I OWN NOTHING
Closed off from love
I didn't need the pain
Once or twice was enough
And it was all in vain
Time starts to pass
Before you know it, you're frozen
But something happened
For the very first time with you
My heart melted to the ground
Found something true
And everyone's looking 'round
Thinking I'm going crazy
But I don't care what they say
I'm in love with youThey try to pull me away
But they don't know the truth
My heart's crippled
By the vein that I keep on closin'
You cut me open
And I keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open
'Not that damn song again,' was the only thing that flashed through Daniel's mind as he heard the lyrics waft into his office for the hundredth time that day. 'Why does she keep replaying it?' he questioned, staring out at his assistant, counting down five seconds. On cue, Betty jumped up from her desk and walked briskly towards the lavatory.
It had to be the tenth or twelfth time she had taken off to the washrooms after listening to that song. More than fed up, he slipped out of his office while she was gone and withdrew the disc from Betty's small stereo before returning to his desk, popping it into his machine and drawing up the lyrics on the internet. He pressed play and listened as he read, his mind fogging over as he considered the phrases before him. Betty was in love? His heart plummeted like it did every time he learned that his assistant was seeing someone new.
Who was she in love with that people were telling her was a bad choice? Daniel felt blood boil in his veins as he thought of people trying to put Betty down and stop her from doing something. Granted, they might be saving her from future pain, but he knew what their negativity would do: force Betty to channel her energy and barge straight into whatever it was she wanted. Yet, instead the normal result, she was listening to this song, obviously enforcing what everyone was telling her and fleeing to the ladies' room every few minutes. What was wrong with the Betty he knew? His Betty?
He watched silently as she returned to her desk, sitting down and avoiding his direction. She took deep breaths and he watched the way her eyes blinked rapidly, mesmerized by the strength of the woman before him. So strong… No wonder he loved her.
He had come to terms with it a long time ago, but he knew his own history and he knew what he was and was not capable of. A relationship the likes of which Betty deserved lay outside of his aptitude. She warranted more than the half-assed excuse of a man that he was. In spite of being able to pleasure women and run part of a family magazine, he lacked the one thing that he knew would make him a touch more worthy of Betty: the ability to be the upstanding, honest and respectable man she deserved. That being said, he opted to keep his feelings for her to himself and not burden her with the affections of someone so disgraceful. A lifetime of tabloid rumors, people wondering from day to day if they would hear of him cheating or even making up stories. Betty needed much more than him and the people telling her not to pursue the person she seemed infatuated with was unjust.
"Betty," he said once the song ended and he closed off the internet page. "Could you come in here, please?"
She stood up and took her time getting to his office door, hoping to stall long enough for more red to disappear from her eyes, but not managing very well. She walked in and came closer to his desk, standing in front of him until he stretched out a hand and told her to take a seat. Her breathing was shaky, but she fought to control it and would have succeeded as far as any other MODE worker would have been concerned, uncaring about the emotional state of another coworker. Not Daniel…
"It won't work, Betty. I've noticed you running off to the bathroom; I know you're been crying." Her eyes snapped towards him for the fraction of a second before swinging away again, suddenly unable to meet his gaze. "I'm also not deaf; I've heard you replaying that song over and over. It's just started and you're off to the washroom. Why listen to it if it makes you cry?"
Betty sat motionless and silent as he watched her fidget in her seat. With a sigh, he stood up, walked over to his door and closed it along with the curtains. He dropped his jacket over the back of the couch and returned, not to his seat behind the desk, but to the other chair in front of it, closer to Betty.
"When I close my door, no one disturbs me. We're alone now. You can relax. I just want to talk; I can see you're unhappy right now. Why don't you want to talk about it?" She remained tight-lipped and he let another huff of air out of his lungs. "I took the c.d., Betty, and I Googled the lyrics. I have an idea that this has something to do with someone. Don't you think you'd feel better if we talked about it a little? I know it helped to talk to you about Sofia and Renee." As he'd hoped, he coaxed a smile from her, but not nearly big enough. The shadow of a quirk that tugged at the corners of her mouth barely merited to be called a smile.
"I'm glad I could help you, Daniel, but I don't think you can help me."
"Are you sure? Maybe I could guess and you could let me know if I'm right or wrong."
"Daniel," she sniffled, "even if you guess right, you've probably never felt like you don't deserve someone before, so thank you for your offer, but you can't help when you don't understand."
"You think I don't understand feeling undeserving of someone, because I do. I understand all too well. So… You're in love with someone, aren't you?" She nodded her head softly, but remained silent. "I was going to say everyone is telling you he's all wrong for you and he'll only cause you pain, but I'm leaning towards being too hard on yourself instead. Am I right?" he asked gently, but she squirmed a little rather than answer. "Betty?"
"A bit of both…" she muttered, "and it's not so much 'self-criticizing' hard on myself as 'realizing-our-two-worlds-haven't-got-a-single-thing-in-common' hard on myself."
"So what?" he blurted out, shocking Betty into lifting her gaze for a moment. "Do you love each other?" he demanded sharply and leaned forward, making her back up a bit. She bit her lower lip for a couple seconds, needing a further prod from Daniel to answer.
"I don't know…" she muttered, hugging her sides. "I mean… I know I am." Her eyes stared down at the ground as tears streaked her cheeks and Daniel reached onto his desk for a tissue to dab away her tears. Foregoing the offering of the Kleenex, he reached out and wiped the droplet away himself, surprising her into stillness, her body stiffening visibly.
