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Title: Assumptions Burst
Genre: MAAN
Rating: T
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: The lives of Beatrice and Benedick are made more complicated by the presence of her father, who has plans for his only child. Plans she does not agree with.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything Shakespearean. Also don't have anything to do with the Josie Roarke production that I adore so much. If I could make money off these...
Dedication: sykira, whose praise has inspired me to try writing even more MAAN fanfics. This is your fault, lovely. ;) Also dedicated to inward_audacity, whose comments were the basis for this idea. And thanks to tardis_mole for betaing.
Author's Note: Posted in sykira's honor. You know why. Sorry this is so late. But I think you'll like this one. I've created an OC, and I think I'm almost as in love with this one as I am with Benedick. You'll see why. :D

This was supposed to be a “just because” present, but given how long it's taken me it's turn also into a Christmas present. Enjoy and have a Happy Holiday season!

Chapter One

Assumptions Burst

Started September 2, 2015
Finished December 23-25, 2015

Chapter Two: Fathers' Expectations

Beatrice lay on the folding chair, reading and otherwise ignoring the world. It was only a matter of time before someone interrupted her, but she was determined to make that be short.

Only Hero's dancing around was distracting, even without hearing her music. It seemed her lot in life to not know peace for any length of time.

So it was with mixed emotions that she saw her uncle come up. But his announcement was not quite so comforting:

“I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina!”

Hero darted off to change into something more appropriate for meeting royalty, but Beatrice hardly moved. Even though her father, mother, and aunt followed her uncle into the room.

“Daughter, go and follow your cousin's example and adorn finer attire,” commanded Olivio, her father.

She gave him a dark look. “What need, Father? None in the army who would think of having me for being rich is worthy of thy title; certainly none that you would approve.” She merely stood to collect a lager bottle and put down her magazine.

Elena, Beatrice's mother who shared many of her looks, tapped his arm to draw his attention to the conversation between Leonato, her brother, and the Prince's Messenger. “Ease on her, I pray thee; I fear she is heart-sore.”

“I pray that not be so, for then it hath lasted over ten years,” he grimaced. To cheer himself he turned his ears to the talk of the young Count Claudio's exploits.

Alas that his daughter had to bring up that man! Only his wife's hand, pleading silently for caution, kept him silent.

“Faith, niece! You tax Senor Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you, I doubt it not,” declared Leonato.

“He hath done good service in these wars, lady,” the Messenger assured Beatrice.

She would not be quiet. “You hath musty victual, and he hath helped to eat it; he is a very valiant trencher-man; he hath an excellent stomach.”

“And a good soldier, too, lady,” the Messenger added, watching as she pulled out her pack of cigarettes.

Oh, she liked an opening when she had one. “And a good soldier to a lady.” It rendered the Messenger confused, allowing her to continue her fun. “But what is he to a lord?”

“A lord to a lord, a man to man, stuffed with all honourable virtues.”

She suppressed a laugh. These soldiers were so ridiculous with their pomp and circumstance, and she wished that their subject was there to participate, for she knew he would have an excellent answer for that. “It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuffed man.” She rounded the Messenger, “But for the stuffing, well... we are all mortal,” she added around her unlit smoke.

Leonato had to speak, to explain the situation to the baffled Messenger. “You must not mistake my niece. There has always been a kind of merry war between them. They never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them.”

Beatrice spared her uncle a glance. “Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, before he left to fulfil his duties to the prince, four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one.” The others laughed, the Messenger uncertain. “Who is his companion now?” she asked the Messenger, who practically sat on his heels. “He hath every month a new sworn brother.”

“Is't possible?”

“Very easily possible: he wears his faith with the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.”

The Messenger stood. “I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.”

“No; and he were, I would burn my study. But I pray you, who is his companion? Is no young squarer now who will make a voyage with her husband to the devil?”

“He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio,” the Messenger answered, pointing with the hand holding a lager at Hero, suspecting the lady's preference.

Hero and Margaret grew excited, but Beatrice all but groaned. “O lord! He will hang upon him like a disease. He is sooner caught than the pestilence and the taker runs presently mad.” She motioned Hero's way. “God help the noble Claudio, if he hath caught the Benedick,” she spat. “It will cost him a thousand pound ere he be cured.”

“I will hold friends with you, lady,” the Messenger declared.

“Do.” Beatrice winked with an accompanying sound, drawing wordless respect and admiration from the Messenger's lips. “Good friend.” She lit her cigarette.

“You will never run mad, niece?” Leonato asked.

She grinned as she blew out smoke. “No, not till a hot January.”

Olivio smiled and whispered to Elena, “There! She can hardly think well of the man if she speak so of him.”

