Dedicatedly Medicated

 

Elizabeth Bennet was lying in the backseat and mumbling incoherently. This was a highly unusual circumstance, as the pretty young woman was known for being well-spoken and, in fact, made her living giving speeches and presentations on behalf of the charity foundation she worked for. Today, however, she had just had all four of her wisdom teeth extracted at once, was still numb from the anesthetic and still had cotton stuffed in her mouth. All these inconveniences aside, Elizabeth was desperately trying to say something to her sister Jane, but she was not being understood.

“What’s that sweetie? I’m sorry Lizzy, I just can’t quite understand you,” Jane apologized as she drove her younger sister home from the oral surgeon.

Elizabeth groaned in frustration and decided it was best to just wait until she got home before trying to speak again.

Jane managed to get her still-woozy sister up the flight of stairs to her condo. “I don’t know why you can’t live in a building with an elevator.” Jane then laughed, “You do know that when you eventually move, we’re not hauling your junk down those stairs again? Nope, when the time comes, it’s all being chucked off the balcony.”

Elizabeth was shocked by Jane’s declaration and it showed in the wide-eyed look she shot her elder sister. Spitting out the cotton, she mumbled as best as her numbed lips could, “No!”

This sight drew a laugh from Jane. Elizabeth had always been the one with the ready quips and sharp wit while Jane had always been ready with soothing words of comfort and unceasing optimism. Recent events had tempered some of Jane’s spirit and she’d learned to view the world and it’s inhabitants a bit more critically than before. Jane was now a stronger person than she’d been a year ago. She’d even begun to find humor in teasing others and at the moment was enjoying doing so to her sister.

Jane helped her sister to the couch and smiled. “I can’t believe it! You really believed me!”

Elizabeth laid down and pulled the afghan off the back of the couch. She used one of her hands to try to feel her face. She still felt nothing. Trying not to drool on her pillow, she said as clearly as she could manage, “I didn’t. Not really.”

“Ha! You were never a good liar, Lizzy! I saw the look in your eye… you believed me, if only for a second!”

“Fine… I believed you. You’re not helping! This…” she patted her numb cheek, “is beginning to wear off! I’m supposed to have drugs or something, aren’t I?”

“Yes you are. In fact, I’ll be back very shortly. Was there anything else that you wanted from Walgreen’s?”

Elizabeth shook her head no, and Jane left after giving her assurance that she would be back very soon.

When Jane returned some twenty minutes later, Elizabeth was asleep. Jane, not wishing to disturb her, left a note along with a few goodies and the pills, kissed her forehead and then quietly left.

Sometime later, Elizabeth awoke in pain. She’d been warned. People had told her endless horror stories of how awful it would be to have all four wisdom teeth pulled at once, but Elizabeth had chosen to believe they were just meant to frighten her. Now she knew the stories were all true. Even the time when she was eight and had broken her arm when she’d fallen from a horse hadn’t hurt this bad!

She tried to sit up, but Elizabeth had moved too fast and became nauseous. She swallowed back the bile and, this time moving much slower, made a second, more successful, attempt to sit up. Still hazy, she called out for her sister, “Jane?” No one answered, as Jane had left several hours ago. She yelled a second time, “Jane! Are you still here?”

After a few moments with no reply, Elizabeth sighed as she realized she was on her own. Talking to herself, she said, “Well, Lizzy, I guess you’re on your own. Now where might Jane have left my pills?”

Spying the bag on the table, she grimaced at the thought that she’d have to get up from her comfy couch. She gave herself a mini pep-talk, “You can do this. Baby steps, Lizzy. Stand up, walk slowly, and try not to barf everywhere.”

 She stood and took a moment to gain her bearings. This was almost as bad as that time she, Jane and Charlotte had gotten drunk on that cruise in the Bahamas. Walking while seasick and inebriated was a piece of cake compared to how she felt now! Her progress was slow, but eventually she made it to her kitchen table. She sat down to read the note from Jane.

Lizzy- You poor thing! You were sound asleep when I got back and I didn’t have the heart to wake you! I got your pain pills and a few treats for you. There are Dove bars in the freezer and I got you some Jones Soda which is in the fridge. I know right about now you’d probably much rather have a nice glass of wine, but with these pills you’d really better not! Now, please be a good girl and take your pain pills like a good patient should. Oh! Before I forget, Will called and he’s got the details for Vegas and he said he’d be sending them to you in an e-mail. Three more weeks Lizzy! I just can’t wait! Anyways, I’ll give you a call later sweetie to see how you’re feeling! Remember- don’t make any important decisions for the next few days, the drugs they’ve given you are going to make you a little loopy. Anyways, I’m going home. Charlie and I will aren’t going out tonight and if you need us, just give us a call! I love you Lizzy! Smooches! –Jane

The note made Lizzy smile, which hurt so she stopped. “Ah, Jane! You’re always so good to me.” Elizabeth read the bottle of Tylenol 3 and the pamphlet that came with it. “Oh boy, codeine. What do we have here? Let’s see… ‘What is Tylenol with Codeine #3? Codeine is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers.’ Duh! So glad they take the time to tell me the obvious. What else… oh, this is good, ‘How should I take Tylenol with Codeine #3? Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label. Tell your doctor if the medication seems to stop working,’ Really? Who writes these things? What else… Yay! It can damage my liver, no alcohol, take with food or milk… drink water to avoid constipation?! Good lord! What other side effects does this stuff have? Hmm… ‘Acetaminophen and codeine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.’ Great. What else… ah, here they are… ‘Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects: shallow breathing, slow heartbeat; feeling light-headed, fainting, confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior; seizure; easy bruising or bleeding ; nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools and jaundice’. Oh my! ‘Less serious side effects include: feeling dizzy or drowsy; mild nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, constipation; headache; blurred vision; dry mouth’.”

