Darcy's phone sputtered out a carrying rendition of Sex on the Beach that had people staring and him cringing as he dragged it from his pants' pocket. Caro had stolen his phone and made it her personal ringtone a week ago and he kept meaning to change it, but when it wasn't embarrassing the hell out of him it was kind of funny.

Sos, her text read. Hav prematurely dscendd 2 hel. Need strng dashing hero 2 save me. Pls pas on mesage wen u fnd hm.

Saying im nt man enuf, he texted back.

Sayin gt ur as 2 44 curzon st immediatly. CANNOT survive brothr's engagment prty on my own. Wil owe u wee willy winki.

Despite the ridiculous nicknames, the phone stealing, and the fact that, yes, she could definitely be a bit of a bitch when the mood struck, Darcy was friends with Caroline Bingley for two reasons. One, she was sharp, driven, wickedly clever, and had been egging him into loosening up since the vodka mudslide incident at law camp that had brought them together. And two, he could relax round her because she didn't want to get with him.

"You're too decent," she had explained to him after their one and only foray onto intimate ground. She may even have patted him on the head. "I could have you, but I'd chew you up and spit you out, and then I'd have to pretend I had a conscience and you know how I hate that."

Darcy was too decent, and possibly had inherited Caro's missing portion of conscience. Which was why he replied with an affirmative and set his feet towards a house full of drunk relatives that weren't even his.

"I don't know a single person here," Darcy muttered. He had been dutifully introduced to Charles and the fiancée on arrival then taken to loitering by the drinks table hoping no one would try and make him small talk. Or pour them a heavily doctored punch; he refused to be an enabler.

"You could get to know Charlie, I mean, if you wanted to drown in happiness."

"He has a lot of teeth."

Caro laughed. "True. Jane then, she's completely non-threatening, ridiculously sweet."

Jane Bennet did look ridiculously sweet, and very beautiful, and happy but not adverbly happy. Not that it was Darcy's place to say, and it wasn't like he knew her or anything, but shouldn't a newly affianced, ridiculously sweet and very beautiful girl be looking supremely, hopelessly and/or overwhelmingly happy at her own engagement party? Surely there was a rule somewhere.

"I don't have a crowbar handy to squeeze me into that crowd. Have you ever tried the Crazy Bear on Whitfield Street? They make a good cocktail."

"Oh, Fitzy, Fitzy, Fitzy; when will we ever make a shark out of you? Look upon this as an opportunity. You're the only male that three-rooms worth of women can say with a certainty they are not related."

Darcy raised one eloquent brow.

"Come off it. We are getting you laid. What about the sister? She was giving you a once-over."

"Which sister? There's at least fourteen of them in the living room alone."

"The one that isn't jail bait or horrifically frumpy. 'Bout our age, dark hair, red dress."

"She was cute, I suppose," he said after a brief scan of the room to refresh his memory that turned up nothing, "but she's the kind who dates dickheads because they're 'exciting' then complains about there being no decent guys. Fuck that, I've got better things to do with my time."

Too late, Darcy noticed Caro had gone still and was now slowly lighting up with glee. He tensed. Nothing good ever came of Caro being gleeful.

"She's right behind me, isn't she."

"And doing an excellent job of pretending she didn't hear you. Hi," Caro extended her hand over his shoulder, "Caroline, your soon to be sister-in-law in case your brain's as shit with names as mine is. I know I should apologise but I'm finding this pretty fucking hilarious. The idiot's name is Will, Fitzwilliam Darcy."

Turning his head was an excruciatingly slow and weighty process. He hoped like hell he wasn't blushing. His lips formed something that may or may not have been a smile.

"Fitzwilliam?" the sister said. "Ouch."

"His parents probably thought he was cute enough to get away with it."

She smiled sweetly, and Darcy thought for a minute she might be one of those forgiving types that he didn't understand at all but right now could totally get onboard with the idea of. Then she opened her mouth.

"If you like tall and broody, I suppose. I don't know, you gave it your best shot but you're just not enough of a dickhead to tempt me. But hey, best of luck with the getting laid thing, Fitzwilliam." She gave his arm a little chummy punch. "And so nice meeting you, Caroline."

"Oh child," Caro drawled as the sister calmly picked up her drinks and walked away. "Great Aunt Lynne's around here somewhere and always has aloe vera in her purse."

"You're a fucking riot, Caroline."

"What do you even care, Darce? She's a nobody you'll never see again. Problem not solved, not even averted, but completely nonexistent."

"That's not the point."

"You weren't even interested; it's entirely the point."

"No, the point is that your brother's fiancée's sister is wandering about thinking I'm the biggest douchebag to ever contain a shower."

"Darcy, let's get this straight: it does. not. matter."

"But –"

"Do I need to whack you upside the head to get it through your thick skull, Will?"

Fortunately, Charlie's head appeared around the doorframe calling Caro away for family photographs before she could follow through.

Darcy pretended to get a text to avoid having to make eye contact with anyone, and calculated how soon he could leave without seeming rude.

Any more rude.

If that was even possible.

FML, he replied to the imaginary person.


I unashamedly love Caroline Bingley; I think she's brilliant. I also think her jealous behaviour over Darcy is a product of the times – marriage is the only viable option available to her so of course she'd want the best. But give her the options of the twenty-first century, and she'd be a sharp-as-a-tack career woman with no need for the mess of a man in her life. None of this sycophant bimbo modern fanfics seem too often to turn her into. That's my take anyway.