Disclaimer: I don't own Pride and Prejudice. I am not Jane Austen. I'm a college student with an overactive imagination and quite a bit of time.
Closer by everymonday
Chapter One: Words Are Flying Out Like Endless Rain
December 22; 11:38PM
When does a relationship actually start? Does it start the moment hellos are exchanged? Maybe it starts with intention and determination and searching and longing. One could argue a relationship does start not as a collision of persons, but souls. It may be that a relationship does not begin until both partners know each other, technically, verbally, biblically, what have you. Perhaps a relationship starts at the very beginning of time, when all of our fates are written and calculated, if you believe that sort of thing. Maybe a relationship starts with two hands brushing each other on purpose finally. Or maybe, it starts just with two eyes meeting across the room, if only for a brief moment.
Elizabeth Bennet, Lizzie to those who could get away with it, scanned the room as she entered, taking in the elegant decorations and looking for no one in particular. Her right arm was linked with her favorite sister, her left carried a rather lovely bouquet of flowers from someone whose name she couldn't quite remember at the moment. Someone had given them to her after she'd left her car and on the way to this party. She supposed it was silly to be carrying them inside. She'd give them to the host, she decided, making a mental note to be sure to take the card out. A figure as nameless as the flower sender bumped into Jane, pushing both girls a couple of steps over. When Lizzie looked to the culprit, but found a woman's back. She set her mouth to tell this woman to watch her feet, and to keep in mind how much her own were worth, but a pair of smoldering eyes caught hers and her words died at her throat.
He stood out because of his stiff posture and unpleasant expression. He was not speaking to anyone, but it looked, perhaps, like a man was talking to him. He had dark, curly hair, falling casually onto his forehead with an elegance she'd seen very few men pull off. He was dressed impeccably in his simple black slacks, dark gray button down shirt and matching black tie. His shirt was crisp, and his black shoes were shiny. He had nice cheek bones, Lizzie noted, and a straight nose. She had always liked noses, but perhaps that was because she hated hers so much. He broke eye contact with her and turned to the man who had been talking to him. Lizzie felt herself blush as she realized that he had been watching her stare at him. She turned to Jane, and saw that her sister had been looking in that direction as well. Lizzie wondered if she knew the man.
"Jane?" Lizzie asked.
"Yes?" Jane didn't look at her.
"Who is that? That man with dark hair?"
Jane finally looked at Lizzie with a sly grin. "I'm not sure, but the guy talking to him is Charles Bingley."
"The actor?" Lizzie looked back at the two men speaking. The man on Tall, Dark, and Handsome's right was a few inches shorter than his friend. He had short, curly blond hair and a very nice smile. Had she been so engrossed in the taller, dark haired man that she hadn't noticed the semi-famous actor next to him? "Really?"
"I believe so. He's rather attractive, isn't he?" Jane asked quietly.
"Yes, his friend isn't too bad either," Lizzie muttered.
Before Jane could say more, a flash of brown and blue flew into Lizzie, knocking her breath of out and crushing the flowers against her. "Lizzie!" exclaimed the voice of Charlotte Lucas.
Lizzie hugged her back as best she could, what with one arm crushed to her chest and the other still linked with her sister's. "Charlotte! I've missed you!"
Charlotte let Lizzie go and did the same for Jane. "I'm so glad you both are here. Did you just come from your show?" She sounded out of breath as she brushed her straight brown hair out of her face. It was probably from running across the room to hug them.
Lizzie nodded, then the idea struck. She offered Charlotte the flowers. "For you."
Charlotte glared at Lizzie. "I don't want your crushed flowers. Go throw them away yourself, you lazy bum."
Jane laughed, but Lizzie said, "You crushed them! I was going to give them to the host."
"Don't be silly Lizzie. We already gave our gift. Those flowers aren't even appropriate for a Christmas party. You should have tossed them before we got in here." Jane said, unlinking her arms to take the flowers from Lizzie.
"But someone gave them to me! I feel bad throwing them away," Lizzie replied, holding the flowers tighter to her so Jane couldn't take them.
"Oh, but you don't feel bad giving them to someone else to throw away?" Charlotte scoffed.
"You crushed them though," Lizzie reminded her.
"Yes, so we should throw them away." Jane said patiently. "Come on, we look silly. The dark haired guy is looking at you."
