“Oh hey, awesome,” Claudio says. “A couple of my Army friends will be able to make it for our New Years party.”
“Lovely,” Hero says absently, thoroughly distracted by her book. “Add them to the list. Any of them got food allergies?”
“I think Verges might be allergic to shrimp, I’ll check,” Claudio says, and Hero nods and turns back to her book.
“You didn’t tell me one of your Army buddies was Benedick Padua,” Hero hisses in Claudio’s ear as the men join the already-raucous party.
“Why? I didn’t think you knew him,” Claudio says, and Hero sighs.
“Because he and my cousin Beatrice -” she starts, and then over the background noise of the party they both hear, “Oh! Beatrice! Haven’t you died for lack of spite yet?”
“Hard to die for lack of spite when you’re still around to provide more,” Hero’s cousin rejoins in a furious hiss, and Hero covers her face with one hand.
“Because they dated years ago and now they hate each other,” she finishes gloomily. “Loudly. We might not even hear the fireworks.”
“Oh,” Claudio says, and then thankfully Ursula and Pedro manage to get Beatrice and Benedick to separate. “Well. There’s a lot of people here, maybe it will be fine?”
“I do love your optimism, darling,” Hero says.
“Ten! Nine! Eight!” Hero joins the chanting, leaning against Claudio and grinning as they watch the fireworks start to flower against the stars. “Three! Two! One! Happy new year!” Hero would cheer, but she’s being thoroughly kissed.
The party winds down after that; by one o’clock most of the guests have trickled out, trailing designated drivers or scampering out to taxis.
Beatrice’s coat is still on the coathook, though, and there’s another that Hero doesn’t recognize. She raises an eyebrow at Claudio, and they separate to search the house for their wayward guests.
Claudio finds her again in the kitchen, and his eyes are very wide. “So,” he says, “uh. Are you sure your cousin and my best friend hate each other?”
“Oh god,” Hero says, putting her face in her hands. “What happened?”
“Well, they’re in the guest room,” Claudio says. “Um. Very...loudly...in the guest room. It’s probably just as well we were planning on wearing earplugs tonight anyhow.”
“Oh my god,” Hero says faintly. “Well. Tomorrow will be an exciting start to the new year.”
“Alright, what the fuck were you thinking?” Hero hisses as Beatrice sits down at the table. Claudio is making pancakes for brunch; Benedick is probably in the shower, by the sound of it.
“I was thinking anyone who runs off at the mouth like that has got to have a clever tongue,” Beatrice says with a wicked grin, and Hero rests her forehead on the table and moans.
“...Also he punched some asshole who called you something horrid,” Beatrice adds quietly. “You might not want to invite Pedro’s brother John to any more parties.”
“I didn’t invite him to this one, Pedro just brought him along,” Hero sighs, sitting up again. “But. Uh. So. You and Benedick? Really?”
“He’s...matured,” Beatrice says thoughtfully. “Maybe so have I. This time, this might not blow up in our faces.”
“I hope you’re right,” Hero says. But - well, new year, new relationship, new possibilities. Maybe this will be alright.
The shower shuts off, and a few minutes later, Benedick comes in, wearing a pair of Claudio’s sweatpants. “Why, my dear Lady Disdain,” he says, kissing the top of Beatrice’s head. “I notice you haven’t smothered me in my sleep.”
“Stabbing’s more fun,” Beatrice says, tilting her head back to grin up at him, and - yeah, alright, Hero can see it. They’ll be good together. Explosive, but good.