Rain Will Make the Flowers Grow
This chapter: Betty freaks out, and Daniel tries to save the day.
A/N: Okay, here we go, the final chapter. Another fairly long one that wrote itself when I wasn't paying attention, so I apologise, once again, for any weirdness. Hopefully everyone will like my ending, even though it didn't quite pan out how I intended it… darn those Muses.
Betty dressed as quickly as she could in the small bathroom, her mind reeling, and muttered a mantra to herself.
"I kissed Daniel, ohmygod I kissed Daniel…"
She didn't know what had come over her. She didn't even realise she felt that way about Daniel, but the urge to kiss him had come out of nowhere and taken over her more logical senses.
She was absolutely convinced she'd made a terrible mistake. What would Daniel think of her now? She was always projecting the image of being a good girl, a sensible person, and she outright, plain-as-day jumped on him, for no good reason. It wasn't just that he was her friend; he was her boss, her superior, the person who paid her wages and who she would have to face every day, both of them knowing what had happened this rainy night in his apartment.
She blamed the Chinese food. All the MSG. Some people had asthma attacks, she had hormone attacks. It was the only explanation.
Betty pulled on her cardigan and looked at herself in the mirror. Her skin was flushed and her lips were slightly swollen, the realisation of which only made her blush even more. There was no way she'd be able to hide this from Hilda. Even if and when the external symptoms disappeared, Hilda would just know. And then Betty would never hear the end of it.
She contemplated staying in the bathroom until he fell asleep, then sneaking out quietly… but that was a cowardly way to go about things, really. It wasn't as if Daniel was going to hurt her; she just couldn't face him. He would want to talk about it, and Betty just wanted to forget it had ever happened so that life could continue as normal.
The thought of that made her laugh bitterly. Things were never going to be normal now.
In the silence, Daniel tried to figure out what on earth had just happened, not just in the last five minutes, but all evening. Betty had been driving him slowly crazy all night, and he had no idea why. It seemed, given the circumstances, she'd driven herself pretty crazy, too.
He spotted something glinting out of the corner of his eye, and realised she'd forgotten her necklace, the object which had caused the problem in the first place. He pocketed it to give back to her later. All he could do for the moment was wait, and hope that when she re-emerged from the bathroom things wouldn't be too difficult. The longer she remained in there, however, the less likely that was starting to seem.
Daniel wandered through to the lounge, awaiting Betty's return. He killed time and tried to distract himself by watching the music channel that had been playing since the end of the movie, and noted with an ironic smirk that the song currently playing was Cher's "Shoop Shoop Song".
He hoped she wasn't hiding in there until he gave up and left her alone, because that wouldn't solve anything. Not that there was anything to solve, as far as he was concerned. Betty had made her feelings quite obvious, even if she hadn't realised it yet. They just needed to talk things through, but he had a feeling she wouldn't be particularly willing to do that.
Mode would certainly be a party when everyone found out. It wasn't a case of 'if'. Somehow, even gossip which hadn't been told in the first place managed to spread like wildfire, quicker once Amanda or Marc got hold of it. Daniel could take it in his stride, but he worried about Betty's reputation, not to mention the sniping she would receive from the magazine's receptionist. One thing was for definite: his father could not find out. The last thing Daniel needed was Betty being fired for something so innocent.
His thoughts were interrupted by the bathroom door opening slowly. Betty re-emerged, dressed in the clothing she'd arrived in. Daniel's t-shirt, sweatpants and socks were folded neatly into a square, which she held out to him, not meeting his eyes. She cleared her throat awkwardly to indicate he should take them, and Daniel obliged, unsure if he should break the permeating silence. Once free of the spare clothes, Betty stepped away to collect her coat – it was still a little damp, but would do – and shrugged into it.
Daniel finally spoke. "Please don't go." She ignored him, heading for the door. She had one hand on the doorknob when he said, "Don't you think we should talk about this?"
