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Title: Glance of Love
Genre: Much Ado About Nothing (2011 performance)
Rating: T (with two chapters rated M – one for paranoia, the other with... more cause)
Pairings: Bendick/Beatrice, Claudio/Hero
Summary: One chance look shared on the night before the ill-fated wedding day drew a pair of dueling lovers together... a bit earlier. Thus altering the lives of those around them as well.
Dedication: To Shakespeare for writing the play. To the people who arranged to put on the amazing performance, to Digital Theatre for putting out a download, and – most of all – David Tennant and Catherine Tate for the silent exchange that inspired this fic – as shown here (and all photos shown within these posts come from the same source):
Disclaimer: I didn't have the money to see this in person. So I own nothing except this idea. :( And a copy of the Digital Theatre download. :D
Author's Note: Title is a play on the song that was playing as this moment happened. My muse is a definite minx for coming up with this... and a few other MAAN-based ideas. :D

This would probably make more sense if you've seen that MAAN production, but I wrote it with the aim of trying to make things clear to any reader. Still, I know my peeps who had the great fortune to get tickets and see the play – or fans like me who had to wait for the Digital Theatre download – will get every last reference I make to the performance itself. I suppose this is also for the fans who either can't afford to get the download and the ones whose computers can't make it work – every Doctor/Donna fan should get to see this play.

Readers, this is the result of being an unrepentant Doctor/Donna fangirl, adoring the dynamic Tennant and Tate have in anything they do, and having an imagination that went into overactive squeegasm madness over several moments I refer to. :D Heck, spoiler footage of The Kiss powered me to reach NaNo winner status in under fifteen days. That and an Internet blackout at my house that prevented me from watching it over and over again. :D

Happy Birthday, sykira! So glad I got it right in one what you'd like. Hope you like this chapter just as much. :D

Chapter 1

Chapter 2: Seals of Love

A soldier had many expectations thrust upon him, from many different directions. There was your family, if you had any left, and their traditions of service to support you or place wanted pressure on your shoulders. There was your community or city, which had numerous traditions of its own which it expected you to uphold. Comrades-in-arms were another source of pressure – you were compared with them or you compared yourself with them. And then there were your commanders – the men whose discernment your future might depend upon.

Benedick of Padua was well-acquainted with all of those pressures, and meeting them with either humor or – on rare occasions – deadly accurate aim with his weapons. He considered himself a merry man, ready to meet tension with a well-directed quip or comment. Might he also be considered a fool? Only if they did not know him or his record of service under the command of Don Pedro.

He had nothing to prove as a man. He had his men's respect. He had his fellow lieutenants' respect, and he had earned great favor from Don Pedro, who could still do much for him and his future.

He sat himself in the bar where Leonato had brought Don Pedro, Claudio, and the other officers for a merry night. He watched as Claudio joked with the others, including Boracchio, one of Don John's trusted men. Benedick eyed him with a weary eye – the man was a soldier of some skill but he had the air of a man who enjoyed spreading mischief where it did not belong. Benedick would not trust him near any female of his family.

The morrow was Claudio's wedding to the daughter and sole heir of Leonato: the Lady Hero. Did Benedick have any cause for displeasure from the event? No, he had every reason to believe Hero to be virtuous and wise. She would make a good wife for Claudio.

If she could tame Claudio's impetuous streak. The man was awful in leaping to a conclusion without evidence, or merely upon the word of another man of rank. He had seen it happen in war, and only his own judgment and advice had prevented a disaster. Claudio had the glory of the day, but Don Pedro was aware that the true leader of victory was the less dramatic Benedick.

Benedick did not want the attention that the younger Claudio thrived upon. He was content with simple praise and a well-earned reward. It had given him a strong footing for the rest of his life, should he need to cease being a solider.

Of course, he was from a wealthy family and thus expected to marry. To ensure the bloodline continued even though he was not the eldest son.

No. Not Benedick. Every woman his family or town had presented to him, or he had been presented with on his journeys as a soldier, had bored him within minutes. He despised the custom for a woman to be utterly deferential to a man. He loved a challenge to his mind, to his wit. He thrived on it. A meek woman would drive him mad within a week, at best.

He enjoyed the freedom of being a bachelor. He had no one who depended upon him other than his men. He simply did not see a woman who tempted him.

He truly believed that. Until this morning.

He had been partaking of a fizzy drink to help with the hangover he had from the night before, from the reveling Leonato held. Benedick had enjoyed the night... until he tried to provoke the Lady Beatrice. He had been sure she had not known who he was when he joked in a falsetto voice about her wit and manner, but later on he realized that she might have known all along.

That would have been bad enough, but she had called him 'the prince's jester.' If her words were right, she had a very poor opinion of his character, wit, and even his humor. He had been angry, and determined to get revenge somehow – until even Don Pedro seemed against him and for Beatrice.

