Author: Scarlett88 PM
One-shot. Takes place in episode 2x13: Meditations in Emergency. What happens when Don visits Betty at the stables?Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Words: 3,525 - Favs: 1 - Published: 05-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8090075
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Mad Men is the property of Matt Weiner, AMC, and Lionsgate.
Elizabeth Draper mounted off her favorite horse at the stables, Chesnutt. Giving her mare a gentle kiss on the forehead, she soldiered on to store her friend at stables, ending another strenuous morning of exercise.
As she packed away her supplies, Betty was reminded of Dr. Raymond Aldrich's firm warning to avoid strenuous activity for the next several months. Betty shook her head, chiding herself for neglecting the doctor's orders so quickly. It really isn't fair, Betty thought to herself as she walked down the dirt path, I didn't ask for things to be this way, for this to happen right now. She stopped to steady herself on the picket fence surrounding the land. Everything was spiraling downward all at once, and the feeling was making her nauseous.
Walking down the familiar path, Betty stopped once more to ponder the situation. Never once in a million years did she ever imagine being in a position where she was not only alone, but pregnant as well.
Damn him, Betty thought to herself, crunching a little twig in disgust. If only he had attempted to keep his vows to her, make an effort to show her any indication of true love and affection. When it came down to it, Don Draper was her husband in name only. They were part of a matching set: the Drapers, Mr. and Mrs. Don Draper. He used her for business events and keeping the house, she used him for his numerous assets.
After being burned by him one too many times, one too many humiliations, one too many nights alone –she threw him out of the house. Only to return to him once more when her father suffered a stroke. He was the only person that she could think to call, and he came to her out of a dense of duty. She was desperate enough to turn to anyone at that point, and she fell into his arms because he was there for her, not even thinking about what would happen the following day. She had been quick to inform him that it was only one night; that their relationship was still the same, nothing had changed. He told her that he wanted to stay, insisted that she let him in, but she pushed him away once more, not willing to face an unpleasant reality.
And yet reality was continuing to creep on her. There was no way to deny her current condition; soon the evidence would be available for everyone to see. All she could do now was steal little moments for herself, where she didn't have to think about Don or the children, and find a little peace.
Betty felt her heart skip a beat when she saw a familiar figure cross the parking lot of the stables. Steadying herself on the fence for support, she boldly stepped forward, knowing that she would have to face the inevitable. She lowered her eyes to the ground, not wanting him to see her pain, let him know how much she needed him back. How only a few words from him could melt her heart once more, repeating the same pattern that they had followed over the years.
"How long have you been here?" she whispered, still refusing his gaze.
Don stepped toward her, attempting to bridge the gap. "Half an hour – I didn't want to bother you."
How considerate Betty thought to herself with a scowl. "Where have you been? You disappeared." She could feel her voice beginning to waver, and immediately scolded herself for letting her defenses down.
"I had to have some time to think about things."
With that one comment, Betty went from frightened to angry. "It must be nice, needing time and just taking it. All on your own terms, not wondering what anyone else thinks – me or the children." She was looking right at him now, daring him to tell her that she was wrong about him, that he wasn't selfish at all.
Don let out a heavy sigh. He didn't know what to expect when he saw his wife after his week away, but he wasn't prepared for her anger. "Betts, I'd do anything I could to undo what happened."
"What happened?" Betty demanded, glaring at him with her icy blue eyes, wondering if he would finally admit to his many indiscretions after years of denying any wrongdoing.
"I was not respectful to you," he said in a low voice, finally admitting his agonizing guilt.
Betty let out a small laugh. "Now I know I'm not crazy – that helps."
Don reached an arm out to Betty. "I can't walk away from this. I want to be with you. I want to be together again."
Betty stepped back, refusing his touch. Closing her eyes, Betty winced at a tiny pain in her abdomen. "I don't know; honestly things haven't been that different without you." Breathing in, she refused to falter before him; he was not going to win on her territory.
"I need to see the kids," Don insisted.
Betty bit her lip as the pain washed over her once more. "I can't deal with this right now Don, I…." Betty looked up at the sky as she felt her knees buckle beneath her weight, bringing her body crumbling to the ground in an audible thud.
