Come and Get Me
Fitzwilliam Darcy was frantic. Actually, he was very close to hysteria. Though his mask of indifferent was plastered on his face as usual, he was going crazy inside his mind. He wasn't sure how it happened, but he somehow managed to lose his baby sister. She was in the ball room just minutes ago. He looked at his phone for a second and poof! The kid vanished into thin air. There was no way around it, he would have to go inside and look for her.
"Sir! Excuse me sir, you can't go in there!"
He huffed and turned around when a girl with a Meryton uniform grabbed his sleeve. "Unhand me," he barked. "Do you know who I am?"
"Nope. You can be the Prince of Wales for all I care, you still can't go inside. Adults are not allowed, the ball pool is only for kids."
He looked at her for a second, his eyes storming. For that moment, the blessed anger on the premise's worker overrode his anxiety and he clung to it. Anger was better, anger he understood, anger felt like he had control.
"I'll make sure your manager knows about this. I'll make sure you're fired. now unhand me!"
Now it was the girl's turn to huff. She turned her glare right to his face, her little chin up, and said in a clear voice, "I'm not afraid of you. But if you tell me why you're trying to break the rules and go into an only children area, I might be able to help you."
Darcy hated to be depended, loathed to ask for help. But it seemed like he didn't have any choice. This little slip of a girl did not cower and he was wasting precious time.
"I'm looking for a little girl, five year old, blond. She was here a minute ago but now she's gone."
The girl looked at the pool intently. "There she is!" she exclaimed and opened the gate to the compound.
Darcy's eyes squinted and he noticed a little hand on the left side of the ball pool. He saw the girl wading her way through the balls toward the hand. She reached there in seconds and grabbed the hand upwards, extracting a giggling girl with her. He breathed a sigh of relief and let himself relax just a bit.
"Gigi!" he called when his sister got closer. "I was worried sick!"
"Maybe next time you should look at her and not on your phone." The worker said.
He could see she was still smarting from the way he treated her earlier and he felt sorry. It was true, he should have paid attention. He wasn't used to taking care of someone; Gigi's nanny usually took her to the games room.
"I'm sorry," he started to say. But the girl cut him off short.
"Save it for someone who cares." She turned her back to him and was gone in a flash.
Lizzy tried to forget the annoying businessman. She was mostly annoyed with herself though. Mr. Arrogance was too beautiful to be true, and she actually stared at him quite a bit during her shift. Hence the reason she knew he was on his phone instead of looking at his child. He looked too young to be a father; she estimated he was in his early twenties. Why was she even thinking about him? He was one of those annoying customers that reminded her of why she was saving to go to the university and have a real job.
By the time she swiped her card at the end of the day she did not think of him at all. Almost.
Darcy himself wasn't faring any better. By the time he reached home he knew that the girl's name was Lizzy and that she was Gigi's favorite.
"Lizzy is the bestest, Fitzy. She tells the bestest stories and she's never upset when we get too loud." Gigi told him from the back seat.
It made him feel even worse, knowing he had insulted his sister's favorite. Gigi was very shy with strangers; the fact that she was attached to this Lizzy person was a sign that she was something special. And there was something in her eyes when she stood up to him, she had beautiful eyes. He had to make it right somehow.
If Lizzy was surprised to see Mr. Arrogance again, she tried not to show it. She was sure he would find another games room for his daughter to play in. she was even more surprised when he held a gift box to her.
"A thank you, for helping me find Gigi." He said.
But she couldn't take it, it felt wrong and she did not want to owe him anything. "I can't accept this," she said curtly, took the little girl's hand and walked quickly to the book section.
Story hour was about to begin, and since it was the parents' custom to leave the kids there and enjoy a coffee at the cafeteria, she felt it safe that Mr. Arrogance would not follow them.
He just stood there and watched her tell stories, like he was waiting for her to stutter and trip on her words. It only made her more determined to ignore him and enjoy the reading.
