Closer by everymonday
Chapter Twenty-Six: I Ain't The Way You Found Me
January 22; 9:20AM
Rather than the harsh alarm beep that had been waking her up for the past few mornings, Lizzie woke up to the feel of lips on her neck and gentle fingers in her hair.
"Wake up." Will's breath was warm against her skin.
She hummed contently but kept her eyes closed.
"Lizzie." His voice was a bit louder now, sterner too. "You have an interview, love."
"What time is it?" Lizzie wrapped her arms around Will's neck and tangled her legs with his. "It feels early."
A deep chuckle made his chest reverberate against hers. "It's a little after nine. It's not early at all."
"For you," she pouted. "I don't have early sessions with Mallory anymore."
"Yes, you changed them to later so I see you less."
With her eyes still closed, she kissed the closest part of him she could reach. She thought it might be the bridge of his nose, the piece of his face that was most abused because he pinched it so often when stressed. "You like watching me dance."
"I do," he breathed, catching her lips in a sweet kiss.
The minty taste of his mouth made her open her eyes. "Have you brushed your teeth?"
"Yes. I've been up for a while. I made you breakfast."
She smiled. "That's why I sleep over."
Will arched an eyebrow and slipped a hand underneath the shirt she was wearing. "Oh really? That's the only reason you sleep over?"
Her heartbeat quickened at the way his voice lowered. "Well, maybe for other reasons too."
"You need to get up." Despite his words, Will's arms held her tightly, and he made no move to let her actually get out of his bed.
Her fingers played with the hairs at the base of his neck. "How about I skip the interview and stay in bed with you instead?"
Will moved so that he was propped up on his left elbow, his right hand under her shirt, drawing intricate patterns into her lower back. "That would be very unprofessional of you, Miss Bennet."
"Do you have a problem with that, Mr. Darcy?" Lizzie rubbed her nose against his.
"Your eggs are going to get cold," Will said, still making no move to release her.
"How about I skip breakfast, and stay in bed with you for twenty more minutes before going to my interview?" Her legs carefully untangled themselves to wrap around his waist and, she pulled Will's body so that it was on top of hers.
Will put both of his arms on either side of her head and closed his eyes. "As a doctor, I must warn you that it's very unhealthy to skip breakfast, Lizzie."
Lizzie flexed her hips. "And as my boyfriend?"
She received no verbal answer from said boyfriend, only a hot, open-mouthed kiss.
January 22; 10:17AM
Lizzie was running about two minutes late to her interview. Normally, it would not have been something she would have noticed, but Will wouldn't let her forget it.
The interviewer was easy to find. She was the only one in the cafe with a voice recorder and a large notebook on the table instead of a cup of coffee. The blonde woman looked up when Lizzie entered, but didn't recognize her until Lizzie pulled off her hat and sunglasses.
"Miss Bennet!" The blonde stood up so quickly that the chair behind her fell over with a clang. Blushing fiercely, she hastily apologized to the man behind her and picked up the chair.
"Hi," Lizzie smiled and offered her hand. "You can call me Elizabeth."
"Right. Thanks." She took Lizzie's hand and shook it enthusiastically. "I'm Jenna McNair."
"Nice to meet you."
"You too. I've been a big fan of yours for years," Jenna said, resuming her seat.
Lizzie sat down in the seat across from her, just as the waitress came.
"I'll just have a vanilla soy latte, please," Lizzie ordered, glancing at the menu. "How are your scones?"
"They're good. Blueberry's my favorite," the waitress said.
"I'll have a blueberry scone too then." Lizzie smiled as she handed the waitress her menu.
The waitress returned the smile before looking at Jenna. "Your coffee will be out in a minute, ma'am."
"Thank you," Jenna said, though she wasn't looking at the waitress. She was fiddling with her electronics. As soon as the waitress left, Jenna said, "I have to tell you, it's surreal to be here with you."
Jenna nodded. "I've admired you for years. I went to as many of your shows as I could."
"Do you do ballet?" Lizzie asked.
"I used to. I started when I was ten, and danced in college, but I was never good enough to do it professionally, so I got a journalism degree." Jenna's eyes shone with what could only be excitement. "I fought so hard to be the one to interview you for this issue."