"Betty!" Don shouted as he knelt by her side. She closed her eyes and let out a tiny moan. Don gently shook her, his breathing becoming heavy in an increased panic. Looking around the field he heard himself shout, "Someone call a doctor!" Don wrapped his coat around Betty's body in an attempt to conserve her body heat while they waited for professional assistance.
A young gentleman with sandy blonde hair knelt next to Don and Betty. "Help is on the way," he promised, not taking his eyes off a still Betty. With her eyes closed, it seemed as though she was sleeping. "May I?" the gentleman cut in, taking Betty's wrist to check for a pulse.
Don helplessly backed away, looking at the gate to the stables for the entrance of an ambulance. A crowd was beginning to form around the area with onlookers sending questioning remarks to their neighbors about who the individual was and if anyone actually saw what happened.
"Come on, come on," the gentleman urged her with strong persistence. "Wake up!"
Don placed his hands in his pants pockets, feeling a sense of discomfort in the presence of a man who seemed to know her rather well. "Excuse me," Don cut in next to the gentleman, "Who are you?"
The man offered Don a small smile and stuck his hand out. "Arthur Chase."
Don nodded his head.
"Did you see what happened?" Arthur persisted. "Did she fall off her horse? She's usually an excellent rider."
"You go riding with her?" Don asked, attempting to downplay his growing discomfort at the situation.
"She tried to teach me how to ride," Arthur laughed.
Don smirked, wanting to deck the man right then and there. He never once thought that he would have to worry about Betty meeting any men at the stables. Don opened his mouth to speak once more but was interrupted by one of the stable attendees alerting the arrival of the ambulance.
Don watched carefully as Betty's body was lifted onto a gurney and placed in the back of the vehicle. Arthur watched Don go and follow the medics, speaking to one of the men as he walked.
"Do you know her?" Arthur asked in concern, narrowing his eyes as Betty's body was closed in the back of the vehicle.
"I'm her husband," Don said curtly as he hopped into the car with the medics.
Arthur blew out a gust of air out of his mouth, a worried frown crossing his face. He never once imagined coming face to face with the husband of Betty Draper and now that he had, he was terrified.
Betty Draper stretched one arm, feeling her body suddenly stir with electricity. She was awake and no longer at the countryside stables. Raising her head, she immediately identified her surroundings as one of the many local New York hospitals. Why am I here, she wondered to herself as she tried to find the last memory of her day. The very last thing she remembered – before everything went black – was his face. Closing her eyes once more, Betty opted for rest rather than reality.
Outside of the patient room, Don Draper paced the floor. He had yet to speak to anyone regarding Betty's condition and was confused about who to turn to. Everything happened in a blur once they arrived at the hospital doors. Betty was promptly whisked away to one of the rooms, while Don was left to fill out whatever little paperwork he could manage.
Eyeing a woman in a nurses' uniform, Don stood up and waved her over. "Does anyone have any information about my wife?" he asked, his brow furrowed in concern.
"Who is your wife?" the lady asked, narrowing her glasses.
"Elizabeth Draper!" Don said frustrated. "She came here half an hour ago and I haven't heard a word about her condition."
The nurse quickly apologized and nodded her head. "I'll go check her file," she promised, walking to the administrative offices.
Don slumped down in one of the uncomfortable lobby chairs. She needs to wake up, he said to himself, unsure if there was anyone else able to hear him. I swear I'll change my ways if she comes out of this alive, he promised silently.
"Mr. Draper?" An elderly gentleman touched him on the shoulder. "I'm Doctor Mark Rosen."
Don stood up, shaking the gentleman's hand. "Is there any news on my wife?"
The doctor nodded his head, beckoning for him to follow. "It seems that we're a bit crowded today," he chuckled. "Sorry I haven't been able to update you sooner." He pointed to Betty's private room. "Your wife is just fine Mr. Draper."
"Really?" Don asked, stunned.
The doctor nodded his head. "We ran several tests on her body, testing her vitals and we found nothing alarming."
