Lots going on in this chapter… we get the plane & meet the Captain (recently expanded character- thanks McBeta!) and dum-de-dum-dum-dah! Wickham steps front-and-center. Oh, and Henry can’t hold his liquor! Enjoy!

 

*Chapter Sixty-Two*

 

Monday morning was hectic. Since Will and Henry needed to go to Logan to inspect the plane which would be arriving, it was decided that Will would take the Escape while Liz would manage her own way to school. Liz wasn’t sure that this was the best idea, but Henry insisted he knew his way around a GPS well-enough to make up for Will’s technophobia. Only after exacting a promise that they would call if they needed any help at all did she agree to this plan. They would do some work, then go to the airport and, once everything was settled there, they would make their way to campus where they would pick Liz up from school. Will was glad she’d invited them, he’d been highly curious to see the institution that had played such a large part of his Elisabeth’s life.

On the subway that morning, Liz caught up on phone calls. She spoke with JJ, Lottie and was even finally able to reach Denny Fields instead of going another round of phone tag. It had been longer than she could remember since she had spoken with her old friend, but they comfortably spoke as if they’d never let their friendship lapse.

After catching up on the goings-on in each other’s lives, Denny asked, “So, my dearest Lizard, please tell me that you’ll be in Boston next week, because I am dying to see you!”    

Liz bubbled with enthusiasm at the possibility of seeing her old friend. “Yeah, we’ll be here. I can’t wait for you to meet William. I promise; you’ll like him.”

“I’ll be the judge of that. It all depends on whether or not he’s good enough for my Elisabeth. You’re sure, really positive that there’s nothing going on between him and Carrie Bingley? Because, girlfriend, she sure seems to believe it’s all a lock except for the ring.”

“Well, Denny, seeing as how I have his ring, I’m going to say she’s greatly mistaken. I like Carrie, I always have, but I swear, if she goes all boiling bunnies on us, I’m not sure what we’ll do. Bil and JJ have promised to keep an eye on her if she gets out of control. Carrie, by the way, seemed greatly taken with you. She dropped your name a least a hundred times over Thanksgiving.”

“She’s sweet, in an apparently psycho sort of way. I can help you out with her… I mean, I’d be willing to, if, and only if, this Mr. Darcy of yours meets with my personal approval.”

“Denny, you’re the best! Are you coming to stay with us then? I have a daybed downstairs… or I have that pull-out in my office. What am I saying? Of course you’re not staying with me. You’ll probably stay at the Liberty or somewhere more elegant.”

“And miss out sleeping on a poky-spring sleeper? Why the hell would I do that? Stop being silly, girl! Of course I’m going to stay with you. I’m only in town for a day or two and I’d much rather see you and yours than stay in some stupid hotel where they’ll kiss my ass.”

Liz laughed. “So, instead you’ll stay with me where I’ll kick your ass?”

“Of course! God, Lizard, I have missed you, girl! How has it been so long since we’ve talked?”

The memory made Liz wince. “Because I was stubborn. I made some bad choices and wouldn’t listen to you when you were the first one to tell me to kick Drew to the curb.”

Denny made a disapproving sound. “Good old Eww-Drew. So, how is that manipulative piece of scumbag these days?”

“Don’t know, don’t care,” Liz said truthfully.

“Good for you, girl! I’d smack you upside the head if you actually knew the answer. You are so much better off without that kind of man. This Darcy of yours, I’ve seen him at a few events and things. Very stiff-upper-lip, very British… are you sure he’s the right one for you? I’ve never heard anything bad about him, he’s not a playboy or anything, but, are you sure you want that kind of life?”

“You’re not the first to ask me that. He doesn’t like the fame, he’s never sought it and he’s pretty sure that once he’s married, he’ll stop being so interesting to the press. At least that what he hopes. I suppose that we’ll have to see what happens when I get to England. God knows I’m boring enough and not worth following.”

“Ain’t that the honest truth! You, my lovely, are a breath of fresh air! Is Monday copasetic for our reunion, or would Tuesday suit better?”

