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Among the Freeze Pops

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William Darcy is back in town.


This fact was immediately discovered and spread by the local gossips, but the news has yet to meet Lizzie’s ears. She’s been hanging around town all day, taking a much-deserved break from writing her nearly-complete thesis, hearing the buzz of excited housewives, but clueless as to what they are so worked up about. Lizzie doesn’t know until she spots him in the freezer aisle of the supermarket. She is picking up a few things for her mother, she clutches a hastily scrawled list of items in one hand and a half-filled plastic shopping basket in the other. When she sees him, her fingers clench tightly around the piece of paper, crumpling it. She doesn’t realize what she’s doing.
She’s going to have to pass him to get to the shelf where Jane’s favorite flavor of ice cream is usually stocked. Her feet refuse to move, though. She’s rooted to the spot, stuck on the shiny tile floor. It’s dead silent, in this aisle at the back of the store during a lull.


He hasn’t noticed her yet, too intent on making his food selections. Lizzie’s surprised he’s the one to be making the trip, don’t rich people have people to buy food for them? Should she just forget the ice cream? Tell Jane they were out of it, forget the rest of the list, and flee? Run home and hide in her temporary settlement in the den until she’s sure that he’s gone?


What was it about William Darcy that made her want to run and hide? Was it the fact that he had pretty much asked her out back in San Francisco? No, no not pretty much asked her out, he most definitely invited her to the theatre in an entirely date-like sense.


Lizzie’s pretty she would’ve said yes, had she had a chance to answer him.


Why does it scare her so much that she wants to date him?


She’s admitted it, she’s admitted that she was wrong about Darcy being a complete douche, but it’s been hard to admit to herself that her feelings have changed so dramatically from hate to affection.


She knows by his own admission that he did a lot of thinking after watching her videos, and now she’s gone through a similar process, after reading his incredibly well written letter and seeing him run Pemberley Digital and be a big brother to Gigi.


But is she ready to take action based on all this thinking she’s done? Lizzie is aware she has to make up her mind quickly, before he leaves the store. Yeah, sure, she’ll see him again, what with her sister reacquainting herself with his best friend. But right now she’s got a prime opportunity to talk to him alone, under the observation of nobody. Is she too scared to take this chance, and let the moment pass?


She’s not.


Lizzie manages to get her ass into gear and finds herself walking towards Darcy, as calmly as possible,which is not saying much, as her palms are sweating and she can hear her heart pounding in her ears and she is all too aware of how her footfalls echo. Boots don’t exactly allow for stealthy maneuvers. So, of course, he looks up and shuts the freezer door when he hears her coming; when he realizes that the store is not completely deserted.


Darcy’s nearly as surprised to see her as she is to see him. Nearly, because at least he already knew she was in town when he agreed to be the one to go pick up a few things for dinner, and knew that running into Lizzie was a very real possibility. So yes, he didn’t think he’d see her so soon after arriving in town, but at least he’s not too shocked to open his mouth and say something to her. Still, all he can manage is a simple uttering of her name.


“Lizzie.” He breathes, a bit reverentially, a tone that emerges in his voice often when he’s around her.


“Darcy,” She practically squeaks, “I didn’t know you were back in town.”


“I arrived early this morning.”


“Well, I guess that explains why I didn’t know.”


“I was planning on coming by your house with Bing tomorrow morning, so you would have discovered my presence soon enough.”


“You were going to come over my house?” Lizzie asks, incredulous.


“Yes.” He accompanies this affirmation with a short nod.


“Even though there would’ve been a high chance of encountering my mother?”


“Yes.” Darcy repeats.


“Even though she highly disapproves of you?”


“Despite her poor opinion of me, I am willing to spend time at your house.”


“Why?”


The blunt question forces itself out of her mouth at nearly the same time she considers it in her thoughts, with no time to contemplate whether or not she should she actually ask him the reason why he would put up with such disapproval. Her intense desire to know his thoughts and motivations takes over.


There is an answer she’s anticipated way back in the corner of her mind, an intense hope she’s trying to crush. Hopeful thinking is not advisable in interpersonal relationships, Lizzie’s learned, as it ends up in disappointment in most situations.


This time, she gets exactly what she wants to hear.


“I, uh, would get to see you.” Darcy admits nervously.


Lizzie tries her best to hide her reaction to this response, but her the corners of her mouth turn up and her cheeks flush.


“I do happen to be there most of the time,” She manages to quip, “or I’m at the library.”


“How’s your thesis coming along?” Darcy asks, as he concludes that this is the reason she is frequenting the library.


“It’s almost done, thankfully.”


“Did you get everything you required from Pemberley for it?”


“Yeah, I did. Everyone was very helpful there.”


“I am glad to hear that. Um, Lizzie?”


“Yeah?”


“I am very sorry you had to cut your stay in San Francisco short, especially since you had to leave under the circumstances.”


“I’m sorry, too.” She clears her throat, preparing to mention something that would take their conversation in an entirely new direction.


“Speaking of all that, Lydia showed me Gigi’s videos. And I know you didn’t want to say anything, and she told me that you begged her not to tell me, but she couldn’t help herself. According to my sister, both of us were being complete idiots and she needed to speed up the process. I’m not exactly sure what process she’s talking about.”


That last part she says with a nervous laugh.


She knows exactly what Lydia was talking about. She’s just too embarrassed to say what her sister gave as an explanation, as it involved several of the more explicit fanfictions about them, that she knows are out there on the internet, becoming a reality.


Darcy thinks he has an idea of what she’s talking about as well, as Gigi and Fitz have spent a lot of time urging him to tell Lizzie his involvement in the website being taken down. They believed it would lead in the explicit fanfiction direction as well. But that’s not something one brings up in a public place, even if it seems that they are the only ones shopping for freezer items. He’s not sure how to respond to what she’s just admitted, but luckily he doesn’t have to say anything yet, as she continues.


“And I just, uh, want to thank you for everything you did for her. I haven’t told anyone else in my family, but I know they would be grateful towards you. Without you, the website would still be up. My father tried, but he just doesn’t have the kind of resources you do.”


It’s time for Darcy to admit something now. He leans back against the freezer door, the cold of the glass seeping into his back.


“I did it all for you, Lizzie. I know how much you care for your sister, and how it would hurt you, although in a different way, just as the release of the tape would hurt Lydia. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew there was a way I could prevent you from being in pain.”


Lizzie gasps at his revelation, the meaning behind his words hitting her. He did it all for her. That had to mean he still felt something for her, and she could resume her optimism and banish the thought that he had already gotten over her and she had missed her chance.


“I should tell you that I still feel the same way about you as I said before. However, if your mind has not changed, I’ll forget all of those feelings.”


“My mind has changed, Darcy. It’s changed a lot.”


“How much so?” He says, his elation coming through, as it is so intense at this moment that it is beyond being concealed.


He watches in disbelief as she sets down her shopping basket, and strides forward so that they are just inches apart.


“Very much.” She says, reaching up so that she can bring his lips down to meet hers.


It’s a quick kiss, as both parties involved realize they aren’t in total seclusion and should probably not engage in a full-out makeout session in a grocery store of all places. But it shows promise of many repeat performances.


When Lizzie’s feet are firmly planted on the ground again, she looks up at Darcy with a smile.


“I would’ve said yes, you know. I would’ve gone to the theatre with you.”


“I’m glad to hear that.”