"Why did she collapse?" Don questioned. "It just came out nowhere…"
"What did you say Mrs. Draper was doing when she collapsed?"
"Horseback riding – she goes every week."
The doctor widened his eyes. "Well that might explain something."
"Explain what?" Don crossed his arms in frustration.
"Given your wife's current condition, I'm surprised she'd be riding at all."
Don shook his head. "You just said that she was fine!"
"And she is," the doctor indicated. "She and the baby are perfectly healthy." Dr. Rosen's eyes widened as he took in Don Draper's look of sheer disillusionment. "You didn't know?" he whispered, feeling his cheeks beginning to redden with embarrassment. "I assumed that you and your wife knew that she was expecting."
"How far along is she?" Don coughed, looking into the window of the hospital room.
"Once Mrs. Draper wakes up, we'll see where we go from there," Dr. Rosen offered.
"May I see her?"
"Of course." Dr. Rosen patted Don on the shoulder. "Congratulations," he said as he walked down the halls.
Don quietly opened the door and slipped into one of the chairs. He carefully rested one hand on Betty's tiny frame, thankful that she given a good bill of health from the doctors. Closing his eyes, he wondered how far along Betty could be in her pregnancy. They hadn't been together in almost a month, a small truce during their separation.
Don quietly wondered if she even knew that she was pregnant. She must know, he told himself in the same self-assurance that he saved for the clients that he was trying to sway each day. I couldn't even see a change in her Don scolded himself, once again vowing to make things right between the two of them.
The door to the hospital room opened, revealing an elderly doctor Raymond Aldrich. Don stood up to greet the family doctor with a handshake.
"I heard about her fall through my wife, Caroline," the doctor explained. "Apparently big news travels fast." He shook his head. "I told her not to ride in her condition."
She knew Don sat back down again, an empty feeling beginning to set in his stomach. She knew and didn't even bother to tell me. "I've been travelling on business," Don said lamely, attempting to explain away the awkwardness of the situation. "She'll be more careful, I'll see to it myself."
"See that you do," Dr. Aldrich nodded his head, recalling Betty's concerns over having the child. "I know she's been through this before, but it doesn't get any easier for her."
Don nodded his head, taking a seat next to the hospital bed. Just wake up he urged, wake up please. There was so much that he wanted to tell her, so much that he had never bothered to tell her before – mainly out of the sheer assumption that she would always be next to him.
"Hmmm," Betty stirred once more, her eyes fluttering open. Once again, her eyes fell to him. "Don –" she struggled to speak.
"Ssshh," Don gently hushed her, caressing her cheek.
Betty pushed her body up, sitting up in the hospital bed. "I don't even remember what happened," she said softly, concern crossing her face. She had no way of knowing if Don was aware of her condition, and the fact that she had chosen to not tell him yet.
Don took her hand in his. "I came to the stables to see you, to tell you that I missed you." Don paused for beat, closing his eyes. "I love you, Betts." He knew in his heart that he didn't say those words enough to her; she had gone so far as to accuse him of exactly that before their separation. The truth of the matter was that Don had always loved his wife, but like so many other things, he had taken her for granted as the years went on, assuming that she knew and didn't have to hear those little words, which suddenly didn't seem so little anymore.
Betty lowered her head; unable to look at him for fear that he would convince her she needed him.
"Betty listen to me," Don urged her, tilting her chin up. Betty's deep blue eyes locked with his. "I'm sorry for everything," he said in a low whisper that only she could hear.
Betty shook her curls. "You've said that before," she winced, recalling the countless apologies from missed meals, missed anniversaries, missed dates, nights alone at home.
"Birdie you need me," Don said gently. "You are in no position to be alone right now."
He knows, Betty winced once more. Why did he have to take me to the hospital she lamented. "Lots of women raise children on their own," Betty said coolly.
"Try saying that when you're six months pregnant, struggling to keep up with Bobby and Sally," Don shot back, as a small joke. "You need me," he insisted.
You got me into this mess Betty wanted to scream. "What did the doctors say?" Betty asked, changing the subject, knowing that there was no point in fighting Don over the issue – she knew that he was right.