Darcy couldn't understand the fascination he had with the girl from the games room. She was pretty, but not his usual type, and way too young. But being next to her calmed him. Her nonchalant way around him made him feel like a regular guy, not an heir to a wealthy legacy. He came over as much as he could and followed her around. Luckily, Gigi adored her and followed her too, so it didn't appear too weird. He couldn't manage to say much to her though. He felt tongue tied whenever she was near.
"Don't you want to go and play?" Lizzy asked the little girl. Gigi was following her around and she could feel the father's displeasured stare on her.
"Nope. I want to sit next to you." She stubbornly replied.
"I'm not sure your dad wants you to sit around all day." Or next to me, she thought.
"Dad?" the girl seemed confused. "Oh, you mean Fitzy? He's not my dad, silly. He's my brother."
"Fitzy?" Lizzy suppressed a snort.
They heard a groan next to them and Lizzy turned around to see Mr. Arrogance blushing furiously.
"Gigi, did we not agree that you won't call me Fitzy in public?" he sounded stern, but Lizzy could detect a bit of whining and it made her smile.
Darcy took it as encouragement. He held his hand for a handshake. "Fitzwilliam Darcy. But everyone calls me just Darcy."
"Lizzy Bennet." She smiled mischievously. "I like Fitzy better than Darcy, much more approachable."
From that day on, Darcy was at Lizzy's side whenever he came with Gigi to Meryton's games room. He learned that she was seventeen and was working at Meryton to save money for higher education. She wanted to study animal assisted therapy, but she needed to have a degree in Education or psychology before that. She has four sisters and was her father's favorite, not so much for her mother though. She loved to dance, her favorite food was ice cream and as a child her greatest wished was to have a ferret.
In turn, he told Lizzy things he never told anyone else before. He told her about his mother's battle with Cancer and her death two years ago. He told her how he promised his mother he'll take care of his sister, but only managed to keep his word now when he finished his university degree. He told her how, despite his Master degree in business, he felt inadequate in his father's firm. He told her he was scared of the responsibility that would be his after his father would retire. He even told her that he never talked about these things with anyone. She laughed and told him she'll write it on her CV when she applies for a job. He dreamt about the sound of her laughter for days afterwards.
Lizzy wasn't sure when it happened exactly, but she somehow found herself joining Fitzy and Gigi when they ate out after Meryton closed for the evening. Pizza or ice cream and then they took her home. She started to look forward to their outings. Fitzy was such an interesting guy, very smart and witty. True, he was much older than her; he'll be twenty four soon. But she always preferred the knowledge of the men to the frivolity of boys her age. And Gigi was such a delightful little girl. Such a change compared to her louder sisters. She was so used to their company that when Fitzy and his sister missed one of their usual afternoons, she felt it keenly.
The next day she found out why. Mrs. Long from the cafeteria waved a newspaper in front of her.
"Isn't it your friend there on the front page?" the old woman smiled gleefully.
Lizzy grabbed the paper and looked the picture of Fitzy, with a severe look to the camera. But he was her Fitzy no longer, he was Mr. Darcy now.
Tycoon die of heart attack, young son to replace him as CEO
The headlines screamed.
She threw the newspaper on the counter and ran to the loo. She cried there for full ten minutes before she was calm enough to get back to work. Poor Fitzy, poor Gigi. She cried for them. She cried for the lost friendship, for she knew she'd never see him again. He now has many responsibilities and he won't have time for her anymore. And she cried knowing she'd never be able to comfort him, to tell him how sorry she was. She managed to pull herself together only when she convinced herself that Gigi would come to Meryton again. She could write him a letter. Yeah, she should write.
It has been two weeks since Fitzy and Gigi stopped coming to the games room. Lizzy wasn't one to wallow in sadness, it just wasn't in her nature. But for some reason, she couldn't shake the sorrow away. Every day at the end of her shift, she spent a few minutes staring at the ball pool, Remembering.
Meryton's games room was empty, only Charlotte remained with her to clean up the mess. They were nearly done when they heard someone knocking loudly on the door. She wasn't in the mood for annoying customers who didn't respect closing hours. So she let Charlotte deal with it and went to the ball pool.
