"Charlotte i'm going to need you to meet me at the CVS on Walker ASAP."
Stomach churning, her fingers hover over the buttons on her phone but she hits send. She's working on pacing a beaten pathway across the floorboards of her bedroom, their bedroom, his and her bedroom. Her brain is incapable of quantifying and being exact right now.
Her phone chimes and she reads Charlotte's reply: "why? what's up?"
Lizzie shakily tries to tap out a response, an answer: "because i think i might be pregnant."
She doesn't think about it at first. Really she doesn't. She's busy playing maid of honor and planning Jane and Bing's wedding. She's got Lydia to wrestle into a bridesmaid dress, her mother to keep off Jane's back and out of the arraignments while doing so on the phone, and Jane can't decide on a cake flavor because she doesn't want to make anyone upset.
Stressful is the nicest adjective she could use to describe her current life.
So Lizzie doesn't think when she doesn't get her period. It happens. She's had it happen before when she was still getting her graduate degree. Her cycle's never even been that consistent anyway. She passes it off as stress and sleeps soundly tucked under Darcy's shoulder in bed, wedding plans strewn about on their coffee table.
It's only after Jane and Bing's engagement party that she realizes it's now month number two.
Jane kisses her goodbye and hugs her tight and tells her thank-you about ten times. Bing's arms around her nearly lift her off the floor with his hug. They're cute.
"Now you can relax a bit," Darcy breathes out into her hair where he's got his arms around her waist and his head bent down to eliminate the space between them.
Lizzie laughs and turns to kiss him quickly.
Later when she rescues her phone from under the veggie tray's wrapper in the kitchen, the alert for the day is still on the screen. It's the date in big numbers that makes her pause. And then she thinks about how she's not put tampons on the grocery list in weeks.
She's not so sure she can chalk it up to stress this time.
Charlotte comes up behind her while she's reading the label on this new organic shampoo that says it'll make her hair shinier while not drying it out. She's picking at the label, distrustful, when a hand clamps down on her shoulder.
Charlotte's eyes are wide and her mouth moves in a harsh whisper. "What the hell? You can't just text me things like that."
"What, it's the truth. I didn't know how else I was supposed to tell you. Did you want a lead in about the weather?" Lizzie answers back in the lowest voice she can come up with at this defcon level of panicking.
"No," Charlotte's eyebrows shoot up. "But a little more tact would have kept me from nearly murdering an old lady on the street getting here."
"I might be pregnant, Charlotte, I am freaking out here."
"Then why are you looking at shampoo?"
"Because I'm freaking out!" She exhales. "And because when I was in the test aisle some woman was giving me the eye."
"Okay, Baby Mama, come on." Charlotte ignores the indignant look that Lizzie gives her and grabs her arm, leading her away.
They walk out with four different tests, a bottle of orange juice, a new shade of lipgloss, and a Snickers for Charlotte.
"Okay, what do we do now?"
The apartment's empty because Darcy's at work and Lizzie had called in "not coming today" after he'd left. They're in their room now, Lizzie back to pacing a track on the floor and Charlotte sitting cross-legged on the bed.
"You take them," Charlotte says, her voice slow as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.
"I don't know, I'm freaking out remember." Lizzie knows her voice is cracking, verging on sounding like her mother when she'd found out that she was the last to know that Jane and Bing had gotten back together. And that's a scary thought in itself. She tries to make herself count to ten backwards. Fails spectacularly.
"Have you talked to Darcy at all about this?"
She whips her head around, stopping near the entrance to the bathroom. "What?"
"I mean," Charlotte coaxes. She's taking this much better. Lovely Charlotte, good Charlotte. "Have you told him you think you're pregnant at all?"
"Don't you think you should?"
Her face contorts and she sucks her bottom lip into her mouth. "I just," she sputters, words failing her and she's hot and confused and panicky; scared, really. "I don't know what to do. We haven't talked about this at all. I mean sure, we live together and we sleep together and we have a life together but we haven't talked about kids or marriage or a future or anything." She's tumbling thoughts out now, her voice stretched out and air sparse.
Charlotte jumps off the bed and reaches her, putting her hands on her arms and rubbing up and down. "Okay, okay. It's okay. Whatever you want. I'll be right here."
Lizzie breathes out and sinks a little into her friend's arms. She feels tired all of a sudden.
Of course all of that is ruined because Darcy comes home.
Because apparently if you don't come into work and then your boyfriend finds out and then you don't answer your phone that you left out in the living room, said boyfriend will come home worried and looking for you.
Lizzie feels like utter shit when he walks into the doorway after she hears the front door to the apartment slam shut.
"Lizzie, are you alright?"
His eyes glance from her to Charlotte to the rectangular boxes on their bed. She can actually see him put it together, how he takes a step closer into the room and stops, looking back at her face, confusion and suspicion and a little bit of hurt.
Charlotte squeezes her hand and says, "I'm going to go, okay?"
"Yeah." She doesn't want her to go, but she does. She needs her to. "Thanks."
