Soulbound ‡ pact

by Wes Leigh

Chapter 8

"What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee."

-- Tybalt, from Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Wolfie moved Gregor a few feet to one side. "This is where you'll enter the stage." He pointed at Sebastian and said, "You'll start over there with the other Montagues. Gregor will walk past the other Capulets, move to this point on the stage and deliver his line." Wolfie nodded at Gregor.

Gregor turned to Sebastian and snarled, his face contorted with anger, "What, drawn, and talk of peace?"

Wolfie waved his hands. "Hold it. Hold it. Gregor, your character certainly has justification for hating Sebastian's character, Romeo. You are Juliet's cousin, Tybalt Capulet, so Romeo Montague is your sworn enemy. But you're all polite young men, members of the noble houses here in town, and you don't want to overdo the anger at first. You'll come in with your sword sheathed, but you'll see Montagues standing here with their swords drawn. Everything is calm so far. You begin the conversation with an arrogant snarl. 'What! Drawn, and talk of peace?' It's a question, not a challenge, because Romeo has been talking calmly, trying to maintain peace between the families, but the other Montagues—the ones with their swords in their hands—will have none of that. They lift their swords when they see you … it's a challenge! When you see them waving their swords, you react with anger that builds and builds until you're ready to fight. That's when you snarl and say, 'I hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues, and THEE!'" Wolfie studied Gregor carefully. "Build your anger word by word until you practically spit your hatred at Romeo. You understand?"

Gregor nodded. "I get it. When do we start stabbing each other?"

Wolfie sighed. Typical teenaged boy. Wanting to stab things. He blew out his breath and turned to Gregor. "Right after you finish your line, the two Montagues will rush past Romeo with their swords held high. You'll draw your sword and the fight begins."

With an eager grin, Gregor slid his sword from its sheath and posed as he had been taught years ago while attending a boy's school in upper New York. Dueling with epees had been one of the required courses.

Seeing Gregor's formal stance, Wolfie shook his head. "Now when the fight begins, I want you three to picture all the sword fights you've seen in the movies. They stand with their swords raised in one hand, the other hand on their hip. Then the fight begins. Graceful. Elegant. Click, click, click, clang. All very stylized, like matadors, right?"

The boys nodded enthusiastically.

"Wrong!" Wolfie exclaimed. "First of all, during this time period, fighting with swords would not have been about maintaining excellent dueling form. It was about sticking a piece of metal in your opponent before he stuck it in you."

The boys laughed. One grabbed his stomach dramatically.

Nodding, Wolfie continued. "And secondly, these are hot-tempered young men, eager to fight. Think of them as rival gangs ready to beat each other to a pulp, but using swords instead of fists. So when you fight, it's not necessary that you look like trained swordsmen competing in the Olympics. In fact, I want to use your inexperience with a sword to make it look more realistic."

Gregor frowned. It would be difficult for him to drop the fighting forms he'd learned by rote. But it helped if he pictured himself back in Whitechapel, England, brawling with the Worthies from Wentworth Street. Only this time with swords instead of fists. He took his hand off his hip and took a few wild swings with the sword, chopping the air.

"Yes," Wolfie said, "like that. Think of yourselves as young boys playing as pirates, swinging your cutlasses wildly about you as you attack jungle barbarians."

"That's how you want us to fight?" one of the Montague boys asked. "With wild swings?"

"Not just wild swings," Wolfie replied. "There will be a series of moves you will perform together. We'll choreograph the fight, starting out at half speed. You will practice it just like you practice your lines, gradually picking up speed. Then we'll add angry snarls and grunts and moans to make the fight come alive."

The boys nodded their understanding, eager to begin.

"Okay, Tybalt," Wolfie said with a grin. "Your first move is to swing your sword in a broad arc in front of you, like this." Wolfie demonstrated. "And the two of you will leap back out of reach, to avoid his sword."

Wolfie walked them through the fight scene, explaining to Sebastian how Romeo would be trying to stop the fight and failing miserably.

"When do I enter?" Xavier asked.

"Xavier, as Mercutio, you will stumble upon the combat unexpectedly and rush to aid your friends. Gregor (Tybalt) will throw Sebastian (Romeo) to one side. Sebastian you will fall awkwardly over here. Xavier, you will see Tybalt throwing your best friend to the ground and react with understandable fury."

Wolfie gave Gregor and Xavier the step-by-step fight that followed, culminating in Xavier taking a sword to the chest. Wolfie showed them how to hide the sword's entry from the audience, explaining how he wanted Xavier to jerk dramatically at the moment the sword pierces him, then fall to the ground next to Sebastian.