“Monday is fine.” Their conversation was winding up, but before she let him go, she needed to ask one thing that had been bugging her. “What’s with your speech? All the girls and ain’ts and exaggerated words… it’s really weird, Denny and not like you at all.”

“I know. Mom still scolds me about it all the time. But really, it’s just a habit. Lizard, I’m living in this huge cliché: the gay fashion designer! And, with it, there are certain expectations. When I first started in the business, I wasn’t gay enough, and so I listened and once I figured out what people wanted to hear, that’s what I gave them. It’s not such a big deal, really. Everyone has to capitulate sometime in their lives. The important thing is deciding what things are worth fighting for and which things are not. Using girlfriend because it’s what people expect to hear is definitely not worth fighting for.”

“I suppose not. That all makes sense, I suppose, but it’s really kind of sad, isn’t it?”

“Honey, if it is, I find I can’t get worked up over it. I am more successful than I ever dreamed I would be and, overall, I can’t really complain about my life. But, I’ve got a plane to board now, so I’m going to let you go and I will call you as soon as I get to Boston. I can’t wait to see you!”

“Me either! Do you still braid hair? Because I never could do it as well as you could.”

“A hair party? Now I wish I could cancel this week’s meetings and get there sooner! They’re calling me by name now, so I really have to go! Love you, Lizard! Smooches!”

“Love you, too, Denny! Have a safe flight!”

Liz put her phone back in her bag and wondered if Henry and Will would let Denny do their hair.

Back at Liz’s, Will and Henry were going over their checklist for New York. They would first meet with the New York team to go over all the details and prepare for any last-minute surprises. Later they would settle in to the company apartments across the street and try not to dwell on the negotiations. Their position was clear. They could walk away and knew well enough that Axiom could not afford for that to happen. This position of strength would hopefully be the key to getting everything Will hoped for out of the acquisition.

Henry’s mobile rang and they were informed the Gulfstream had landed at Logan and they were ready for them anytime. Being close to noon, they set aside the Axiom papers and headed to lunch on the way to the airport. Once they finally made it to Logan, they checked through security and were escorted to the hanger where the plane was ready for inspection. A tall blonde man dressed in a Captain’s uniform was waiting on the ground next to the steps.

The man, who stood even taller than Will, stepped forward and doffed his cap to greet them. “Good afternoon. I am Captain Wentworth. I presume one of you is Mr. Darcy?”

Will reached out to shake the Captain’s hand. “I am William Darcy. So, Captain Wentworth, how long will you be with us?”

If there was one part of his job that Frederick Wentworth hated, this was it. “I’m available as long as you have need of me, Mr. Darcy.”

Darcy looked over the pilot with a critical eye. He was pleased to note by the man’s accent the man was also from Britain. He seemed a decent enough fellow, and his references had been impeccable. “So then, we aren’t keeping you from any pressing engagements at the moment?”

“None,” admitted Wentworth sadly. “At the present, this is my pressing engagement, if you take my meaning.”

“Very well. We shall see how things progress, on a trial basis. If at the end of, say, forty-five days, both you and I are happy with this arrangement, we’ll see about hiring you for a permanent basis. Would that suit you, do you think?”

Wentworth agreed that it suited him very well indeed. Wentworth introduced Will to the sales agent from Gulfstream who then proceeded to take Will and Henry on a tour of the plane. They were shown all the amenities and had all of the features explained in such minute detail that Will had a hard time listening without losing interest. As his thoughts began to drift, he wished Liz was there with him. She would have appreciated this tour much more than I ever could. All I want to do is get from A to B comfortably. Why would I care what kind of bloody wood they burled for the end-tables? Just when Will was beginning to consider tossing the man out the door, the salesman stopped talking.

Will could have kicked himself when he, quite out of habit, said, “Was there anything else we needed to go over?”

 The salesman, who had no idea how close he had come to bodily harm, responded in the correct manner when he answered, “I don’t believe so. We’re ready to go ahead and sign the final contract confirming delivery. That is, unless you had some additional questions?”

