Chapter 1: Staying Over
Lizzie watched as her sister giggled into Bing’s shoulder. They were honestly so cute together it was unbelievable. She was so glad that Bing had finally manned up, and that Jane had let him go to New York with her. The views that video had received… They really were perfect for one another.
Speaking of perfect, and most-viewed videos…
Lizzie turned around to spot Darcy gazing at her. She smiled, and watched him blush. It was funny, he still hadn’t quite got used to the fact that he could look at her as much as he wanted. She leaned across and kissed his cheek. He smiled awkwardly, that smile that she could barely admit to herself that she found sexy. He put his arm around her, then, in a smooth, practised move, signalled the waiter over and asked for the bill.
“Are you sure you don’t want to split it…” Lizzie asked, hardly daring to look at the figure. It was a ridiculously posh and expensive restaurant.
“No, this is my treat,” Bing argued, grabbing the cheque from Darcy’s hand. A lively debate ensued, ending in both men splitting the bill. Lizzie was a little annoyed at this. Sure, she maybe couldn’t afford it, but it wasn’t all that nice to be reminded. But she let it slide. She seemed to be doing that a lot more recently. Letting things slide. Not getting into conflict when unnecessary. Maybe it was doing her good. She’d pay for the next one.
Outside the restaurant, she hugged Jane goodbye, and watched as Bing and her sister walked hand in hand down the street. Lizzie smirked.
“Do you want to share a cab?” Darcy asked her.
“Sure,” she said, hailing one as it drove past.
“Do you want to go to yours first?” he asked, as he let her climb in first.
Lizzie steeled herself to say what she had desperately wanted to all evening. “I was thinking… maybe we could go back to yours tonight?” There was a short silence, in which Darcy’s expression was unfathomable. “I mean… if you think it’s too soon or you don’t want to or whatever… I mean I’ll completely understand, but…” she was babbling now. “I just thought… maybe I could… stay over…”
Darcy interrupted her stream of words by giving the cab driver the address… his address.
He pulled her towards him, and gently kissed her on the lips. She ran her hands through his hair, barely noticing the motion of the cab as it set off, winding through the streets of San Francisco. By the time it broke, Lizzie had no idea where they were.
“I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you too.” Darcy kept his arm around her the entire journey. She rested her head on his chest, listening to the thrum of his heartbeat through his dark blue shirt, steady as a metronome.
It had been nearly two months since her birthday, since the beginning of their relationship. The first month and a half had comprised of phone calls, video calls and visits every other weekend. Talking, finding out about each other. When her degree had finished, Lizzie had left for San Francisco, and had been there for two weeks now, house-sitting the same apartment she had stayed in during her company-shadowing.
There had been plenty of dates, dinners out, even a big fancy black-tie convention, in which she was proudly introduced as William Darcy’s girlfriend. And while there had been plenty of kissing and touching and discovering one another, they had never actually gone any further. They had wanted to wait. To take things slowly. Until tonight, Lizzie thought with a grin.
The cab pulled up outside Darcy’s apartment. Lizzie gave the driver a twenty, and together they walked up the stairs to Darcy’s penthouse apartment. He opened the door, and they walked in.
Lizzie was used to the size of it, but that didn’t mean that it hadn’t amazed her the first time around. The place was huge, bookshelves and expensive-looking abstract art canvases on the walls, an entire wall made of glass, showing the black sky outside.
“Do you… um want a drink?”
Lizzie turned around. Darcy had taken off his leather jacket, and was now watching her.
“Um… sure. That’d be great thanks.” He smiled, and walked into the kitchen. Lizzie pulled off her jacket and kicked of her heels. She wandered over to the nearest art canvas, and looked at it. It was a mess of colour, obviously very arty and abstract. It had struck her before as not the sort of thing she’d expected Darcy to like.
“Here you go,” Darcy said, handing her a glass of wine.
“Thanks.” He stood next to her, also looking at the picture.
“My dad liked it,” he said. “He bought quite a few, but this was his favourite. It… reminds me of him. I know that sounds stupid. Hanging up a picture that you don’t like for sentimental reasons.”
“No, no, it doesn’t sound stupid,” Lizzie said. “That’s not stupid at all. It’s perfectly normal.”
Darcy laughed. “Thank you.” They stood in silence for a moment. Lizzie took his hand and squeezed it gently. He returned the pressure then led her over to the sofa. They both sat down, as they had done many a time before, Lizzie leaning against his chest, with his arm around her shoulders. It felt comfortable that way, natural. As though it had been designed for her.
Lizzie finished her drink and placed her empty glass next to his on the coffee table. She glanced up at Darcy, to see him staring at their reflection in the window, a little smile on his face.
The kiss took him completely by surprise, but he ran with it anyway, cupping her face with his hands, and running one hand through her hair. She left one arm around his neck, pulling them closer, the other hand ran across his chest until she felt the buttons of his shirt. She undid one, then another one, before he pulled away.
“Are you sure?” he whispered.
All it took was that one word for him to lift her up entirely, like he had in that Q&A video, and carry her into the bedroom. They fell together onto the bed, their lips not parting. Lizzie continued to undo the buttons on his shirt, and pulled the fabric away, throwing it onto the floor. He ran his hand across her back, until he found the zip of her dress.
They continued to undress one another, until they were both in their underwear. He looked at her, gently stroking her collarbone, before reaching round to unhook her bra. They slid together under the covers together, and he rolled gently over her, they kissed. Lizzie wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling herself as close to him as possible.
So this is happiness.
Sorry the formatting's a bit dense on this one. This is my first work on this website, and I'm still not used to it!
