Title: Ben’s Song (Places of NMTD, 5/?)

Characters: Ben, Balthazar, mentions of Bea

Words: 590

Rating: G

Prompt: Sleepover

Notes: I didn’t mean to write fan fiction, you guys! I was just going to do art! But then this happened…

Everything Ben did was over the top, especially friendship. Another friend might just ask, after you’ve watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, if you want to ‘watch the next one,’ adding that ‘you can stay overnight if you want’. Ben would formally invite you to The Sleepover Of The Century, nay, The Millennium and he organised something special each time, designed specifically to be enjoyed by the guest(s) attending.

Balthazar loved going to Ben’s sleepovers. Once he had a rotating roster of party hats accompanied by corresponding 10 second dance parties, once they sat outside stargazing and drinking fancy iced tea, and once there was a multicultural banquet of desserts cooked entirely by Ben the day before. How he managed to be so enthusiastic and committed, without making you feel awkward about how much effort he’d put in, Balthazar would never know.

So when Ben texted him at 4 in the afternoon with “hey man, you wanna come over for dinner? maybe stay for the night?”, Balthazar was confused.

All through dinner, Ben was quiet. Balthazar tried to prompt conversation by talking about tv shows and music, but Ben was nearly monosyllabic and seemed not to be listening. Eventually Balthazar decided to try a topic on which Ben always had something to say.

“So, uh, I saw Beatrice at the shops today,” he started, unsure where to go from there.

“Did she still look really upset?” asked Ben urgently. Balthazar smiled at the enthusiasm. “Did she smile when she saw you? Was she wearing bright colours or, like, a navy jumper or something?”

“She just looked really tired. She smiled a bit, but not like a happy smile, you know. Just like she was happy to see me but too tired to really care all that much.”

Ben slumped back into his chair. “I have tried everything to cheer her up, man. Everything. And nothing works.”

Balthazar looked at him, wondering whether to point out that sometimes happiness takes time, or to point out that cheering up Beatrice wasn’t Benedick’s usual occupation. But Balthazar knew that monologues were how Ben worked things out, so he sat and waited.

“It’s just no fun when she’s sad,” Ben said eventually. “How am I meant to tease her when she doesn’t even respond?”

“That’s all it is. Really.” He looked at Balthazar earnestly. “It’s not like I like her or anything. I mean, that would be so weird.” He gave an insincere laugh.

“Okay, fine, maybe I like her! What of it! I’m allowed to like her, everyone likes her! Who wouldn’t like her? I just want to make her laugh. Can’t I want to make her laugh without all this interrogation!”

Balthazar smiled, and Ben threw a toy parrot at him. “And you can stop with that ‘I told you so’ smirk on your face, good sir.”

Ben paused for a moment. “God, Balth, who wouldn’t like her?” he asked quietly.

Balthazar wiggled his eyebrows.

Ben grabbed the stuffed parrot out of Balthazar’s hands just so he could throw it at him again.

“I know this may sound sappy,” sung Ben quietly, “but she just make me happy.”

“Wait a second,” said Ben, perking up, “that didn’t sound half bad.”

“I’ve been trying to write a song for Beatrice,” he explained, “which is partly why I invited you over, but then I chickened out and I was feeling too sad about how she was sad and about Hero’s thing and…” He sighed. “Will you help me?”

Balthazar grinned. “Of course.”

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