“No, none at all. I think you’ve covered everything rather well. Now, where do I sign?”

Moments later, the papers confirming the sale and delivery of William Darcy’s new Gulfstream 650 were signed. Once the salesman left, Will invited Wentworth to sit down and tell a little bit about himself.

“Well, there’s not much to tell, really. I was working for another company, an American company, but their CFO made some bad decisions and they had to sell off most of the company assets, including the plane I’d flown for eight years. I am hoping to eventually relocate and be based in London. I’ve been gone much too long.”

“My company is based in London, but this plane is my property and not tied to Pemberley directly. Of course, I do intend to use some it for business, but my fiancée is American and so I believe we’ll also be traveling a good deal on more personal business. Overall, I do not travel as extensively as other CEO’s, but it’s enough that it could disturb a strict schedule. I need a man who is willing to be flexible. If you can be flexible, I see no reason why the job won’t become yours.”

“Thank you, Mr. Darcy.”

“Now, as for our schedule… Reynolds and I… damn! Wentworth, this is Henry Reynolds. Reynolds, this is Captain…” Will thought hard, but could not recall Wentworth’s name. “Sorry, seems I’ve forgotten. What is your given name again?”

“I don’t believe I said. It’s Frederick.”

“Good. That means I haven’t gone completely barmy yet today. Reynolds, this is our Captain, Frederick Wentworth. Now, Wentworth, you don’t mind that, do you?”

“My name? No, sir, Wentworth is fine.”

“Excellent. Wentworth, we’ll leave for New York just after lunch tomorrow and then fly back either Wednesday or Thursday. Do you need to make any special arrangements for accommodations?”

Wentworth shook his head. “No, sir, the agency said that your assistant had already done.”

Will gave a nod of appreciation for Henry’s efficiency. “Thank you, Henry. Well done.”

Henry said proudly, “I do try, sir.”

“And it shows.” Will gave one last look around, and then addressed the Captain, “Well, it seems then that since everything is in order. That being the case, we will see you tomorrow. Have a good evening, Wentworth.”

“Thank you, sir.” Wentworth doffed his hat once more and gave a nod. “Same to you.”

In her office, Liz was wrapping up a long session of grading papers, still trying to ignore the temptation of Googling Will. When one of the essays she was reading misattributed a quote, Liz knew she ought to look up the true source and logged onto her computer. She noted the correct author as Thales, not Pythagoras, and finished making her other remarks. She smiled at the mix-up. I guess it’s all Greek to him. When the last of the papers were graded, she brought up her homepage, ostensibly to check her email. She responded to a few, deleted even more spam and just when she was about to log off, the list of trending topics caught her eye.

Number one was last-minute Christmas gifts, number two was how to prevent H1N1 and number the number three top trend was Britain’s most eligible bachelors. Liz stared one full minute at the screen before she gave in and clicked on the link. There, on top of the list, even ahead of Prince William, was her William. Accompanying his name on the site was a photograph taken of him at some charity event, Will looking handsome as ever. The blog gave estimates of his wealth, listed his properties, listed a dating history which included quotes from various women who claimed to have had a relationship with him. Liz’s stomach began to churn. Before she even realized what she was doing, she Googled Will and the screen stated there were over eighteen million results for him. After the Wikipedia entry, but before the Ancestry.com link, there was a link for images. There were pictures of William with a beautiful young girl who had similar enough features that she believed the girl was probably Georgiana. There were pictures of him sitting on the sand at the beach with some children that she assumed were his cousin’s kids. There were pictures taken at the market, on the street, in restaurants while eating mid-bite and still others where he was getting in and out of various cars. Pictures that were obviously shot at greater distances showed Will leaving from a building that from his description could only be Pemberley. Even more disturbing was the fact that his life seemed to be catalogued, almost day-by-day, here on the internet for anyone to see. She began to panic. God! Is this what my life is going to become? Will we be able to do anything in peace? What have I gotten myself into?

There was a knock on her door which served to snap her out of her momentary distress. Reflexively, she shut off her monitor and beckoned, “Come in.”

