This takes place sometime in the future, after Lizzie had graduated from grad school and she and Darcy have been dating for a bit.


"Well, now what?" Lizzie asked herself as she reached for the remote, the hum of the refrigerator the only noise in her otherwise quiet apartment. A sharp knock at her front door made her jump and she reached out a quick hand to stop her bowl of microwaved pasta from falling from its precarious perch on her knees. "Come in," she called, tossing the remote onto the coffee table in front of her.

Lizzie smiled as she saw William Darcy come through the door. "Hey," she said, sitting up straighter and running one hand through her hair in a futile attempt to make it look a little less obvious that she'd spent the whole day sprawled on her couch in her pajamas marathoning Scrubs on Netflix. "What's up?"

Darcy ignored her question in favor of his own. "Elizabeth Bennet, what on earth are you eating?" he asked, staring down at the bowl of pasta in Lizzie's lap as though afraid it might leap at him and start gnawing on his face.

"Spaghetti-O's," said Lizzie, holding up a steaming forkful of the food. "Want to try some?"

Darcy raised a sardonic eyebrow at her. "I most certainly do not. Are any of the ingredients actually something found in nature?"

"Don't sneer at my food," Lizzie protested, shoving the fork into her mouth. After swallowing the bite, she said, "Not all of us can afford personal chefs or five-star restaurants, you know. Some of us recent college grads have to live on processed canned food and Ramen noodles."

"Really? How fascinating; do tell me more," Darcy said dryly as he sat down next to Lizzie on her thrift-store sofa and smoothed one hand down his crisp shirt while adjusting the knot of his silk tie with the other. "I'm learning so much about the working class from dating you."

"Oh, stuff it," Lizzie replied, elbowing him. "I really think you should eat some." She held out a forkful of pasta. "Just to get a taste…literally…of how the other half lives."

He glanced with a vaguely disgusted expression down at the bowl. "Only if you let me take you out to the aforementioned five-star restaurant tomorrow," he replied. He was getting better at not simply presuming Lizzie would want him throwing his money at her; that he'd sat on her threadbare sofa without offering to buy her one made from hand-carved fair-trade mahogany and covered in organic alpaca fur or something, and was now asking for permission rather than simply telling her he was taking her somewhere fancy were steps in the right direction.

"Then you have to eat all of it," Lizzie declared imperiously, waggling the fork. She glanced down at the bowl. "Well, actually, you aren't allowed to eat more than half of it, since this is my dinner and I haven't eaten anything besides popcorn all day."

"I wouldn't want to deprive you of your meal," he said magnanimously. "However dubious its nutritional merits." He eyed the congealing pasta distrustfully.

"For crying out loud, stop looking at it like it's going to attack you and just eat it," Lizzie huffed. He sighed and leaned in, closing his lips around the proffered fork.

"Oh, my God," he muttered, horrified, as he swallowed. He looked down at the bowl in her hand. "You actually eat this? Willingly? On a regular basis?"

Lizzie laughed at the dismayed expression on his face. "Oh, come on, William, it's not that bad."

"It's disgusting," he replied vehemently. "I can't believe you're making me try this; it's so unhealthy."

"Buck up, Darcy," Lizzie teased, nudging him with her hip. "You're a grown man; you can handle a few non-organic, artificially flavored, chemically saturated calories now and then."

"Only if absolutely necessary," he replied, in what Lizzie privately called his 'Mr. Douchey' voice. Thankfully, he'd been using that tone far less frequently since they'd started dating. "And by 'absolutely necessary,' I mean 'if I was stranded on a desert island and canned food was the only edible thing available,'" he continued. "And I use 'edible' in only the most generous sense of the word."

"Well, at least you wouldn't let yourself starve."

"Only because my survival instincts would outweigh my principles."

"You're such a snob, William."

"That is hardly news, Lizzie."

"Why did you drop by, anyway? Not to insult my taste in food, I hope."

"No," he replied, but did not speak further. Lizzie turned to study him, and she watched in fascination as his neck and ears turned red under her scrutiny. "I…" he hesitated, his eyes flickering over her face before dropping to his hands, which were resting in his lap. "I simply missed you," he finished, shrugging stiffly. "We have not had much time together since you returned from visiting your family a few weeks ago and I wished to see you."

Lizzie's teasing smile softened and she leaned in to kiss his cheek. "I missed you, too."

"Enough to let me pamper you tomorrow evening?"

Lizzie pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Only if you help me finish my Spaghetti-O's."

"The sacrifices I make for you," Darcy sighed, accepting another forkful of the now-cold food with a theatrical shudder.

"I don't ask for that much," Lizzie protested, leaning in to kiss a bit of sauce from the corner of his mouth.

"Only my dignity," he replied ruefully, reaching up to curl a hand along her jaw.

"What more could a girl want?" Lizzie teased, playfully tugging his tie.

"Well, then," Darcy murmured, his breath warm against her face, "Being that I obviously no longer have need of it, I entrust it to your care."

"I'm pretty sure I've owned it for a while now, but I'll take good care of it, I promise."

"I appreciate that," he replied as he kissed her. He tasted of Spaghetti-O's and that expensive organic coffee he was always drinking, and as Lizzie wrapped her arms around his neck, her food forgotten in her lap, she thought that this was a much better way to spend a lazy Sunday than trying to clear out her Netflix queue.