The first time he asks her to come work at his company is only three months after they've started dating.

He knows that she's going to say no, but he needs to try, anyways. Needs to make sure that he's doing everything he can to get her closer to him. And those few months is all that it takes for him to feel comfortable enough to try, to feel as though maybe she would say yes.

He's dead wrong.

When he's lying next to her (watching the way she breathes, and the way her read hair tumbles across the pillow, and the way her face relaxes in sleep) he can see an entire future for them, an entire lifetime that begins with her coming to work at Pemberley Digital. She would have an apartment there, and he would insist on paying for half of it because he would be spending so much of his time there. They would drive home from work together and cook dinner together and wake up in the morning together. Sometimes they would have Jane and Bing come to stay, and during those times they would all stay at the Darcy Manor and Lydia could sock slide to her heart's content, and Gigi would join her, and they'd have enormous family dinners with everybody that they love. On weekdays, Lizzie and Darcy would eat lunch together and talk about work together and hash out ideas together. She could make him better, make his company better, make his life better. She has that absolute power.

"Lizzie," he whispers, stroking some hair away from her face.

"Hmmm?" she responds sleepily, subconsciously snuggling closer to him. His bed at Netherfield is big, but they don't use much space.

"Lizzie, come work at Pemberley with me."

The list of reasons is to why it would not be appropriate for Lizzie Bennet to work at Pemberley Digital is longer than most novels he's read, and it silences him on the subject for quite a long time after that.

OOO

They spend about eight months doing the back and forth thing, which is something that he can't stand. They try to see each other every weekend, with him usually staying at Netherfield, and with her occasionally flying out to stay with him and Gigi. Sometimes it feels to Darcy that they spend more time on planes than anywhere else. Lizzie is frustrated because she feels like she can't make plans in advance, never knowing where she'll be. Darcy travels so much that it doesn't make a difference, but there's a part of him that does want someone to come home to, not someone that he has to pack to go see. He wants her to pick him up from their airport and sit on his real bed while he unpacks clothes into his closet, and then they could go down to the kitchen and make food from his pantry.

Their… pantry. Maybe it could be their pantry. Maybe it could be their kitchen, and their closet, and their bed. Maybe that's what could happen if Lizzie started working at Pemberley. She could move out there with himself and with Gigi. One big happy family, with everything being theirs.

Darcy tries his hardest. He asks her whenever he can, popping the question at the most random of moments so that she'll say yes without thinking of it. There are late night whispers and early morning pokes and random text messages all telling her to come work at Pemberley. Lizzie continues to refuse. To every pro he has, she's got a con.

"You'll be closer to Charlotte."

"Everybody will think that I'm only working there because I'm sleeping with you!"

"You'll get to live with me and Gigi."

"Everybody will think that I'm only working there because I'm sleeping with you!"

"You can bring Lydia, too, and she can complete her education at the university near Pemberley so that we'll all be close to each other."

"Everybody will think that I'm only working there because I'm sleeping with you!"

"I will make you chocolate chip smiley pancakes every single morning for the rest of our lives."

"Everybody will think that I'm only working there because I'm sleeping with you!"

"I promise that I will dump you if you come live with me and work with me at Pemberley Digital."

"Everybody will think that I'm only working there because I was sleeping with you!"

To Lizzie, the con is enough of an issue that she can't do it. Darcy, however, can only see the relationship his parents had, the perfectly balanced one in which they were able to both be well respected at work and separate their two lives, in spite of the fact that they were both high up employees at Pemberley. His mother hadn't gotten there because she was married to the president- she had gotten there because she was brilliant.

He wants Lizzie in San Francisco, sure, but he also wants her brains in his company. She could bring so much to the table, she has so many innovative ideas, and he knows for a fact that she works hard. Her enthusiasm reminds Darcy so much of that of his mother's that he can hardly imagine a world in which they won't, someday, end up being partners-in-crime, together bringing the company to brand new levels. After all, it can't a coincidence that they were brought together. The woman with the ideas and the man that can make them realized.

At one point, he stops asking her to work at Pemberley and just begs her to move out to San Francisco. She's a bit more amenable to it, but in her refusals the words Lydia and dad always seem to come into play.

By November, he's feeling pretty hopeless about the whole thing. Lizzie has never liked change, but he's starting to become afraid that she'll use the people that she loves as an obstacle forever. All of the plans that he's made are getting squashed as he begins to picture Lizzie spending her entire life in her parents' house, making excuse after excuse.