The door opened, revealing Will and Henry. Taking in the appearance of her office gave Will further insight about Liz. On the wall hung the famous picture of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out, captioned with “E=MC² because I said so!” Her desk had several small boxes in various stages of being opened with miniatures of cats in them to mimic Schrodinger’s theoretical experiment. There was a stuffed puppy-doll with a bell and a tag on his collar that read “I belong to Pavlov” and someone had taped a piece of paper to it that said “Bad Dog”. There were many whimsical and personal things in the office, each offering a bit more information about Liz’s character. Will loved it.

“Lovely office you have here, Sweetheart. I particularly like this,” he picked up a Monty Python action figure from one of her bookcases.

“Ah, you would like that. ‘It’s only a flesh wound!’ I love the Black Knight. JJ and Bil gave that to me a few years ago.”

Henry piped in. “I love Monty Python. John Cleese is amazing.”

Knowing that he and Liz each held a preference for a different Python, he just nodded his head while Liz bit back a smile. “John Cleese has his moments, to be certain,” Liz agreed. “I’m just about finished here. Will, were we going to take care of that business we talked about last night?”

“What business?” He asked and when Liz glared at him, he instantly remembered. Good God, she’s got that marital evil-eye thing down pat already! How the hell did I forget about Wickham? Never mind, you bloody well know precisely how you managed to forget about that bastard. God, I can’t wait to get married. Once we’re married, and everything settles down, then maybe I’ll be able to string more than three thoughts together coherently! He took in the picture Liz made sitting on the edge of her desk, white board covered with data behind her, books, files and papers everywhere and he remembered the other night and decided that he probably never stood any chance of sounding intelligent ever again.

Liz raised her eyebrow to show she was still waiting and he recalled he still hadn’t replied, so he did, “Yes, I think it would be for the best. Afraid it slipped my mind earlier, though.” He turned to Henry and said, “Do you remember that idiotic Scotsman George Wickham?”

Henry definitely remembered that man. George Wickham was the sort of man who honestly believed he was doing you a great service by allowing others to stand in his presence. If there was one thing Henry Reynolds truly found appalling, it was unwarranted egotism. “I do recall him. What brings him up now?”

Liz, knowing Will would have trouble remaining calm while speaking of Wickham, answered, “He’s here, actually. He’s working in a bar not far from here and it looks like he’s trying to woo this ditzy heiress who’s in town.”

Henry was shocked. “But he’s a derelict of the worst sort! Why would her parents allow that?”

“Marty King is almost eighteen and was recently orphaned. She’s weeks away from inheriting everything her father built for their family. According to tabloid TV, they’ve been seen partying around together. From what William says, it seems an intervention is needed.”

Henry asked, “And you know where to find that horrid man?”

Will and Liz nodded.

“Then what are we waiting for? Shall we be off then?”

Will was more than glad to turn the keys back over to Liz as well as the responsibilities of driving. Within ten minutes, they were parked down the block from the bar that had the misfortune to employ Wickham.

The three of them sat down together at the bar and ordered beverages. The bartender was not amused when Liz and Will ordered sodas, but managed to offer Henry a slight nod of approval when he ordered a double Scotch.

When the bartender was otherwise occupied, Henry leaned in and said, “Very wise, refraining from spirits so that you can keep your head clear in case Wickham becomes unruly.”

Will felt Liz poke him, but he ignored her prompt and agreed with Henry. “Yes, I thought it prudent.”

Even without looking at her, Will knew Liz was likely rolling her eyes at him for not explaining that he didn’t drink and hadn’t in years. As far as he was concerned, it was no one else’s business but his.

“I would have done, too,” Henry said after a sip of his drink, “but it would have looked rather strange if all three of us tee-totaled it this evening, don’t you think?”

Liz estimated that it would likely only take one more drink to do Henry in entirely, he seemed like a lightweight to her. “I’m not drinking because my body just turns alcohol into sugar and it’s just something I’d much rather avoid. I don’t believe you know yet… I’m diabetic.”

Henry’s glass was now empty. “Like Mary Tyler Moore?”

