I'll See You Opening Night
~Part One: Betty~
"You'll think of something. I'll see you opening night…"
-Artie Green, Act 1, Scene 5

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. They belong to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Billy Wilder. I *do* own the plot, but nothing more. Reiews and *constructive* criticisms are appriciated, blatant flames are not.

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Joe and Betty were walking back to Betty's Paramount office, Joe with his arm around Betty's waist. Once again, Betty's mind was in turmoil. She was still in shock over all that had just taken place, from Her admission of love to Joe, to Joe's own confession. She felt like her life was speeding ahead uncontrolled, and that something big would come of it. As she and Joe re-entered the office, Betty was thinking of nothing except for Joe…that is, until a small piece of folded paper sitting innocently on her desk caught her eye. It was the telegram from Artie. Artie. Betty groaned inwardly. What would she tell him? What could she tell him? She was engaged to Artie after all-and in love with Joe, who just happened to be a close friend of Artie. She cursed herself mentally for letting it go this far. Something had to be done…

"Joe, I-I can't do this. I'm engaged, and…" Betty stopped speaking at the look on Joe's face. He was looking at her, but he didn't see to be seeing her. It was as if he was looking right through her. In a sudden flash of thought, Betty remembered the incident with the cigarette case, the inscription "Mad About the Boy", the evening clothes and fancy coat, Joe's strange behavior on New Year's Eve…it all came together for Betty in one brief, terrible moment.

"There's someone else for you too, isn't there?" It was a statement, not a question. For Betty knew the answer: Norma, whom Joe had mentioned once, in regards to the woman who had given him the gold case. Betty knew very little about Norma, and was willing to bet that Norma, whoever she was, knew about as much about Betty, if anything at all.

"You told me that you loved me Joe. You almost made me turn my back on my fiancé. I almost changed the plans I had for the rest of my life, all for you. I thought I was in love with you too…but then again, that's probably what Miss Gold-Cigarette-Case Norma thinks too!"

Joe stood stock-still, his thoughts reeling. Betty's words had come like a slap in the face to him. She wasn't finished either…

"You didn't really love me, did you Joe? Or Norma; you're probably leading her on blindly, too, aren't you? You know what you are Joseph Gillis? You're just a spoiled little boy who is angry because he can't play with both of his little toys at the same time!"


With these parting words, Betty grabbed her purse, the telegram from Artie, and the completed script for "Blind Windows", and stormed out of her office, slamming the door so hard behind her that the window rattled. Joe still stood frozen, staring at the place where Betty had been standing moments before. He wasn't sure how much time passed; all that her was aware of was that Betty had been exactly right about what she had said to him. Finally, he sighed and left the office with a heavy heart.

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Joe drove to 10086 Sunset Boulevard with Betty's entirely-too-truthful words ringing in his ears.

"That little hypocrite!" he thought angrily. "She was engaged to Artie, but she still fell for me! Then, she had the audacity to say what she said to me…Still, I guess I did lead her on…hiding my life with Norma from her. She must have been suspicious ever since New Year's…or at least since she saw the cigarette case. Damn! What an idiot I've been."

Joe sighed, because he knew what he had to do now: tell Norma.
*************
When Max met Joe in the garage, Joe once again said that he had simply been "out", as he'd been telling Max and Norma for weeks now. He hadn't planned to say more, but at the look on the elderly butler's face, he suddenly found himself telling Max the whole sordid story, from "Blind Windows", to the Artie/Betty/Joe love mess, to his own stupidity in hoping that he could keep one part of his life secret from Norma, and another part from Betty. Joe realized that he had run out of words, and simply ended with,
"I know I don't have to tell her, but if I don't, she'll either find out and hate me for trying to keep it from her, or she'll never know, but I'll be miserable, hoping that she'd never find out about it."

Max stood silent before Joe. Then he nodded slowly.
" I'm glad that you've finally decided to tell Madame the truth. It took you long enough." Then he melted into the shadows of the garage, the way he always seemed to. Max knew when to intervene and when to stay out of the way. He also knew Joe very well by this point, and seemed to know what Joe was thinking, even when Joe himself wasn't sure. Maybe it came from years of life with Norma, who was so good at hiding her emotions. She was an actress after all. It had been her job to convince an audience that she was feeling a certain way…and Norma Desmond had been one of the best.

Joe lay in his bed in the "room of the husbands", willing sleep to come, so he could stop worrying over what to say to Norma tomorrow, so he wouldn't have to hear Betty's angry words replayed over and over in his mind. It was no use. Joe tried to tell himself that she'd be back; Betty never held grudges. However, try as he might, Joe couldn't make himself believe it. As Joe Gillis finally drifted off to sleep that night, he faced the realization that he would probably never see Betty Schaefer again.

-END OF PART ONE-