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“Darcy… Thank you.”

Her voice was so full of pain that it hurt him to listen. It seemed selfish to consider his own pain, when hers was so much more real and immediate. He couldn’t think of himself right now. What he wanted. What he needed. He had to think of her, what she needed.

So he went into robot mode. He had to do what was best for her, and that was to get her home as soon as possible, back to her family. He had to do what he could to give her that.

“There’ll be a car downstairs for you in five minutes.” He could feel his voice trembling, on the point of breaking, but he ignored it and left the room. He couldn’t look back at her, or he’d lose his resolve, and go with her.

As soon as he’d closed the door he allowed himself to feel what had just happened. He leaned against the wall, and closed his eyes, fighting the urge to yell with rage and kick something.

He had been so close.

He had stuck his neck out on the line again, and again he had been shot down. The only good part was this time it hadn’t been because of him. Fate had intervened, what ever bad things he had done to separate Bing and Jane were coming back in the form of cruel, biting Karma.

He must have stood there for a whole minute, drowning in a world of self-pity, thinking of all he had lost with the beep of that phone, before a voice inside his head gave him a shove. What are you doing? This isn’t what she needs! Get on with it.

He realised that Lizzie would be leaving that room very soon, and he was just standing there like a moron, thinking about himself. He pushed away from the wall, and practically ran down the hall, pulling his phone from his pocket. A quick, concise phone call later, and his own personal driver was waiting to take her to the airport. Another, and he had booked her onto the next flight to her home town, leaving in just over an hour. A third, and he had organised for someone to pack Lizzie’s things, so that they could be on their way back to her by tomorrow evening. Then he could think about himself, just for a second, as he made his way to see Lizzie off.

He really did think that she had been about to say yes. She had looked surprised, confused maybe, when he had clarified that it would just be the two of them, but she hadn’t looked angry. She hadn’t glared at him like the last time he had declared his love. Hell, she had even seemed happy to see him when he had walked in! Good afternoon to you… she had been so cheerful, smiled at him when she saw who it was.

The happy smiles were replaced with her accusing cry… "Whose fault is it?" She meant it to lay the blame with herself, but deep down, he knew that it was his fault. Yes that scumbag was also to blame, but it was his fault that nothing had been done about him earlier. He could have stopped George before, could have handled the situation with Gigi a lot better.

He heard another voice, one he had tried to block out since she had forgiven him. His baby sister shouting through her tears, "Dad would never have done it!" She was entirely right. His father would never have handled it this badly. His hand slipped to the watch in his pocket. He ran his fingers over the engraved surface, as he always did when thinking about his father. He could have prevented all of this from happening… how he wasn’t quite sure. This thought watered the seeds of resolve that had been sown when Lizzie had asked, perhaps rhetorically, who was to blame for this mess.

By this point he was on the ground floor, by the entrance where the cars dropped off their owners. He could see his car there, and Lizzie putting her things into the back seat.

His PA ran up to him, with an envelope containing Lizzie’s flight details in his hands. He could have turned and walked away, could have stood there and watched her leave. But it occurred to him that this might be the last time he ever saw her, in person at least. He didn’t want his last words to her to be “There’ll be a car downstairs for you in five minutes.” But would she want to see him? The envelope in his hands decided him, gave him courage. He opened the door, and strode towards her. She looked up, flustered, and upset.

Neither of them said anything for a second. Darcy understood then, that she was just to upset to follow the ordinary social cues by beginning the conversation, which had often been her job beforehand.

He searched for something to say. “I hope everything works out for you and your family.” What a stupid thing to say. There was something in her eyes, as he stumbled out that awkward sentence. Pity perhaps. Or maybe she was just scared for her sister. Whatever, she didn’t say anything. “H-Here are your flight details,” he said handing her the envelope. “We’ll have your things back with you in a couple of days.”

“Thank you,” she said. She put the envelope into her handbag, then turned back to him.

So much could have happened in that moment. Darcy would torture himself with fantasies later, as he sat on a plane himself. In his dreams, he would embrace her, hold her close, providing her with support and friendship. She would cry into his shoulder, and he would comfort her as long as she needed him. Sometimes, she would reach up on tiptoe to kiss him on the cheek to show her thanks. Once, they even kissed passionately and he got into the car and went with her, holding her close the entire journey.

But none of that happened. Instead, there was an awkward silence, in which they both looked at each other, before Darcy robotically held out his hand. He wondered if he noticed a flicker of disappointment in her eyes, as she reached out and shook it, but decided that was wishful thinking. It was unlikely that she wanted that from him. He tried not to shiver at her touch, or hold on too long.

“Have a safe flight,” he said.

“Yes… Goodbye Darcy.” He helped her into the car, and closed the door, the tinted windows obscuring her from view. The car pulled away, and he watched it until it had pulled out onto the road and driven out of sight.

Just once, it would have been nice to hear her say his first name. Only people his family called him William, so he understood why not. But, knowing that he would probably never see her again, he wanted to hear her say it.

Now that she was gone, he allowed himself to focus on the resolution, which had been growing inside his mind. He took out his phone again, and speed-dialled a number. The familiar voice answered.

“Yo, Darcy my man. How’d it go? Please let this be a victory call?”

Darcy sighed.

“Not quite. Fitz, I’m going to need to go on a trip…”