Lizzie's suspicious eyes moved from Jane's face to over her shoulder, where the dark haired man was still conversing with his friend. "No, he's not!"
Her sister didn't reply, but took the flowers from Lizzie. "I know. I just needed to get these." Lizzie pouted, and Charlotte laughed. "I'll be back. I'm just going to find somewhere to throw these away." Since Lizzie continued to pout, Jane took out a daisy from the bouquet and handed it to her. "Here. This one's not crushed. You're so silly sometimes, Lizzie."
Lizzie smiled at Jane as she walked away. She broke off the stem and put the daisy in her hair.
"The dark haired man is looking at you now," Charlotte said.
Lizzie snorted. "What? Do you want to take the stem away? I can throw that out myself, Char."
"No, really, this time," Charlotte insisted.
Lizzie glanced over and saw that he was by himself now. His friend had left somewhere. When her eyes met his, he looked away.
"Do you know who he is?" Lizzie asked her friend.
"His name's William Darcy. He's Charles Bingley's best friend. I think he's British," Charlotte said importantly. "You would know this if you read gossip magazines, Lizzie."
"Charlotte, I only have precious moments to read, and I'm not going to waste them by reading gossip," Lizzie said.
"Well, the gossip page says a lot about you, so you would do well to read it," Charlotte grinned.
"What do they say?" Lizzie asked, a bit distractedly, as she was looking for Jane, and somewhere to throw away the stem.
"That you're the greatest thing since the pirouette," Charlotte replied.
Lizzie laughed. "I doubt they're that nice."
"They actually love you," Charlotte insisted. "They say you're the best thing to come out of School of American Ballet in years, and they only scarcely mention your mother. They mention Jane sometimes, usually just as 'Elizabeth Bennet has three sisters, one of which is the very sought after model: Jane Bennet.' Then they wonder how your sisters will turn out since the two of you are relatively famous in your respective fields."
"Should I be worried that you seem to know more about me than I do?"
Charlotte blushed. "Hey, I have a lot of free time."
"Wish I knew what that's like." Then she looked at Charlotte. "Have you gotten any word since you've redone your audition DVD?"
Charlotte shrugged. "Nothing yet. I'll never be an Elizabeth Bennet." Lizzie opened her mouth to protest, but Charlotte cut her off. "No worries. I'll find something. Hey, I saw your mother earlier."
Lizzie recognized it as a desire to change the subject, so she asked, "Here?"
"Yeah. She didn't bring your sisters though," Charlotte said.
Lizzie felt a mixture of relief at her sisters not being present and apprehension at her mother being here. As much as she loved her family, they had a tendency to be a bit embarrassing when all together with the addition of alcohol. She was glad it was just her mother tonight. While scanning the room for them, Lizzie spotted Jane, who was talking to Charles Bingley. "Jane's talking to the movie star."
"Soap star," Charlotte corrected. "Jane always gets the good looking ones."
"Well, she is the model," Lizzie pointed out with a grin.
Charlotte grinned back. "Yes, that is true."
"Who else is here?" Lizzie asked, scanning the room again, growing bored of her sister and the soap star.
"A couple of other soap stars, a few models that Jane may know, a lot of dancers," Charlotte answered vaguely. "I think Ashlee Simpson might be here."
Lizzie scrunched her nose. "I hope she's not. Her music is awful."
"She won't be performing, Lizzie. It's just a Christmas party."
"I don't know if that will stop her from lip syncing to some poorly recorded cover of Christmas Shoes though," Lizzie muttered.
Charlotte laughed, but then stopped abruptly. "Oh, no. Your mother's walking up to Jane and Charles."
"Quick, we have to distract her!" Lizzie exclaimed.
"I'll go to her. You move Jane and Charles as far away as possible!" Lizzie said, already taking large steps in her mother's direction. "Mom!" she called.
Her mother looked in her direction and smiled. She made a detour to Lizzie. Mission accomplished, Lizzie thought to herself with relief. She looked toward Jane to see Charlotte talking to the couple. She smiled.
"Lizzie, dear. You did splendidly tonight," her mother told her, taking the stem out of her hand and giving it to a passing waiter to throw away.
"But why did you wear the green dress? I thought we discussed you should go with black?"
