Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Brando/Riccardo (Bruce/Dick), Timotheus (Tim), Jason, Luigi Marcello
Genres: AU, Challenge, Historical, Drama, Romance, Slice-Of-Life
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Claim: For my 2017 Bruce/Dick Bingo Card.
Prompt: Write That Art!
Pattern: Row B (Straight/Vertical Line Bingo) (1/3)
Prompt Count: (6/9)
General Summary: Brando Venucci is a great artist/sculptor/jeweler in Renaissance Florence and is desperately in love with his beautiful model, Riccardo Graciano, the centerpiece of an ambitious artistic project which will make them forever famous.
Chapter Summary: The Great Project begins.
Date Of Completion: April 29, 2017
Date Of Posting: July 16, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count (this chapter): 1502
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
Sculptor, & Jeweler
The Great Project was to begin immediately. Riccardo assented to being the model, excited by Brando’s enthusiasm. On the first day he arrived right after breakfast, dressed in his rainbow finery. He said good morning to Timotheus and Jason and went upstairs.
“Ah, good!” Brando was dressed in a light-colored muslin tunic free of paint. Today was for sketching, not painting. He wore a simple gold necklace and a ring that he always wore. A beautiful sapphire sparkled in its gold setting. “I have something for you.”
“Oh?” Brando was always generous with his gifts.
“Si.” Brando handed Riccardo a polished wooden box. “Open it.”
Riccardo did and gasped. “Magnifico!” He took out the heavy, beaten-gold necklace with jewels arranged in a star design. The colors were red, green, yellow and blue and beautifully polished.
“It is yours.” Brando smiled. “A celebration of the Great Project.”
Brando watched his lover’s face carefully. He wanted Riccardo to fully appreciate this gesture. His model not only had beauty but brains, coupled with intuitive insight. Even the sharp intelligence of his apprentices could not outpace Riccardo’s gifts.
“It is a fitting gift, amico mio. It is worthy of your Great Project.”
Brando beamed. Of course Riccardo understood. He was special, indeed.
“Let us begin!” Brando sat in a wooden chair and balanced his sketchpad on his knee.
Riccardo nodded and began undressing, unpeeling like it was the Dance of the Seven Veils. He tossed everything on the divan and faced Brando, unabashedly nude.
Brando choreographed Riccardo’s various poses, seeking the perfect one. It had to be just right. If it took more than one session to get it, so be it.
Riccardo was patient, understanding that the pose was everything. Brando barked out orders but also asked for his opinions, not always the case with artists.
“It cannot be like David,” Brando muttered. He made a few preliminary sketches but quickly discarded them, the pages fluttering to the floor. He scowled and grunted and gesticulated, all routine as Riccardo smiled.
Finally Brando sighed and tossed the sketchpad onto the floor. “Impossible!” He pulled at his wild thatch of hair.
“We will try again tomorrow,” Riccardo soothed. He started to get dressed.
Brando cursed himself for incompetence while Riccardo remained calm. He had seen this act many times before. There would be shouts and curses and recriminations, and Brando would be ready to work again tomorrow.
“We must eat,” Riccardo said as he pulled on his pants. Brando growled. “Yes, eat.” Riccardo’s voice was firm.
Riccardo went to the table that held a bowl of fruit and took out a loaf of bread from a small cabinet. He quickly arranged a few plates with fruit and bread.
“You are out of cheese.”
“Forgive me for being so remiss.”
Riccardo hid his smile at the sarcasm. “I think I will go and eat with Jason and Tim. I do not like a cup of grumpiness with my lunch.”
Brando glared and stomped off. Riccardo smirked and picked up his plate. Brando saw the action reflected in a mirror on the wall and turned, stomped over to Riccardo, and snatched the plate out of his model’s hands.
Riccardo complied, Brando slamming the plate down on the table. An orange rolled around and Riccardo prevented it from falling to the floor. Brando brought a jug of wine over and filled the goblets, then sat down and sprawled out defiantly.
Riccardo smiled sweetly and sipped his wine. Brando took a big gulp of his wine. Riccardo began to eat and Brando did the same. They ate in complete silence, only muffled voices drifting up from the busy street.
Riccardo was amused as Brando acted like a sullen child. Artistic temperament was his lover’s middle name. Riccardo always made allowance for it, as other artists pitched their little fits, too. Brando just did it so much better than anyone else.