"Lizzy," she heard Charlotte behind her. "I'm going home. You have a visitor."
She turned around slowly, and there he stood, grave and sad and thinner than she remembered. With a sob she ran to him and jumped into his arms. He lifted her and hugged her tightly, it was almost painful but she didn't care. He was here.
"I'm so sorry," she wept, her face buried in his neck. "I didn't know how to reach you. I wrote a letter in case Gigi came without you."
He said nothing, just kept holding her. She could feel his sadness, though he obviously tried to restrain it. After a while she lifted her head to look at him.
"How are you doing?" she whispered.
He shook his head, still unable to speak. It took him a while before he whispered back "it's been hard."
She nodded in understanding and caressed his cheek with her palm. He closed his eyes for a moment, like he was cherishing the touch. A second later his mouth was on hers in a hard, bruising kiss. She gave herself to him and kissed him back fiercely.
Suddenly he gasped and broke the kiss. "I'm sorry," he rasped. "I…"
"I'm not." She answered and a second later they were kissing again.
She wasn't sure how it happened, but a few minutes into the snogging session they tumbled right into the ball pool. It broke the tension and she giggled.
Fitzy smiled tenderly at her. "I missed you."
With a laugh she dived into the pool. "Come and get Me," she said before she disappeared underneath the balls.
Five years later
Darcy applauded proudly when Elizabeth walked up the stage to get her university degree. He waited patiently until she hugged her family before opening his arms for her to jump at him. He loved it when she did that. With a wink to her sisters, he started walking with Lizzy in his arms as she shrieked with laughter. He absolutely loved it when she laughed. He let her go only when they reached the car and he opened the door for her to enter the passenger seat. When he entered the car, he asked her to close her eyes and then wrapped a scarf around her head to cover her eyes.
"Fitzy!" she laughed. "Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise."
"Aren't we supposed to go to my parent's for my graduation party?"
"Change of plans."
Truth is he asked her parents to postpone the party. It didn't take long to convince Mrs. Bennet to allow him the privilege of enjoying Lizzy's company alone right after her graduation. Her friends and family would have their party over the weekend.
They finally parked and he guided her to their destination. Suddenly he grabbed her from her waist and threw her, right into the ball pool of Meryton's games room. Lizzy screamed and then laughed when she realized on what she landed. She removed her eye cover with a flourish and grabbed Darcy's hand until he fell down next to her.
"Oh God! I can't believe you brought me here!" she couldn't seem to stop laughing and he gloried in her joy. "Sir! Adults aren't allowed in the ball pool." She admonished with a smile.
He laughed. God, he was so happy and so nervous at the same time. He thought he might burst from excitement.
"Fitzy," she said seriously when she finally noticed her surroundings. "What have you done?"
Outside the ball pool stood a table set for two and next to it a champagne bottle was chilling in an ice bucket.
He smiled mysteriously.
"I rented the place for the evening. We're here completely alone." And with that he pressed his mouth to hers in a soft kiss.
"You're such a romantic under this rough exterior." She whispered when he released her lips.
"Don't tell anyone, it would ruin my reputation." He smiled at her.
She giggled and dived into the sea of balls. He followed her seconds later and they played chase for a while until he caught her, laughing and shrieking.
He breathed heavily. This was it, he finally said it. He had a whole speech planned, but couldn't remember a word of it. She looked shocked, her eyes wide and confused. When she didn't say anything he got scared. He was sure she'd say yes, but now he could only think of all the reasons she could have to refuse him. She's so young, just twenty two. He's too quiet and unsociable. He shouldn't have said anything about the clothes she left on the floor last night. Who'd want to live with his OCD?
He was working himself into a full anxiety attack when she came out of her daze.
"Yes." She whispered, awed.
It took him a few moments to realize she answered him and when he did he covered her with kisses as she laughed with joy. He fumbled with the ring in his pocket. When he lifted his eyes she was on the other side of the ball pool.
"Come and get me," she winked at him.
And he dived in, he'll get her and he'll never let her go.