Beatrice arrives home from work late, exhausted to the bone. It’s a Friday night, so at least it’s finally the weekend. She has no obligations, no plans. She’s been feeling off all day and she just wants to lie down. But there’s a surprise waiting for her when she crosses through the kitchen.
“Beatrice! The woman of the hour!” Benedick, beaming, looks up from the stove, where several different things appear to be cooking. “How was your day, love?”
Bea narrows her eyes at him, dropping into a seat at their little grey dinner table, which has been decorated with a blue patterned tablecloth and two place settings. There are even candles lit for a centerpiece. Something’s up.
It’s almost like Ben already knows- but he couldn’t. It’s literally impossible for him to know. Bea herself only found out yesterday, and she hasn’t figured out how to tell him- no, it has to be something else.
“What is this? Why are you being weird?” she asks. Normally, she would be elated to find Benedick waiting for her with dinner on the table after a long day at the office, but today just the idea of eating is almost enough to send her running to the bathroom.
“I’m not being weird!” Ben protests. “What, I’m not allowed to be proud of my badass lawyer wife?”
“Your overworked law clerk wife, you mean?” Bea shoots back, but she can’t help smiling. Ben’s enthusiasm has always been infectious that way.
“Exactly. I figured you’d be too tired to go out, but we have so much to celebrate, I wanted to do something special for you. So I’m making dinner, and we can crack open that new bottle of wine from Peter and Costa, and just enjoy a night in, in our new place. Sound good?” Ben asks hopefully.
Beatrice would still prefer to sleep, but she can’t stand the thought of the disappointed look on Ben’s face if she were to turn down his surprise, and this is awfully sweet of him. She sighs and nods, yes. It can’t hurt to humor him, and anyway, he’s so cute when he’s excited.
He won’t let her help with the cooking at all, so Bea spends the next half-hour fondly watching her husband as he happily bustles around their kitchen, telling her all about his day at the high school where he’s finishing up his student-teaching hours. Just hearing Ben’s voice is soothing enough that some of Bea’s worry and exhaustion seems to fade, and she’s calm, at least for a little while.
“All right,” Ben says, when he’s served them both plates of eggplant parmesan and poured the red wine their friends had brought to the housewarming party for this flat. “Before we get started, there’s something I’d like to say.”
“Okay…” Bea says, bemused. Ben’s acting like he’s preparing to address a crowd, even though it’s only the two of them, alone in their little kitchen.
“Beatrice, we’ve been through so much together. Two years of vlogging and matchmaking shenanigans with our friends, an amazing adventure traveling the world together, and then seven more years living and loving and laughing together after that- and we’ve never stopped arguing. You’re a natural at it, and even though we still can’t agree on the Great Flamingo Debate, all that arguing is finally paying off for you. Now, you get to take your skills into court, and argue for justice instead of just to annoy me, and I am so proud of you, love. I’m looking at the newest certified practicing attorney admitted to the High Court of New Zealand, and I’m not even a little bit surprised that you went out and made your dream happen. A toast to Beatrice Duke, Attorney at Law!” Ben exclaims, raising his wine glass high.
Laughing, Beatrice picks hers up as well, clinking it against his. “Thank you, thank you!”
She pretends to take a bow. Then, remembering herself, she quickly puts her glass down, unsipped. And she was really looking forward to opening that bottle, too, damn it.
Ben looks confused, now. “You’re not going to drink to your own officially-a-lawyer toast? I know it was a little cheesy, but it seemed like a good idea at the time-”
“It was a wonderful idea- ohh,” Beatrice groans as another wave of exhaustion hits her, and she sinks back into her chair. Ben doesn’t miss her discomfort this time. In a moment, he’s out of his chair and hovering by her side, worried.
“Bea, are you-”
She reaches up and takes his hand, bracing herself to say the words. Everything’s going to be different now.
Ben goes perfectly still and silent, his hand still gripping hers, his face expressionless.
“Ben?” Beatrice shakes his hand a little, hoping to snap him out of it. “Look, I’m scared too, and I know we didn’t plan this, but I’ve been freaking out since yesterday and I really need you to just-”
“Oh my God,” Ben breathes, and, incredibly, suddenly, he’s smiling. “Oh my God, are you serious? I- wow.”
“I know,” Bea says shakily, smiling back. “I’m kind of in shock too. But you’re happy about this? Because I… we have a lot to figure out, and this timing is shit, and I really don’t want to stop working just when I’m finally certified, but… yes, I’m terrified, but I think I might be happy about this, too.”
“Of course I’m happy, love,” Ben exclaims, leaning down to kiss her, gently touching her still-flat stomach in amazement. “I’m ecstatic, I’m going to be a father! I- wow.”
“You already said that,” Bea teases. Suddenly, Ben’s eyes snap back up to hers, and they’re alight with happiness, but also slight annoyance.
“Way to beat out my surprise, Bea,” he teases. “How is dinner supposed to compete with this?”
“It’s not like I did this on purpose!” she says. “In fact, this is at least half your fault, you know.”
“Oh, I know. This explains everything, I knew something was wrong when you didn’t tease me more for that toast. If you weren’t distracted, you’d have been merciless.”
“I would not!” Bea protests. “I thought your toast was very sweet. And you should be nicer to me, since I’m literally carrying your child.”
“Oh my God, that’s so weird,” Ben says. “I need to lie down and process this. This is surreal.”
“You need to lie down? Try being me,” Bea says, rolling her eyes, but she follows him to their bedroom.
Cuddling and talking and processing major terrifying life changes first. They can reheat dinner later.