He had indulged in some additional drinking after that, seeking to forget. Especially the need to flee rather than cope with such an offensive moment. But it was hard to forget so deep an affront.

It did take away from seeing a man who had laughed at the shallow follies of a man in love making an utter fool of himself. Claudio needed to speak for himself in personal matters. He had not been taught well in that. Of course, what man was? The man who was most assured when talking with women tended to be the worst sort. With rare exceptions.

But his drinking was more to lessen the sting of Beatrice's words. He had not been able to turn down her challenge in mocking why he was still talking – her words were always a challenge to his wit, and he had been drawn in... every time. Such wit in a woman was something that captured his attention when they met. Never had he found such a welcome rival who did not mock with the cheap jests that men were want to use.

But she never liked when he ended their verbal sparring. Saying his choosing when to end them was a jade's trick?! It was all he could do to keep silent, but hearing her voice almost in his ear about how she knew him? Had Don Pedro not made his announcement, he would have snapped an answer at her after whipping his sunglasses off. Indeed, it was that indignation that drove him to bump into her during the dancing, and pretend to not be himself to engage her wit in ways to earn his revenge.

Look how well that turned out. He endured humiliation in front of his lord, and very likely made her argument appear to have substance to it.

Hangovers never made for pleasant moments, but he never stopped thinking – even lying on the ground, relying on a pillar to help him recover. Fizzy drink still in hand, Benedick had mused aloud about the transformation love made a man endure – thinking especially of Claudio. He doubted that he himself would be turned into an oyster by love – at least not until all graces were in one woman.

He even speculated about what such a woman would be like for him. His station in life demanded she be rich, his intelligence wanted wit in a woman, wisdom or she would not be suitable for running a household, fair because a man needed to like to look on the woman he took to wife, and virtuous – a man was a fool to take a woman to wife who was not a maiden. He had casually added ideas, speculating because it seemed safe to do so.

Until his tongue ran ahead of his mind on one detail: 'And her hair shall be red-” He caught himself, amended it to the air and the heavens: “...of what colour it please God.”

But the damage had been done. It sounded too like Lady Beatrice – who he had liked well enough when they first met until she shouted at him for something he did not understand. Ever since, he had considered the woman – who he, as a man, considered as fact that she was her cousin's superior in beauty – his enemy off the battlefield.

His day had gone from bad to worse when he had to hide from Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato. First he had to endure the bad singing of Balthazar, then he got distracted in mocking the performance (certain he was unseen) and his hand fell into a container of wet white paint. He had been trying to figure out how to get it off him, aware his mind was not working as well as it normally did, when Don Pedro asked Leonato for confirmation that 'your niece Beatrice was in love with Seńor Benedick?'

In retrospect, he was lucky to not be noticed given the paint tins he knocked over from hearing that. Because he had had to get closer to hear more – he needed to hear what proof they had. And it distracted him to the point where he accidentally spread the paint all over him.

Bad enough that the Boy had not forgotten his book. Or that he had to keep moving away to avoid being seen as the trio moved around the outer areas to continue their conversation. But the conclusion reached was horrifying: Lady Beatrice was so convinced that he would mock her if she made her love known that she was at risk of doing 'a desperate outrage to herself.'

Given the delicate nature of her situation, trying to avoid a bad marriage or dealing with scorn from the object of her affections might make death seem an acceptable alternative.

Once they left, Benedick had tried to convince himself that he simply had to love her back, that it would be cruel of him to not. That belief that he would come to be horribly in love with her had lasted past her coming out to summon him to dinner. He had been sure that she was engaging in their common double-meaning discussions, and she was simply so frustrated that she had let it slip that she wished to stay out with him.

Now, sitting at a table by himself, he found himself reflecting on what the revelations really meant to him. A few uncomfortable truths became frighteningly apparent.

First, the source of the growing irritation that his comrades-in-arms had noticed in him toward women had a plain source. He had failed to drum up the interest in many of the activities his fellow bachelors enjoyed. Particularly what was politely called the sowing of wild oats. Now, unlike his fellow bachelors, he made absolutely certain that his... dalliances could not possibly fall on fertile soil – his honour would have demanded that he look after any resulting children, and he had seen the problems inherent all thanks to Don Pedro's family. And within his own male relatives.

But for over five years he had lacked the desire to seek any such activities out. And his desire for such activities had been waning slowly since meeting Lady Beatrice over five years before that. Which meant he had been drifting towards seeking marriage – which to his soul meant complete fidelity and ceasing all types of dalliances – for longer than he cared to think.

Next, he probably made an absolute fool of himself in front of Beatrice earlier. Perhaps she had not been impressed with the pain covering him, messing his hair, clothes, and skin. She might have been mocking his smile – although she could not have known that he was unable to not smile in her presence at that moment. Possibly she had meant her words at face value, that she had been dragged from her table to carry out an errand on her uncle's behalf. She had been eating out of a bowl, and he would not be surprised if she hated interruptions to her routine. He would have been put out had he been in her shoes.

