A long, twisting road led into the darkest part of the forest. About two miles down the weaving road, the leafless trees started to grow less dense. The thorny underbrush started to thin, and eventually gave way to a circular clearing, ringed on three sides by thick, ominous trees. In the center of the clearing, awash in the pale moonlight, was a hunting lodge with a single candle lit in the window. Standing on the porch was a boy of twenty years, with sandy brown hair and cerulean blue eyes.
This night was his birthday. It was also the full moon. And, possibly, the last day of his life.
It was tradition for members of the Red Hood clan to go to the Changing Moon on horseback. So, obviously, Lash Hood wasn’t going to do it. He banked his motorcycle hard against the last turn in the road and felt the ground kiss the fabric of his pants before pulling the bike back up and sliding to a stop in front of the porch.
The man there, if anything, looked less impressed than when he first saw Lash coming around the bend.
Lash put the kickstand down and turned off the bike. The helmet came away with flourish, revealing a narrow face with dark eyes and a devil’s grin. Lash was tall and lean, with long legs and muscular, if narrow, shoulders. His dark hair was spiked into dozens of inch-long peaks, with just a hint of red coloring the tips. His lip sported a single onyx hook at the corner of his mouth.
The old, red-leather cloak hung heavily on Lash’s shoulders as he dismounted his motorcycle. It was another tradition of the Changing Moon, along with the silver dagger at his hip. Beyond that, though, was nothing close to traditional. Black leather pants clung sinfully tightly to the long legs, and a fitted black shirt hugged Lash’s upper body. Well-worn black combat boots finished the look, which seemed more appropriate for a night of clubbing than an excursion on the outside of town.
Lash took a moment to pat at his hair and made sure that the helmet hadn’t disturbed any of his meticulously crafted peaks. It was also a moment that he needed to settle his nerves, given what he was preparing to attempt. He took a glance out of the corner of his eye at the figure on the porch, but Tybalt Wolfe was still unmoved, leaning against the porch rail.
Tybalt, unlike Lash, fit almost seamlessly into these surroundings. He was dressed in threadbare jeans and a white t-shirt. No shoes or jacket, despite the cool October air. He glared as Lash approached, but continued leaning on one of the wood pillars holding up the porch roof.
“I guess you’re Little Red Riding Hood?” he questioned, and his voice lilts mockingly. Even with the porch giving Tybalt an extra few inches, he was still eye to eye with Lash.
“I’m the youngest of the Red Hood Clan,” Lash responded with emphasis, then returned the barb with, “And you’re the Big Bad Wolf, huh?”
“I’m the eldest of the Wolfe family,” Ty corrected, his eyes so cold that they could freeze water. “Are you here to kill me?” he asked, and then quickly added, “because I won’t stop you.”
Lash reacted with barely concealed shock, making Ty huff and turn away. His eyes went back to the full moon, which was steadily creeping across the sky.
“I don’t want to kill you,” Lash denied, but Ty scoffed in response. “No, seriously.”
But Ty wouldn’t look toward Lash, wouldn’t even take his eyes off of the moon. Tybalt knew that when the moon hit its highest point, the transformation would begin. Those blue eyes went flat and lifeless as they watched the moon creep forward, with dread painted all over his face.
“You may not want to kill me,” he said softly, “but what are the chances that you’ll have a choice? You know the odds. To have your birthday land on the full moon is bad luck for a werewolf. But to have your birthday and a full moon both land on Halloween? And to have your Changing Moon happen on the first Halloween full moon in almost two decades? There’s no way I’ll become a normal werewolf. There’s no way I’m not cursed.”
And Lash knew that there’s where the crux of the problem lay.
The Red Hood clan didn’t hunt regular werewolves. For the most part, members of the Wolfe family were nice people, who just happen to turn into wolves on the full moon. Great people to have as neighbors. Excellent hunters, skilled crafters, great for a barbeque or a bake sale. Their matriarch taught Lash’s Sunday school. One of their sons was his principal. In the town that Lash grew up in, you were pretty much related to either a Wolfe or a Hood.
The problem was that every few decades, some member of the Wolfe family got extra cursed. Instead of becoming a werewolf, they became a Bad Wolf. Unlike normal werewolves, who kept their human intelligence even in wolf form, the Bad Wolf was an animal bent on bloodshed. They took on the form of a massive, horrific wolf with elongated legs and oversized teeth. It was said that a Bad Wolf could never transform into a human again, that they were trapped in the body of the monster until someone could kill them.