Liz giggled. What made him think of that? How odd! “Yes, just like Mary Tyler Moore.”

Will caught their attention and motioned that he was going to step away from the bar. Wickham had arrived.

Wickham stood at the entrance and scanned the patrons, looking for someone he could chat up and either wrangle some cash from or take home. The pickings seemed pretty thin, but not too terrible for a snowy Monday. When Wickham’s eyes landed on Liz, a slow grin came upon his face. He sauntered across the room and helped himself to the stool that Will had recently vacated.

“Hey now, if it isn’t my bonny Liz. How was your holiday?” Before Liz had a chance to reply- because truly, he wasn’t interested in what she had to say- he continued, “You were greatly missed here,” he paused to give her his most seductive look, “especially by me.”

Liz looked him square in the eye and played jealous. “Come now, George. We’re friends, right? Friends don’t use such lines of utter bullshit on each other, do they? You’ve been out and about all over town with that teenage girl and you know you can’t deny it because it’s been on the news. Come clean with me, George, what kind of game are you playing?”

“No games, dearie. Just having a bit of fun isn’t wrong, is it? You know you’re the only lass I’ve kept an eye on.”

She wasn’t sure how much more she could listen to without her stomach going into a full revolt. Pushing down the disgust she felt in just being near him, she batted her eyelashes and demurred, “Really, George?”

Henry, having just downed a second double-Scotch, was feeling uncharacteristically brave. “Hey there!” Henry shouted much too loudly, “I know you,” he stood between Liz and the would-be-lothario and began to poke George in the chest. “You’re that rat-bastard thief Wickham, aren’t you? What a small world this is!”

It had taken George a moment to place the man who was yelling and shoving at him. When he at last knew who Henry was, George found it greatly amusing. “Why yes, it surely seems to be! How is it that Darcy’s lackey has managed, from halfway around the world, to come into my bar of all places?”

Henry started to laugh like a madman. Before George could inquire what was so amusing, a voice he’d hoped to never hear again said from somewhere behind him, “Your bar? It was my understanding that you just pour drinks here.”

Liz enjoyed watching all the color drain from George’s face much more than she probably should have. Reynolds had sat down again, but was still laughing. With Henry no longer standing in the way, she had an excellent view of whatever would pass between Will and George. As much as George had lost all color, it seemed to have reappeared in Will’s face, for Will was clearly livid.

George recovered some of his humor and said, “I ought have known you’d never let your dog run too far off his leash. Should I be flattered or frightened that you care enough to track me all the way to Boston? Come now, we used to be friends of a sort! What’s past is past; can’t we just leave it there and be done?”

“You were never my friend, and you bloody well know that! As it happens, my being in Boston just happens to be the most fortuitous of circumstances. I’ve been making all sorts of new acquaintances, some of which you might even be interested in.”

 George scoffed at the notion, “Highly doubtful, Darcy.”

Will appeared to give what George said a moment’s thought. He smiled confidently, which worried George a great deal, before saying, “Too true, Wickham, especially given that underage girls are more to your liking.” George’s eyes flashed with fear, which Will noted with great satisfaction. “Astonishing. It’s not like you to not be curious. You won’t ask with whom I was chatting, so I will tell you. I was speaking just now with Jack King.  Fascinating man. Very concerned about his niece. Seems she’s taken up with the most loathsome sorts of late. He’s on his was here directly to collect his beloved girl and take her back to California.”

When everything finally registered, George lunged at Will. “You bastard!”

 Will was too quick. He stood and moved out of the way before George could make contact. Having missed his object, George Wickham fell to the floor in a heap.

Refusing to escalate matters, Will let the insult go. “I’ve been called much worse by far better men than you.”

 The commotion drew a great deal of attention and with so many people now watching them, George knew he needed to bide his time before he could make another move. Will reached down to offer George aid in getting up. George naturally refused and made to stand on his own. Once he was up, George dusted himself off and gave Will a glare of warning. “This is only the beginning. You’ve messed up my plans once too many times, Darcy, and for that you’ll pay.”

