watching Juliet and my husband came in the room? She must have been three or so. She fell over and my husband smiled at her and said, 'You fall on your face now but when you're older you'll fall on your back for sex, right Juliet?' And the little tyke said 'Yes!'"
"Shut up!" Juliet cried out, horrified.
Equally disturbed, Lady Capulet said, "Nurse, we've really got to talk about who you let hang around my daughter!"
"But he's just my husband," the nurse said, not understanding why there would be a problem.
"No one who would say that to a three-year-old should be allowed anywhere near a three-year-old," Lady Capulet insisted.
The nurse shrugged. "Suit yourself."
Lady Capulet cleared her throat and tried to get back to the matter at hand. "Juliet, darling, have you thought about marriage?"
"No," Juliet said, completely unconcerned.
Lady Capulet waited for her to go on but she gave no indication that she was going to do so.
"You really should," Lady Capulet said pointedly. "I was fourteen when I gave birth to you."
"And Father still complains that he felt like a child molester and wouldn't dream of marrying me off until I was at least sixteen," Juliet pointed out.
"He'll let you get married if you really want to," Lady Capulet said enticingly.
"But I don't want to," Juliet explained. "So you see there's really no need to do that."
"But the prince's own cousin, Paris, wants to marry you! He won't possibly wait two years to do so!" Lady Capulet said excitedly.
"I'll meet him," Juliet promised reluctantly. "But if he is balding or graying then the deal is off."
Lady Capulet began to dance around the room. "I'll start planning the wedding!"
"Do you think Rosaline will marry me if I ask her at the masquerade?" Romeo wondered.
"Probably not seeing as how she's a nun now," Mercutio replied. "But if she says yes then invite me to the wedding."
"I shall invite the whole world!" Romeo declared boldly.
"Even the Capulets?" Mercutio asked, surprised.
"Oh, what do I care for the Capulets?" Romeo scoffed.
"It's not that I'm not glad to see you, Mercutio, but how did you know that we were going to crash the masquerade?" Benvolio inquired.
Mercutio shook his head. "I did not even know that there was going to be one."
"But…" Benvolio gestured at the mask his friend sported.
"It's nighttime," Mercutio explained. "I'm thinking of taking up vigilantism. Don't judge me."
Benvolio sighed and glanced Romeo's way. "It's not likely as long as Romeo is around just begging to be judged."
"Has anyone thought about how we're actually going to get in here?" Romeo asked. "I mean, we are Montague."
"I'm not," Mercutio pointed out.
"You're close enough," Romeo assured him.
"No one would think that Montague would be so stupid as to show up to a Capulet event so they'll probably not even check," Benvolio speculated. "After all, it's very embarrassing to not be invited somewhere and showing up anyway just draws attention to that fact."
That fear assuaged, Romeo continued with, "I shall dance with no one except Rosaline."
"So no dancing then?" Mercutio asked, half-laughing.
"I love her," Romeo said, his face heating up.
"In bed," Mercutio finished.
Romeo glared at him. "My love for her burns white hot-"
"In bed," Mercutio interrupted.
"I cannot begin to describe the passion that I feel for her," Romeo valiantly continued.
"In bed," Mercutio replied.
"Stop that!" Romeo demanded angrily.
"What's his problem?" Mercutio wondered.
"Listen, this is serious!" Romeo insisted earnestly. "I had a dream last night that going was a bad idea."
"You didn't even know about this last night," Benvolio pointed out.
"That's what's so spooky!" Romeo exclaimed.
"Well I could tell you that it was a bad idea because I'm not stupid," Benvolio told him. "Actually…I'm a Montague on my way to a Capulet feast where Romeo will likely expose our identities trying to woo a nun. I take that back."
"Well, I had a dream last night, too," Mercutio declared loudly.
"I don't think we really need to hear about-" Benvolio started to say.
"It was about Mab, queen of the fairy people," Mercutio cut in. "She visits people in dreams. She's kind of like a succubus sometimes, actually…"
He ranted on for a few minutes and then Romeo abruptly smacked him in the face.
"The hell?" Mercutio demanded.
"I had to shut you up, it was downright indecent," Romeo said unapologetically.
"Did you think about maybe asking me to stop?" Mercutio asked, rubbing the spot where Romeo had hit him.
"That seems like it might be rude," Romeo said, shrugging.
"Yeah? Well so was hitting me in the face," Mercutio said, glaring daggers at him. He sighed. "Ah, well. I wasn't really talking about anything anyway."
"You rarely do," Benvolio commented. "Now let's hurry up so we can actually get there and I can stop psyching myself out here."
"I have a feeling that what happens tonight will get us all killed somehow," Romeo said ominously.
"Huh. I wonder what that could mean," Mercutio said curiously.
"I don't know," Benvolio said sarcastically. "Maybe it means that Lord Capulet will discover us and then brutally murder us for crashing his party. He could even call it trespassing and thus self-defense and so get away with it! But even if he doesn't get away with it, who cares because we're still dead!"
"Look, Romeo, I get that you're upset because nuns are nuns and you're a creepy stalker or whatever but you are seriously trying to drag me down and I just don't appreciate it one bit," Mercutio explained. "So either lighten up or just go home and let me crash this masquerade in peace."
Romeo thought about it. "What's the worst that can happen?"
"Do you want the list in alphabetic order or by how long it would take to die?" Benvolio responded.
"Rosaline! Why won't you marry me?" Romeo asked pleadingly.
"Because I'm a nun, Romeo," Rosaline said patiently.
"Because you wouldn't stop following me around," she replied.
"I don't know, maybe you should ask yourself that question," Rosaline suggested.
"Because I don't have the answer," she said, begin to tap her foot.