He'd fault her for it, but the fact of the matter is that the only one who's more frightened of change than Lizzie is Darcy. He's just a bit better at biting it back than she is.

OOO

Everybody has a breaking point, and Lizzie Bennet is no exception.

Hers happens three weeks before their first Christmas together, when they're all trying to make plans. Charlotte is closer to Darcy, and so is Gigi, so if she wants to spend Christmas with her best friend, her boyfriend, and her other dear friend, it seems that spending the holidays in San Francisco is the best option. But then there's Lydia, and her mom and dad, who are at home with her, and maybe she wants to spend her holiday with them? Plus, Jane and Bing invite her and Darcy down to do Christmas with them, seeing as Bing can't leave, but Gigi wants to stay in the city and Charlotte can't come.

He can see Lizzie's head spinning in frustration, because this is the first time that they're not all going to be together, and she has two more people that she cares about to accommodate for. Lizzie's entire life has scattered across several states, and Christmas is the first time she's fully willing to acknowledge it. He finds out around 10:30 at night on one normal Wednesday. He's sitting at his desk mindlessly signing pieces of paper that he'd gone through earlier. The only reason he's actually doing work instead of fully focusing on her is that he's caught himself doodling her name on important documents in the past, and he doesn't need a repeat.

"I don't know what to do," comes Lizzie's voice, and she seems so agitated that he almost wants to smile, until he hears the crash of something falling into a cart on her end. It's obvious that she's not good at grocery shopping when she's this pissed off. "I'm just… I'm done trying, Will. And I'm confused and frustrated and I'm sick of getting on a plane to have to see you, or having to stay at Bing's house whenever you're here. I mean, aren't you sick of it?"

"I love you," he reminds her. "I don't care."

"Yes, you do care," she counts, and he hears her throwing some other poor food item vigorously into her cart. "I don't want to leave Lydia, but I want to be with you. I don't want to leave mom and dad, but I want to be nearer to Charlotte. I don't want to leave-"

"Come work at Pemberley Digital," he suggests, and his voice is calm because he knows she's going to say no. There isn't even any pressure on it anymore- like it's a formality and he says it like a knee-jerk reflex. In reality, he knows that he knows what's good for her, but he's been yelled at enough for that already.

There's a silence on the other end, and Will could swear that the shopping carriage Lizzie had been pushing suddenly stopped short. He hears her breathe, and his stomach starts to clench nervously.

"Okay," she whispers, her voice much quieter and closer to the phone.

"Okay?" he echoes, and it's almost a shout.

"Okay!" Lizzie laughs. "I've reached my breaking point. We're just going to have to do our best to make sure that as many people as possible don't know we're dating."

"Fine," Darcy agrees, but something gnaws at his stomach. The fact that he won't be able to take her to fancy events with fancy dresses and fancy dances- he had always suspected that she could make them more tolerable. And what would happen when they decided to get married? Would they suddenly, randomly just come out with it? He's not willing to hide Lizzie forever.

It seems a bit ridiculous, but he agrees anyways.

OOO

Seeing as Darcy had been faced with the idea that he would never be with Elizabeth Bennet for quite some time, after he had been granted the privilege, he had made himself promise that he would never take her for granted and never make her take him for granted. He would be the most excellent boyfriend possible because eventually he wants to be her husband, and in order to get there he has a long way to go.

That said, it's entirely uncharacteristic when he calls Lizzie two weeks before she is scheduled to pack her stuff up and move in with him, ready to guiltily deliver the bad news.

"What do you mean China?" she asks, voice a little shriller over the phone. He's so excited for upcoming Mondays and Wednesdays and Tuesdays and Thursdays in which he'll be able to hear her actual voice and see her actual face, instead of just staring and hearing through his iPhone.

"I'm sorry," he says earnestly, shaking his head, "but it's been scheduled for months."

"It's… it's fine," is Lizzie's false response. "Gigi will help me move in, and I'll see you when you get back."

He had always thought that Lizzie would move into a condominium if she ever moved out to San Francisco, but once again, he had underestimated her. Lizzie Bennet saw moving out to Pemberley Digital as a commitment to him, and that meant that she felt that they were close enough that she would be living with him, too. All of the hopes and dreams he had been harboring before were shunted violently aside by new ones that came along- fantasies even better than the old ones. They would wake up together in his large bed in the manor, and they would share his parents' old office, and they would slide down the stair rails and run down the three secret tunnels that lead to the garden, and they would have breakfast in the morning with Gigi too, all one big happy family.

