A/N: I love the episode 'Better Half' and have been toying with the notion of expanding upon Don and Betty's encounter at camp. I don't own Mad Men, Matt Weiner and Lionsgate do.
Betty Francis let out a deep satisfied sigh, allowing the cool evening air to run through her body. I don't come out here enough, Betty thought airily. Her husband Henry openly disliked nature, despite relishing it as a young man. He told his wife that there was no time for vacationing, not in the world of politics, which seemed to run twenty-four hours a day, regardless of season. Betty had been looking forward to parents' weekend at Bobby's sleep away camp, not just to see her son, but to return to the land that she loved. Growing up, her family would go on frequent camping trips or excursions to the beach.
Betty loved getting away from the city, from her old life, and being able to put on a new skin, to go on an adventure where she wouldn't have to worry about consequences and responsibilities.
The stars illuminated the camp grounds, where they didn't have to compete with street lights and cars for attention – they were able to display their full glory. Nature was at its finest tonight, the cool air complimenting the gentle ripples from the lake. Even the mosquitoes were out enjoying the weather, much to Betty's chagrin.
Betty quickly swatted at her thigh, hoping to send a clear message to the mosquito community that her body was not a feeding area. The mosquitoes were not the only thing on her mind that evening. There was the issue of her ex-husband, who had seamlessly come to rescue earlier that day when she was lost at the local gas station.
She didn't know he was coming right away, or even at all for that matter. Donald Draper lived for his Madison Avenue career in the same way that Henry craved his political one. Yet there he was, as polished as ever, and just as surprised to see her.
'Where's Henry?' That was the first thing he asked her. Where was her husband indeed, Betty had thought earlier that day. Henry broke the news to her early that morning that he wasn't going to accompany her to the campsite that afternoon, delaying the trip for twenty four hours. He told her that she could always wait a day and come with him that Saturday, but Betty refused his offer. She needed to get out of Rye, away from their social circle, away from the house and responsibilities, and she had wanted him to want to go with her. To get an evening with just him and no one else competing for his attention.
So Betty had found herself struggling to read the convoluted map that would take her to the campsite for parents' weekend. After driving around for an hour on various dirt roads, Betty paused at a gas station for assistance. Given her newly regained svelte form, getting the attention of the young gas attendant was easy. Getting an answer about directions proved to be more difficult. He seemed just as bewildered as she did, though he wasn't about to let her know that.
And then he came. Like a white knight on his horse coming across his damsel in distress. Betty felt distressed enough as it was, and her heart skipped a full beat when she caught him looking at her under his sun glasses. She could see a sly smile of approval cross his lips, something she hadn't seen from him in years – and it was directed to her. He wasted no time in coming to her aide; as he read the map over her shoulder, she could feel his smoky breath against her skin. She wanted to turn around and face him, to see if she could still have that effect on him after their time apart. But she didn't trust herself to look into his eyes, to become victim to his charms that he could so easily wield.
Don was able to read the map when she couldn't, and she was in no position to turn down his generous offer of guiding her to the campsite – they were after all going to the same place. Betty got into her car with a renewed purpose. He was without his wife Megan, and she was without her husband Henry.
Betty had allowed Don to have one on one time with Bobby after dinner in the cafeteria, she had needed some alone. Her heart ached after seeing him with Bobby, so happy and carefree. Don loved his children very much, that fact could never be contested. It seemed that it was Betty who couldn't hold his attention and affection, and it broke her heart to know that she was not enough for him.
He looked so different, Betty thought to herself. She didn't know if it was the scene, the absence of spouses, or the passing of time that made her feel different, nervous like a school girl admiring a crush.
"Ugh!" Betty muttered, slapping at her thigh once more. "Have you nothing better to do than bother me?" she asked of the mosquitos, who said nothing in reply.
A tall shadow blocked part of the moonlight on the porch where Betty sat. "You should get inside – you'll get eaten alive out here."
Betty didn't have to look to see who was speaking to her, she knew his voice just as well as her own. "You know mosquitos ignore me," Betty replied coolly, hoping that he wouldn't come close enough to see that she was lying.
"In those shorts?" Don challenged, closing the gap, and smirking at the little red welts that were beginning to form on her legs.