Wolfie pointed at Xavier. "Mercutio is mortally wounded. He feels his life ebbing away. Romeo takes Mercutio in his arms and speaks his line …" Wolfie motioned for Sebastian to read the next line in the script.

"Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much," Sebastian said.

Xavier looked at Sebastian, gasped, and laughed bitterly. "No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but 'tis enough … 'twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man."

Wolfie stopped Xavier. "Excellent, Xavier. Now, I want you to emphasize the word 'grave'. Draw it out and make sure the audience picks up on the irony of his statement. Remember. Up until now, Mercutio has been a jokester. The complete opposite of the oh-so-serious Romeo. And now, knowing that he is dying, Mercutio is still trying to make a joke of it."

Xavier nodded. Turning toward Sebastian, he said, "Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man." Wolfie nodded, giving Xavier a thumbs up. Xavier continued, "I am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague on both your houses!"

"Excellent!" Wolfie exclaimed, thanking his lucky stars once again that he had an actor of Xavier's quality in the play. "Now, Sebastian, how does Romeo feel hearing this. His best friend, dying in his arms, now hates him and curses both the Montagues and the Capulets. What emotions does this bring out in Romeo?"

Sebastian frowned. "Confusion? Hurt? Maybe anger?"

"Yes. No doubt, all three, and I want the audience to see all those emotions in your facial expressions."

"Huh?" Sebastian grunted. "How do I do that?"

Xavier interrupted. "Not all at the same time, Sebastian. Do it like this." Xavier demonstrated, showing first confusion, then sadness which gradually morphed into anger.

Wolfie nodded, deciding in that moment to talk to Xavier later about helping out as an assistant director and acting coach. The boy was a godsend. With Xavier's help, this might turn out to be one of the best community productions Wolfie had ever directed.

Gregor carried his lunch tray to the table where several girls sat, eating and talking. He placed his tray on the table and slipped in next to Deborah Murphy. There was something exotic and intriguing about the werewolf female, and Gregor had been fantasizing about taking a werebitch out in a forest somewhere, just the two of them, and making her snarl as he penetrated her.

The girls all turned to stare at Gregor. A few of the human females looked down nervously. There had been times in the past when they had encountered Gregor, only to lose all memory of the experience, except for a vague notion that they had been overwhelmed by powerful sexual desires and that Gregor was somehow responsible.

Deborah sniffed and leaned forward. "What do you want, Gregor?"

He smiled and took a sip from his drink. "Nothing really. Just wanted to say hello and see what you girls are up to."

"We are eating. And talking. Privately ." Deborah said.

"Don't let me stop you," Gregor replied with a grin. He waved his hand as though motioning for the girls to continue.

"Isn't there somewhere else you would rather sit for lunch?" Deborah asked, growing agitated at Gregor's behavior.

"No, this is where I decided to eat today," Gregor replied. "I don't make you uncomfortable, do I?" With those words, Gregor's eyes began glowing softly red.

Tilting her head to one side, Deborah squinted and hissed, "Don't try any of your Blooded tricks on me, you fool."

Frowning, Gregor studied Deborah carefully. His eyes stopped glowing and he chuckled. "Immune, are you?"

Deborah nodded. "Immune to your tricks. And bored with your presence. Please leave."

Gregor laughed. "But I just got here."

"And you are just now leaving." Standing behind Gregor was Donny, an angry scowl on his face. He towered over Gregor, with his massive arms braced on his hips. He leaned over and repeated, "You are leavin'. Now. And never botherin' these girls again. Got it?"

Gregor looked back over his shoulder and saw Donny with Ethan and Caleb to one side. Three against one? Gregor looked over the other shoulder and saw Sebastian, Dominic, and Michaelo approaching with concerned expressions.

Snickering, Gregor stood up and turned to face Donny. "No, I'm sorry. I don't get it. I don't understand why you think you can talk to me at all. You certainly can't tell me what I'm going to do."

"Then I guess we're just gonna have to show you what happens when you start botherin' our girls," Donny replied, moving his hands to his side and curling his fingers into a fist.

"Your girls?" Xavier laughed. "He turned to look at the girls sitting around the table. "I see one that belongs to you," he said with a chuckle. "This bitch here. But I think the rest of these belong to me. I've certainly taken them as my own a time or two."

"Get the FUCK away from them! NOW!" Donny shouted.

Sudden silence fell in the cafeteria. From across the room, Xavier entered, saw what was going on, and ran over to stand between the red-faced Donny and Gregor.

"Okay, everyone. We need to calm down, right?" Xavier placed one hand on Gregor's arm.

Donny turned to face Xavier. "I'll calm down when you tell your cousin to get the hell away from me and the girls."