Just as she'd anticipated. "No," she said, firmly. "There's nothing to talk about."
She opened the door, and stepped out, heading quickly towards the elevator and pressing the call button a few times.
Daniel cursed lightly, dropped the clothes on the floor, and went after her. Luckily, the elevator had to travel from the ground floor, buying him some time.
"There's plenty to talk about," he told her, attempting to continue the conversation.
"I already apologised, Daniel." She sighed. "Can we please just forget it?"
"We most certainly can not." Betty looked away from him, staring at the sliding doors. "And I have no idea why you felt the need to apologise, Betty. That kiss was-"
"Nothing," she interrupted. "It was nothing. It should never have happened."
The elevator finally arrived and she stepped inside, squeezing through the doors before they were even fully open. She pressed the button for the lobby repeatedly, trying to shut the door before Daniel could follow her, but her attempt was futile.
She tried to stand as far away as possible, but the room was small.
Daniel wanted to make things right again, and tried to take the burden from her. "Betty, look, it was my fault really. I've been acting weird all night and I probably shouldn't even have asked like I did, but you…" 'You drive me crazy', he almost said, but thought better of it. It was the last thing she would want to hear.
"It's my fault, Daniel," she argued. "I should have just brought the notes and left like I meant to." Then she seemed to change her tactic. "But then you" – she narrowed her eyes and pointed at him – "you with your stupid chivalry had to go and invite me in and be the perfect gentleman all night. You're right, it is all your fault." She crossed her arms defensively.
"Oh, okay, next time I'll let you go back out in the rain to catch pneumonia."
Her expression was supremely unimpressed, and Daniel tried to steer the conversation elsewhere before it turned into a full-scale argument. "Look, we can't just forget it. You might be able to pretend it never happened, but I don't have that luxury." She gave him a sceptical look, and he explained, "As first kisses go, that was really something."
Betty turned a deep shade of red and looked away. After a moment, she said quietly: "And what about last kisses?"
His face fell; for a moment he thought he'd broken through her barriers. He raked both hands through his hair and leaned against the wall of the elevator car. "Don't do this to me, Betty."
"You know what. Don't build me up with a promise of something and then destroy it. You of all people should know better than to do that to me."
Betty's chest compressed with guilt. Of course, he was referring to Sofia, to his father, to anyone and everyone who had ever let him down. She finally managed to face him for the first time since running out, but he was staring at the ceiling in despair, seemingly appealing to heaven.
The elevator pinged and came to a stop, the doors opening to reveal the lobby. The security guard was still fast asleep, for which Betty was grateful. There might be a scene, and she didn't want an audience. Daniel looked down; Betty looked away.
They stepped out of the elevator simultaneously. Betty reached the glass front doors of the building and paused. The rain was torrential, but she couldn't wait for it to stop.
"I've got to go home," she said, with finality. "And you should try and sleep. You've got that meeting tomorrow."
"It's cancelled," he said. "I'm giving us both the day off."
She smiled a little at the thoughtful gesture, even though Wilhelmina would doubtless be on the warpath about it when she found out.
"I had a really nice time tonight," she told him, and meant it. "At least until… you know. But I need to go now."
He sighed, knowing he couldn't hold on to her any longer. "I know you do."
Betty opened the door and stepped out into the night. The doors swung shut behind her and Daniel went up to them, watching her until she disappeared from view. He watched the rain, his breath steaming up the glass, and put his hands in his pockets.
Betty was soaked to the bone already. She took out her cell phone to check the time, and instead saw three missed calls and a voicemail alert. She played back the message, and Hilda's voice spoke urgently.
"Learn to answer your phone, Betty! Sheesh! I guess you're staying over at Daniel's, so… [a sigh Papi's going crazy with worry, you should have called. I told him you were in safe hands. So, anyway, I guess we'll see you tomorrow. Be good. Love ya."