Lizzie smiled. "I'm flattered."
"Do you want to get started now, or do you want to wait for your coffee?"
"Okay. I guess my first question is why didn't you go back to NYCB?"
"They didn't have time to give me a personal audition, so I'd have to wait until open auditions or after the winter season to audition." Lizzie answered simply, trying to keep the bitterness out of her voice.
Jenna nodded, eyes wide. "How many companies did you audition for?"
"I'd rather not say."
"Oh." Her shoulders slumped. "Okay. How about why ABT?"
"I wanted to challenge myself to do classic repertoire. It's a style I've always loved, but haven't had as much experience with. I also have a lot of outside factors keeping me in New York." Lizzie smiled as Will's face appeared in her mind.
"Does it bother you that you're a corps de ballet dancer again?"
"No. Of course I want to dance bigger roles, but just a year ago, people were telling me that I'd never dance again, so the fact that ABT is giving me the chance to perform and be on stage again is wonderful. I appreciate every chance I get to dance." Lizzie shrugged, not liking this question. "I see this as another chance to move through the ranks."
"What do you have to say to the people who didn't think you'd come back to ballet?"
"There's nothing to say, really," Lizzie replied carefully. "Their predictions weren't completely off base and definitely weren't malicious. I'm sure a lot of dancers in my position would have just cut their losses and done something else."
Jenna opened her mouth to ask another question, but the waitress returned with their coffees and Lizzie's scone.
"Thank you," Lizzie said politely to the waitress before taking a bite out of her scone. Skipping breakfast had not made her stomach happy, but it was a small price to pay for her wonderful morning with Will.
"What makes you different from those dancers?"
"I suppose it depends on who you ask," Lizzie answered. "There are a lot of different factors, I think. Persistence, a great instructor, love for ballet, stupidity." Lizzie smiled at the last one.
"Talent?" Jenna pressed.
Lizzie shrugged. "Honestly, I think that without all the other factors, talent wouldn't have meant very much. You can be talented but just lack the motivation. I don't think talent alone guarantees success."
"I agree." The blonde picked up her cup of coffee and took a sip as she flipped through her notebook. "What did you learn about yourself since your accident?"
"I've learned that there are more important things to me than ballet."
"But – " Jenna's eyebrows knit. "But you said love of ballet made you different from other dancers."
Lizzie nodded. "I did. I just learned that I could have more in my life than ballet. That it doesn't have to be the most important thing in my life. I was so obsessed with proving everyone wrong and getting back on stage that I think I lost sight of other things in life that matter."
"Like family." Lizzie took a bit of her scone, thinking of her sisters and how much she loved them all, individually and together. She thought about how much she wished Lydia would stay clean, how much she wanted Catie to find herself at college this semester, and how much she hoped Jane would continue to find happiness, with Charlie and without him.
After swallowing, Lizzie continued, "And friendships and relationships with people, rather than just a relationship with ballet."
"How is your relationship going with William Darcy?"
Lizzie had been expecting this question. Though the interview was about her returning to ballet and starting at ABT in the spring, her manager had warned her that her relationship with Will would be brought up. "It's going well."
"Is it difficult to date someone with such a busy schedule?"
"No." Lizzie hid her smile behind her coffee cup, knowing her answer was insufficient and wondering if Jenna would press her.
"You and your sister, Jane, are both dating high profile celebrities. Does this have any effect on your relationship?"
"How do you mean?"
"Is there ever competition between you and your sister? Who can get more press, for example?"
Lizzie laughed. "No. If anything, we compete to see who can stay out of the press. Jane loses because she's recognized more by more people, because she's kind of an international celebrity - "
"You're famous internationally too," the blonde interrupted.
"True, but only by people who like ballet. Jane's recognized by anyone that likes pretty people. Charlie's more popular than Will too."
Jenna nodded. "When did you and Will start dating?"
Lizzie wasn't sure she liked the interviewer calling him Will when she had never met him, but she didn't comment. "Officially, I think it's some time in November."
