I wrote this silly, silly thing during a summer heat wave, based on something someone said on response on Twitter.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a Lazarus Pit must be in want of a wife.
The Bennet family, like all surrounding families with daughters of marriageable age, considered any eligible man their rightful property.
"My dear Mr. Bennet, have you heard that Netherfield Park has been let?"
Mr. Bennet cleared his throat before cracking his poached egg with one swift blow. "No, I haven't heard." He calmly attended to the egg while Mrs. Bennet drew herself up in indignation.
"Are you not even remotely curious who has taken it?"
"Clearly, you are desperate to tell me."
"Well then, if you must know. Mrs. Long was just there and tells me that Netherfield was taken by a single man of large fortune who came down on Monday and agreed, with great enthusiasm, to take possession of it immediately. What a fine thing for our girls!"
Mr. Bennet frowned as he glanced at the paper, placed to the right of his breakfast. "How's that?"
"Are you going to be obtuse for the entirety of the day? I am thinking he will marry one of them, of course."
"Well, why not marry you, instead?"
"Oh, my dear, I have certainly enjoyed more than my share of beauty, but when a woman has five grown-up daughters, she must relinquish at least some of the attention she once received."
"Well, I consent to his marrying any one of the girls, whoever he is, but especially my Lizzy."
Mrs. Bennet reared back. "Lizzy? Lizzy is not one bit better than the others! She is not so nearly as good-looking as Jane, nor as thoughtful as Mary, nor anywhere near as quick-witted as Lydia. In point of fact, your little Lizzy is as plain as a patch of dirt, as boring as a tree, and about as good-humoured as that egg you're tormenting. But you always favor her."
"None have much to recommend them as daughters, wives, or people," Mr. Bennet said, sipping his tea. "I dare say we have failed miserably in bestowing the world with anything useful, but Lizzie has a slight advantage. Though I'm not quite sure what that is."
Mrs. Bennet raised her chin. "Regardless, we will meet him at the next ball and find out which of our daughters he will take to, if only by scent."
Mrs. Bennet was delighted to hear that the eligible man, Mr. Bingley, would be attending the next assembly with a large party. When they entered the assembly rooms, however, there was merely a party of five, consisting of Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the eldest sister's husband, and another man following just behind. The man quickly drew the attention of the room by his scallop-hem cape, a cowl adorned with small bat-like ears, and some kind of weighted belt.
The ladies declared the man with the cape must be from London, and covered with coal dust from his journey – and agreed that he was more handsome than Mr. Bingley.
He was looked upon with considerable admiration for half of the evening, until his manners turned the tide of his popularity, and then not even his purportedly huge estate could make up for his disagreeable countenance. He refused to dance even once, preferring to merely stalk around the room, staring intensely at both men and women.
Everyone decided he was the proudest, haughtiest, most disagreeable man in the world.
Batman moved around the room, overhearing parts of conversations.
" – inherited nearly a hundred thousand pounds from his father – "
" – absolutely charming, good-mannered, lively man – "
" – heard Netherfield is right over the village's ley lines – "
At the last bit, Batman brought his wrist up to his mouth, pressed a button, and murmured, "Alfred? I have a lead on the Lazarus Pit. As we suspected – "
But then Mr. Bingley left the dance to talk to him.
"Come, Batman. I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this tenebrous manner. You had much better dance."
Batman frowned at him. "I don't dance."
"Some light conversationing, perhaps?"
"I am not here to dance or make light conversation. I am here to find something that's too powerful and dangerous for anyone's good."
Mr. Bingley raised a brow. "The waltz? Yes, I've heard of it. A scandalous thing."
Batman looked around. "Not the waltz." He paused. "Besides, there is not one woman in the room who intrigues me."
Mr. Bingley furrowed his brow. "Upon my honor, I have never met with so many pleasant girls as I have this evening."
"You are susceptible to mind control, whereas I am not." Batman squinted up at the top edge of a window. "I should go. My ontological suffering has reached a critical threshold."
"Several of these girls are uncommonly pretty," said Mr. Bingley. "Like one of the sisters sitting right behind you. She's quite handsome."