Elizabeth considered just going without the pain pills, but the throbbing in her jaw was so painful that worshipping the porcelain gods or suffering cotton-mouth seemed infinitely better than remaining in agony. She grabbed one of the lemon sodas Jane had left and took her two prescribed pills and headed to bed. Her head had barely hit the pillow when she began to drift into dreamland. It was three in the morning when Elizabeth woke next. There had been no noise which disturbed her sleep, nor was she hungry or restless, yet she was agitated. Her dreams had been confusing and wonderful all at the same time.  Lying in bed, trying desperately to get back to her dream, she found she couldn’t.

“Great! This is just what I need. I suppose while I’m up, I ought to make the best of it,” she muttered as she rose from her bed. Elizabeth stopped in front of her dresser mirror and gasped. She lightly rubbed her jawline. “God! I look like a blowfish! At least the pills seem to be working.”

She padded out to the kitchen and took another dose of pain medication, just as prescribed. Afterwards, she grabbed a fresh lemon soda and sat down to her computer to read through her e-mails.

One of the things Elizabeth liked about living alone was that her schedule was her own. No one else would be disturbed if she couldn’t sleep, or care if she slept in or even if she left a towel on the bathroom floor. Of course, Elizabeth’s bathroom was always immaculate, but she liked the idea that she could, if she was so inclined, leave a towel where she liked and certain people who were known for their fastidiousness would never be able to say a thing about it. Another thing she enjoyed was how when she talked to herself, no one was there to bear witness to her inane ramblings.

She opened the latest message from Charlotte. Elizabeth read through the brief note which served to announce her engagement to the most ridiculous man there ever was. “Dear God, no! You can’t marry that loser!” Elizabeth hit reply and wrote a very frank reply that told her oldest friend exactly what she thought about her choice of life partner.

Next, Elizabeth opened up a note from her mom. “Really, Mom? No, Bill Gates is not going to send you any money for spamming everyone you know with junk, chain e-mails.” Elizabeth replied to her mom’s mail, giving a very colorfully worded, in-depth explanation of just how annoying opening a chain e-mail is.

Elizabeth was feeling great and was beginning to wonder what the big deal had been about having her surgery in the first place. “I should have had this done years ago!”

Elizabeth plowed through a few more messages, replying in an uncharacteristically candid fashion to each of them. She e-mailed her boss, a few friends, several of her sisters, Jane’s fiancé Charlie, and even her Pastor, whom, thankfully, she only had nice things to say about.

She had cleared all but one e-mail from her inbox. Elizabeth stared at it, willing it to disappear or go away. Knowing that was absurd and realizing she was being childish, she clicked on the subject line that said ‘Vegas info for J&C’ from ‘FGDarcy’.

Lizzy-

Your sister said you were having your wisdom teeth pulled today. I’m sorry. I imagine that hurts terribly and I hope that you soon feel better.

Anyways, I know that you’ve been busy lately, so I hope that you won’t mind that I’ve taken the liberty of booking a block of rooms for everyone for the wedding. I’ve arranged for what I hope is a nice suite for your sister and Charlie and another ten rooms for everyone else on another floor. As airfare is rather expensive and with all the luggage restrictions from the airlines, I hope you won’t find it too presumptuous, but I’ve arranged for one of my company’s planes to ferry everyone to Nevada. Unless you think this is a bad idea… of course anyone who would like to travel separate is free to do so… but the plane is available all the same. As the rehearsal is scheduled for Friday morning, it’s my suggestion that everyone ought to try to arrive on Thursday so no one feels overly rushed. What do you think? Charlie seems to have no idea about anything, so I’m looking to the only sensible person (as your sister seems as harried as my friend) I know involved in this affair for help!

Charlie tells me that your sister has told him over and over that she trusts him as far as the bachelor party is concerned, yet he’s told me that he gets the distinct impression that she’s greatly concerned. He begs me to ask you to assure Jane that we’ll only be playing golf, which is true. We have an early afternoon tee-time and that’s the reason the rehearsal’s been scheduled so early. Yes, there will be some beer that goes along with the golf, but that really is all. Charlie and Jane have been through too much (yes, I know, much of it was my fault) for me to let him head to the altar hungover. Besides, I’ve endured the wrath of two Bennet sisters now and have no desire to raise the ire of either one ever again! So, you can safely inform your dear sister that, as Best Man, I promise that Charlie will be kept safe from any ‘sin’ in Sin City prior to the wedding. Now, Charlie would be the happiest groom-to-be ever if only I could give him similar reassurances about what you have planned for his ‘angel’.  

Lastly, Charlie had been lamenting that they wouldn’t be able to take a proper honeymoon because of work obligations. I think this is ridiculous. I can easily arrange to have Charlie’s schedule cleared for up to two weeks and was wondering if you think it possible for something similar to be arranged for your sister. If you think your father could spare Jane for that amount of time, I would like to provide them with a proper honeymoon to somewhere. Where do you think would be a romantic place to send them? I honestly have no idea. Knowing your sister as you do, I’m sure you must have some idea where we could send them. Please, I really would like to do something nice for the two of them, especially since I’ve been such a jerk in the past.