Charlotte leaves her, slips out the door and the sound of the door closing echoes in the uncomfortable silence of the bedroom.
"No, I'm really not alright." She answers in lieu of saying something else because there was no better way to start it. It's not like Hallmark wrote a card for it with instructions and a cheery phrase that she could throw at him. 'Sorry I might actually be pregnant with your kid and I'm really freaking out.'
They sit on the bed and she does tell him. Her fingers plucking at the comforter, the other hand rubbing against her jean clad thigh, she tells him how she'd thought a month ago it was just stress, but after the engagement party she'd been sure that two months could just not be a fluke anymore.
Darcy watches her with a furrowed brow, and she can't read his face. It's not entirely shuttered off, but it reminds her too much of when they'd not been dating and were more antagonistic than friendly.
"Did you," he starts when she finishes, when the air stretches out between them and her lungs feel high again. "Did you think you couldn't tell me?"
Her response is immediate. "No, I just," she trails off, mouth closing. Her mouth twists as she thinks. "I was just worried and I panicked."
If it's possible for his forehead to furrow more, it does, but he reaches out slowly for her hand, turning it over so it rests face up in his palm. "Worried about what?"
Lizzie's nearly grateful that he's taking it piece by piece, unraveling the knot of thoughts in her head. It's helpful, even if she's wincing at the fact that she's probably messed this all up. "I don't know. Being actually pregnant."
"Did you think I'd be angry?" It's hesitant.
"No," she reassures. "No, I just felt like I needed Charlotte." Which is true. She'd thought of Jane and even Lydia, and cousin Mary for a few seconds, and she'd nearly confessed it to Darcy the other night when they'd gotten ready for bed, but she couldn't.
He raises an eyebrow at her. "Is the idea of having a child with me so repulsive?"
She shakes her head. "We've never talked about it."
And that's the problem. Just like she'd told Charlotte in her blurting confession. They hadn't. They don't talk about a lot of things like that, or they haven't yet. Not even when they'd gotten together for real, months ago. She's always waiting for the day where they end, because they don't talk about the long term, and even if she wants him, craves him always, those lingering doubts about her not being good enough come creeping back in. They've talked about those before, how both of them have insecurities they need to work with.
"Lizzie," Darcy squeezes her hand. "Please tell me, what are you worried about?"
She gives him a look from underneath her eyelashes. He'd gotten too good at reading her too. "I got some stupid idea that you wouldn't want me or this wasn't real."
And there now that it's out in the open it does sound really stupid.
He rises from the bed, her hand dropping to the comforter, and she watches him in confusion as he goes for the drawer where he keeps his shirts. He slides the wood out, reaching a hand in for something, and when he pulls it back he's got a tiny black box. Returning to the bed, he stares at her straight and opens it with a crack.
A diamond glints in the fading sunlight from the window, sitting prettily in velvet and on a band made of white gold it looks like.
She stares at it.
"I've had it for weeks now, Lizzie."
It's a pretty ring, and she's not scared to look at it. She touches it, feels the cut stone. She lets out a little laugh, her breath exhaling in short chops, and then looks up at him. "Really?"
"Yes," he smiles, a small little thing. "I've wanted to marry you Lizzie Bennet for a very long time now. I've been holding onto it."
"I'm sorry, Will" Lizzie says and leans forward to put her head on his shoulder. She twines their hands back together. There's one of the pregnancy tests digging into her knee, but she ignores it. "I've been silly."
"It's not silly," Darcy clears his throat. "I want you to know though that I do want you. For as long as you want. I love you."
"I do want you. Forever. I love you, a lot." She kisses him, stretches her neck and puts her lips on his stern mouth. She means it, she really does. Just as she knows they'll have this talk further, later, when there's pregnancy test now jabbing her in the ass.
They put the ring back in the drawer. It'll rest there till necessary for it to come out again.
Then, she pees on the white stick and they sit in their tiny bathroom and wait. She sits on the bathtub, knees knocking as she moves her feet, and he rests against the counter, shoulders too huge for the mirror and everything else.
"This whole thing is disgusting. I mean you'd think modern medicine would come up with something better than me having to pee on a piece of plastic by now."
"Lizzie." He says her name but snorts a bit, trying to keep a serious face.
"What? It's true," she snaps.
They'd agreed to take the tests before even beginning the discussion on whether they were ready for kids or not. A wise choice, they'd decided.
Her phone chimes, the time limit up.
"Negative is good right? That means no?"
Darcy peers at the box, reading the directions.
"It looks more like a smudge though. Does that mean it's an alien?" She hasn't done a video diary entry in months, but she thinks her viewers would appreciate a special on an alien baby.
"No. That means no."
She takes the other three just to be sure. They say all the same.
"Man, I really have to stop planning most of Jane and Bing's wedding."
Darcy rubs her side where they're on the couch now. "You should tell Charlotte."
Lizzie concedes that. "Okay, but absolutely no on my mother ever finding out about this. At all."
Darcy's face blanches, as if he's already imagining her putting on the hat and imitating her reaction. "Agreed."