"Everything's fine," he promised. "The doctor is going to confirm exactly that."
Betty nodded her head, reaching for the fullest part of her belly.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Don asked, attempting to mask the pain of being kept in the dark.
"I couldn't find you – you disappeared," Betty reminded him. "I called the hotel only to be told that you checked out with no note or warning. Your luggage was dropped off at the house, without a note or a message."
"I'm sorry I frightened you."
"I thought something had happened to you, that you had left for good or…"
Don squeezed Betty's hand. "I will never leave you or the children," he promised.
Betty let out a heavy sigh. "How soon can I leave the hospital?"
"Soon." Don promised. Don pulled his chair closer to the bed. "I met a gentleman at the stables while waiting for the ambulance."
"He was very concerned about you. His name was Arthur Chase."
Betty shrunk back at the sound of his name. She had no idea that he had even been riding that morning, opting to ride the trails alone rather than ward off Arthur's obvious come-ons and instances of starting a relationship.
"How long have you known him?" Don asked, keeping his cool composure.
"A few short months," Betty said warily. "He was learning to ride to impress his young wife, I offered to help him."
Don looked at Betty to see if she would tell him any more information.
Betty shot Don a disgusted look. "You don't have any right to ask me questions after all of the other women you've been with," she countered.
Don opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Dr. Rosen as he prepared Betty to examine Betty.
"I'm going to call the kids," Don told her, stepping out into the hallway.
Betty Draper stood in the waiting room of the hospital while Don finished out the rest of her paperwork. Taping her foot impatiently all she wanted was to leave the hospital, after yet another stern lecture regarding horseback riding.
"Ready?" Don asked, placing his left arm around her waist. Betty nodded her head wordlessly, heading straight for the doors to the parking lot.
Don opened the passenger side for her, sliding into the front side. "The kids are still at Carlton and Francine's. I can drop you off at home and get my things from the hotel." Don looked to Betty for her thoughts on the idea.
Betty turned her head out the window, crossing her hands over her chest.
"You cannot do this by yourself," Don said frustrated. "I won't let you."
"Drop me off at the house," Betty mumbled. "I've had a trying day."
"Well that makes two of us," Don muttered.
Betty turned her eyes to Don. "I didn't realize you cared that much," she scoffed.
Stopping at a red light Don placed a free hand on Betty's shoulder. "How many times do I need to apologize?"
"Nothing happened between Arthur and me," Betty said softly. "I promise. I'll even stop speaking to him if it's what you want."
"I want you to be safe," Don told her as the car drove forward.
Betty nodded her head, reaching in her purse for one of her cigarettes.
"What are you doing?" Don asked as she started to light up. Don reached over to take the cigarette from her hand.
"Hey!" Betty protested.
"I work in advertising. I've met with several different medical experts saying that women that are pregnant shouldn't be smoking."
"And yet you continue to sell to them," Betty quipped.
Don let out a small laugh. "I don't care what other women do – you are cutting back on your smoking for the next several months."
Betty's mouth formed a tiny pout. "Easy for you to say, you don't have to give up anything."
Don eased up on the driving as they reached their neighborhood. "Betts, I'd give up a lot more for you than just smoking," he said. Pulling the car into the driveway he took her hand in his.
"I'd like that," Betty said softly.
Don leaned in, placing a kiss on Betty's mouth, letting out a soft moan.
"Don't tell me you need a cigarette," Betty joked.
"I was thinking of something else," Don winked as he hopped out of the car, opening Betty's door for her. "Did the doctor mention giving up anything else?"
"Smoking, drinking, riding," Betty counted on her fingers. "What am I going to do for the next few months?" Betty asked as they walked into the empty house.
Don backed her up against the wall, kissing her once more. "The question is what are we going to do for the next few months," he corrected.
Betty couldn't help but smile as Don held her in his arms. She had truly missed him over the past few weeks and the prospect of having a baby was suddenly more appealing with Don by her side. Closing her eyes Betty felt a sense of contentment that she hadn't felt in months. Maybe pregnancy isn't the worst thing in the world, Betty admitted, kicking off her shoes. Not when she had someone by her side to make the road easier.