“Our families have been doing this for generations,” Lash explained to the unmoving figure in the moonlight, “and I’m sick of it. There has to be something else.”
The tradition had started when a young woman of the Wolfe family slayed a Bad Wolf with her silver dagger. Since then, her silver dagger and her red cloak had passed down the family line, always to the youngest member over the age of twenty. Two years ago, it had passed from Lash’s brother onto him. And Tybalt, who tonight would turn twenty and experience his first full moon as an adult werewolf, was Lash’s first Changing Moon charge. Lash wasn’t sure he could bring himself to kill the other man, monster werewolf or not.
“So, what?” Tybalt yelled. “You’ll leave me as a Bad Wolf? Make me kill half the town before someone can put me down? Is that what you want?”
“No!” Lash denied, putting up his hands placatingly. “Calm down, that’s not what I’m saying.”
“Then what are you saying?” Tybalt growled as he threw himself down to sit on the top step of the porch. Lash could see his misery bleeding through the cold exterior he put on, could see how scared and tired and upset he was. Lash took a seat next to him, close enough that he could just feel the heat of Tybalt’s body.
“I’m saying that there’s no way the kid who wore a polkadotted bow-tie to his high school dance is going to turn into a man-eating monster,” Lash teased gently.
Tybalt choked on a laugh, the kind of sound that was half surprised pleasure and half emotional overload. He covered his face with his hands, and when he finally pulled his hands away his face just looked tired.
Without the mask of anger, Tybalt looked surreally similar to the boy that Lash had known in high school. The two hadn’t been close, as they’d been two years apart in grade, but they’d been as familiar as people in a small town always were. Tybalt’s older sister had been in Lash’s grade, and had experienced her Changing Moon with Lash’s older brother just months before Lash had turned twenty and gained his inheritance. Lash had never been more grateful for a late birthday than he had been then.
Lash had also noticed, at that time, that Tybalt would be his first charge. It had been common knowledge, even then, that Tybalt’s chances of being a Bad Wolf were astronomical. Lash had started working almost immediately to try to change that fate.
“Am I never going to live that down?” Tybalt asked. “Not even on the night I die?”
“Stop saying that!” Lash growled. “I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but I’m actually here to save you.”
“Sure,” he responded sullenly. “By killing me.”
“What if I said I know another way to stop the Bad Wolf?”
“How?” he demanded, suddenly interested. His piercing eyes focused intently on Lash’s face. “How else?”
And Lash, unfortunately, experienced a sudden case of nerves at Tybalt’s attention. Lash knew Tybalt well enough to think that his plan had a chance of working, that Tybalt might be amenable to Lash’s idea, but it was a long shot and Lash knew it. It could end very badly for both of them. And, suddenly, Lash was nervous about it.
“I had to scour the archives for this info,” Lash hedged, his mind working overtime as he tried to think of a way to test the waters without revealing his intent. Perhaps there was another way? He wondered, perhaps something else he hadn’t thought of?
“Just that I’ve put an awful lot of effort into this, that’s all. It’s not like this is something that I just came up with on my way over here.”
Tybalt frowned again, hunching his shoulders angrily.
“You want a medal?” he snapped. “Or a frickin reward?”
“Maybe a little gratitude,” Lash responded with a sly grin. “Or how about a kiss?”
“A kiss. You know, that thing you do with your lips to express affection?”
Tybalt blinked in surprise, dumbfounded. His mouth was agape just slightly, and his pink lips were too enticing for Lash to resist. Lash leaned forward and closed the few inches between their faces. Tybalt was too surprised to pull back, and soon found the sensation of soft lips against his own too pleasant to resist. HIs breathing deepened and his body arched helplessly toward Lash’s lean form.
Lash couldn’t help but grin against Tybalt’s warm mouth. If Lash had been concerned that Tybalt might not be agreeable to his plan, this kiss made him think that it could definitely work. Reluctant to end the kiss, Lash brought his hands up to Tybalt’s shoulders and leaned in closer. When Tybalt gave a groan of pleasure, Lash ran his tongue along the seam of Tybalt’s lips, hoping to taste him.