Batman turned and glanced at Lizzie Bennet. "If you put her in a catsuit and gave her a whip, I could tolerate a night or two."
Mr. Bingley went to dance, a bit stunned, and Batman stealthily left the room.
Moments later, everyone gathered at the windows, expecting a powerful thunderstorm, but saw only a black beast of a chaise roar down the drive.
Later that evening, Batman paced in his study at Pemberley, the estate he temporarily claimed after traveling back in time with Alfred, his butler.
"We have to find and seal that Lazarus Pit, Alfred. I'm certain it's in Hertfordshire, and almost as certain that it's in this very town. I overheard someone say that Bingley's estate is on ley lines. I'd bet my submarine that – "
"Oh, by the way," Alfred said, "the wormhole dented the light hull, but don't worry, it's quite an easy fix."
Batman continued. "I'd bet my submarine that the Lazarus Pit is underneath Netherfield, the estate Bingley was so eager to let." Reluctantly, he added, "If you listen to the gossip."
Alfred nodded in agreement. "Mr. Bingley could use the pit any day now, and when he does, this town is doomed."
"Plus, no one is actually in that good of a mood all the time. I find it extremely suspicious."
A neighbor of the Bennet family, Miss Lucas, came with her children to talk about the ball.
"This Batman," said Miss Lucas, "has an excuse for his pride. He has excellent posture and an imposing fortune."
"Pride," said Mary, "is a very common failing."
"Shut your stupid mouth, Mary," said Lizzie. "I'm so sick of your bullshit."
"If I were as rich as Batman," cried the young Lucas son, who came with his sisters, "I should not care how proud I was! I would keep a pack of monkey bears on leashes, and drink a bottle of wine a day."
"I can't deal with this anymore," Lizzie muttered, and left the room.
"That Mr. Bingley is so excessively handsome," Mrs. Bennet said, "and his sisters are charming. But that Batman fellow is horrid, doing nothing but skulking around the ball in that strange clothing, muttering something about a pit. He is a pit! I quite detest him."
Some time later, a large party was assembled at Sir William Lucas's. Mary finally finished an interminable concerto and her younger sisters, some of the Lucases, and a number of officers danced at one end of the room, where they weaved their steps and the men raised their arms over their heads, snapped their fingers, and gave a yell.
Batman stood nearby in silent contempt and indignation, and could have sworn he noticed Lizzie Bennett in the same mood.
Sir William approached him. "What a charming amusement for young people! There is nothing like dancing, and these Scotch dances are so – "
Batman narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "Did Ra's al Ghul send you?"
"I beg your pardon, but I'm not familiar with that fellow. Don't you think that dancing is the most – "
Batman turned on him with a snarl, lip curled. "Why are you people so obsessed with dancing? How clear can I make this? I don't dance. I train, every waking hour, to fight crime. I train my body, and I train my intellect. It's a nasty, brutal world, with no shortage of supervillains or Lazarus Pits. No one is dancing."
Sir William turned red and fidgeted with his cravat. "Well, I say... are you in your altitudes, my friend?" He looked around for Batman's nonexistent drink and tittered nervously.
Batman glared. "I don't have friends. I have allies."
"Now, where did you say you were from, old chap? Stevenage?"
"I'm not familiar."
"You're lucky," Batman growled. "It's a cesspool."
"Well, upon my word," Sir William said, then muttered something about dancing with Lydia and wandered off.
Mr. Bingley watched him go as he took Sir William's place next to Batman. "The Meryton assembly was the most charming thing. I have never met with more pleasant people or handsome girls in my life." Mr. Bingley prompted him with a smile. "Don't you agree?"
"I'm in hell," Batman said, quietly.
Mr. Bingley turned away for one second, and when he looked around again, Batman was gone.
"Upon my word, he was just here!"
Batman left the Lucas's early and met Alfred at Bingley's estate, Netherfield, where they searched for the Lazarus Pit.
"I know it's here," Batman said. "Bingley is too cheerful and well-liked to not want his own Lazarus Pit. Have you heard people talk about him?"