The message ended. Those two words, "be good", kept ringing in her ears. She had been good: a good assistant, a good friend, even a good kisser, if Daniel was to be believed. But she'd ultimately failed at the last hurdle. She hadn't been good enough. She'd left Daniel in the lurch after he'd been nothing but polite and kind all evening – he'd even done the right thing and stopped the kiss before it got out of hand.
There was clearly something between them that she'd failed to notice before. Daniel had been acting strangely all night, and she'd hardly been the pinnacle of normality either. If there was a chance… didn't she owe to him to at least try?
She stopped in her tracks and turned around, marching back towards the apartment complex. It would take hours to get home anyway, and she doubted she would get any sleep even when she got there. Right at that moment, she just wanted to be right back in Daniel's apartment, cosy under a blanket, warm and safe in his arms like she'd felt for that brief moment before she'd come to her senses…
She rounded a corner, and stopped in her tracks.
He was at the end of the block, without a coat, obviously having chased after her without a thought for the weather. He came to a stop when she shouted and peered through the sheet of rain to make sure it was really her. He was completely soaked through, not to mention slightly blue from the cold.
They stared at each other for a moment, each of them taking a few steps forward.
"What are you doing?" called Betty.
Daniel put his hand in his pocket and pulled out her necklace. "You forgot this," he said in a daze.
She stared stupidly at the necklace dangling from his hand, then met his gaze again. Then she broke into a run. Daniel met her with open arms, sweeping her as close to him as possible when she was near enough, practically lifting her off the ground.
She looked up, and kissed him again, once, short and firm.
"I'm sorry," she said, raising her voice slightly to be heard over the downpour. "Not for the kiss. I'm sorry for freaking out, and I'm sorry for running away." Daniel didn't answer her. "Can I still stay tonight?"
Daniel had forgiven her the moment he'd seen her at the end of the block. He was only glad it was raining so much that she couldn't see the tears coursing down his face. He hadn't expected to find her so quickly, much less for her to come running into his open arms, and the relief was utterly overwhelming.
"Of course you can," he said, his voice hoarse and cracked. "And I'm sorry too. I should never have said anything. And I'm sorry about Blaine, and for making fun of you during the movie."
She couldn't believe he'd just apologised for that, of all things, and started to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. Her infectious laughter set Daniel off, too. The pair stood there, giggling helplessly and dripping wet, until the hysteria finally burnt itself out.
Daniel waited until they had both calmed down, and then became more serious. He stroked her face, brushing droplets of water from her cheek. The storm had passed again for a while, replaced by a lighter drizzle, and Daniel was glad he didn't have to shout any more. What he was about to say needed a calm, quiet tone, even though he would happily have screamed it from the rooftops.
"I love you, Betty."
Her eyes grew comically wide, but she didn't seem scared by this revelation. "No you don't, Daniel." Her tone was light, as if to humour a small child.
"Of course I do. Why else would I say it?"
She placed a hand to his forehead; it was incredibly warm, despite the chill in the air. "Because you have a raging temperature and are more than likely delirious," she said, forcefully. "Come on, we need to get you inside."
Betty dragged him by the hand back towards the apartment building, as quickly as she could on the slippery pavement. He needed a blanket and some dry clothes and a warm drink. Soup would do fine, coffee if not… That was assuming Daniel's kitchen had any of the above.
Daniel didn't argue with her; he knew better than to take all-action-Betty lightly.
They reached the building shortly afterwards and Betty let them in, as Daniel's hands were too cold to punch in the code. Thanks to their earlier journey, they didn't have to wait for the elevator, and the short trip to his apartment was soon over.
Daniel had left the door open in his haste to follow her earlier. Once they were inside, Betty closed it after her and immediately gathered up the clothing he'd given her, handing it to him.
"Dry off and put those on. No argument. I'm going to make you a hot drink."
He obeyed. Betty busied herself in the kitchen, searching through the cupboards. As she'd anticipated, they were practically empty except for the basics: bread, non-perishables. She found some coffee and a mug, and some milk in the fridge, and by the time Daniel had changed, his coffee was ready.