Betty took in a sharp breath, and lowered her head, her cheeks reddening from being caught in a lie. "Did you find a bottle?" Betty asked breezily, desperate to change the conversation. Earlier at dinner, Don had gone on a not so noble quest to find liquor at a camp that catered to young children. It was not going to be an easy task by any means, and anyone who found it surely deserved the spoils.
"Maybe," Don said tentatively, touching her shoulder, encouraging her to look at him.
Betty reached down next to her knee and produced a Fresca can with a small laugh. "I'm afraid this was the best I could find."
Don reached inside his coat and swiftly pulled out a single bottle, soliciting a grin from Betty in the process. She watched as Don generously poured half of the contents into her Fresca can.
"I won't even ask how you did it," Betty laughed, clinking her can to his bottle.
"That's my secret," Don smirked. "I wouldn't want you finding my source and undercutting me."
"You don't think I would share with you?" Betty asked with a small laugh.
Don sat down next to her on the porch. "You'd share. I know you would."
Betty tilted her head slightly, moving her can to the other hand. "You do?"
Don flashed Betty a winning smile, causing her to nod her head. Sharing material items was never an issue for them, it was matters of the heart that were more closely guarded under lock and key.
"I loved camp," Betty said dreamily. She could feel the effect of the alcohol and the warm night, with the stars and moonlight adding an extra earthy magic to the evening.
"I never went."
"Yes you did," Betty interjected. "Remember when we went to Lake Champlain with my parents?"
Don lit a cigarette, and exhaled, the smoke billowing into the air. "I remember."
"We were just married. And you got into a horrible fight with my father about who would carry the luggage."
"Not our first fight."
"Or your last."
"But it ended well," Don reminded her. "We went out in the woods and made Sally."
"I remember," a small thoughtful smile formed on Betty's mouth. "It was the only thing that would calm you down after that argument." Betty mixed the can in her hand, allowing the alcohol to permeate with the soda. Betty took a long sip, stretching her legs out onto the ground. "I don't understand her. Henry says she's a lot like you."
Don snorted at Henry's opinion of his daughter. "How would he know?" Don ventured out loud. The two men rarely spoke, except concerning the children, and conversations were typically pleasant but insubstantial.
"He says she reminds him of you," Betty repeated. "She is your daughter," she added in a low voice, knowing full well who Sally's favorite parent was.
"I think she's a lot like you," Don countered, offering her a lit cigarette.
Betty accepted his gesture. "You don't see what goes on in the house," Betty mused, referring to the battle of the wills between mother and daughter that were becoming more and more frequent.
"You're both headstrong," Don laughed. "And you don't want to admit when you're wrong."
Betty arched an eyebrow at her husband. "Is that so?"
"Am I wrong?"
"No comment," Betty said swiftly, taking another long sip of her drink. "I was nothing like her when I was her age."
"That's not what William says."
Betty opened her mouth in protest, her right hand ready to hit him. Don anticipated her movements and leaned away with a laugh.
Betty shook her head, indicating that she meant him no harm. "Bobby reminds me of my father – so bossy."
"All of the teenagers in the world are in revolt," Don seconded. His years in advertising were proving that there was a growing distance between the two generations, two vastly different demographics.
Betty and Don drank in a slow rhythm, matching each other's motions perfectly. A stranger passing by, who knew nothing of either party would be able to assume that they were a happily married couple, rather than a divorced pair, split apart by irreconcilable differences.
"What were we like?" Betty asked.
Don looked up and down at his partner. "You and me?"
Betty paused, wondering if she should dare to continue. "When I saw you earlier today, I thought for a second: who was that man? And I forgot how mad I was at you."
Don let out a heavy sigh. He knew full well that he had given her more than a lifetime's worth of reason to be angry with him. Everything from adultery to manipulation had plagued their relationship, and the majority of the strife had been brought on by him. "Betty…"
Betty let out a frustrated moan, slapping her leg once more. "I don't know what's happened, but I'm all bit up."
"Maybe they think you're sweet," Don offered, standing up and extending a hand to Betty. Don pulled her up onto the porch, steadying her balance with his strong touch.
"I wish they would pick on someone else," Betty scoffed, pulling away slightly. "I should really get inside."