Finally, and by far the hardest to swallow, was the truth that he did not need to become horribly in love with Beatrice – he already was. And had been since soon after they had first met. How else could what he heard affect his soul in every way?

It explained his immediately requesting the barber's man come and shave off his beard as soon as he was clean. He had drawn a number of stares from his fellow officers. Even the beardless Claudio had blinked when he arrived. He would not explain himself – he could not until he had found a way to explain his change of heart without enduring too much wit thrown at him. His headache was still there, which forced him to stick with more fizzy pop – this time from a bottle. He had even taken medicine with his dinner, which he took in private so he would have a clean face – which Beatrice had once indicated she preferred, something that set her apart from other women.

He would gladly endure witcrackers if he could have Beatrice at his side. Or be at her side. He was more than willing now to work with her, treat her as the equal he knew in his soul she was.

Of course, how to approach her? He had to show respect for her, show her that he would treat her with love and kindness – never once imposing his will on her and forcing her into a role she was not made for. God could not have made a woman like her if she was not meant for a man who saw her as at least his equal. Therefore, she was too good for him, but he wanted to be chosen by her.

So how could he act without risking a repeat of that awful day that sent them on the “merry war” of words? Looking back on that day, he knew he shared in the blame. He could now see that she had seen his assumptions as another example of male imposition. He could not afford or bear to make that mistake again. It might cost him dearly, and drive her to despair. So what to do?

He was distracted enough that he did not hear the excited screaming of one member of the approaching bridal party.

Chapter 3: Light of Love


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 8th, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC)
Gah, right from the first sentence with "thrust" you've peppered the Benedick chapter with the very language of Benedick (Signior Montanto = upward thrust, and Ben saying "thrust my neck into the yoke" etc) which is utter GENIUS and makes your writing so rich and pleasurable to read. I want to roll around in this fic like happy pig in muck and if I'm nowhere near as eloquent as you I'm blaming the screwdrivers :)

I ADORE how you are using these pics btw! I dunno about screen caps, the tumblr tag MAAN and the much ado about nothing tag have some...and someone just this week uploaded MAAN to something like youtube lemme find it...http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xt9j98_maan-part-one_creation
hypothetically, you can download the vid from that site btw and keep it on your computer. Don't get me wrong, I hugely advocate paying the $ and d/loading it legally, but since Digital Theater failed to make a DVD for us *pause to mournfully grieve all those behind the scene extras we never saw* at any point we could lose access to the $18 download I happily paid for -- if we had a DVD we would always have a DVD. Ergo, I'm mentioning this dailymotion vid. Cause yeah.

am gonna post this now in case LJ eats it again, will comment properly later

I am not, btw, in any way, compulsively refreshingly my flist to look for the next chapter. Not at all. *whistles innocently*
Sep. 8th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
I got his language right? *victory dance*

I just spent an hour on tumblr trying to find stuff. Not one thing was what I wanted. *sighs* Oh, well. I can always add to it later, if I feel like it. Or just save them for the commentary I will one day complete. That said... I might've found some things I can use one day. :D And I bookmarked that link, BTW. :D

Well, will have to post later. *sighs* So you have several hours to wait, I'm afraid. So sorry I got caught up in the fangirl delights. :)
Sep. 8th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
Ah the fangirl delights on tumblr are quite a thing to behold!

You've done a beautiful job with the language --both in terms of word choice and the modern english with archaic descriptors - like "merry night" and "dalliance" - it's excellently done, not remotely jarring, keeping the feeling of the play without loading it down with an attempt to go all flowery (like, um, mine, *coughs*).

NICE foreshadowing too with the Claudio leaping to conclusions stuff ;) It's fascinating to me to see where our opinions of the characters are similar or diverge, ah MAAN meta!

I can't wait to get to the action! *squeaks*

Sep. 9th, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
Yeah, I found some nice things there. Seriously, one was a fangirling thing using a MAAN moment. :D

Yay! Thank you! *hugs* Hey, we all have to start somewhere. Also, I guess I try to keep things simple if I can, but adding where it feels needed. (Although cutting down I think used to be a problem for me.)

MAAN metas... *applauds* Oh, I wanna start writing it again! :D

The changes started in chapter 3, which is up now. :D
Sep. 10th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
I'll just here and look at his legs for a bit longer... I never realised before MAAN how much of a thing I had for them. And they go so well with your story!!!

I love the idea of him pining for Beatrice for five years! Oh my...
Sep. 10th, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
*snickers* I never would've imagined EVER having a thing for someone of that build until a few years ago. Interest, huh? ;)

At least five years. ;D
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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