It was then George noticed Liz was standing next to Darcy, holding his hand. He gave a bark of derisive laughter before addressing Liz, “And you! You’re nothing but a bit of skirt chasing the top dollar! I see how it is now! Oh, this is fine. This is a really fine day, indeed! Maybe you deserve this uptight prat instead of a real man after all.”

Liz could feel Will’s whole body tense beside her. She squeezed his hand and when she had his attention, she whispered, “I’ve got this.”

“George, I can understand why you would be confused on the definition of a real man. You’ve obviously mixed it up somehow with your definition of real women. Real men don’t date teenage girls, no matter how grown up the girls think they may be. You are a disgusting example of manhood and should be locked up and branded as the pedophile you are!”  

George Wickham was furious. “You bitch! You…” Will, who had been only waiting for an opportunity, punched George in the mouth, causing him to, once again, meet the floor.

The on-duty manager, Brian Murphy, made his way over to see what all the ruckus was about. “What’s George doin’ on the floor?”

“I’ll tell ya ‘bout it, Murphy!” A woman stepped forward to tell what she’d witnessed. “That slimeball George finally pissed off the wrong guy. Got what was comin’ to him, but good! George called this here lady a bitch and her boyfriend here did only what he ought and punched him real good. Don’t know why you been keepin’ George here anyhow. He’s always up to no good and thinks he’s better than everybody, always braggin’ ‘bout how he’s gonna make a fortune without workin’ like the rest of us got to.”

A murmur of agreement sprang forth from the other bar patrons. The manager turned to Will, Liz and Henry and spoke, “Well, seems you wasn’t to blame for what happened. George’s been acting all loose-cannon like the last month or two, so’s it seems it’s time to part ways wit’ him. Now, Liz, you ain’t caused no trouble in here ever before, but I think it’d be for the best if you didn’t come in here for a while, ‘kay?”

Liz nodded that she understood. “I promise, Murph. Sorry about all the trouble we’ve caused tonight.”

Will extended his hand to Murphy in a show of goodwill. When Murphy took it, he said nothing about the bills that had made his way into his palm. The only indication that anything had been exchanged was the slight nod Murphy made to Will when he said, “Thanks.”

The bouncer, along with several burlier regulars, propped up Wickham until he would be conscious enough to leave under his own power. Liz, Will and Henry headed home to celebrate.

As they entered the condo, Henry was leaning on Will for support. “I have had the best time tonight! The best! Have I mentioned that I love you, Miss Gardiner?” Henry hiccoughed, found it hilarious, and then hiccoughed again. “I love you too, Mr. Darcy! You are both so kind to me! You are both so happy…” Henry’s mood then seemed to shift. “Why can’t I be that happy? I want to be happy and loved too. Why can’t I find someone?”

Liz shut the door behind them. “I think maybe that you’re a little bit drunk, Henry, and it will all seem better in the morning.”

Henry looked panicked. “It won’t be! Don’t you love me too?”

Liz looked to Will, who only managed to shrug his shoulders a little without dropping Henry. After a deep sigh, Liz answered, “Of course I do. You’re a very sweet man, Henry.”

“Am I really?”

Will had dragged Henry all the way to the guest room. “You’re a bloody paragon. Now, go on, sleep it off. I suspect you’re going to have a right awful hangover in the morning.”

“Thank you, Mr. Darcy! Thank you, Miss Gardiner!” Henry collapsed on his bed. It appeared he was out cold, so Liz and Will shut the door quietly. As they made their way to retire for the evening, they heard Henry began a loud and completely inaccurate version of Queen’s Somebody to Love.

Liz was somewhat worried. “Do you think he’ll be alright?”

Will reassured her. “I imagine so. I’ve never known him to drink, this is a bit unusual, but I believe he’ll be alright.”

As they turned in for the night and got ready for bed, Liz and Will were each grateful that they’d each found somebody to love. More importantly, they realized every bit of good fortune that they had been able to recognize it when it happened.

~Home~

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~Next Chapter~

 

Creative Commons License Out of Reservations by michchick aka Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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