A/N: Well, I started a new fiction The idea has been in my head for a while, but not specifically for Lizzy/Darcy. But a sudden flash of inspiration caused me to realize it could work perfectly for them. Well, this is supposed to be a modern P&P, but I hope the plot is a little more original than others. I hope you like it! I'd appreciate all support, and I hope you keep reading! Happy fanficcing!
Disclaimer: I do not own P&P. Come on, I'm not that old…
Chapter 1: The Visitor
Elizabeth Bennet stood shocked at her own doorway. On the other side was someone she had not seen for at least ten years. Ten years is a long time for someone who lives about 30 hours a day, with all the things she does. Worst of all, she was wearing his sweatshirt, the one he had given her an eon (it felt to her) ago. She hadn't bothered to give it back, as she wanted a memento of him, even when he was gone, although she didn't like to admit it to herself. The doorbell rang again.
First things first, she smoothed down her rat's nest of hair. She threw down her glasses and fumbled with her contacts, poking her eye twice in the process. She yanked off the sweatshirt and kicked it under a pile of stuff. The doorbell rang again insistently.
"Fine!" Lizzy muttered through gritted teeth. She took a deep breath and threw open the door.
"Oh! You're there."
"Of course I am."
"I was just getting ready to leave."
"Well, come in."
He ducked through the doorway, and Lizzy bolted the door behind him. "Wow. When's the last time you cleaned, Lizzy?"
"Last time I checked, Darcy," she put emphasis on his name, "you weren't my mother."
"Someone ought to help you out," he pointed out. Lizzy merely sniffed skeptically and cleared a seat at the table, pushing aside haphazard piles of papers.
Lizzy got the coffee pot out and turned the coffee machine on.
"So what brings you here?" Lizzy asked casually.
"Well, I have a business plan, but I need to look for investors. I thought, since I'm in town, I might as well visit an old friend."
Lizzy turned around, mug in hand and said pointedly, "We weren't just friends, Darcy."
He held his hands up, "I know, I know. So where's the hubby? Is he gonna be upset to see an ex?"
"There is no hubby," Lizzy snapped. She was irritated that he had simply waltzed into her life after she had thought he was finally gone. Moreover, he was prying into her personal life. Part of it was her shame at admitting she had no spouse, not even a significant other.
"What's the ring, then?" Darcy asked, nodding his head towards the ring on Lizzy's finger.
""Whoever said it was a wedding ring?" She was becoming more exasperated by the second. She liked to fantasize that she was married to a dream husband, and surely Darcy knew her well enough to figure it out.
"What's he like?"
Lizzy feigned confusion, "Who?"
"Your 'fantasy' man."
"No... you're going to end up being the crazy cat lady down the street. You say you'll go out sometime. Next year, for example. Next year rolls around, and the next, and the next. Ten such years, and you're old, and nobody will want you."
Lizzy scowled, "I only own one cat."
"One more than the regular people have."
Lizzy frowned, "I'm an independent woman. You know that. I don't need anyone to depend on."
"I know that all too well," Darcy responded quietly. Lizzy fell silent. She didn't need to be reminded of the past. What was done was done. Darcy cleared his throat, "Truth is, I've been down on my luck since I left the family. This business plan is probably one of my last chances to salvage my life."
"Serves you right," muttered Lizzy. Louder, she said, "And you want to be a freeloader?"
Darcy grinned, "You got it!"
"What do I get in return?" Lizzy demanded.
Darcy did not answer. He merely stood up and opened the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator had half a gallon of milk, four cans of yogurt, and two deli sandwiches. The freezer, on the other hand, was packed. It was filled with frozen food and convenience dinners. Darcy closed the refrigerator triumphantly.
"My guess is that you don't even eat the frozen food. I'll buy groceries for you and cook.'
"I'm fine as I am," Lizzy retorted.
"Not so," Darcy walked behind Lizzy and pulled up her shirt to expose her stomach and ribcage. "Look at this! You hardly ever eat!"
"That's not important."
"Of course it is. I know you devote your social and familial life to the job, but there's a limit. Don't throw away your life. You have to take care of yourself."
Lizzy yanked her shirt back down, trying to fight back the hysterical tears in her eyes, "I was fine before you got here!"
"No sweetheart," Darcy cupped her face with his hands and tipped her chin up to meet her eyes, "let me live here and your life will be better. I'll be unobtrusive, quiet, invisible. I'll keep you alive. Look, things don't need to go back to how they were. That's not what I'm here for. I've long since given up on that aspect of our relationship."
Lizzy slumped weakly against his chest, overwhelmed by the feeling of being close to him again after so long. The very scent of him was enough to send her reeling, although she would never admit it out loud. She knew it was only physical attraction, because she despised Darcy with all her being. It had been so ever since high school, and neither party had changed.
"Coffee's ready," she observed weakly.
Darcy flashed her a dazzling smile. "Is that a yes?"
Lizzy turned back towards the coffee pot and said firmly, "You sleep on the couch."
Lizzy woke with a start. She had dozed off on the couch, pen and paper still on her lap. Someone had poked her. Confused, she opened her eyes blearily. When her tired eyes focused on the person in front of her, she gave a little scream of surprise.
"Put some clothes on!" she shrieked.
Darcy shrugged, "You could always just give me an actual room to sleep in. I know you have enough. Besides, a man in boxers is not really a frightening sight. Could you get off my 'bed' now?"
Lizzy snorted. "I own this apartment. Sleep on the floor. You have been demoted."
"Well, then, since neither of us will yield, we'll be forced to share." Darcy squeezed himself next to Lizzy, pinning her against the back of the sofa. She was further incapacitated when he threw an arm around her. He pulled the afghan over himself and his prisoner.
Lizzy barely managed to squeak out, "I'll move."