Don followed her into room 11 and closed the door behind him. "Let me see."
"See what?" Betty asked, removing her shoes.
"Where you were bit."
"It's all over," Betty shrugged, taking off her earrings. "Not a very pretty sight."
Don shook his head, closing the gap between them. "Let me see," he repeated, his gaze locking with hers.
Betty slowly removed her socks, revealing red blemishes along her feet. Don could see the various markings along both of her legs, they went all the way up to the cutoff of her shorts, and Don could only assume that she was assaulted farther.
Betty removed her sweater, showing arms that were swollen from various attempts to convince the mosquitoes to go elsewhere. "This isn't everything," she whispered.
Don nodded his head, rubbing his chin. 'I want you to stay right where you are," he instructed, turning toward the door.
"Wait!" Betty called out. "Where are you going?"
"Do you trust me?" Don asked her, turning his attention back to her.
"Do I trust you?"
Don nodded his head. "I'll be right back. Don opened the door and stepped out into the mosquito infested area.
"Yes!" Betty called out, before he could close the door. "I trust you.
"Good," Don said, closing the door.
Betty quickly undressed, taking off her button shirt first and laying it on the suitcase. She had no idea what her ex-husband had in mind, but he had come through for her once before today, and she was interested to see what he was going to do to help her pressing ailment. Betty unhooked her bra, relieved to be free of the constriction. The bugs left no part of her body unmarked, and her chest was particularly sore from the wire pressing against her sweaty body.
Betty unzipped her shorts and struggled to slip them down her body. The fabric was clinging to her body, making her flinch as she pushed the shorts down, and kicked them off with a flourish.
Betty reached into her suitcase, and pulled out a silken blue robe. It was smooth, sheer, and comfortable with the heat. Tying the sash around her waist, Betty slid off her underwear, and walked to the bathroom. If Don was indeed returning, she wanted to be ready for him. Reaching into her makeup bag, Betty pulled out her eye makeup, concealer, blush, and lipstick. Betty teased her hair in the mirror, remembering how much pleasure he took in her physical appearance, what she often found to be her best asset.
As Betty placed the finishing touches on her face, she heard a respectful knock at the door. Ever the gentleman, Betty mused, twisting her curls in her fingers. Walking toward the door Betty felt suddenly nervous with anticipation. The events of the entire afternoon, the run in at the gas station, dinner in the cafeteria, drinking on the porch were all culminating into the next several moments.
Resting her hand on the knob, Betty opened the door, attempting to resist the urge to scratch her troubled areas. Betty turned the knob and found Don braced against the railing. "Hello."
"Hello yourself." He followed her into the room, this time locking the door for privacy. "How are you feeling?"
"The same," Betty replied, playing with the sash of her robe. "I hope you don't mind if I got slightly more comfortable?"
"I find it necessary," Don nodded in approval, reaching for Betty's sash, his hand now on hers.
"Don what exactly did you have in mind?"
Flashing her a sly smile, Don reached into his coat once more. "Did you know that the camp has a 24 hour nursing staff?"
"I did, Bobby's been there for a few scrapes."
"Nurse Amy is a lovely woman, and she was more than willing to lend me this."
Betty looked at a large pink bottle. "Calamine lotion?"
"Works wonders for bug bites, and other ailments brought on by the elements."
"The children and I are very familiar with it. I'm just surprised that Nurse Amy was willing to share it with you."
"You know how well I can convince people into sharing."
"That I do," Betty agreed, taking a few steps backward. "I suppose I don't want to know how you obtained the lotion."
"$10 will get you more than you think," Don explained, pleased to see that she was jealous.
"Oh," Betty relaxed. "And you don't mind...treating me?"
Don grinned, instructing her to go into the bathroom. Betty sat on the edge of the bathtub, bracing herself on the rim.
Don knelt down on the tile, opening the bottle and pouring some of the lotion into his hands. He would start with her legs and work his way up, as far up as she was willing to let him.