Lizzie sighed. She looked in Jane's direction again to remind herself of why she was willingly subjecting herself to her mother's nagging. "I liked green better." She looked down at her short, emerald green party dress. The strapless dress hugged her chest and had layers and layers of black tulle under the skirt, making it puff out. She wore black peep-toe heels to match the lovely black trim of the dress.
"It makes you look so young, dear, and especially with that ridiculous flower in your hair."
"I am young, Mom," she reminded her mother.
"Well, I just think the black would have made more people take you serious-" Her mother's words were suddenly halted when something behind Lizzie caught her eye.
Lizzie turned her head to look. Jane was dancing with Charles Bingley.
"Oh, Jane does look lovely tonight," her mother said softly, lovingly.
Lizzie rolled her eyes. "She's always lovely."
Her mother patted Lizzie's cheek. "Now, now, dear. No need to be jealous. I'm sure we'll find you someone almost as wonderful as Charles Bingley."
Lizzie didn't bother to tell her mom that she was simply stating a fact, that she wasn't jealous, and that her mother should leave them alone. That would have just been a waste of words. She decided that now that Jane was on the dance floor, her mother wouldn't be able to disturb her there. So Lizzie left to find Charlotte.
She didn't find Charlotte right away, but she did find Charles' friend. He was speaking with a very pretty curly haired redhead, who was smiling adoringly at him. He seemed oblivious to it, or perhaps he was ignoring it. He still had the unpleasant expression on his face. Lizzie considered going over and talking to him, but before she could work up the nerve, Charlotte found her.
December 23; 1:12AM
The line to the bathroom was insanely long, and Lizzie didn't even really have to go. She sighed as she craned her neck to the left, counting how many girls were holding her back from the bathroom. Seven, not including Charlotte, who was waiting just as impatiently in front of her. As Lizzie stood there contemplating the pros and cons of waiting in line with her friend, her ears picked a name from a voice a few feet behind her.
"Really, Charles, there is no need for this. Go back to your dance partner," a deep, British voice said.
Charlotte turned around at the sound of the voice as well. The voice belonged to the very handsome William Darcy. Lizzie turned her head back to face the front of the line and meet Charlotte's eyes.
"I would just feel so much better if you would dance too. It's a party. Have some fun," Charles Bingley replied.
William Darcy scoffed. "Fun and dancing do not mean the same thing in my book, Charles. Besides, you're dancing with the only person worth dancing with."
"She is the most beautiful creature I've ever beheld," Charles said almost dreamily.
Lizzie smiled. She liked Charles Bingley already.
"Yes, yes, go back to her, and try not to drool, alright?" was William Darcy's reply.
"You should dance with her sister, Elizabeth. She's quite lovely, and she's a dancer."
"Every twenty-something year old girl in New York is either an aspiring dancer or actress or musician, and I have no patience for it, Charles. While Elizabeth Bennet may be tolerable, she's certainly not pretty enough to tempt me."
Lizzie frowned when she felt Charlotte's hand on her arm, tugging her closer to the bathroom as the line had moved. Charlotte never let go, and Lizzie wondered if it was because she was worried Lizzie would do or say something irrational to William Darcy. Lizzie very much wanted to give the guy a good punch in the face and kick in the crotch and tell him she was a dancer, damn it. Not an aspiring dancer. She was a dancer. A damn good one. But she decided it would cause a scene and he probably wasn't worth it anyway. She sighed. "What an ass," she muttered.
"Be thankful, Lizzie. If he liked you, you'd have to talk to him."
Lizzie smiled. "Yes, and I can't imagine what I'd have to say to that pompous man. He'd probably just stare at me awkwardly in between giving rude comments about New York's twenty-something year old girls."
Charlotte smiled back, visibly relaxed. She must have been worried. Charlotte continued talking to her about inane topics to keep her mind off of the rude things Mr. Darcy had said about her. Lizzie appreciated it, but she was glad when it was finally their turn in the bathroom.