Anyways, I’ve droned on too long I think and all I have left to say is that I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Feel better Lizzy.

Yours,

-Fitzwilliam G. Darcy      

 Lizzy immediately wrote the following reply:

My dearest Fitzwilliam-

Have I ever told you that I really, really like your name? I don’t think I have! Well, I do! It’s kinda old-fashioned but it has a strength and masculinity to it that seems to suit you perfectly. Thanks for asking after me and my teeth. It was really sweet of you! They yanked ‘em right out and I feel really great now. I actually don’t think I’ve ever felt better!

Thank you for taking care of the hotel. Are you sure that we need so many rooms? Carrie=1, Lou & Grant=2 (hey, that’s funny! I never noticed that together they make Lou Grant! Get it? Mary Tyler Moore!), mom & dad=3, Char & that idiot of hers=4, my sisters Marnie & Kate=5, that bitch Carrie=6, Lila and that jerk-face are NOT invited, and then all that’s left is Charlie and Jane and me and you. We can easily cut out two rooms if we share. lol! I don’t mean “WE” we, I mean me and Jane and you and Charlie until the wedding and then you see that cuts out two rooms because we shared. Not that “WE” would share a room… because you’d never want to share a room with me after I was such a bitch to you. “ WE”… sharing a room… I wish! But, anyways, I think there are too many rooms anyways and not so many would be needed if we were to share.  

As for the plane, that would be great! I don’t mind you taking any liberties at all! In fact, take all you want! I’m really looking forward to flying away with you! Oh, and everybody else too. Thank you for your very generous offer. You are too kind. So very, very and really kind. I think it’s very fitting that your title for the wedding is ‘Best Man’ because it’s true! You are really and truly the best man there ever was and I am obviously pretty stupid that I didn’t see that before. Anyways, I think that I need to apologize in advance for the antics of my family. Marnie will try to act like she’s not impressed while Kate won’t shut up and will likely flirt outrageously with you and any other men there might be. My mom and dad will also likely be really embarrassing and I’m sorry. In fact, because all of my stupid family will be on the plane, maybe you’ll take another flight to avoid us altogether. I know if I were you, that’s what I’d probably do!

As for a romantic honeymoon… I have no idea what they might like but I’ve always thought that somewhere with white sandy beaches and crystal blue water would be heavenly. It’s actually funny that you asked me what I thought because I was actually dreaming about such a place tonight. I was swimming in the really warm water and then I came to our towels on the beach and then you made some smart remark about my very white legs scaring away all the fish, which was especially funny since we were both very tan from spending so much time on that very beach. So yeah, I think perhaps somewhere warm and sunny would be good to send them. I’ll have dad arrange for Jane to have some time off and you can do the same for Charlie. I think it’s very sweet of you to do this for them and when you decide where you’re going to send them, let me know so I can help out too. I think it’s a great idea and it could be from both of us. “Us” is a weird word, don’t you think? I wonder where the word came from, though I’m sure you probably know because you’re far and away the smartest guy I know. You’re actually the guy who’s the most of most everything! Most smart, most nice, most best dressed, most blue eyes, most best hair, most cutest dimples- I really do like your dimples! most cute butt, most cute everything!

 Anyways… I think that’s everything I needed to say to the very Best Man! (I really mean it- you are!) I hope to see you soon and am looking forward to standing up with you at the altar- for Charlie and Jane, I mean.

See you soon!

Love always,

 -Lizzy Darcy

Elizabeth hit the spell-check button but ignored all the suggested changes. She was confident that she said all she wished to and clicked send without first re-reading any of her letter. Still not yet sleepy, she busied herself by watching cats playing piano on YouTube until her chat icon blinked.

“Who else is suffering from insomnia?” she wondered aloud as she clicked open her chat window.

FGDarcy: Are you alright Lizzy?

“Of course I’m alright! Why would he think I’m not alright?”

lizzy-bennet: Perfectly fine. Why?

FGDarcy: It’s really quite late, and you’re still up…

lizzy-bennet: So are you! I slept a lot today and can’t get back to the dream I was having.

FGDarcy: You remember your dreams?

lizzy-bennet: Yeah. Don’t you?

FGDarcy: Sometimes, but not often enough for my liking.

lizzy-bennet: That’s really too bad. But why are you up?

FGDarcy: Can’t sleep.

lizzy-bennet: Why not?

FGDarcy: Can’t say.

lizzy-bennet: Can’t or won’t?

FGDarcy: Both.

lizzy-bennet: Hmm. You’re such a mystery.

FGDarcy: Glad to hear it. For a moment I feared I was an open book.

lizzy-bennet: You are a strange, strange man Fitzwilliam.

FGDarcy: Were you joking earlier?

lizzy-bennet: Joking? About what? I don’t recall any jokes.

FGDarcy: About my name. You said in your message that you liked it and I couldn’t tell if you were serious or making fun of me. You don’t really like it, do you?

lizzy-bennet: Why would I joke about your name? I love your name! I even love to say your name… Fitzwilliam. I like how saying the ‘z’ tickles my tongue when I say it! In fact, I’m saying it right now! Fitzzzzwilliam!

FGDarcy: Stop it Lizzy!

lizzy-bennet: Stop what? Hey! Did you realize both of our names have ‘z’ in them? Does my name tickle your tongue too?

