You, Me & the Bourgeoisie
There had been a car crash.
Will Darcy was pretty damn sure of that. The splintered windshield, the crunch of bones, the warm trickling down his face. Sirens were wailing, but they were garbled and distant. Kind of like he had just been plunged underwater. Everything real, everything familiar, was just above the surface.
He was consumed and bombarded with thoughts. Four tended to repeat themselves:
#1: Oh, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
#2: I am way too pretty to die.
#3: I'm getting married this fall, for God's sake.
#4: At least this gets me out of that board meeting.
It's funny. You expect to wake up to the IV chords, the blur of loved ones, the sharp jolt of paddles. Maybe even the smell of your own urine or excruciating pain. Will was seated upright when he came to. Not only that, he was smack dab in the middle of a dainty kitchen. Still in his pressed suit. With a cup of coffee between his hands.
"Maybe this is what comes after," Will pondered, taking a slow sip. He closed his eyes. It was rich. Over the rim of the coffee cup, he looked around him. Pink wallpaper. Gauzy curtains. Floral china sets. Will's face screwed up with disgust. What an old cat lady kitchen.
Did that mean God was an old cat lady?
"Well, this sucks."
"You don't like the coffee?"
Will Darcy jumped so violently from his chair that he nearly spilled piping hot espresso down his slacks. He steadied himself at the last moment and stared straight ahead at the source of the voice, his eyes so wide that they threatened to pop out of his face.
A young girl smiled patiently back at him. He raised his eyebrows. God, she had to be no older than eighteen. Nineteen at most. Do I even know any teenagers?
"You okay, pal?" she asked pleasantly.
"Am I okay?" Will gaped.
"Yeah," she crossed her arms across her chest. "Well, you know. Car accident and all. That was my bad. You look good though. Your body, not so much."
"You did this?" he sputtered.
"Sorry," she shrugged.
And then Will's eyes widened, "Am I really dead?"
The girl giggled. Will's mouth fell open. She had just fucking giggled.
She smiled and raised her chin, inhaling deeply.
He blinked. What the hell?
"Smell that?" she clapped. "Cookies are ready."
"Are you fucking serious?" he shouted.
"White chocolate chip, right?" she asked, hiking her sleeves. He stared incredulously as she pulled out a tray from the open oven. "I try to make my guests comfortable."
"Who are you?"
The girl looked over her shoulder and broke out into a wide smile. "I'm Jules. And no, Will, you're not dead."
"I'm not?" he asked suspiciously.
"No," Jules laughed, setting the hot tray down at the kitchen table. "Sit, and I'll explain." A pause. "For God's sake, sit your bony ass down. Take a cookie."
So he took one and she stared on, delighted. "You want milk?"
"No, I don't want any damn milk."
He stared at her blankly. "Will you just tell me where the hell I am?"
Jules sighed and tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind an ear. "Think of it as a temporary lapse of living."
"So it's death."
Jules smirked, "That sounds pretty permanent, yeah?" She pulled out a chair and took a seat, taking a long look at him. He was surprised by her stare. She was one of those rare individuals with old eyes in a young face, deep and insightful. He scowled. God, this experience was making him fruity. Will shook his head.
"I want you to tell me what you did today, Will."
Will laughed. "You're serious."
"It's pretty legit, yep."
He sighed, splitting a cookie in half. "God, I don't know. Woke up at six. Ran for an hour. Picked out a florist with Carrie. Bitched to Bingley about the Nike shoot," he took a bite and thought some more. "Then I fired Phil Mercer. Went to the Oliver-Weinstock promo luncheon. Did some bills. Called Carrie again. Got heckled by Aunt Catherine. Oh, and then I left. And got hit by a fucking car." Will paused bitterly. "Is there a complaint department or a suggestion box here?"
Jules grinned, "You actually want a suggestion box."
"Adorable," Jules scoffed. "Focus. Who did you run into today for the first time in ten years?"
Will's mouth opened and some crumbs trickled out.
Jules winced, "Attractive."
"Why do you care?" he asked warily. "What does she have to with anything?"
"She has to do with everything," laughed Jules, brushing some errant crumbs from the table. "You're pretty dense, aren'tchya?"
Will stared at her blankly, which didn't really help his situation.
"I'll be straight with you, buddy," Jules clicked her tongue. "I'm here to offer you a second chance at something. But I figured having you for coffee and cookies would be a good precursor before I just shove you in. Maybe it'll dull the shock."
"Shove me in where?"
"Your new life, silly."
"I have a life," Will explained. His head was beginning to pound. "A good, successful life. I'm about two months from a promotion, I'm engaged, I just bought my first penthouse apartment—"
"You're also an asshole," Jules shrugged. "Don't look at me like that, and close your mouth. Eat your damn cookie."
He obeyed. He wasn't sure why, he just did. It was strange. Mechanical, even.
"You know," Jules sighed. "You'd think people would be grateful, but no. Second chances don't come everyday. Especially to people like you. And let's face it, you fucked up really badly. You were supposed to take one road. It was destiny."
"You can't be talking about Elizabeth," Will said quietly. "You can't."
Jules leaned closer and smiled. "Haven't you ever wondered what your life would have been like if you hadn't gotten on that flight? If you just spent a minute longer in that terminal? Come on. You threw it all away."
"It was ten years ago."
"You think about it all the time."
"This is fucking insane."
Jules leaned back and folded her hands. She was all happy patience. "I'll just give you a glance. Let you get your feet wet. When it's time to come back, you will. You can thank me later." She stood up suddenly.
"What?" Will balked. "This is ridiculous! This doesn't make any sense—"
He swallowed his words. Suddenly, he had the sensation of being pulled back, slowly and quickly at the same time. The cat lady kitchen shrunk before him and Jules, smiling and calm, waved back at him. And then it all went black.
Author's Note: In the words of Monty Python: "And now for something completely different". Man, I had this story in the works since the end of my first; I've just been waiting. It definitely springboards off of the movie The Family Man (2000), so it's P&P with quite a twist. I'll probably get really into it this summer – Red Light will still be updated, so Emma fans shouldn't worry.
I'm really excited with this concept and I hope you enjoy! :)