The family that he hadn't had in over a decade. The family that he had been craving for just as long.

Instead of feeling horrible about not being able to move in with Lizzie, he is suddenly thrilled. This is just one step closer to getting what he wants. The closeness and the happiness and the liveliness in a house that has felt so empty for so long.

OOO

As soon as he gets back from China, he's planning on going straight back to his home and crashing on the bed. After all, the time difference is a killer, and so is the flight, and no matter how much he does it, he'll probably never be fully used to it.

As he stumbles up the stairs to his bed, he doesn't bother to flick on the light. After all, all he wants to do is sleep. But as soon as his head hits the pillow, he notices something.

It smells different. It smells like Lizzie.

He sits up in bed very quickly and turns on his lamp. She's everywhere. Some of her clothes are draped neatly on the back of a chair. Her laptop is on the desk. There's some eyeliner on his bedside table.

Darcy is suddenly not tired anywhere. He picks up his phone and calls his secretary.

"I'll be coming in today after all," he tells her. "Could you have the new employee in my office in fifty minutes? I'd like to be able to greet her. Elizabeth Bennet, yes. That's the one."

He tries not to drive too fast to the office, but by the time he gets there he's practically running up the stairs. It's difficult to pretend that you're composed when your heart feels like it's about to beat out of its chest. He hasn't seen Lizzie at Pemberley since before they were dating, and now she's living with him, and everything is different, but the office is the same. He can barely concentrate enough to stop and let his secretary say hello to him, so when he opens the door, it's a godsend that she's already sitting there.

"Ms. Bennet," he says smoothly, "how lovely to see you again."

"Mr. Darcy," she replies just as calmly. "Same."

And then the door is shut and he's against it and she's kissing him and they're laughing and he can almost feel the fact that this is the utmost of turning points. He can feel it in his bones because they're in contact with her bones and they're in his office and her clothes are in his drawers and everything is exactly how it should be.

OOO

As predicted, hiding the fact that she is dating the CEO of the company is not as easy as Lizzie had initially thought. She fits right into the creative department and makes friends easily. She is immediately well liked at the company- a lot of her coworkers remember her from when she was interning. But it's different now, and she's different now. A lot of them can tell.

On Friday night of Lizzie's first week, she pops her head into his office to ask if it is okay if she goes out with the coworkers. He can see the guilt on her face, knowing that he can't come with her, but knows that she genuinely wants to be successful at the company, and in order to do so, she's got to make friends. He kisses her on the forehead, then the lips, and tells her to go.

She comes back late and crawls into bed next to him smelling like beer, but he lets her snuggle up to him regardless.

"How did it go?" he inquires, stroking her hair.

"I was bombarded with questions," Lizzie tells him. Darcy can hear the laugh within her words, and knows that she's well buzzed.

"Like what?"

He's genuinely curious- what are his employees like after hours?

"Hmmm," Lizzie hums, planting a kiss on his chin. "Like whether I'm getting laid."

"And what did you tell them?"

"Regularly. And excellent."

"By who?"

"Superman."

"Hmmm. Christopher Reeve or Brandon Routh?"

"Oh, come on, Christopher Reeve all the way," Lizzie smirks, her lips grazing up his chin and finding his lips.

"Of course," Darcy replies. "Because that was obvious."

"Shut up and ravish me," Lizzie says dramatically, and even though she's a bit drink, he goes ahead and ravishes her anyways.

After all, it's their bed. They can do whatever they want to on their bed.

OOO

"I've hit a bump in the road," Lizzie admits one afternoon. She's sitting on the floor of Darcy's office, staring up at him while he signs papers and waiting for him to join her on the floor for lunch.

"What's that?" he murmurs, though a bit absently.

"I can't add any of my coworkers on facebook without them knowing we're dating. Ditto twitter. Or… you know… youtube."

Finishing the paperwork for the time being, Darcy gets out of his chair and plops himself onto the floor across from Lizzie, causing her to smile at him with the absent look that tells him how far away her mind is from the office at the moment. He takes the distraction to notice the way the light hits her hair, and the way her dress has ridden up, showing more of her thighs than is actually proper.

Sometimes he likes to remind himself that he's seen her naked, and that only he is allowed to see her naked. This is one of those moments.

"I'm sorry," he offers, and she shrugs, handing him a sandwich.

"It's nothing you can fix," she points out.

"I could make myself more resistible," suggests Darcy, eyes twinkling at his girlfriend.