FGDarcy: You really need to stop it Lizzy!

lizzy-bennet: Stop what Fitzwilliam? What am I doing that’s annoying you now?

FGDarcy: You never annoy me Lizzy, and therein lies the problem!

lizzy-bennet: What problem? I think you’re the one not making sense.

FGDarcy: Probably not. Please Lizzy, I think you need some sleep. You’re obviously not thinking clearly.

lizzy-bennet: I would love to sleep, but in fact I can’t! I think I’m going to go for a drive and get some breakfast at that 24-hr place around the corner.

FGDarcy: NO!! DON’T DO THAT!!

lizzy-bennet: STOP SHOUTING AT ME!

FGDarcy: Sorry! Please, please, please don’t go out. I’m up, I’m wide-awake. If you want something, I’d be happy to go and get it for you.

lizzy-bennet: Really?

FGDarcy: Really. Now, what do you want?

lizzy-bennet: Ham and cheese omelet, hash browns and a Mountain Dew.

FGDarcy: Yes to the omelet and hashbrowns, no to the Dew.

lizzy-bennet: What do you mean no Dew? I want some Dew!

FGDarcy: You need sleep, not a blast of sugar and caffeine! I promise I’ll bring you something that you’ll like. Will you trust me?

lizzy-bennet: Of course I love you!

lizzy-bennet: ***trust

FGDarcy: I knew what you meant. I’ve got my keys and I’m heading out the door now. I’ll be there shortly Lizzy. For the record, I ***trust you too. See you in a few Lizzy. Bye.

-FGDarcy is offline-    

Elizabeth was having another very pleasant, extremely realistic dream. She dreamt she was lying in Darcy’s arms and she was so adept in her visualization that she could feel him, she could even smell him- so real was her dream. Then she felt his breath on her neck and she slowly opened up her eyes to find her dream was, in fact, reality. He was tucked in the corner of her sectional sofa with his legs pointing in the opposite direction of her own. To say that Elizabeth was surprised that he, of all people, should be holding her in such a way would be a gross understatement!

How had he come to be here? More importantly, why had he come here? Obviously, she had invited him. She knew Darcy to be capable of many things, but breaking and entering weren’t amongst his known talents. Elizabeth became more aware of her position. As his arms were wrapped around her waist and shoulders, she found her own were wrapped around his chest. Her head was nestled under his chin, against that said same chest which she found to be very strong. She tried to lift her head, but Darcy’s left hand gently pressed her head back into place while he murmured, “Shh, Lizzy, you need some more sleep.” Elizabeth thought this to be a most sensible idea and since he seemed unwilling to let her go from his arms, she snuggled back into position and was once again sleeping soundly.

The next time she awoke, her mouth was sore again and she was being carefully shifted from her comfortable spot in Darcy’s arms. When he caught her watching him, he smiled and said, “Good morning, sleepyhead. How are you feeling this morning?”

“Good morning to you too, Fi… ah… Will.” Elizabeth couldn’t believe she’d nearly called him by his full name. No one ever called Will Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth found it to be a shame. She thought it had much more character. Anyone at all could be a plain old Will, but only Darcy could pull off a name like Fitzwilliam! Darcy tucked the afghan around Elizabeth’s shoulders and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. As he did so, he gently stroked her hair and Elizabeth was pretty certain that if he kept that up such ministrations, she’d have no need for any more pain pills.

As though he could read her mind, Darcy said, “Well Lizzy, I imagine it’s probably well-past time for you to take another pain pill. Excuse me for a moment and I’ll go get that for you.”

Before she could protest, he was gone. Elizabeth thought, ‘Not exactly gone- he’s ten feet away from you! Why, oh, why do I suddenly want to call him Fitzwilliam? What on earth is he doing here anyways, and why is he being so nice? Why does he have to be so nice? If only he could still be a jerk like before, then knowing you can’t have him would be a lot easier. Then again, if he was still a jerk, I wouldn’t really want him then, would I? No, he was never a jerk. That was me. Oh well… at least I got to wake up in his arms at least this once. Why does he have to smell so nice and look so good in the morning? Stop it Lizzy!’

Darcy came back to the couch and sat down next to her on the floor. “One pill as the doctor ordered and a small glass of milk to make sure it doesn’t rot your stomach.”

Elizabeth propped up on one elbow and felt her cheek with the other hand. She was still very puffy and sore. All she could hope was that perhaps the swelling wasn’t as bad as before and that maybe she wasn’t yet bruised. She took the pill and milk, thanking him for both. He returned the glass to the sink and asked if there was anything else he could do for her.

“You’ve already done so much.” She then remembered something Jane said. “Will? Did you have a chance to e-mail about the wedding? Jane said you would send some info.”

Elizabeth watched Darcy’s face change from concern for her to alarm. His voice sounded strange when he asked, “You don’t recall reading any e-mail last night?”

“No, I’m afraid not. Why?”

“I know that you read mine. You replied to it, actually.” Darcy was now pacing back and forth and she was getting dizzy watching him.

She begged him, “Can you please stand still?”  Darcy stopped and Elizabeth said, “Thank you.”

“Lizzy, I think I ought to get going now… but first, I think that you need to check through your e-mail and see who else you might have e-mailed last night.”

Elizabeth threw off her blanket and stood to say good-bye. “Thanks for coming, Will. I really appreciate it.”

Darcy sighed. He’d had his suspicions about her earlier behavior, but he had to know for certain. “You’re welcome Lizzy. I have to ask, you don’t remember much of earlier this morning, do you?”