As she waited outside of Charlotte's stall, Lizzie studied herself in the mirror critically. Her makeup and hair were not as flawless as they had been when she'd left her dressing room, but that was to be expected. Her dark brown hair was in an elegant bun atop her head, with a few stray strands falling on her face and neck. The flower she'd put in it earlier had moved a bit, and when Lizzie tried to adjust it, she pulled a few more strands of hair out of place. She decided to just take the flower out completely. Again, she pulled more strands of hair out of place. Lizzie sighed and cursed her inability to keep a hairstyle for more than a few hours. Her light eye makeup had faded a bit, but still accented her hazel eyes nicely. Her lipstick was practically gone, and Lizzie knew she could blame the drink she'd had a few minutes ago for that. She inspected her teeth, perfectly straight, nothing in them. She found nothing wrong with her appearance, and especially nothing that would warrant someone to call her simply tolerable. She'd dare say she was a bit more than tolerable.
Maybe it was the fact that she had a dancer's body. Most men liked women with "curves" it seemed. She sighed again. Curves would slow her down. Curves meant weakness and a lack of self-control in the ballet world. Curves meant not being the star of the Christmas ballet. Curves were simply not an option. She'd have to deal with her less than full chest, slender frame, and constantly bloody toes. It was the cost of being a ballet dancer. A cost she willingly and happily paid everyday so that she could do what she loved every night.
December 23; 1:29AM
"Jane is dancing with Charles Bingley still!" Charlotte's voice exclaimed.
Lizzie found her sister among the crowd easily. She was the only tall, gorgeous blonde in a floor length deep violet gown dancing with another tall, gorgeous blonde.
"How cute," Lizzie smiled, then she listened indulgently as her friend talked about how adorable Charles and Jane's children would be.
"They're coming our way," Charlotte informed her.
"Lizzie!" Jane's voice called.
Lizzie turned and smiled at her sister. "Hello, favorite sister."
Jane blushed, as always, at the title. Then she turned to Charles, who was beside her, and said, "This is Charles, Lizzie. Charlie, this is my sister, Elizabeth."
"Favorite sister," Lizzie corrected as Charles offered his hand. Lizzie took it with a grin. "Hi Charles."
"Charlie," he corrected her with a smile. "Nobody calls me Charles unless they're upset with me."
"Charlie," Lizzie tried.
He smiled and Jane smiled, and Lizzie smiled because of the two of them.
"Jane tells me you're a dancer," Charles said.
"Yes," Lizzie replied. "I'm apart of the New York City Ballet Company."
"She's the star in this year's Nutcracker," Charlotte added.
"Who is?" an unfamiliar female voice asked.
"Oh! This is my sister, Caroline Bingley and my good friend William Darcy," Charles said, introducing the couple that had just walked up to the group. "This is Jane, Elizabeth, and Charlotte."
"Pleased to meet you," William Darcy said stiffly in his British accent, looking quite like he'd dry-swallowed a rather large pill. Lizzie tried not to scowl at him, remembering his comments about her. She decided she would have liked his voice very much had he not used it to be so rude.
"Who is the star in The Nutcracker?" Caroline Bingley asked.
"That'd be me," Lizzie said, smiling.
"Really? You're the famous Elizabeth Bennet?"
Caroline looked her up and down, then said, "I didn't recognize you without the costumes and makeup."
"No one ever recognizes me under all that makeup they put on me," Lizzie replied. "Have you seen the show?"
"Yes. It was alright, I suppose," Caroline sniffed.
"I enjoyed it quite a bit," Charlie provided.
Lizzie smiled at him again, wondering if Jane had finally met someone nicer than she was. "Thank you."
"I was a ballet dancer for seven years of my life. Did you have formal training?" Caroline asked.
Lizzie wondered if Caroline knew there was no way one would be able to get into any company without some years of formal training. "I was accepted into the School of American Ballet when I was ten," Lizzie said, as humbly as possible. Nobody liked a bragger, after all. "What about you?"
Caroline's eyes widened, and Lizzie fought to keep the smirk off her face. She spared a glance at William Darcy to gauge his reaction, but his face was unreadable. "I didn't have any formal training in the form of a ballet school. I just did a few hours a day with a private instructor. At the age of sixteen, I was offered a modeling contract and decided that was much more rewarding."
Lizzie nodded politely. "Do you work with Jane?"
"No, I've actually never met her until just now." Caroline's studious blue eyes turned to Jane. "How long have you been modeling?"
"Since as long as I can remember," Jane said, honestly.
"Since you were two," Charlotte supplied. When eyes turned to her, she shrugged. "I'm the only ordinary one here, it seems."
"You're not ordinary, Charlotte. What is it that you do, Mr. Darcy?" Lizzie asked.