"They quite admire him, it seems."
They checked the library for secret doors. Mechanisms for Lazarus Pit access were predictable in estates of this size.
"Bingley's so rich, Bingley's so handsome," Batman mimicked as he felt around the fireplace. "He's the best dancer! He has the best breeding, like a Derby horse! Bingley's the opposite of Batman, who's so haughty and doesn't even dance!"
"Sir, you are far more rich and handsome than Mr. Bingley. I hear that he inherited mere property from his father, who didn't live long enough to purchase a proper estate."
"And was his father killed right in front of him? Were his parents murdered as he watched? Did he make a solemn vow to seek revenge on all criminals in his city? NO! But he's such a delightful dancer and that's all that matters!"
Batman unlatched a bookshelf door next to the fireplace by pulling on a model boat. The door opened, and they descended the stairs.
The stairs led them to a long, chilly room made of limestone, where an irregularly-shaped pit of liquid steamed and formed blisters. They moved closer. The cyan-colored pit, immured much deeper within curved sides made of the same limestone, was streaked with fingers of cola-colored liquid and ringed with a lime-green hue. Alfred pointed to a set of wet footprints leading from a ladder. "It's too late. Mr. Bingley's already been in the pit."
Batman smirked a little. "Which means that Bingley will be violent and insane. I wonder how they'll like his dancing now?"
"Don't be pettish; it doesn't become you."
Batman tossed the canister that he had brought with him from Gotham City. Moments after the canister reached the pit, the lake solidified to black. "No one will ever use that pit again, but I hope we're not too late to stop Bingley before he slaughters everyone in town."
The ball room was soaked in blood, which had spattered over the walls in dots and long arcing streaks, pooled and smeared on the floor, and even splashed on the chandelier. They found Bingley wolfing down entire platters of dry cake and pouring lemonade into his mouth from a pitcher.
"We're too late," Alfred said. "Damn those chickens in the road!"
Batman leaned in to Alfred. "I almost regret sealing the pit. I could have resurrected everyone so they could find out what their precious dancing Bingley did."
"That would be monstrous yet gratifying. But we shouldn't dally in taking care of Mr. Bingley before we return."
A voice from just inside the entrance startled them. "No need."
Lizzie Bennet, wearing form-fitting military clothing, advanced on Bingley and held up a futuristic superweapon. Bingley noticed her in his peripheral vision and ducked behind a chair.
She calmly pursued her quarry. "My group, the Marmot Claw, sent me back from 2315 to close a Lazarus Pit."
"We already closed that," Alfred said apologetically.
"Really?" She rolled her eyes. "It is not easy to get any free time in this place. I was stuck at the house, dancing and making light conversation." Lizzie shot them an angry look. "It took three months of intensive training just to fit in here, and then you just close the pit right out from under me, after all that undercover work."
"It's really just fortuitous timing," Alfred said.
Bingley popped up like a prairie dog and she swung the weapon toward him. He darted back out of sight.
"What happened to the real Elizabeth Bennet?" Batman asked.
"The real Lizzie is living in 2315 with implanted memories, working in a clinic that provides psychological counseling to end-of-life robot models. She's fine." Lizzie shook her head grimly. "And better off, getting the hell away from that family. They still haven't noticed the switch."
Bingley ran for another chair, but Batman threw a tranquilizing dart that embedded in Bingley's neck. Bingley ripped it out and ran toward the three of them as Lizzie aimed her weapon and pushed a button. Bingley was instantly encased in a ghostly web, then vanished.
Lizzie lowered her weapon. "Carbon composite and nanomaterials. It takes him to a prison in 2315. Well, it was lovely meeting all of you. Until the next Lazarus Pit. Next one's mine." She shook their hands with a firm grip, then faded away behind an undulating digital scrim.
"I forgot to ask her if incessant dancing has become a cultural obsession again in 2315," Batman said.
"Judging by her weapon," Alfred noted, "I sincerely doubt it."
I wrote this silly, silly thing during a summer heat wave, based on something someone said on response on Twitter.