“No Will, I have to admit that…that I don’t really remember how you came to be here.” Elizabeth turned red and buried her face in her hands in an attempt to hide her complete mortification. “I’m so sorry, Will. Obviously, you have better places to be than here with me. Thanks for coming anyways.”

She looked so sad and forlorn that he could hardly bear it. Darcy stepped closer and lightly traced her swollen jaw. He then gently lifted her chin so she would have to meet his gaze. All the frustration and pent-up longing were clearly evident for her to see. He would lay everything out- his heart, his hopes, his wishes- once more. “Lizzy… do you really not know? There is no better place for me anywhere besides being here with you. But…”

Elizabeth could hardly account for what he was saying. What exactly had happened earlier that morning? “Oh no… what ‘but’? Why does there have to be a ‘but’? Tell me.”

Darcy knew that what he had to say would no doubt hurt her. If there was one thing that Elizabeth prided herself on, it was her ability to always remain in control of any situation. She would not like this, but he chose to hope all would be well. “The ‘but’ is that you’re on some medication that you’re obviously unaccustomed to, and, consequently, you were rather out of your head this morning.”

Her eyes opened wide at the possible implications. “Define ‘out of my head’. Please?”

What could he say? That when he arrived with her breakfast she’d practically thrown herself at him? No. That was a memory he would keep for himself. Should he tell her that she’d been a shameless flirt and had begged him not to leave? No. He would never have left her in such a frenzied state of mind, no matter what. Could he tell her she’d said, both online and in person that she loved him? No. He only wanted to hear those precious words from her when he could be sure that she would actually recall saying them. Finally, he thought of something that would suffice for an explanation. “You IM’d me that saying my name tickles your tongue.”

Elizabeth’s hand flew to her mouth. Was this the reason why when she woke she had to fight the urge to call him Fitzwilliam? She couldn’t believe she’d been so bold! In fact, she flatly tried to deny it, “I did not!”

Darcy had to fight not to smile. “Oh yes, you most certainly did. In fact, you went even further to point out that our names both have the letter ‘z’ in them. You replied to my email about Vegas as well. I think perhaps if you’d like to understand what I mean, you might start with taking a look at your computer.”

Unsure what she should do, she asked, “Will you stay?”

“If that’s what you wish, I’ll stay.”

At that moment, what she wished for most was to have never taken those damn pills! But, since she could not un-take them, Elizabeth said, “Please stay.”

She sat down to her computer and indicated for Darcy to grab a chair as well. “I’m sorry. I’m a very bad host this morning. Would you care for anything? I believe I have some bread… and maybe some eggs. I remember that Jane left some Dove bars.”

“Thank you anyways, but I’m not really hungry. We’ve already had breakfast, Lizzy. You were hungry and I brought over some food from the diner that you were craving.”

 At least one mystery was now solved. “Really? You did that for me. That’s so sweet.”

He waved off her compliment. He didn’t want her gratitude anymore now than he did before. No, he wanted something infinitely more dear to him than her gratitude. “Lizzy, you were stoned on your pills. It was pretty clear you probably shouldn’t be driving.” He picked up the bottle from the table and pointed to one of the warnings. “See? Even the pills agree with me.”

If he was going to play light about their situation, so would she. “Of course they do. Doesn’t everyone always agree with you?”

Darcy looked at her pointedly and said, “No.”

Feeling sheepish, Elizabeth turned to her laptop and tabbed onto her email program. She began to feel a great deal of alarm when she noticed that she’d cleared her entire inbox overnight. What had she done?

“Good lord Will! What on earth was I thinking?”

Assuming the worst, he braced himself and asked, “About what? What’s the problem Lizzy?”

“I told Charlotte she’d be better off being an old maid than marry her windbag sack of sorries. What does that even mean?”

“You mentioned something in your email, but I wasn’t aware your friend had become engaged. Last I recall she was seeing that Collins guy.”

“Yep. That’s him.”

“Somehow ‘windbag sack of sorries’ seems appropriate. I take it you answered several emails?”

“This is worse than having been drunk! I guess I thought I was fine or else I don’t imagine I’d have even attempted such a thing.” She scanned through her outbox, checking out how much damage she’d wrought. “Oh my God! I emailed my Pastor.”

Hiding his amusement behind his hand, Darcy asked, “What did you say?”

“Thankfully, I only told him that I really ought to attend church more and that we need to sing less dull hymns. I seemed to have made a case for playing Stairway to Heaven during a service about avarice.”

“No! You wouldn’t have…” Will protested until the look on her face told him otherwise.

“You can see for yourself if you like. It seems my stupidity knows no bounds. Those pills seemed to have turned off the filter in my brain that says, ‘Hey Lizzy, that would be a bad idea, don’t say that!’”

Hopeful, Darcy asked, “Do you at least personally believe the things you wrote?”

“That’s the thing. I do. These are the thoughts I think, but I still shouldn’t have told my sister that she needs to quit being such a moralizing know-it-all.”

“Marnie?”

“Yeah. I also yelled at my mom, Kate, Lila and I even ripped Charlie a new one for not being man enough to stand up to you in the first place. Seems I doubted his manhood and whether or not he was even a real man at all. I told him he needed to grow a pair.”

“You did? What else did you say?”

 She could hardly tell him that she wrote that Charlie should to look to Fitzwilliam if he wanted to see a fine example of all that a true man is. “Not much. I just threatened him a lot about needing to take good care of my sister.”