"I'm a surgical resident at Austen Memorial Hospital," he replied.
"I really am the only ordinary one," Charlotte said, jokingly.
"Oh, hush, Charlotte," Jane said. "You know good and well you're a wonderful dancer."
"Oh, are you a dancer as well?" Charlie asked her.
She nodded. "I was apart of a small company for a while. That's how Lizzie and I met."
"Anything I might have seen?" Charlie asked, seeming to be genuinely interested.
Charlotte blushed. "Well, I was never a principal dancer."
Lizzie saw Mr. Darcy's eyebrows raise and Caroline's hand move to her mouth to cover a smirk.
"Jane! There you are, dear!" a very familiar female voice said.
Lizzie suppressed a groan. She met Charlotte's eyes briefly and wondered what to do now.
"Hi, Mom," Jane said kindly. "Have you met everyone?"
"Oh yes, dear. I know who everyone is." Her mother smiled eagerly at Charlie, who looked a bit uncomfortable, but smiled back. Lizzie wondered if she had seen him not smile yet. All she had seen were smiles with teeth, smiles without teeth, polite smiles, and now an uncomfortable smile.
"Oh, Charlie. I love this song. Can I cash in that dance you owe me?" Charlotte asked abruptly.
"Uh," Charlie looked at Jane, who smiled and nodded. "Sure." He offered her his arm and together they made their way to the dance floor.
When she was out of earshot, her mother started. "Such a nice girl. Too bad she's so plain."
"Mother!" Lizzie exclaimed.
"Oh, Lizzie, I know you love her, and that blinds you from her looks, but really. She lacks Jane's beauty and your ballet feet. I've no idea why she doesn't just look for something else she's actually good at."
Caroline didn't bother hiding her smirk this time.
"Charlotte is a perfectly fine dancer, Mom!" Lizzie exclaimed, defending her friend.
"You know very well she's not as good as you, Lizzie. There's a reason she was never a principle dancer, a reason she was let go from her company, and a reason she can't find another job."
"Mom!" Lizzie did not like the way Caroline was smirking at her mother, and she certainly didn't appreciate her mother airing out Charlotte's business to people they barely knew.
"Mom, really," Jane said quietly.
"Oh, Jane. It's so easy for you to think well of others. That's why everyone loves you," her mom said. Jane blushed modestly. "You've had boys knocking at your door since you hit puberty!" Jane's blush deepened. "There was one guy who even insisted writing her songs!" her mother continued to the group.
"What kind of songs?" Caroline asked, looking as if Christmas had come early.
Her mother mistook Caroline's expression for genuine interest. "Oh, your usual love s-"
"Songs that killed any chance he had," Lizzie broke in. "Honestly, remember, Jane? His poor lyrics?"
Jane simply nodded, face still rather red.
"Did the songs not make her affection grow? I always believed women loved being sung to," said Mr. Darcy.
"Women loved being sung to by men they already love. If it's just some creep outside her window with lyrics like 'don't be so cold, we were made from the same mold,' I'm afraid it simply eats away any affection poor Janie would have had for him," Lizzie answered.
Mr. Darcy now had a curious expression on his face, but said no more.
December 23; 2:46AM
"That was nice, wasn't it?" Jane asked, as they drove to Lizzie's apartment.
"You mean Charles Bingley was nice? Yes, I would say so."
Jane smiled. "I do like him. I wish I had given him my number."
"Don't worry, Jane. You're both famous people with agents. I'm sure he'll get a hold of you."
"Oh, but what if he wasn't really interested in me?"
"Believe me Jane, he was. I'm sure you'll hear from him soon," Lizzie said honestly.
"I can't believe his friend though. Are you sure you heard him right?"
The switch to William Darcy made Lizzie a little angry still. "I'm sure."
"Charlie thinks so highly of him," Jane said softly.
"Well, I don't."
"I bet his opinion of you changed when he saw you up close and when he found out you're a successful dancer," Jane tried.
"It's no matter, Jane. I'll probably never see him again."
"I hope I see Charlie again," Jane admitted quietly. "Do you really think he'll call me, Lizzie? Even though he doesn't have my number?"
Lizzie smiled at her sister. "I'm sure, Jane. I'm an excellent judge of people. And Charlie, despite the horrid company he keeps, is a good guy, and will definitely contact you somehow."