Tybalt shoved Lash backwards, pushing him hard enough that Lash had to jump up or risk tumbling off the steps. Lash danced away, chuckling, as Tybalt jumped to his feet as well.
“What the hell was that!” he snarled. Lash grinned in response.
“Did you still want to know what I found out about the Bad Wolf?” Lash asked, watching the way his face flushed with excitement and way his eyes sparkled with anger. What would they look like in the throes of passion? Lash wondered, would they sparkle just the same?
“It had better be good!” he growled. Lash found that the sound had a particularly sexual ring to it, all of a sudden.
“The Red Hood archive, which I painstakingly researched, says that the Bad Wolf can be tamed on its first moon… with love.”
“Great,” he snarled. “Useless sentiment. Very helpful.”
“Unless it’s not about sentiment,” Lash snapped back. “Unless it’s about physical love.”
“You can’t have sex with a werewolf on the full moon!” he yelled, running his hand through his hair in frustration. “Unless you want to be tethered to them forever. Wolves mate for life, dumbass. So unless you know somebody willing to be marry me tonight, then…”
“I’ll do it.”
“I’ll do it,” Lash repeated, enunciating his words.
Tybalt stared for several seconds, like he was trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with Lash.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he finally asked. Lash just grinned.
“Other than the obvious?” he quipped, trying to lighten the mood. “I don’t want to hurt you, man.”
“So you want to marry me instead?”
“If it means not having to kill you? Then sure.”
Tybalt hesitated, and his face went pensive. He wanted to believe, he really did.
“Your family has been hunting mine for generations,” he argued. “Don’t you think someone would have tried this if it were an option?”
“It’s a pretty big risk,” Lash admitted. “I could get killed. You could get loose. And arranged marriage? Not really something my family supports. But I’m willing to try, if you are.”
“Of course I am,” Tybalt growled. “I’ll die if I don’t.”
“Yeah,” Lash responded slowly, feeling the sting of Tybalt’s quick words. “Sorry about that. I couldn’t come up with anything else.”
Tybalt went contrite, regretting his words. He didn’t know what to say to the older man beside him, though. Didn’t know if there was anything he could say that would make this situation any better, without tripping over his words again and making it worse.
Lash let the silence stretch for several moments, then finally said, “I like to think of my family as guarding yours. Of guarding your family from the monsters they could become. It’s an awful burden, to be a Red Hood. That’s what we’re taught before we take the cloak and dagger. That the burden of taking a life to save countless others is the responsibility of my family.” Lash hesitated, licking his lips. “I’m not too responsible. I’m not sure I could kill you, even if I wanted to.”
It was Tybalt’s turn to be silent, then. He stared at the moon again, before he finally said, “When your brother came to my older siblings on their Changing Moon, they were afraid of him.”
Lash wasn’t surprised by this. Naton Hood was an intimidating figure. Taller than his younger brother and nearly twice as broad, it would be easy to picture such a figure battling a monster wolf in days of old. Fortunately, his temperament was nearly the opposite of his appearance. Nate had an easy smile and friendly attitude that put almost anyone at ease.
“They told me he came and sat on the porch with them,” Tybalt continued. “When they finally changed into wolves, he sat there and talked to them. He could have killed them. Wolves… you know,” he said, and there was an undertone of accusation in his tone, “you know werewolves are vulnerable on their Changing Moon. That we’re not accustomed to our bodies yet, so we’re unable to defend ourselves. That’s why the Bad Wolf is easy to kill. Your family could wipe mine out if they wanted to, one new werewolf by one, but you don’t. Your brother let both my siblings go. And now you’re here, telling me you know how to stop this curse.”
“We’re not bad people,” Lash defended desperately, hoping to convince Tybalt that life as the mate of a Red Hood wouldn’t be a life of torment and shame. That the Hood family neither spurned nor blamed the members of the Wolfe family for the things that were beyond their control.
Tybalt went quiet again. Lash glanced nervously at the moon, feeling the time counting down. But still Lash could not bring himself to push Tybalt to move forward. The whole situation felt too much like coercion to Lash as it was.
“What would we do… after?” Tybalt finally asked. He bit his lip, starting to hope but afraid of having it crushed. “If this works and we’re mated, then what?”
