A fanfic inspired by this post: post/86514690787/suspended-ina-sunbeam-the-evolution-of-the

When William Darcy first went to profess his love for Lizzie Bennet, he had already spent the entire day (and a good portion of the day before) preparing his speech. By the time he stepped into the office, he had everything memorized, from the explanation as to his arrival at Collins and Collins to the "Lizzie Bennet, I'm in love with you." (He had considered saying Elizabeth instead, as her name was quite lovely. However, she only seemed to respond to Lizzie. Perhaps that could change with time.)

What he didn't have memorized was his opening line.

How does one start a profession of love, anyways? A simple "Hello" would never do. He then figured he could ask her to dance at the Halloween party, as they had already danced twice before, and bring it up then. But when he arrived at the party to see that Lizzie was not there, he panicked. This was not according to plan, and William Darcy always stuck with his plan. He hadn't prepared a Plan B. Should he wait for another day to get his mind together?

No, this had to happen tonight.

Knowing the one other place she could be at this moment, Darcy rushed to the Collins and Collins offices, trying to think of another opening line, but by the time he arrived at her door he hadn't considered anything. Blood had rushed to his ears, and his heartbeat was pounding so loudly he couldn't understand the words he could hear her speaking from inside the office. (Who was she speaking to? He couldn't pick up any other voices.) This needed to happen now, even if he could be interrupting a phone call. So, he rapped his knuckles on the door and reminded himself that he was interrupting, and so he said the first thing that came to his mind:

"Excuse me, Lizzie."

Lizzie had been shadowing his company for a few weeks now, and even though he had wanted to stay out of her way, that did not seem possible with meddling younger sisters and (soon-to-be-ex, he had threatened) best friends. The strange thing was, Lizzie had not seemed to mind their past few encounters. Giving her a tour of San Francisco had been something he dreamed about prior to his horrendous profession, and though it had not been precisely what he imagined - there had been hand holding in his dream (and possibly other things) - the day had gone pleasantly.

Ever since then, he and Lizzie had been acting differently towards one another. He felt much more relaxed than he had during his entire stay at Netherfield, and Lizzie actually smiled when he had something to say. Things were changing, and he wasn't sure what to make of that quite yet.

But when he walked into her office for his interview, he was in a good mood. Gigi had informed him of Lizzie's request in a rather interesting manner, ("Lizzie wants you." "Gigi, we've discussed this -" "For an interview, dork.") and it had left him chuckling. By the time he reached her office, he could tell she was filming (again). He gently knocked on her door and didn't realize the three words that had been stuck on his tongue until they had left his lips:

"Excuse me, Lizzie."

She'd called him. The voicemail was still saved on his phone, and he'd lost count of how many times one can listen to a fourteen second long recording on a plane.

He very much wanted to "chat" as she had mentioned, but it needed to be in person. Too much of their lives had taken place through miscommunication, and a phone call would merely add to that. He needed to see her face, watch her reactions, and know for sure whether or not he needed to back out of her life. Her voice had been pleasant on the phone, but he had watched her videos. If she was upset with him or wanted to have nothing to do with him, he would respect that. But all the same, if she had changed her feelings even the slightest bit about him, there needed to be no possible way for him to misunderstand. He needed to know.

The plan had been for Lizzie to open the door, and for him to ask her to take a walk around the cul-de-sac. He wasn't sure why he assumed she would be the one answering the door to a house where four other people lived, but that had been the plan. So when Charlotte answered the door, money in hand, he froze.

He more than froze. "Blacked out" would be the more appropriate phrase. The next thing he knew, Charlotte's hands were at his back, and he was stumbling into a room he had never entered, with Lizzie sitting on a stool and reaching into her purse. She asked a question that he assumed was meant for Charlotte.

"Excuse me, Lizzie."

He hadn't meant for the phrase to become so natural. When watching the footage of the first time he'd spoken it, those three words together had made him cringe. The next time had come naturally, but he had meant it good-naturedly. The third time, he wasn't entirely sure what he was saying after having blacked out for a moment.

The fourth time he said it, he had been picking her up for lunch a few days after the third time. The moment the words left his mouth, he winced again. She must have noticed, because she took his hand in one of hers and his tie in another and kissed him on the cheek. "It can be our thing," she whispered in his ear.

They had a thing.

After that, he said it whenever appropriate, and it always managed to bring a smile onto her face. Soon enough it became so natural that he'd forgotten it had any backstory.

That is, until the most recent time.

He'd been dropping off some paperwork at the main desk. Pemberley was collaborating with Lizzie's company for an upcoming project, and Lizzie knew he would be stopping by. As they had made plans earlier that morning to go out for lunch, at 12:00 on the dot, he strolled down the hall to her office. While considering the different restaurants she still hadn't visited despite living in San Francisco for this long a time, he didn't see the camera until it was too late.

"Excuse me, Lizzie. Have you, uh -"