Two of Leonato's men opened a nearby gate quickly. “Ah,” the Messenger announced, handing his lager to a nearby woman, “Don Pedro is approached.” The women of the house scrambled about as five soldiers entered on a march, Hero and Margaret rushing away for admiring looks, but Beatrice merely walked away to sit down with her lager and smoke.

Suddenly a horn blasted like a trumpet, and a golf cart rolled into sight even as Don Pedro spoke with the Messenger. The other soldiers parted to make room for the beaming man driving the cart, all but one grinning at the sight. The man ignored the scowling man as he tossed his cap in the air, inspiring the others – bar the only one who would not smile – to do the same.

As Leonato's servants went around to scoop up the caps, all of which could easily be returned to their owners, Don Pedro greeted his hosts. “Ah, good Senor Leonato! Viscount Olivio! You have come to meet your trouble! The fashion of the world is to avoid cost and you encounter it.”

“Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your grace,” proclaimed the former.

“Never a truer word was spoke from the tongue of my brother-in-law; for we greet good times when thy shadow reaches our door, Prince of Aragon. Fine welcomes for fine men!” Olivio seconded.

“You embrace your charge too willingly,” the Prince playfully chided before giving each the embrace of friends. “Ah, I think this is your daughter, Leonato,” he said as Hero approached, well aware of her duty.

As the two greeted each other silently, Leonato remarked, “her mother hath many times told me so.”

Innogen and Elena gave him sharp looks. They would never not be angry with the implied tone of the line.

Benedick overheard and had to comment just before tossing Don Pedro a can. “Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?”

“Senor Benedick, no, for then... were you a child.”

Benedick accepted that with a laugh, but did not come forward even when Don Pedro remarked on Hero's obvious likeness to her father. Olivio joined Leonato and Don pedro off to the side, which allowed Benedick to relax a little.

“I wonder that you will still be talking, Senor Benedick; nobody marks you.”

Benedick turned slowly, approaching as he spoke. “What... my dear Lady Disdain... are you yet living?”

Beatrice stood, smiling as she saw a chance for sparring without interruption. “Is it possible disdain should die when she hath such meatfood to feed it as Senor Benedick?” Pleased that he was willing to click drinks to carry on the verbal battle, she added, “Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if she come into your presence.”

“Then is courtesy a turn-coat; for it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would not that I had a hard heart, for truly... I love none.”

“A dear happiness to women! They would else have been trouble with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that; I had had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.”

His grimace hid the pain that line hit upon him. “God keep your ladyship still in that mind so some poor gentleman or other shall escape a predestinate scratched face.”

“Scratching could not make it worse, and 'twere such a face as yours were.” She drank.

He flinched. “Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.”

“A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.”

He pointed at her with his lager-holding hand. “I would my horse had the speed of your tongue and so good a continuer.” She gestured a granting of a point to him, and he promptly held up a hand. “But...” He sat on the ground. “Keep your way, a God's name, I have done.”

She hid a slight frown. “You always end with a jade's trick... I know you of old.”

He almost ripped his glasses off, but the sound of Don Pedro and the other approaching gave Beatrice the excuse she wanted to leave. He was displeased to not get a chance to respond, but with her father near he could hardly approach her.

His mood was further soured by Claudio's revelation that he was going to seek Hero's hand in marriage. Claudio, who lacked the proper maturity to be wed; who did not see his good friend for the man he was and let his father's misguided opinions rule his own; who lacked the confidence to approach a woman for her own merits.

And he could hardly let Don Pedro know. He would not speak with him unless he could somehow obtain some assurance that Beatrice would welcome his suit. If he had that, then would he seek Don Pedro's assistance with Olivio.

Chapter Three: Desires Beginning to Collide


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 27th, 2015 03:49 am (UTC)
Why can't Olivio see that Beatrice still misses Benedick? She asked for him as soon as she had the chance. Even in denial, she wants to know that he's still alive and well.

I don't think her heart will be able to take it if something did happen to him. And that makes me hope that Benedick would actually have to fight Claudio. He wouldn't die in the fight, can't do that to Beatrice, but he wouldn't come out of it unscathed.

Maybe seeing his daughter worry and fuss over Benedick would convince Olivio that he was wrong all those years ago. These two belong together, and Benedick has proved himself to be worthy of his daughter.

Anyway, those are just my random thoughts.

Great story as always! I look forward to seeing more of Olivio and Elena. They are interesting characters and I can't wait to see how they behave with Beatrice in private.
Dec. 28th, 2015 12:55 am (UTC)
I hope you'll piece together what the objection really is. You saw how much male pride influenced Leonato in the original? Well... it's worse here.

You'll see so soon enough. Whether it reflects well on any of them is another matter.

As always, glad you commented!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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