Darcy touched her arm to reassure her. “He will. If he doesn’t, I’ll kill him myself. His wishy-washiness has already cost me enough.”

“I stopped blaming you for that a long time ago. Charlie is a grown man. Well, almost-grown anyways. When a man knows what he wants, if others can talk him so easily out of it, he must not have wanted it too much in the first place.”

“But your sister deserved to be treated better than that. I’m sorry.”

“She did, you’re right, but she loves him and you’re forgetting that love can help you overcome almost anything.”

“Do you believe that’s true?” Darcy hopefully asked.

She knew he was looking right at her, but she couldn’t face him, at least not yet. “I don’t know. I sure hope so.”

Darcy wondered how many more e-mails she had to go through. The suspense was killing him. Elizabeth was writing short notes of apology and explanations where she thought they might make a difference. Finally, everything else had been attended to and she could focus on the mess she’d made with Darcy. She opened the message from him first and was touched by the concern he’d expressed and how thoughtful he was towards making the trip out west for the wedding as easy on everyone as possible.

If there had been any lingering doubt in her mind that he was the best of men, with his note it was once and for all forgotten. She stole a quick glance his way, half expecting him to be watching her as he’d done so often before… but he was not. Instead, he was sitting back a little from the table and intently playing with a loose button-hole thread on his oxford. It was taking all the patience he had left to simply sit still and await whatever would happen. He was a bundle of nervous energy and as much as he wanted to get up and pace back-and-forth as was his wont, Darcy knew that would only make her all the more nervous. There was already so much at stake that he decided it would be for the best of he just sat still.

He knew the moment Elizabeth began to read her response to his e-mail. The audible gasp gave her away. Darcy kept pulling the thread and willed himself not to look at her until she said something. At last, she said, “You said we’d been instant messaging?”

His bright blue eyes met her deep brown ones. “Yes. I know on my machine, if I don’t clear the cache, it keeps everything.” Darcy looked down again. “That is, if you were curious.”

She turned her focus back to her browser. The chat window had not been closed after all. Elizabeth read through the messages and wondered if it was possible to actually die from embarrassment. Perhaps she’d been possessed? Had Kate or Lila somehow broken in and impersonated her? No… it had been no one else but Elizabeth. As much as she’d liked to have lain the blame solely with the prescription drugs, she knew she couldn’t do that either. Everything she wrote was true and she, and now Darcy, knew it too.

Elizabeth closed her laptop, signaling to Darcy that she was finished.

Darcy waited for her to say something. She didn’t. Unable to wait any longer, he asked, “How are you?”

She closed her eyes momentarily, trying to think of something clever to say. Nothing came. “I guess I’m as good as anyone can be who just completely humiliated themselves. I’m amazed that you haven’t called the men in the little white coats to come and get me.”

Darcy frowned and crossed his arms. Enough was enough already! Tersely, he asked, “And why exactly would I do that?”

Elizabeth shrugged, “Because I’m nuts?”

“That’s hardly the case, and we both know it. You are a very truthful, sometimes painfully so, person. In fact, it’s one of the first things I loved about you. True, you were decidedly less eloquent than normal, but that’s completely understandable given the circumstances. Your friends, and the people who have put their faith and trust in you, will all understand. And those that don’t? They aren’t worth your time.”

She shook her head in disbelief. “You’re being awfully nice about everything Will.”

What Darcy said next took her by surprise. “No, I’m not.” He reached over and held her hand. “Truthfully, I’m being really very selfish. This feels like my last opportunity and I’m not going to let it go without trying again. Tell me Lizzy, do you really like my name?”

Her heart skipped a beat. She confessed, “Yes. I really do.”

This was it, all or nothing. Darcy tried not to think about the disaster of last time. So much had happened since then. Sometimes, life involves risk. Knowing this, he asked, “And you truly like me as well?”

Elizabeth squeezed his hand and said, “Yes. I really do.”

“And you trust me?”

Her heart was beating very rapidly and, for a moment, she wondered if it was another side effect of the codeine. Elizabeth quickly swept that thought aside when she realized that Darcy had always made her heart beat fast. “Fitzwilliam, yes, I really do trust you. And yes, you needn’t even ask, I really do love you.”

Elizabeth always had found Darcy to be the most handsome man she knew, but the look of sheer happiness which now appeared upon his face only made him more so. Darcy stood and, with a grin, pulled Elizabeth into his arms. “Then if I tell you again that I truly love you, you’re not going to tell me to ‘go to hell’ this time?”

Mortified by her former sentiments, Elizabeth buried her face into his chest. While Darcy very much enjoyed having her safely tucked in his embrace in such a way, he longed to hear her answer and so he gently (ever mindful of her bruises and swelling) lifted her chin so he could see into her face. Blushing from his touch, Elizabeth plucked up her courage to meet his gaze. “No, Fitzwilliam, never again. I love you and I am so sorry for the things I’ve said in the past.”

“A very wise woman, very beautiful too, once told me ‘think of the past only to remember the good’. I think we would both do well to take her advice.”

Elizabeth recalled perfectly that day she’d been spouting that nonsense, mostly to aggravate Darcy and see if she could get him good and angry. He never did. Always the perfect gentleman, he caught her out and said he believed she took great joy in playing devil’s advocate, which she did, of course. It pleased Elizabeth immensely that he remembered their shared conversations the same as she did.

She smiled, knowing full well she was the very wise woman he’d mentioned, and said, “You think I’m beautiful?”