She woke with the sunrise, the light streaming through the large windows. She was warm, safe, although she couldn’t remember where. And happier than she had ever been in her life. She became aware of an arm. An arm around her shoulder. And, come to think of it, she definitely wasn’t resting her head on a pillow. The surface was hard, smooth, and, perhaps strangest of all, moving.
Slowly, the events of the night before came back to her. She turned her head so that she could look up at Darcy. He was still fast asleep, and he looked calmer than she had ever seen him. As though sleep released him of the worries and stress that he normally carried with him. Just a hint of stubble shadowed his jaw line.
She lay there for a while, just listening to the smooth, steady rhythm of his heartbeat, reliving the events of the night before. It had been… incredible. The best she’d ever had. Maybe love had something to do with that. She couldn’t imagine how he’d got so good. She’d heard tell from Gigi that he’d hardly had time for socialising in general, let alone becoming intimate with another person. But, she reasoned, maybe Gigi doesn’t know everything.
She carefully disentangled herself from Darcy’s arm, and slid out of bed. She glanced around the room for the dress she had worn last night, and found it crumpled in a pile. She didn’t particularly want to wear the dress again.
She came across the dark blue shirt Darcy had been wearing last night. She held it to her nose, inhaling the smell of him. She pulled it on, buttoning it up, smiling as she was taken back to costume theatre moments from the diaries. Smiling at the sleeping figure on the bed, she left the room.
William was happy. Happier than he’d been in months, years even. In the muddled confusion that was the world between sleeping and waking, he considered that his might be the happiest he’d felt since his parents had died.
Never had he felt so calm, so at ease, so undeniably, entirely, elatedly happy as he did just then. Like the world was finally rewarding him for all those years of suppressed grief, that he had never had time to feel.
He became aware that the source of his happiness wasn’t lying next to him. He sat up in a panic. She couldn’t have left could she? He glanced around the room. Nope, her dress from the night before was still there, crumpled in a heap. Maybe she had just gone to the bathroom. He slipped out of bed, and pulled on a pair of boxer shorts, and some clean pyjama trousers. He considered a shirt, but decided against it. After all, he had nothing to be afraid of any more.
Or did he? Why did he still feel nervous around her? Why did he still feel that at any moment she would say that she’d made a mistake, walk out of his life?
He stalled as best he could. He tidied up the room a little, folding her dress neatly. He couldn’t seem to find his shirt from last night, which bothered him slightly. However, he couldn’t hide in the bedroom forever. He opened the door and entered the living room.
She was the first thing he saw. Her, in all her perfection, all her beauty. The massive glass windows gave him a clear view. She was standing on the balcony that led out from the living room, wearing his blue shirt from the night before. It was big enough, or she was small enough, that it came to halfway down her thigh. Just enough to make him forget how to breathe.
He couldn’t stop the thoughts from swirling around his mind. Lizzie Bennet, the Lizzie Bennet was here, on his balcony. Wearing nothing but his shirt. In his apartment. One thing was for certain. He wasn’t going to leave her standing there alone.
He opened the French windows, and stepped onto the balcony. He made her start a little, and she turned around.
“Hey,” he said, his voice cracking slightly. Why was he still scared? He didn’t have anything to be afraid of.
“Hey,” she said, smiling shyly at him. He stepped closer to her, and wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her neck. She turned her head, and their lips met. When they finally pulled apart, they both gazed out across the city. It still fairly early in the morning, the city was just beginning to wake up. The day looked to be a fine one, the sky a clear blue, tinged with the yellows and oranges of the sunrise, the air crisp, a slight breeze ruffling Lizzie’s hair. Together they watched the city wake up.
“I always like to have a balcony,” William found himself blurting out. Lizzie turned to look at him, her eyes inviting him to go on.
“When… my parents died… well, it wasn’t a good time. Obviously.” It was difficult for him to remember. But he wanted to share himself with her. “And I was fighting to keep my company, as well as trying to look after a grieving teenager, and cope with my own grief as well. And it just felt like… at the time… the latter was something unnecessary… it was the least important of the three. But…”
“You’re not a robot,” Lizzie finished for him.
He laughed. “No, contrary to popular belief. And so… the flat we were renting at the time had this great balcony… and when it all got too much, I would go out there and… watch the city. It reminded me that… life goes on. And when it all seems to grind to a halt, it’s always there to remind you that… the world won’t stop because you want it to. It reminded me that I had to keep going. For Gigi, for Pemberley, if not for myself. I couldn’t break down, lose control. I had to stay strong, for her.”
Lizzie just looked at him. It wasn’t often that he talked about that time. She understood that he wanted to keep it private. But she liked it when he did. In some way, it helped her understand his behaviour when they first met, why he had been so cold and closed off.
“I like it…” she said. “It makes me feel like… I’m not alone. When I watch them, and know they aren’t watching me. I’ve been watched by so many people, on my videos, and in some ways… it’s nice for the roles to be reversed.”
They stood in silence for a while, just watching.
“Move in with me.” William broke the silence.
Lizzie turned quickly. “What?”
“I want you to move in with me. I want to see you every day. I want to wake up next to you-”
“I said ok. When I start my company, I’ll be moving here anyway. I can’t house-sit forever. And… I want to see you every day too. I want this to be every day.” She turned around, and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I want you,” she whispered, kissing him fiercely. He pulled her tighter to him, until they both had to come up for air.
“Thank you,” William said. They stood together, in each other’s arms, just watching the streets of San Francisco become busier beneath them.
And of everything he had experienced with Lizzie, the conversations, the first kiss, last night… this was the moment where he just wanted to freeze time, and live in it forever. Because there they were, with one another, next to each other, both so happy, perfectly contented, that they could have an entire conversation, without needing to say a word.