A/N: The Unconventional Series was planned prior to episode 83 airing. It was officially canonballed with episode 88 "Okay." Although this is now officially AU, I will do my best to incorporate the character developments that continue through the rest of TLBD. This is part ten of the (now) sixteen part series. It is not necessary to read the previous nine parts but it is obviously encouraged. This "episode" has particular reference to "An Unconventional Mess" and "An Unconventional Sibling." As always, all episodes in the Unconventional Series are oneshots unless otherwise noted.
A/N 2: Sorry it's been a while since my last update. I hope you're still interested in the Unconventional timeline! Thank you all for the wonderful reviews on the previous installments. Special thanks to those who responded with constructive criticism about Gigi's characterization; I hope this "episode" is a bit of an improvement.
A/N 3: I'm always looking for new friends, so follow me on Tumblr (lasciviousgrace-dot-tumblr-dot-com) and/or Twitter ( BookWyrmFCP); send me a message to let me know you're a fellow LBDer/Seahorse, and I'll follow back.
Summary: Gigi Darcy hasn't even considered a date since George Wickham left her with nothing but a "sorry, peach," but with a friend like Lydia Bennet and a rather attractive British production manager at Pemberley might just break her of that. "I'm not… I think I agreed to go on a date on Wednesday." "You think?"
An Unconventional Date
Monday, November 11, 2013
Before Gigi was even out of the door of the lecture hall, her iPad was out and her schedule open. She had a two and a half hour break on Wednesday afternoon that she needed to fill. She flicked through her task list. Her German lit class would put her right near the campus library, she thought as she dodged a group handing out pamphlets of some kind (careful not to make accidental eye contact during her navigation) and queued for the coffee vendor. And she should get a head start on research for her French paper. But her proposal was due before that and she had barely worked on it at all. Then again, the last thing she wanted to work on right before her awful accounting lecture was a business project.
"Half-city, black. Please," she said as she reached the vendor and handed over the correct change she'd pre-counted and dropped another dollar in the tip jar.
"I have never seen anyone multi-task quite like you, Gigi," Mark from her rendering class said as she stepped away from the vendor with her coffee.
"That would be because you've never met my brother," she said as she fell into step with him on the path toward their lab.
"So are you saving the world, or…?" he indicated to the iPad still firmly clasped in her hand.
"Trying to decide what to do with my Wednesday afternoon, so no, not quite. But I was thinking of putting that on my agenda for next week."
"Free time on a Wednesday afternoon, huh?"
"Doesn't happen very often, I assure you."
"Well then you must take advantage of the opportunity."
"By writing the first draft of a paper on Louis le Gran's influence on French Renaissance art?"
"By… having coffee with me."
Gigi could feel Mark's glances in her direction, but she kept her stare straight ahead. Her chest had immediately constricted and, as always happened when someone had asked her out in the past nearly two years, George's face was swimming in her vision. But this time the feeling subsided quickly, and she could breathe again. Then, for the first time, Roger's name floated to the top of her mind, and her breath was catching again but for an entirely different reason, and she was telling Mark that she would love to get coffee with him.
Gigi wasn't sure how she got through rendering. William was definitely the multi-tasking master in their family; he could always concentrate on work when in emotional turmoil – excelled at it really – she could not.
But she got through it, and the moment they were dismissed, she made a beeline for the women's single stall bathroom two halls over where she could break down in private and call Lizzie.
Lizzie would talk her through this. And Lizzie would assure her that absolutely no good could come from going on a date before she was one hundred percent over George. All it would do is reopen wounds.
"Please enjoy the music while your party is reached," an electronic woman instructed her and without warning, Ke$ha was telling her that "this place about to blow."
She must have scrolled one past the L Bennet she had wanted to call, but before she could hang up and call the correct sister, Lydia answered with a happy, "Hey, Sporty!"
Gigi smiled in unexpected relief. "Hey, Scary."
"You don't sound good."
"I'm not… I think I agreed to go on a date on Wednesday."
"I did. It's…I haven't…" No more words were needed with Lydia, Gigi knew.
"No… just a guy from my rendering class."
"Oh. Why'd you say yes?"
"I don't know. I just…" There was a long silence.
"Maybe… 'cause you're ready?"
Gigi had never contemplated that possibility. "But I'm not… I mean how can I be…? I'm not over him."
"Do you really think that's just gonna happen?"
"I… I was kind of hoping." Another silence.
"You think I should go out with him?"
"What if I can't do it?"
"You'll secret code text me and I'll totes call with an emergency."
"Duh, what are besties for? – Ugh, my professor's starting to glare at me and point at his watch. I'll totes talk to you Wednesday."
And Lydia was gone. But Gigi was still smiling.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Gigi Darcy had never had a best friend before. She'd always been popular and had a lot of friends – some of them even close. But the only one who had approached best friend territory had been William. And he was so much older than her; it had never been a relationship of equals until recently.
When she was very young, and their mother got sick the first time, William had indulged her by playing Barbie and fairies and always knowing which Disney princess she wanted to be called on any given day. And when she was a little older, William had indulged her by letting her tagalong and listening to her like she was a grown-up and had any idea what she was talking about. But then when she was in her young teens, their father was in an accident and their mother's second mastectomy hadn't been enough, and it wasn't indulgences from William anymore, it was expectations. And William had done his best to shelter her from the world while she donned the masks of a thirty year old's emotional maturity and a CEO's work ethic.