“Well,” Lash hedged, uncertain. “I guess that would depend on what you wanted. We don’t have to live together or anything right away. You could stay with your family, if you wanted, and move in with me gradually. My family is really nice, but… well, they might need some time to get used to… to this.”
Tybalt shrank into himself, his body going tense.
“You think your family hates the Bad Wolf?” he snarled. “My family doesn’t even call it a wolf. They call it the blut hund or Blood Dog. Sometimes they say gezahnt koter. The Fanged Mutt. You don’t mourn a Bad Wolf. You don’t talk about a Bad Wolf. My cousin Fen was a Bad Wolf. He was killed by Lansher Hood,” he growled, staring at Lash accusingly.
“My father,” Lash confirmed. His father had recounted the tale of the only Bad Wolf he’d ever faced in grave tones when Lash had come of age. Lash had never seen his father so dour. They had spoken of it only once, and then Lansher had refused to speak of it again.
“His mother couldn’t bear the shame of having a Bad Wolf for a son,” Tybalt said. “She took down every photo of him and burned it. We weren’t allowed to talk about him. They didn’t even tell us what happened, he just disappeared one day!”
Tybalt’s arms wrapped around his torso. His face was sullen again, his eyes filled with repressed despair. Lash could only wonder if he’d been close to his cousin, or if he’d simply seen the echo of his own fate in the treatment of his relative. Tybalt stared at the ground, and Lash’s eyes were drawn to the image of Tybalt’s bare toes peeking out from under the fraying edges of his jeans.
“You can come home with me,” Lash offered hopefully. “It’s no big deal.”
“Oh yes, the werewolf hunters will be much more accepting,” Tybalt responded bitterly.
“They will,” Lash replied. “Tybalt, they’re nice people.”
“I’m sure I’ll be welcomed with open arms.”
“You’re just going to have to trust me,” Lash told him. “Look, we’re running out of time. Do you want to do this or not?”
Tybalt sat quietly for a long time. Long enough for Lash to start feeling a cold prickle of dread.
“You picking death over me would be a pretty solid blow to my ego,” Lash said, and it made Tybalt chuckle and glance his way.
Tybalt licked his lips nervously and asked, “Do you…” then hesitated before getting the courage to ask, “Do you know what you’re doing? Because… I don’t.”
Lash grinned. This, at least, was one aspect of the plan that he was confident about.
“Come on,” Lash said and offered his hand. “We don’t have much time left.”
Tybalt took his hand and followed Lash into the yard, still barefooted despite the cold ground. Lash snagged a blanket from the back of the motorcycle, then led Tybalt around the bend in the road and into the semi-privacy of the trees. Time was running out for the pair, but even Lash wasn’t comfortable with the idea of making love in the Wolfe home, despite the fact that it was empty. The adult werewolves were running in the deep woods, and the children of the family were hidden away somewhere, possibly in the old mine tunnels that were rumored to cross under the family home.
Even if he were comfortable in the Wolfe home, Lash knew he needed to keep an eye on the moon, so making love outside was the best option. Besides, he thought Tybalt would look stunning in the moonlight.
Tybalt helped lay out the blanket, seeming to barely notice the tree roots or the rocks poking up through. When the blanket was settled, Tybalt sat heavily, pulling his knees up to his chest. Lash could see the tremors shaking him and thought that it probably had nothing to do with the cold air. For the first time, Lash wished that it was someone else sitting here with Tybalt. Someone nice and friendly, like his brother. Or someone confident and calm, like his father. Anyone but the punk-rock style hunter with only half an idea of what he was getting himself into.
But would either of them save him? Lash wondered to himself. Because that was what he was going to do.
“Thank you,” Tybalt whispered, so softly that for a moment Lash wasn’t sure Tybalt was speaking to him. “Even if this doesn’t work, even if you have to kill me. Thank you for trying.”
“I’m going to do more than try,” Lash promised as he knelt beside the other man.
Lash leaned in for a kiss, which Tybalt met hungrily, almost desperately. His hands came up to grip at the fabric of Lash’s shirt. He clutched desperately and parted his lips to Lash’s questing tongue. Tybalt moaned breathlessly, gasping and writhing as Lash pulls back and kisses his way down Tybalt’s throat. When Lash’s kisses hit his shoulder, Tybalt pulled back and yanked his shirt off.