Gregor snarled, "That's not your call, you hairy mutt!"

"Then let's go outside and settle it right now," Donny snapped.

"Fine by me," Gregor replied. "Minerva warned me about you. A bunch of uncivilized brutes. Stinking dogs. Good for nothing but rutting around in the forests and howling at the moon." He laughed in Donny's face. "That's all you are and all you'll ever be."

"At least we aren't monsters. Our folks told us all about you, too. About your 'civilized' manners hiding your filthy blood-sucking habits. I'd rather rut in the woods than 'live' like you!"

Gregor didn't answer. He pulled away from Xavier and headed silently for the cafeteria exit, followed by Sebastian, Dominic, and Michaelo.

Donny motioned for Caleb and Ethan to follow him, and all three walked a few feet behind the vampire youth, headed for the door. Deborah jumped up and went with them, ready to help her packmates, if necessary. Connor, who had been eating silently nearby, rose to his feet and joined them.

Shaking his head in frustration, Xavier ran after them. He found them all standing a few feet apart, tense and ready to fight. "Is this how it's going to be?" Xavier shouted. "Always the same ridiculous behavior, the same stupid justification. Our parents hated each other! So we hate each other, too? They fought. So we fight?" He walked in between the two groups and looked first at the vampires, then the werewolves. "You're all a bunch of fucking lemmings, following after your leader until you fall off a cliff and drown in the sea." Xavier, frustrated, snapped, "Fine! Kill each other. I don't fucking care anymore."

Xavier turned around and walked away, muttering, "Fucking lemmings." He kept walking, heading around the back of the cafeteria to the athletic fields at the back of the school. Climbing up the wooden bleachers, he sat at the top and put his head in his hands, angry at himself for losing his temper, angry at Gregor for turning into such an asshole, and angry at the world for making him a miserable fifteen-year-old who had lived over a century of painful loss.

"You were right."

Xavier looked up to see who spoke and saw Connor walking slowly up the bleacher steps.

"You were right about the way we're acting," Connor said, sitting down next to Xavier. "Doing what our families have been doing forever. Fighting because that's what werewolves and vampires have always done."

Xavier sat, silently listening. Then he grunted and asked, "Do the others agree? Or are they bashing each other's brains out right now?"

Connor chuckled. "Nah. They snarled at each other and then walked away. I think you convinced them. You were right, like I said, and I was wrong."

Xavier turned his head to face Connor. "About what?"

Connor took a deep breath and blew it out. "Wrong about what I said to you. About you suckin' the life out of others. I know you don't do that. I was listenin' to my pa too much and not enough to my own heart. I know you ain't that way, Xavier."

Xavier waited.

Connor shook his head slowly. "You gonna make me say it?"

"Say what?"

"Say that I'm sorry. Apologize for talkin' to you that way."

Xavier smiled. "Apology accepted, Connor."

Chuckling, Connor continued, "It's like you said, Xavier. I don't know you. I don't know why you have to do the things you do, and I guess most werewolves don't really understand why vampires are the way they are."

"You're probably right about that," Xavier said with a wry grin.

Connor grinned back. "I'm not the only one. You don't know me either."

Xavier chuckled. "I've never been around lycans before. How would I get a chance to know what you're like?"

Connor nodded. "I don't think we're all that different, you and I. We both have fangs. And cocks."

Xavier laughed. "Yes, we do. But it's what we do with our fangs and cocks that is the key difference."

Connor laughed and said, "I could tell you more about us. If you wanted to know what we're really like."

Xavier seemed to consider Connor's offer for a moment before he smiled, nodded and turned toward Connor. "Sure. Tell me. What are they going to do? Kick me out of the Covenant for learning about our enemies?"

Connor grinned at Xavier and looked up into the sky as he began to describe a werewolf's life. "First of all, it's not just rutting in the forest, like your cousin Gregor seems to believe."

"So why did you say that you and Caleb suck each other every day?"

Connor chuckled. "Because we do. He's an eager pup and I'm always horny, so he helps me out by suckin' me off every morning. And every afternoon too. It's not about sex. Not for us. It's about being in a pack with other wolves. I'm Caleb's leader, and if I need him that way, he helps me out."

"So if being a werewolf isn't just about sex, what is it about?"

"I guess the best way to describe it is to say being a werewolf means freedom. Sometimes I don't feel free, especially when I'm stuck in History class. But the rest of the time, there is nothing to hold me back. Running wild in the woods. Chasing prey. Enjoying the blood pounding in my heart. Howling at the moon. Those are moments of pure celebration."