But somehow Gigi had stumbled into being best friends with Lydia Bennet. And she didn't have to live up to anything. And she could be silly. And she could laugh and she could cry. And Lydia had given her all of that.
So that afternoon, Gigi gave Lydia hope. She had gone a date. And she had survived. And she knew it was just as important for Lydia to see her be ok as it was for her to actually be ok.
Coffee with Mark was nice, Gigi guessed. But the best part of her Wednesday was telling Lydia about it. For the first time ever, Gigi lay on her stomach across her bed talking to her best friend until one in the morning.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Gigi spent most of her Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester at the Pemberley offices. And on Thursdays at one in the afternoon, Gigi made her way to the third floor to meet up with Lizzie and her production team for lunch.
And that is where she had met Roger.
On the Thursday of Lizzie's first week at Pemberley, Gigi had instituted their weekly lunches, and everyone on Lizzie's team, except the new team manager – originally from offices in Derby – Roger Kemp, had agreed. But Gigi, not even knowing the man, had marched into Roger's office and demanded he join them – something no one else had ever tried. But then again, Gigi had spent the better part of her winter plotting with the VP of Legal to lock the CEO in a room with an intern. Management really didn't frighten her.
So, it had become their thing – hers and Roger's. She would appear on the third floor and everyone would be ready to go except Roger. And she would march into his office and he would pretend to have excuses and in the end he would join them and spend the entire lunch monopolizing Gigi's conversation.
But that hadn't happened that Thursday. Because Roger was sick.
Gigi had abused her powers of being little sister to the CEO a couple times before. Maybe more than a couple. But always for a really good reason. And surprising a sick friend with cookies was totally a really good reason to sneak a look at Roger's personnel file to get his address.
She readjusted the dress she had changed into after getting a bit of flour on her pants while baking. As she rode the elevator, she tried not to think that this might not be a welcome visit. It was after all to bring his home-made cookies. No one could find that unwelcome.
She took a deep breath and rapped her knuckles on his door. A couple crashes later, Roger was opening the door, certainly looking surprised.
"Gigi… I… er…"
"I brought you cookies – biscuits – " she corrected herself, hoping that didn't sound silly, as she held up the tray she had bought especially to bring to him. "I heard you're sick."
"Well… thank you. I didn't realize I ranked getting hand-delivered biscuits. 'Though I find I must admit before I accept that I'm not actually ill."
"Are you admitting to skiving off work to the CEO's sister?" she teased.
He looked abashed. "My son has the flu, as does his nanny – "
"Then these are for him – Tommy, right?"
"Yes. I – " Roger jerked around and looked down at a little boy holding onto his pant leg.
"Who dat?" the little boy asked his father, pointing a fat finger at Gigi.
"This is Miss Darcy, a friend of Daddy's."
"Hi, Tommy, my name is Gigi," she said, stooping down to his level.
"Dat no name. Dat letters."
"Aren't you so clever? You're right – my real name is Georgiana; can you say that?"
"Jordy-yana," he reproduced as confidently as he could.
"Very good! So… I heard you're feeling very icky." He nodded solemnly. "I brought some biscuits for you. Do you like chocolate chip?"
His eyes widened in happiness and he looked at his father with a pleading look. "You can have one." Tommy immediately looked back to Gigi and stuck out his pudgy hand. "And what do we say?"
"Pwease, Jordy-yana?" Gigi picked open the Saran wrap and pulled out a cookie for him. "Dank you."
"You're welcome." Tommy practically stuffed the cookie down his throat, then looked to his father and held up a finger.
"One more and that's it until you get something healthy to eat."
Tommy beamed at Gigi and said again, "Pwease, Jordy." She handed him another and he replied with another "Dank you" and disappeared back into the apartment.
Gigi stood again.
"He doesn't usually warm to people so quickly – then, no one's tried bribing his utter adoration with biscuits before."
"He's adorable. So… I guess of these are for your discretion." She handed him the tray of cookies.
"Thank you. Why don't you come in and I'll get these into a Tupperware so you can have your platter back – "
"Oh," she tried waving it off casually, "That's not necessary. It's not like it's family china or anything. Keep it."
"Again, how generous. Of course," he leaned in as though confiding a secret, "Now I haven't any excuse to invite you inside and keep your company a bit longer."
"Oh. Um… I could really use a glass of water. Parched."
"I apologize for being such a poor host. Please, do come in." He opened the door wider for her and she stepped inside. "I also apologize for the state of the place – hadn't quite thought that through."
"Oh, it's fine," Gigi said as she stepped around some scattered toys that were probably responsible for the crashes she'd heard earlier. "You're single father of a little boy – I don't think you're supposed to have a neat house." Oh brilliant, Gigi, she chastised herself, remind him that his wife is dead. Worse. Than. William.
"We are indeed two bachelors – it's our curse. I'm sure your brother is constantly making messes for you and Lizzie."
"Oh, um…" Gigi thought back to William's ninth birthday, when his favorite present had been a label maker. "He's probably not the best comparative example…"
"I didn't really believe myself while I was saying that," he said as he pulled down a glass. "I'd offer you something other than water, but all I have is apple juice that has only about ten percent 'real apple flavoring.'"
Gigi giggled. "Next time I bring you biscuits, remind me to make them oatmeal raisin."
"There's going to be a next time is there?" Roger asked with a tease.
She flushed but didn't look away. "Maybe. If you're good."
"I'll be the best."