Damn, Lash thought as Tybalt threw his top into the brush, at least he’s cute. All the pale skin and lean muscle under there, it was practically lickable. Definitely fuckable.
Lash was staring, and Tibalt noticed almost immediately and became nervous once again. His head dipped, his eyes sliding to the side as he bit his lip. To Lash, it was practically a neon sign that Tybalt was a virgin, if he hasn’t known it already.
“Come here,” Lash said, low and husky, then pulled Tybalt against him without waiting for the other man to move. Tybalt straddled Lash’s hips, his erection grinding against Lash’s leather-covered thigh. His own cock was hard and pressed firmly against the soft, worn fabric of his jeans.
Tibalt was hesitant, but he was excited, too. Of his own volition, he leaned in and captured Lash’s lips for another kiss. Tybalt’s tongue darted daringly forward and stroked over the cool metal of the Lash’s lip piercing. Lash groaned in pleasure, a reaction that having his facial piercing played with always elicited. After a moment, Lash pulled back and nuzzled the side of Tybalt’s throat, working his way up until he could kiss and lick the shell of Tybalt’s ear.
“Do you want me to fuck you?” Lash whispered. Tybalt shivered as Lash’s warm breath ghosted across his skin, his nails digging into Lash’s arms, his hips grinding against Lash’s thigh.
“Please,” he keened, and it was so desperate that it was nearly a sob. “Please!”
His pants opened under Lash’s expert fingers. His cock was slim and hard, practically springing free of his pants as he pushed them off. When he was fully nude, Tybalt turned and began inexperiencedly pawing at Lash’s clothes. It made Lash chuckle, even as he quickly yanked off his clothing. The cloak and dagger go flying into the grass, followed quickly by his boots and clothes. The October air nipped at my skin, but Tybalt’s hot flesh quickly warmed him again as the blonde man pulled him down to the blanket and intertwined their forms. .
“What do you want me to do?” Lash asked as he rubbed his body along Tybalt’s, enjoying the friction as their hard cocks slid against one another.
“I want you to take me,” he admitted, biting his lip nervously. “I want…”
“I know what you want,” Lash assured him, and snagged his pants from the heap on the ground. There was a small tube of lube in the pocket and Lash popped the cap with one hand and pulled Tybalt’s leg over Lash’s hip with the other. Tybalt moaned as Lash’s fingers wiggled underneath him, questing sightlessly for his entrance.
“Ah!” he cried as Lash found it, slipping one slick finger inside him. Tybalt’s hips jerked desperately, his cock looking for any source of friction as it bobbed between his legs. Lash grinned and slipped a second finger into him, making him moan louder. “Oh, please!” he begged, and Lash was surprised by how turned on Tybalt was by just a finger. It was like his body had been built for this.
“This is gonna be fast,” Lash warned him as Lash glanced at the sky and confirmed that the moon was almost at its peak. “You ready?”
“Turn me around,” Tybalt demanded, his voice still breathless and lust-drunk. “Get behind me and– and do it.”
Lash thought it was cute that he still couldn’t say fuck.
“You gonna bite me if I don’t?” Lash teased, even as he was helping Tybalt shift onto his knees.
“I want you to bite me,” Tybalt replied seriously.
“Only in wolf form,” Tybalt answered quickly. “We’re only transmissible from wolf saliva to human blood,” he explained. “I just want you to bite my shoulder as a show of dominance. Please?”
“Shit, yeah,” Lash agreed readily. “Never pegged you for a kinky thing.”
“It’s not…” Tybalt protested, but Lash was already sliding up behind him. His protests fizzled as Lash slicked his cock and put the head of it against Tybalt’s hole.
“Take a breath,” Lash guided, and began to push his cock past the tight ring of muscle. Tybalt squirmed in pain, the size of Lash’s cock taking him by surprise even though he’d just had it pressed against him. But Lash pushed in slowly, and soon the burn of entrance faded into a pleasurable feeling of fullness. When Lash was finally settled in fully, his balls brushing against Tybalt’s ass, Tybalt was already squirming and thrusting back. Lash took a moment to let Tybalt adjust, enjoying the sight of the smaller man’s pale skin in the moonlight.
“We doing this or what?” Tybalt growled, and Lash chuckled. So much for the romantic moment. “Move!” he demanded, shoving himself back, and Lash doesn’t need to be told twice.