Xavier frowned and looked down at his hands, folded in his lap. "Sounds wonderful to be so alive. Never hurting. Never experiencing pain."

Connor sighed. "I wish it was like that, but it's not. We hurt too."


"Yeah," Connor said, glancing at his own hands and dropping his voice to a whisper. "When I was five, rogue vampires broke into my house and killed my mom and pop. In front of me. I escaped and had to live on my own for years. Huntin' down my own food. Strugglin' to stay alive."

"That was you?" Xavier asked in awe.

Connor nodded.

"I heard about it from Minerva," Xavier replied, whispering now himself. "About rogue vampires running loose in the state, killing indiscriminately, and how a werewolf pup barely escaped their grasp. I never imagined that you were that pup. Wow, Connor."

Connor said nothing, tears now slowly falling from his eyes.

Xavier continued, "Minerva also told me the rogues finally got what they deserved. A werebear and some werewolves tracked them down and killed most of them."

Connor looked up, his tear-filled eyes angry.

Xavier nodded. "That was you, too, wasn't it?"

Connor nodded. "Donny and I joined up with a werebear named Hota. We killed the fuckers. All but one. He got away, but someday … I'm killing him too."

"Damn, Connor. I'm really sorry. They killed your parents, and you were only five?" Xavier paused to think about what that might have been like. Reaching out with one hand, he placed it gently on Connor's shoulder. "Please don't think we're all like that. Even among the Agony vampires, there are a lot of differences. My cousin Gregor and I are nothing alike. I don't approve of what he does, but I accept it. Becoming a vampire hasn't been easy, and sometimes I think it really fucks with your head."

"So … why do you do it?" Connor asked.

"What? You mean sucking emotions?"

Connor nodded.

Xavier shrugged. "It's better than killing humans by sucking their blood, isn't it?"

"I suppose."

"Vampires have to feed on something to live."


Xavier frowned. "What do you mean?"

Connor nodded. "Seems like a horrible existence. Wouldn't you rather die than live this way?"

Xavier paused, swallowing hard. "Honestly, yes. Sometimes I would." He dropped his hand from Connor's shoulder and turned away to stare out over the track field.

Connor waited for Xavier to continue, but when he said nothing, Connor asked, "How did you become a vampire?"

Xavier turned back to face Connor. "It happened a long time ago, just before the turn of the century."

"What? You mean like a hundred years ago?"

Xavier nodded. "That's right. I was born in 1873 in Whitechapel, England. I was bit by a vampire when I was fifteen, so I haven't aged since then."

Connor blew a long, drawn-out whistle. "Damn. All this time I thought you were a year younger than me, but here I find out you're an old, old man."

They both chuckled hearing that, but Xavier's face fell as he said, "I feel like an old man most days. Tired of being what I am."

"How did it happen?"

"There was a female vampire in Whitechapel. She tried to lure Gregor into her garden."

"And naturally he went," Connor guessed.

"Naturally," Xavier admitted, with a bitter laugh. "He was a randy lad and didn't need much urging, but she used her vampire abilities to entice him. Jack and I—Jack was a friend of ours, but more like a brother than a friend—Jack and I went into her garden to rescue Gregor. She was trying to bite his neck, so I tried to stop her. She knocked me around a bit, and while we were wrestling on the ground, Jack came up behind her with a sharp stick and stabbed her in the back. She had her fangs in my throat at the time. I guess she meant to kill me, but when Jack stuck her, she injected her serum into my neck instead, and I contracted Sanguine Vampyrus—that's the disease that turns you into a vampire."

"Wow, Xavier. That really sucks."

"Tell me about it." Xavier chuckled. "I mean, it's not all bad. There are incredible powers you gain as a vampire, and you do get to live forever, but there are times when I wish I had died that day instead."

"Was Gregor already a vampire too when you rescued him?"

Xavier shook his head. "No. That happened later. When I changed, I d idn't know what was going on, and I couldn't control myself. I bit my friend Jack first and made him a vampire, and a few nights later, I bit Gregor. We all three became vampires. Together, we learned to use our powers, but we … but Jack …"

Xavier's voice trailed off as tears came to his eyes. He jumped to his feet and ran down the bleachers and headed off across the field, his shoulders shaking from the tears he was now shedding.

Connor watched Xavier go but decided not to follow him, even though his alpha instincts screamed at him to follow Xavier and protect him from whatever pain he was currently feeling. But Connor's logical thoughts told him there was no way to protect Xavier from this, whatever it was. Odd. There was certainly more to Xavier than Connor had first suspected, and there seemed to be more to the Blooded as well. Apparently, despite their immortality, vampires could also feel soul-wrenching pain.

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