He carefully stroked her cheek. “Beautiful doesn’t even come close. I truly love you, Lizzy, more that I can ever say. But…”

 Elizabeth cried in alarm, “No! No more buts…”

Darcy shook his head and tsk-tsked, “What a shame… yours is lovely.”

A now bright-red Elizabeth exclaimed, “Darcy!”

“What happened to Fitzwilliam?”

“Fitzwilliam is the sweet man who takes care of me and doesn’t frustrate me… Darcy is the teasing man I want to punch in the arm!”And Elizabeth did just that.

Rubbing his bicep, Darcy grinned. “Did you want to hear what I had to say, or should I just go?”

Elizabeth wondered briefly if all women sometimes wished to strangle the men they loved, or was this a unique characteristic exclusive to Darcy? While she knew she likely wouldn’t like what he had to say, she liked even less the thought of him leaving. “Please continue.”

Darcy reclaimed her hand. “As I was saying before, I love you Lizzy, and I’m glad you said you loved me too. But… before we get carried away, I want to know that you have a clear head and know what you’re about. I wouldn’t be able to stand it if you came to regret me.”

“Fitzwilliam Darcy, the only way I’d ever regret you is if you go and walk out of that door before you get it through that thick skull of yours that I love you and I probably always have! I’ve spent the last six months kicking myself for mucking things up so badly. I regret what I said then, not what I said now. I love you, you goofy fool, and, drugs or not, you need to believe me because whether you come back tomorrow, next week or next year, that fact won’t change. I love you Fitzwilliam. Trust me.”

He did trust her and he said so. They shared their first kiss and while many first kisses are magical and full of promise, theirs was not. Indeed, their first kiss was a reflection of their relationship to date, awkward, somewhat painful, but well-meaning nonetheless. Though Darcy was as gentle as he could be, her jaw still ached and the kiss, chaste as it was, still hurt.

Elizabeth rubbed her sore jaw. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure whether I should laugh or cry!”

Darcy pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I promise, in a few days I’ll make it up to you.”

Unable to resist, she teased, “Ah, there it is! That Darcy pride. I was wondering when it might return.”

He held her tight and whispered. “But don’t you see Lizzy? You are my pride now, and my joy. Fault me for it if you must, but don’t deny me it.”

She found she could never deny him anything and as he only did things with her in mind, they were exceedingly happy together.

Darcy and Elizabeth spent all their free time leading up to Jane and Charlie’s wedding together. They paid for and arranged a two-week honeymoon trip to some remote Bahamian island with white sandy beaches and clear, blue water, just as Elizabeth had suggested. Elizabeth had also been correct that ten rooms had been excessive for the needs of the Bingley wedding party alone.

Yet, in the end, all ten rooms were occupied.

As the time drew near to go west for the wedding, Darcy began to make plans of his own. He and Elizabeth had discussed marriage and they knew they would marry, and more likely sooner than later. It had actually been Elizabeth who had proposed this time, teasing Darcy that she was only doing so to save his ego from having to suffer the indignity of asking twice.

Friday the rehearsal went off without a hitch, and everyone seemed to know what they were supposed to do well enough. Then the guys and girls separated to celebrate the bride and groom’s last day of freedom. The men made a poor showing on the green. Darcy fared the best, with a score of 139. Mr. Bennet shot 148, Collins 167 and Bingley, whose idea it had been in the first place, was the worst with a tally of 186. They finished up with a few rounds of beers at the clubhouse with nary a one of the party getting into the tiniest bit of trouble, just as Darcy had promised.

The ladies headed a bit further into the desert for a day of pampering at an exclusive spa where they were treated to heated stone therapies, mud baths, facials and massages, all while sipping on champagne. Rejuvenated, the ladies returned to the hotel completely refreshed and ready for the events of the next day.

On Saturday morning, just as Darcy and Elizabeth were returning from breakfast, Elizabeth poked Darcy in the ribs and asked, “Isn’t that your Aunt and Uncle? Oh, and Brent? I wonder what they could be doing here.”

Darcy suppressed a smile. “Suppose we go find out. Shall we?”

They crossed the lobby and found not only the Fitzwilliams, but Darcy’s sister Georgiana as well.

As Elizabeth hugged the girl who would soon be her sister, she said, “I’m so glad to see you Georgie! What on earth brings all of you to Vegas?”

Georgie was about to answer when she caught sight of her brother standing behind his fiancé, shaking his head vehemently. She’d almost forgotten the surprise! “Uncle Max and Aunt Barb wanted to come and see Barry Manilow… and they didn’t want to leave me under the care of,” she pointed to Brent, “this reprobate, so they brought us along.”

“Gee, Georgie,” Brent quipped, “I’m feeling so loved here!”

Darcy laughed, “You are a reprobate and you are well aware of that fact! All the same, it’s great to see you.” He turned and greeted the rest of his small family, “It’s great to see all of you.”

Uncle Max coughed and said, “Plenty of time for a reunion later! Right now, there’ll be hell to pay if I don’t get something to eat. With all the money you pay to fly these days, you’d think the airlines could afford to give a man a decent meal or at least something edible! We’ll see you two lovebirds later on, after my stomach stops rumbling.”

Darcy’s family headed to the restaurant while Elizabeth tried, unsuccessfully, to pry information out of him. “You didn’t seem all that surprised to see your only living relatives in the whole world here at the very same hotel that we just happen to be staying at on the other side of the country. Is there something you wish to tell me, Fitzwilliam?”