Lash tried to set a gentle pace, but Tybalt was having none of it. He bucked and thrust against Lash until he finally caved and began fucking Tybalt hard, with each powerful thrust making Lash’s testicles crack against Tybalt’s ass. Tybalt moaned and growled in a nearly animalistic way. His cock bounced between his legs but he didn’t reach for it. It wasn’t until Lash was on the verge of coming that Tybalt even reached for his own cock.
“Please,” Tybalt begged. It took Lash a moment to realize what he’s asking for. When he did, Lash shoved Tybalt’s shoulders to the ground so that his ass stuck up in the air. Lash leaned over him, burying his cock deep in Tybalt’s body and pinning him to the ground. Lash thrust hard, barely pulling his cock out before shoving deep back in Tybalt’s ass.
When Lash was just about to come, he leaned down and bit Tybalt’s shoulder until he tasted blood. Lash knew that he was sealing the coupling that marked him as Tybalt’s mate. What he wasn’t prepared for was the way Tybalt screamed and thrashed beneath him, orgasming so hard that Lash could feel his body milking the seed from Lash’s cock. With a groan, Lash buried his cock deep and came with a guttural scream. Panting and covered in sweat, Lash and Tybalt toppled over to recover, still curled around one another.
When Lash woke up, he was still wrapped around Tybalt’s naked form, although no longer joined with him. Lash cast a glance at the sky and saw that the moon was at its peak. For a moment, he thought they’d done it. They’d beaten the curse!
Then he noticed that Tibalt was shaking. He’d curled into a little ball and covered his head with his hands, like this was a nightmare that he couldn’t escape.
“Oh no,” Lash whispered with dread, reaching out his hand to touch him. “Please, no.”
But his body was already transforming. His skin trembled like a pool of water, then suddenly he was shifting and contorting. Lash could hear the creak of his bones as they realigned, could see dark fur growing in where a moment ago there was smooth skin. His face gave way to a muzzle filled with rows of glistening white teeth.
And all the while, he was getting bigger.
When he finished changing, he was easily four times as large as he had been. If Lash were standing, he’d probably have been eye-to-eye with the monstrous wolf. With Lash kneeling on the blanket where they’d just made love, the wolf towered over him. Lash was at just the right height to stare into his rows of sharp, white fangs that the wolf displayed readily. The wolf let out a growl that Lash could feel thrumming in his chest like a second heartbeat.
And all the while, two icy blue eyes stared hatefully at the kneeling man, so familiar that it was painful for Lash to stare back. It was the same blue eyes that looked at him with such hope and passion only minutes ago. And Lash can’t stand to think that he’s failed him.
“Turn back,” Lash demanded, but his voice was shaky at best. “Please, Tybalt…”
The Bad Wolf snarled and it sounded like a clap of thunder. Lash flinched back, aware of how helpless and literally naked he was.
The Bad Wolf stared at something just beyond Lash’s shoulder, and Lash followed his gaze into the grass. The dagger was on the ground beside the blanket, tangled up in the red cloak like it was lying in a pool of blood. It was close enough that Lash might even be able to grab it before the wolf could kill him, but he doesn’t make a move for it. Instead, he turned his eyes back to the blue-eyed wolf.
“I’m not going to kill you,” Lash told him, more firmly now than before. “And you’re going to turn back into a human. You are Tybalt Wolfe, you are my mate, and I demand you turn back. Turn back into a human right now!” he screamed.
For a moment, he thought the wolf would just eat him and be done with it.
Then he saw the hulking figure shiver. It was just a tiny tremble at first, but it built, until suddenly the wolf was falling onto its side. It thrashed wildly as it shrank and transformed, bones shifting into long legs and smooth arms, fur giving way to creamy, milk-white skin.
Finally, Tibalt was laying on the ground again, fully human and looking giddy with happiness. Lash laughed at the same time he choked on an overwhelmed sob.
“I can’t believe that worked!” Lash told him breathlessly, and it surprised a laugh out of Tybalt.
They caught their breath for a long time, but finally the moon was getting low in the sky and Lash could feel the shivers on Tybalt’s skin. Lash decided it was time to go.
“Come on,” Lash said gently as he got up and started to gather his clothes. “Let’s go home.”
Tybalt stood shakily and started dressing himself.
And Tybalt just smiled.