She sat him down on the couch and wrapped him up in the blanket he'd been intending to sleep under, then handed him the coffee.
"What would I do without you?" he asked.
"Honestly? It doesn't bear thinking about."
He sipped the coffee gratefully. "Just as well I gave us the day off," he said, already starting to feel the rawness that accompanied a sore throat and subsequent cold. "This is going to hurt tomorrow."
"Well, if you will go chasing after me in the middle of a storm…"
She sat beside him. The music channel which had accompanied their evening had switched to late-night jazz, the songs sandwiched between a bespectacled man reading introductions and information about the artists. It was brainless and soothing.
"I'm not delirious, you know."
Betty knew that, of course, but some part of her was still a little reluctant to accept Daniel's earlier admission. "Perhaps not," she said with a smile. "But you are probably contagious, so we'll have to hold off on the big, romantic kissing scene."
He looked a little downtrodden, but it was ruined by his smirk. "Now, that's just not fair." He took a deep breath. "Especially when my shirt smells of you…"
Betty felt herself blush, then shudder, though she couldn't place if the latter was because of the cold, or something else. Daniel seemed to notice, indicating for her to join him under the blanket. She obliged willingly, snuggling against his side, and they sat together relishing in the first comfortable silence of the evening. Daniel rested his cheek against her hair, not minding that it was damp once again, and sighed contentedly.
"So…" said Daniel.
"So…" said Betty.
"Is this a… thing?"
"A thing?" she repeated, amused.
"A thing thing. You and me."
"That word you're struggling to find is 'relationship'." Her tone was light, but then turned more serious. "And I don't know. Right now, in this moment, I want to say yes, but… in the light of day, everything might have changed."
"In that case," he suggested, "we should enjoy it while it lasts."
They looked at each other. Daniel's eyes were dark and serious, and the expression Betty had previously thought unreadable was now as plain as day. He started to draw in a little closer, and she let him, for once unafraid of the consequences. Their second kiss was soft and slow and full of promise, and when they finally drew apart again, Betty was struck with the thought that this was exactly how it should have been before. It was too late to take it back; the earlier kiss had happened, and the outcome would have been the same either way.
"I don't want this night to end," she told him in a whisper, suddenly fearful that once the storm had passed, the spell would be broken. "I don't want to go back."
"I know." Daniel couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Just in case," she murmured, "I want you to know that… I'm not delirious, either."
It took him a while to figure out what she meant, but then he smiled. Betty, once she was content that he understood, finally allowed herself to succumb to her exhaustion, closing her eyes and resting her head on his shoulder. Daniel pulled the blanket further up to cover her, and watched the jazz guitarist on the television. The rain continued to fall outside, but Daniel could only thank it for bringing Betty to his door.
He hoped that Betty was wrong, that the moment would not change as soon as the sun came up. Perhaps they were both insane, or dreaming, or both, and perhaps if the weather had been better, this might never have happened. But for now, she was sleeping peacefully, nestled against his side, and if everything changed in the cold light of morning, they would have this night and this rainstorm, and every rainstorm to come.
Daniel placed a soft kiss to the top of her head. Perhaps if he stayed awake, the magic would remain. As soon as he thought it, though, he knew it was impossible. A yawn escaped; his eyes grew heavy. Within a few more minutes, he was asleep.
By sunrise, the skies were clear.
- THE END -
A/N: Altogether now: awwww… I'm not sure if that's a happy or sad ending, really… I was suddenly struck with the idea that their strange night had a certain magic to it which might only remain as long as the rain kept falling, so I wanted the final section to be a bit cryptic…
I already have an idea for an epilogue / companion piece to this which will play on that same ambivalence of the ending – keep an eye out for something with a similarly-themed title at some point in the very near future. In the meantime, you have the rest of "Strange Glue" to look forward to. :)
If you enjoyed it, let me know.