After distributing the lotion in his palms, Don reached for her right leg. Betty carefully positioned her body, granting him easy access to the area. Don slowly began to massage his hands over her body, rubbing the lotion in with his palms in gentle circles to prevent further irritation. He had missed her body over the past few years. Neither one had known when their last time together would be, and Don didn't take the chance to truly stop and think about what was their last night together, lying in one another's arms. He would have stopped to memorize every part of her body, every expression, every movement, and every scent. As Don worked his way up he saw just what he had been missing.
He knew that he would see her this weekend. There was no way to avoid contact with her at parents' weekend, where they would be doing activities with Bobby and his friends. Don knew that Megan had no desire to attend camp that weekend, and was quick to refuse her halfhearted offer to go with him for Bobby. What Don had not counted on was Betty arriving alone, sans Henry.
She looked alluring, standing there under the sun with a small pout on her mouth. Don was quick to note that he wasn't the only one taken in by her beauty at the station, and he didn't want to think about what could have happened between her and the Esso attendant if he had not arrived.
He hated the way she drove, and had told her so multiple times. She was often careless with her movements in the vehicle: speeding down the street, forgetting to signal, going past the occasional stop sign. He still worried about her, was curious as to how she was doing with Henry, though he was unable to tell her so.
Betty exhaled as Don worked his magic on her lower body. She was relieved to see that he wasn't looking at her face, couldn't see the reaction that she was having to his touch. Don's touch was very different from Henry. Her husband was more methodical with his gestures and movements; Don was spontaneous, creative, she didn't know where he was going to land next.
"Are you okay?" Don asked, breaking the silence.
"I am," Betty breathed. Don was now on her right thigh, and he knew just where to go to drive her crazy. "It doesn't itch quite as much."
"Then I'm doing it right," Don affirmed. He met Betty's gaze. "Shall I continue?"
"Yes," Betty stammered, not waiting for chance to think. Don carefully helped her stand on the floor, allowing her the privilege of untying the sash. "It's not a pretty sight," she said once more to excuse her appearance.
Don inhaled as Betty opened her robe, revealing her entire form, much of it red or swollen, but that wasn't what Don saw. "You're beautiful Birdie," he promised her in a low, throaty voice.
Betty felt her cheeks redden. "I am?"
"Yes." Don applied more lotion to his palms. "Would you be more comfortable in the bathtub?"
Betty nodded her head, stepping into the empty tub and sitting on her knees. Don came in after her, starting with her upper back.
Betty let out a gasp as Don massaged her shoulders.
"Sorry about that," Don laughed, explaining his cold hands.
"It's not that," Betty replied, her voice soft and demure. "What did you think when you saw me at the gas station today?"
Don moved his concentration to her neck, inhaling the scent of her hair. "That you were as beautiful as the day I met you."
Betty shivered under Don's touch. "And you still think I'm beautiful, all chewed up?"
Don craned his neck so that he could look into her deep blue eyes. "Yes," he repeated, his mouth inches away from hers.
Betty could feel his breath hitting her face. She was losing her battle of the wills. Betty closed her eyes, feeling a spark as his lips touched hers in a tentative motion.
He made the first move, and was gauging her reaction. If she wanted him to stop he would, never wanting to force her into something that she didn't want. But if she wanted him, and he knew that he wanted her, then all bets were off.
Betty deepened Don's kiss, signaling her consent. The bottle of lotion fell out of Don's grasp and into the tub as Don repositioned himself to face Betty. "I've missed you," he whispered between kisses and caresses.
"I've missed you too," Betty agreed, lowering her head to Don's neck.
He was careful not to mark her any further than she already was, knowing full well that her husband would be with her tomorrow, and that discretion was absolutely necessary. "Shall we move to the bed?" Don offered, now treating the front of Betty's body.
Betty signaled agreement with a small moan as Don stood up and lifted her into his arms, carrying her into the bedroom. He tenderly placed her on the comforter and quickly undressed to meet his mate.
"It's amazing that you didn't get bit," Betty murmured as Don crawled into bed with her, kissing the side of his face.
Didn't I though, Don thought, mesmerized by her body and shape. No, it seemed that Don Draper had been bitten by a bug of different sort, one that would pierce the heart, and leave an indelible mark that would not wane with calamine lotion. There didn't seem to be a cure for the sensation that he was feeling, stronger than any itch. All he could do was lean into the bite, and hope that there would be no scarring.