"We don't really know. The transition from acquaintances to friends to lovers wasn't clear. I don't think the beginning really matters." She thought about how Will said he was already in the middle before he knew he had begun.
The blonde's eyes bulged at the word lovers. Lizzie could tell she wanted to pursue the topic, but was weighing the pros and cons of doing so.
Lizzie made the decision for her. "I'd rather talk more about my dancing. I don't want this interview to be something that looks like it was for The Enquirer."
January 22; 12:26PM
Will met her at her apartment when she was done with the interview. Lizzie's mouth felt dry from the coffee and the talking, but her heart fluttered when she saw him.
"How'd it go?"
Lizzie shrugged and opened her apartment door. "She was more interested in you than in me."
Will chuckled as he followed her inside. "Funny, when Ana does interviews, they're always more interested in us than her."
"No one ever wants to just talk about the person they're interviewing anymore," Lizzie grumbled, hugging him tightly after the door closed.
Will hugged her back and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "So, no good questions?"
"How disappointing." Will's fingers played with her hair.
"Not for Mary."
He shrugged. "Will I learn anything new when I read this interview?"
Lizzie rested her chin on his chest and looked up at him. "Did you know I love you very much?"
"I did not know that," Will said, though his grin said differently.
"Well, you won't learn that from the interview because I didn't tell her that." Lizzie smiled at how boyish Will looked with his gray eyes bright with amusement and his mouth stretched with happiness.
"Guess you'll just have to tell me yourself then."
Lizzie stood on her toes to kiss his lips briefly. "I love you."
"Mm," Will hummed. "I love you too."
"Good, because I don't plan on giving you up any time soon."
"Not even for ballet?" Will asked playfully.
Lizzie shook her head. "Never. Not for anything."
Will kissed her nose. "It's hard to believe that a year ago, you would've never said that."
"Well, it's also hard to believe a year ago, you thought you were too good for me," Lizzie teased.
"I suppose we've both changed."
"Love's a funny thing," Lizzie observed, pulling Will down for a proper kiss.
Love is a funny thing. It doesn't begin at the same moment a relationship decidedly does, with touches and glances and determination. It is not bound by agreements or contracts or compromises. It starts in thin, delicate wisps and never reveals itself until it is completely formed, and by then it's too late to push it away. It's too heavy, too hard, too concrete. It stays and invades and conquers. It drives you to do crazy things in its name. It won't cease until every part of you yearns and hurts and sings. It leaves visible, stinging marks on your heart the way the summer sun does to your skin. It peels and fades and takes heavy casualties. Love is a battle. Love is a pushing and pulling of heartstrings and nerve endings. Love is a growing up.
Author's Note: Brace yourselves, it's a long one.
Okay, first of all, I have to give my infinite gratitude to every single one of you who have been following this story. If you signed up for alerts, put it on your favorites, or reviewed, I thank you so much for taking time out to read it. Very, very, very special thanks to lynniern, keiraliz, geril, Ms. Dom Masbolle, Diamond and Stars, snapeisalive, karmencorn, Lucy65, honuangel, sara71, nourkina018, and addicted2obsession, who have reviewed so often and consistently that I feel absolutely spoiled. I know I missed people, and I'm sorry. You guys should know that you all have made writing this story such an enjoyable experience for me. I would not have been able to finish it without your encouragement and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Also, everyone should thank my amazing betas, Lizzy and Lyndell. Without them, this story would not be what it is now. Their vigilant editing has made me a much better writer.
I know I basically included none of your suggestions in this epilogue, but I will put all (seven!) of my drafts in the out takes (I know, shameless plugging, I'm sorry). I just really wanted a poetic ending that would tie back to the beginning, and I really wanted subtlety. I hope this epilogue wraps things up for you. I know there's no engagement or wedding or kids, but I hope you realize I left Will and Lizzie in a nice place where they can just be with each other. I like this idea of love bringing people closer and closer, but never meshing them together in a way that they lose themselves, just closer, which is where the title comes from.
The deleted scenes will be up later this week (if my schedule allows), and there will be no sequel. I hope you guys have enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for reading!
This is the last time I will beg you for reviews for this story, so you might as well appease me this time. Pleaseeeee.