Lizzie takes a moment to scrutinize him.

"Doubtful," she decides.

"You're resisting me right now."

"Barely!" snorts Lizzie.

There's a pause in which they both stare at each other, sizing the other up. The next thing he knows, their lunch is long forgotten.

OOO

She's already sitting in his car when he gets to it. He'd given her the keys at lunch, knowing that she was scheduled to go to the car ten minutes earlier than he was. At some point, he'd realized that they were taking the 'discreet' thing a little too far, but it's fun and enjoyable and hopefully won't last that long. Besides, he likes the whole "Heart to Heart" thing. Spies had always been his weakness.

Darcy's pace speeds up as he nears the car, and he looks in both directions several times before sliding into the car. She wordlessly hands him the keys, having gotten used to the surreptitious thing by now. The car turns on, and he smoothly drives out of the lot. They don't speak until Pemberley is behind them.

"So how was your day?" she asks immediately.

"Good, good. Yours?"

"Wonderful."

"What are you thinking for dinner?"

"I'm feeling Italian tonight."

"No, honey, you're definitely Irish."

"Oh, shut up, you."

The house is cold when they get there, but after a few minutes of flipping switches and food beginning to sizzle, it warms up as it never really did before Lizzie had gotten there. She's made his empty manor into so much more of a home, filling a void that had needed to be filled since his parents had died. It hadn't taken too long for Lizzie to become family. It hadn't taken too long for Darcy to understand that he would marry this girl one day, either. The fact that he would be spending the rest of his life with her became just that- a fact.

He leans against the counter and watches her stir the alfredo sauce, barefooted and magnificent. She's concentrating on what she's doing and fails to catch his stare, so much so that he's startled when she begins talking to him.

"Something funny happened at work today," she says.

"Hmmm? What's that?"

"Well, I was sitting at a conference table with two of my coworkers after a meeting. At first, we were talking business, but then… business became gossip."

"Remind me to stop hiring women."

"Remind me to never date a sexist man again," Lizzie replies, raising her eyebrows at her.

"Point conceded. Go on."

"Well, what do you know the conversation soon turns to our delicious CEO, William Darcy."

"Of course it would," he says dryly.

"Oh yes. And then, to my utter delight, I got to spend the next fifteen minutes next to two woman talking about how delectable my boyfriend is, whether or not they'd have sex with him, and whether or not he's currently getting laid."

He feels a little dirty, and ponders exiting the room to take a shower. Then he imagines how Lizzie feels, and he walks around the counter to embrace her.

"What did you say?"

"I told them that he's the most beautiful man I've ever seen," Lizzie whispers, lips moving against his ear. "And then I said… I'd tap that."

He pulls away, as she starts laughing and fixes her with a glaring stare.

"Lizzie! Your coworkers are objectifying me and all you can say is 'I'd tap that'?"

"I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't. I objectify you every night."

"I… I… I…"

He stares at her, not knowing what to say.

"You what?" Lizzie grins.

"I hope your alfredo sauce is too strong," he spits at her, but then she tells him she loves him and he takes it back.

OOO

By the time Lizzie has been working at Pemberley for three months, Darcy begins to wonder if he will ever be sick of making out with her in storage closets. After all, he had just assumed that the novelty would wear off after a while, but it's been longer than he'd expected, and he's definitely starting to lose some major self-respect about the fact that he's not losing self-respect over enjoying making out with his girlfriend in closets.

But in the moment, he doesn't really have an issue with it. Kissing in closets is just another pattern they've developed, like brushing their teeth together, or putting their clothes on opposite sides of the closet, or him making breakfast and her making dinner. They see each other in the hallway and nobody else is there, and suddenly he's doing something he had always sworn to himself that he would never do. Or he watches her make a presentation and when it's over sticks his head into her cubicle and asks her if he can discuss it. Or she sees how bored he is at his desk and insists on taking him for the walk that he knows will inevitably lead them here.

Her dress is pooling around her waist and her hand is stuck up the back of his shirt, which has been pulled out of his trousers, because it's too hard to unbutton the entire thing and take it all off. He can smell her hair and feel her skin and he begins to wonder if maybe proposing in a closet when they're sweaty and gross is such a bad idea.

But then he remembers their first kiss, and he thinks that maybe he has to top that.

Two months later, Lizzie gets into her favorite napping pod and finds an engagement ring there. He teases her that he never would have proposed if she hadn't moved to Pemberley because, honestly, there's no better way to pop the question than by napping pod.

She says yes anyways.