"Nope. You'll end up staying all night scribbling in that notebook. Unhealthy."
"Please," she pleaded, but Darcy was already asleep. Lizzy was left to recover from her shock. Her heart was racing from the proximity to a man who was not only shirtless, but had evidently not lost any of that muscle from high school football. He had suddenly barged into her organized chaos of a life and wriggled himself in, and she hardly knew how to react.
It had been so long since she had had social contact--all trips outside were strictly for business. She hadn't even taken the effort to keep in touch with anyone, not even her sister Jane, who was residing in Italy to "find herself." She had no visitors, nor did she call on anyone. Having Darcy was a shock to her fragilely balanced world. She missed his embraces, but there relationship had never been loving. It had started with a bet.
In high school, Lizzy kept well away from everyone else. Sure, she was attractive and smart, but she talked to none but her sister Jane. She even kept away from her other sisters, preferring solitude to their company. All they did was gossip all day, and she hardly had the time for that.
Despite her antisocial behaviors, she suddenly became very attractive to the boys as she entered her sophomore year. Of course, she never really noticed, but everyone else definitely noticed that suddenly, curves had appeared on Lizzy's body. It had become the goal of all of the boys to get her to go out with them. Lizzy was not inclined to find a boyfriend. She never felt the need to share something like her younger sisters, who clung to their boyfriends, only to break up with them later.
Yet, a certain football player had succeeded, not through attracting her of course, but playing on Lizzy's extremely competitive spirit. He had discovered that Lizzy could not bear to lose, so he had bragged about the football team in front of her. And finally unable to stand his arrogance any more, Lizzy declared that she thought the football team sucked and would probably lose the next game. This was immediately followed up by a "Wanna bet?" Lizzy rapidly responded, "How much?" And when Darcy had whispered her conditions in her ear, Lizzy had stood horrified. But slyly insinuating she was a coward, Darcy managed to seal his bet. Darcy made sure the football team won, and Lizzy was forced to be his girlfriend through junior year and senior year.
Darcy had hoped she would fall for him in that time, but she simply brushed him off half way through senior year, telling him she didn't need anyone to make her happy. Furthermore, she gave him an enormous spiel on how much she hated him. To add insult to injury, she brought up the Wickham incident. The pair parted off to different colleges in anger.
But here he was again. He seemed genial enough, but Lizzy knew how arrogant and prideful he was. She completely abhorred his existence. She hardly knew why she had said yes. Perhaps he had poisoned her food days in advance to affect her judgment. But again, as during the year and a half she had dated Darcy, a little voice from the back of her mind crept out to torment her. "Perhaps you really do want him by your side." But Lizzy clickly swatted the voice and thought away. She had always hated him, and nothing would change. She had thought the explosive breakup during senior year would have been enough to deter him from her forever. But she was wrong. He was back again to screw up her life.
Lizzy stiffened as she looked at Darcy's sleeping face, just inches away from hers. His eyes were closed, but he was muttering. Lizzy strained her ears to catch the words falling from his tongue.
"Lizzy…so sorry…love you."
Lizzy lay stock still for a moment, until she let out the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. What? This man whom I haven't seen for ten whole years, whom I thought I had finally gotten rid of is now back. And he dares to tell me that he is "sorry" and that he loves me? She hardly cared that he was sleeptalking. It was never love. It was always the thrill of the chase, being one step ahead of everyone else. And when someone threatened his high position, he would bring them down low. Look at Wickham!
Lizzy remembered the whole Wickham debacle as the period of time in high school that she was the angriest. She was so ashamed to have gone out with someone who would be so brutal, so arrogant. She remembered the tears of frustration, and the giant breakup. Most of all she remembered going to the prom with her sister. Her sister had been kind enough to accompany her, even though she had her own boyfriend. Lizzy sighed. She would much rather have not gone, but Jane had convinced her to, telling her that it was the last chance to spend time with the people whom she might never see again.
Darcy had felt superior after getting Lizzy to go out with him. When Wickham entered the scene, he had been very gentlemanly to Lizzy, and she appreciated that; it was a change from the self-important attitude she experienced from Darcy. But Darcy didn't like Wickham, not one bit. After a party where Wickham had been particularly bold, he ended mercilessly beaten by Darcy--Wickham ended up in the ER with several stitches, and a dislocated shoulder. It was after this that Lizzy, so indignant that Darcy would dare to put such a low value on human life that she broke up with him, not fulfilling the bet. She didn't care, and Darcy had been too angry to bring it back up. He had acted despicably, and Lizzy had rejected him cruelly. There was no reason that their relationship should pick up again.
And here he was again, acting as if nothing, nothing at all had happened. Perhaps he had selective amnesia? Lizzy sure didn't. She remembered every single hateful detail about Darcy, how he made others feel like dirt, how he thought his life was worth more than that of others, how he was always so sure of himself. How he had somehow caught her. She was just so bewildered by his sudden appearance. Her thoughts dragged her along until she finally drifted off to sleep in her archenemy's arms.
Lizzy's eyes snapped open when she felt herself being shaken. Still confused from sleep, she slapped the person holding her as he shook with laughter. "Get off me!" she shrieked.
"Calm down," Darcy tried to appease her.
Lizzy took a few deep breaths. "Please move away now."
"You know, sweetheart, you say the most charming things when you're asleep."
Lizzy's jaw dropped in mortification. "NO. What did I say?"
Darcy merely grinned insolently and leaned in closer. Lizzy was barely managing to keep consciousness—she was feeling extremely woozy from Darcy's extremely seductive expression.
"You said," he paused.
Lizzy looked at him, and prompted, "Yes? What did I say?"
Darcy just shrugged and stood up. "I'll let you guess." No matter how much Lizzy whined and pouted, he would not give in. She sighed dramatically. It's going to be a long day…