"Because I am not a mind reader and that is not normal behavior and you never told me and if you had told me then you should know the answer!" Rosaline exploded.
"And if you say 'why' one more time then I swear I will punch you," Rosaline threatened. "By God, can't I even attend a Capulet party without being harassed by you? Do I have to stay in the convent at all times?"
"I…" Whatever Romeo had been about to say was lost as he caught sight of Juliet from across the room. "She…is the most beautiful girl in the entire world!"
"I'm not sure if I should be relieved or insulted," Rosaline mused. "And does this mean I can leave the nunnery? That poor girl…"
"Hey, you," Romeo grabbed a passing servant. "Who is that woman?"
The servant shrugged. "I don't know."
"Then you're fired," Lord Capulet said as he walked by. "That, my good sir, is my wonderful daughter Juliet."
"Juliet…" Romeo breathed, transfixed.
"I know what you're thinking and forget it," Lord Capulet advised. "She's far too young for that sort of thing and she'll be married – and not to you – when she is anyway."
"Uh-huh," Romeo said, wandering over to talk to her. "I am going to marry that girl before she runs off and joins a convent like Rosaline did."
Tybalt froze and sniffed the air. "I smell a Montague! Servant, go get my rapier!"
"But…I don't know who you are or where it is," the servant protested.
"Then you're fired," Tybalt snapped. "But first, go get my sword. Or at least a sword."
"Not if I'm fired," the servant declared, turning to go.
Tybalt was about to summon another servant when Lord Capulet walked up to him. "What are you doing, asking for a sword in the middle of a masquerade! Someone might get hurt!"
"That's rather the idea," Tybalt said pointedly. "Do you know that there's a Montague in here?"
"Actually, there are two and they brought one of their friends who won't stop talking about sex and superheroes or something," Lord Capulet corrected him. "Why do you ask?"
Tybalt gaped at him. "You …you know?"
"It's my damn feast so I should hope that I know what's going on here!" Lord Capulet exclaimed, a little affronted.
"I didn't mean it like that," Tybalt swore. "I just…did you invite them?"
"No, I did not," Lord Capulet denied, shaking his head.
"Then let me kill him!" Tybalt pleaded.
"No, Tybalt. Death at a party always kills the mood," Lord Capulet told him. "Plus, people like Romeo and if we kill him then they might not like us."
"Romeo?" Tybalt's eyes widened. "As in the Montague heir? That bastard wants to marry Juliet!"
"A lot of people want to marry Juliet," Lord Capulet said indifferently. "And none of them are going to until she's sixteen. You worry too much."
"I'm going to find some pretext to kill him once the masquerade is over," Tybalt threatened.
Lord Capulet shrugged. "Not my problem."
Juliet turned around to see Romeo staring at her.
"Hello," Romeo said brightly.
She jumped. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Long enough to compose this whole saint metaphor thing and then decide that that would take too long and I really want to kiss you," Romeo informed her.
"Well maybe I really want to hear your saint metaphor," Juliet retorted.
"I swear that this isn't a line but you're so gorgeous that you must be a saint and I am a poor pilgrim who wishes to erase his sins with your lips," Romeo told her.
Juliet scrunched up her nose. "I don't know, that sounds a bit like idolatry."
"Look, can I kiss you or not?" Romeo asked impatiently. "You're the one who wanted to hear it."
"I see no reason not to kiss you strange man that I've just met under weird circumstances and whom I know nothing about," Juliet said, shrugging. She moved to kiss him.
Romeo stopped her. "Actually, could you just sort of stand perfectly still and let me kiss you?"
Juliet frowned. "You're growing creepier by the minute."
"It's more like a statue that way," Romeo tried to explain.
"You'd better not be a necrop-" Juliet started to say before Romeo kissed her. He seemed to forget that he didn't want her to move almost immediately.
When he pulled back, he smiled at her. "There, my sin is all gone."
Juliet abruptly decided that she'd like to kiss him again. "Well…if kissing me took your sin away and gave it to me then it must have also given you my sin and I should get it back."
Romeo made a face. "That doesn't even make any sense. We wouldn't just trade sins. One of us would have had to take it from the other. And even if we did trade sins, my are probably a lot worse than yours so why do you need the sins of two people? And wouldn't kissing again just trade our sins back? And-"
"Oh just shut up and kiss me," Juliet interrupted before kissing him again.
"Okay, now that they are making out in the middle of the masquerade can we please kill him?" Tybalt begged.
"No," Lord Capulet replied. "But ask me again if they're still talking in twenty minutes."
Tybalt waited two minutes before opening his mouth again.
"I have a watch, too, you know," Lord Capulet reminded him.
"Juliet," the nurse said, coming up to her. "You're only thirteen so it's past your bedtime."
Juliet crossed her arms and pouted. "If I'm old enough to get married then I'm old enough to stay up past ten o'clock!"
"But you're not old enough to get married, dear," the nurse pointed out. "And you haven't so much as looked at Paris all night."
"That's because I don't know what he looks like," Juliet explained.
"That would explain it," Romeo remarked.
The nurse recognized his voice. "Goodness, Romeo Montague, what are you doing here?"
"That is a very good question," Romeo said.
Juliet's hands flew to her mouth, horrified. "You're a Montague?"
"Huh?" Romeo looked back at her. "Oh, and you're a Capulet. Right. I should be upset about this. It will probably end badly. But you're so beautiful."
"Are you married?" Juliet asked desperately. "I'll just die if you're married!"
"I know the feeling," Romeo said warmly. "And no, I'm not. Not…yet."
Lord Capulet came up to him then. "Okay, seriously, get the hell out of my house."