He loved how since the morning they’d come clean about their feelings for one another she’d taken to calling him Fitzwilliam. Darcy had never cared for his name, finding it rather stifling formal and overbearing. Yet somehow it was entirely different when he heard his name like a caress from her lips. He was thinking about how his name had sounded coming from her that morning when they had lingered in bed when his reverie broke because her fist contacted his arm as she sharply said, “Darcy!”

Darcy rubbed his arm and guiltily smiled. “What?”

“Why is your family really here?”

“You heard them. They’ve come for Barry Manilow. It’s very tragic… you see, my aunt suffers greatly from Fanilow Fever.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes and tried to repress her smile. “Fitzwilliam, be serious! Are you telling me they really came all the way here to see some aged musician sing Copacabana?”   

“Shh! Lizzy, never, ever disparage Barry! His fans get pretty rabid about him… if they heard you, it could start a riot!”

She laughed as they entered the elevator. “Fine! Have your secrets.”

“I’ll never have any secrets from you. My family, if you must know, has come to town to see a wedding.”

“But they barely know Charlie and they’ve never met Jane.”

“True. But they do know us.”

“Us?”

Darcy nodded. “Right. Us. As in you and me… we… us. Together… legally and forever. What do you say, Lizzy? Marry me now, marry me here, marry me today?”

She wanted to say “yes” more than anything, but she couldn’t. She refused to be the one to ruin her sister’s big day by usurping the attention Jane deserved. Her mother would never forgive her! Drawing a deep breath, she prayed he’d understand, “Would tomorrow be too late?”

He crossed his arms and leaned against the elevator handrail. “Yes.”

“Why?” Elizabeth pleaded, “Don’t you understand? I can’t take Jane’s special day away from her… I can’t do that to her!”

Seeing that she was well and truly upset, he pulled her into his arms and stroked her hair in the way he knew always calmed her. “You’re not taking anything away from Jane. In fact, I have it on the very best authority that she’ll be very angry with you if we don’t do this today.”

He wasn’t making any sense to her. “What do you mean by that? What authority are you talking about?”

Just then, the elevator door opened to their floor where Jane was waiting with a garment bag in hand. Jane yelled, “Surprise!”

Elizabeth’s hands flew to her face as happy tears ran down her cheeks. She looked from Jane to Darcy and when they both nodded in response to her unasked question, Elizabeth threw her arms around Darcy and said, “Yes! I’ll marry you now, here, today!”

“Thank God! Now, I’m going to leave you,” he nodded to Jane, “in your sister’s very capable hands and I’ll see you at the chapel in just a little while. I love you, Lizzy.”

Elizabeth replied, “I love you, Fitzwilliam.”

They shared a kiss good-bye before they went their separate ways. Darcy and Bingley had a few last-minute details to go over while Jane explained to her sister just how they had come to share their wedding day.

“So, Darcy was whining.” Jane told her story as she tamed Elizabeth’s hair into a dramatic up-do, “Charlie swears he was whining, that you and he would have to wait months before you could manage to get everyone together and have everything organized to get married. Then Charlie said it was a shame we all couldn’t share the same day. I guess the more they thought about it, the better it sounded. They asked me and, of course, I said ‘yes’. As a bonus, everyone but Mom knows. There’s still time to get some action on just what her reaction’s going to be. Odds are favoring a fainting spell, but I think she’s going to shout about her nerves.”  

“Just how long have we been in Vegas? Listen to you- action and odds, indeed!” Elizabeth could hardly believe her good fortune and had to ask once more, “So, this is all really okay with you?”

“I wouldn’t have this day any other way.” Jane, with a twinkle in her eye, then added, “Besides, if one’s going to practically elope, what better place is there to do it besides Vegas?”

Elizabeth defended their actions. “We’re not eloping… we’re just marrying suddenly.”

“Easy! I didn’t mean to offend you. I have to laugh though, Lizzy, because there’s absolutely nothing sudden about you and Darcy. You two are great together and I know that you’ll be very happy together.”

She fought more happy tears in an attempt to not ruin her makeup. “And I know you and Charlie will be, too.”

That afternoon, in front of all the people who mattered most to them, Jane Bennet married Charles Bingley in the same ceremony that forever joined Elizabeth Bennet to Fitzwilliam Darcy. As time went on, the Bingleys were sickeningly sweet in their shared marital bliss, often making those around them slightly nauseated. Nine months after their tropical honeymoon, they expanded their family when they welcomed their first son into the world. The Bingley’s made excellent, if indulgent, parents and they were proclaimed to be the nicest family anyone could ever imagine.

The Darcys were a slightly different matter. Whenever two passionate, headstrong individuals make a conscious decision to conjoin their lives, there will always be some difficulties to overcome. Things were not always easy between Elizabeth and Darcy, but they knew and remembered that, above all things, they loved (and ***trusted) one another. The Darcys also added to their family and, as different as their opinions varied about many things, they were of one mind when it came to raising children. They spent many happy, wonderful years together as man and wife.

It was obvious to all that Elizabeth loved her husband just as fiercely as he loved her. But on those occasions when he was more Darcy than Fitzwilliam, she often teased him that she had to have been on drugs when she said she loved him. He couldn’t deny it, and they would share a good laugh about their auspicious beginning knowing that their ending would be happy-ever-after.

The End!

 

~Home~ 

 
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Dedicatedly Medicated by michchick aka Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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