After lunch, Riccardo bid Brando good day and said he would be back bright and early the next morning. He swept grandly out of the room and down the stairs, leaving Brando to fume.
By the next morning, Brando was all smiles again, and Riccardo nodded approvingly. He cheerfully disrobed and the posing began again.
Brando’s expression was intense as he compared the various poses. He directed his model at first, then allowed Riccardo to come up with the poses.
Riccardo enjoyed the freedom. He liked channeling his creative urges in ways that satisfied him. Working with Brando as an equal was a pleasure and one of the reasons he consented to model for him so often.
“Wait!” Brando’s voice was excited.
Riccardo stayed still. He watched as Brando tilted his head one, way, then another. A smile spread across his face slowly.
“There! That is it! The perfect pose!”
Riccardo was grateful that the pose would not leave him with aching limbs or a stiff neck. “You are a genius, Brando,” he purred. Brando beamed. It never hurt to gild the lily.
Brando began sketching, making quick strokes. He was in the throes of creative passion now, which Riccardo could appreciate. He watched Brando at work, admiring those talented hands that could do much more than sketch. He felt his cheeks flush pink.
“Would you like me to open a window?” Brando asked.
“Um, no,” Riccardo replied. He would have to think of something else. He had no clothes to hide his reactions.
He let his mind drift, only half-listening to Brando’s mutterings. This was his daydreaming time, allowing himself to dream of flying.
Yes, flying. People would think him addled, but he was past caring. He had grown up in an acrobatic troupe and had come the closest any human could to flying.
He had not even told about his desires or his past to Brando. Someday, perhaps, but not today. Today was time for creativity and romping and enjoying life.
So the session went well, and a pleased Brando took Riccardo in his arms and kissed him. Riccardo did not bother to get dressed.
Brando strolled through the Piazza della Signoria on a splendid spring day. The great works of Florentine sculptors were on display, his own small Greek Girl a popular item. He stopped and put his fists on his hips, studying Cellini’s Perseus With The Head Of Medusa, known as The Medusa for short.
He had to admit, it was a masterpiece. The theme was dramatic with Perseus holding the snake-tressed head of the Medusa he had just cut off. The base showed intricate scenes from the story of Perseus and Andromeda. Cast in bronze, the work was well-known throughout the civilized world.
Most Florentines were accustomed to the statues in the piazza and went about their business while barely glancing at them. However, some citizens were art lovers, standing around as they admired the sculptures.
Brando walked around to the back of the statue, shaking his head.
“Quite the braggart, eh?”
Brando’s skin crawled at the sound of the voice at his shoulder but kept his gaze fixed on the back of Perseus’ helmet. “Only Benvenuto would sculpt his face in the back of Perseus’ head.”
“Very true. Arrogant always.”
Brando shaded his eyes as he continued staring at the sculptor’s face, hoping that his sudden companion would go away.
“Cellini, bah.” The oily voice whispered in his ear. “He is a dirty catamite.”
Brando turned his head and glared at the thin man standing next to him. Dressed in the rich finery of a man whose patron was the Medici, Luigi Marcello stroked his beard as dark-brown eyes stared at him maliciously.
“That is a harsh accusation.” And one that could be leveled at many a man in Florence these days.
“But a probable one.”
“So you say.”
“Yes, I say!” Brando hated his vulnerability. Sleeping with his female models was fine, but sleeping with Riccardo was dangerous. Despite the prevalence of sodomy in Florence, it was better left unsaid, and if you were openly accused and brought before the Office of the Night, even worse. “You know nothing, Marcello.”
Marcello’s smile was smug and full of malice. “So you say, Venucci.”
Brando shrugged. He returned to studying the statue.
“Decadent,” Marcello sniffed.
“As for The Medusa, you think you could do better?”
“Of course. The Medici only sponsor the best.”
Marcello frowned. “Mind what I say, Venucci. Sodomites like Cellini and the rest of his perverted kind will feel the wrath of the Church.”
“Only if he is guilty.” And he’s got a lot of company.
“Oh, I know he is. I have connections with the Office of the Night.”
Brando looked at the hawkish face of his fellow sculptor. “No doubt.” Marcello glared. Brando smiled and said, “Enjoy the day, Luigi.” He strutted away without looking back.
He missed the calculating glint in Luigi Marcello’s eyes.
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