"Trust me, no one who knows you couldn't be in love with you…" he whispered and held his breath as the phrasing of his comment rang in his ears like cathedral bells. Betty, too, seemed to stop breathing as the words trickled into her brain and slowly, her eyes lifted to his again, confusion stamping his features. "I mean… Well…" he fumbled, but finally settled on "Oh, God!" The muttered oath surprised Betty for a split second as he jumped up and returned to his spot behind his desk. She rose quickly after him and stared.
"Daniel. Daniel, repeat that…" she said quietly, but decisively. He groaned and shook his head a few times, not noticing her approach until she was beside him. Trying not to jump, he finally noticed her in his peripheral vision, forcing his eyes to remain dead ahead. "Daniel, I answered your questions, so, for the love of God, answer me now and repeat what you said."
Daniel tried to shrug her off and ignore her, but her persistence was stronger that his resistance. He turned towards her and stared down into her warm brown eyes, the warmest that he had ever been on the receiving end of. No one in his life had ever looked at him like that, desperate to hear whatever he was about to say and the knowledge that she would hang on every word he was about to say both terrified him and sent his heart soaring. He took a deep breath.
"I said that anyone who knows you is in love with you."
A shuddering breath slipped passed Betty's lips and he felt her sway a little, reaching out to hold her shoulders and still her pendulum action, scared she would topple. Her eyes locked with his and he knew that if neither of them spoke or moved relatively soon, he would be permanently lost in the dark depths. She swayed again and he tightened his grip to steady her, about to release when she finally ushered a quiet comment.
"You know me…" she pointed out and he could not suppress the tiniest chuckle.
"I'd like to think I do."
"So…" she stammered, her hands frozen between their bodies, neither dropping to her sides, nor resting on his body. "Does that apply to you?" she asked, her voice so low and shaky that he could not hear her and was forced to ask her to repeat. "I asked if that applies to you?" she said again, her voice a modicum stronger than the first time. Their eyes were locked and the muscles of his neck flexed repeatedly as he forced himself to regulate his breathing. Ever so gently, he removed his hands from her shoulders and took a small step back. Tears sprung instantly to her eyes and he stilled externally while everything did somersaults within.
"Betty?" he breathed out, watching as she wrung her hands and her shoulders bounced. "Betty, what did I do?"
"Does it apply to you?!" she shouted in a hoarse whisper. "Please, Daniel, does it apply to you?" she asked again and, with a glimmer of hope, he finally replied.
The tears that had silent poured down her face turned into deeper sobs, betrayed by the smile on her lips. Daniel, not knowing if he would step forward and hug her or back away slowly stayed rooted to the spot as Betty continued to cry into her hands, one arm going about her waist as she stared at him. Minutes of watching the woman he loved appear so pained passed like hours until her shoulders came to a relative still, her hand slipping down from her mouth to allow herself to speak.
"Daniel…" she started, but the tears assaulted her once more. "Damn it, Daniel! How?! We're so different. How did you fall for me?!"
"Very easily, Betty, and I'm sorry."
Her eyes shot open, wide and horrified. His brows knitted in confusion as he watched.
"You… You're sorry?" she questioned with more tears in her eyes and Daniel felt helpless before her, something he had promised to do his damnedest not to be where she was concerned.
"I just… It wasn't supposed to come out. I never meant to tell you and I'm sorry," he explained, watching as her face morphed in bewilderment which deepened his own. "I mean… you just said you've fallen in love. The last thing I wanted to do was admit this to you," he attempted, but obviously failed if the expression on her face was any indication.
"Daniel, I… I don't understand."
"That makes two of us."
Betty and Daniel took the smallest of steps towards each other and froze. He crossed his arms, uncrossed them, and recrossed them and finally opted for slamming his fists into his pant pockets. Betty's arms slowly came up to wrap around her waist, gripping the material of her sweater tighter around her torso.
"Daniel, who… who exactly do you think I'm talking about?"
"HOW THE HELL SHOULD I KNOW?" he burst, startling Betty into taking a step back and falling into the chair, gripping the sides. "I'm not a mind reader! I can't tell who's finally woken up to how wonderful a person you are! All I know is he's the luckiest son-of-a-bitch in the world to have your love!" he bellowed and watched as a new batch of tears welled and loomed on the rim of her lower eyelid. He rushed to her side and took her face in his hands, his thumbs trying desperately to swipe the tears from her face. "Oh, God… Betty, I'm so sorry; I didn't mean to yell."
"Do you mean it?" she asked softly and he eyes looked like they were trying to refocus on her face, obviously surprised by her question. "Do you mean it? That the man I love is the luckiest… man… in the world."
Although part of him wanted to laugh at how she had paraphrased his thoughts in a more polite manner, the thought of another man having the love of the woman before him tore his heart to shreds. He released her face and stood up, returning to his side of the desk, facing the wall to her right and resting his knuckles on the glass top, nodding his head vigorously, unable to speak anymore as he sniffed shortly. Suppressing the emotion that wanted to bubble to the surface, he lifted his head with as much pride as he could muster. After pulling in a breath of air and holding it for a second, he released it and rasped out a soft "yes".
The squeak of the chair made him look up to find her no longer in the chair, but behind him, looking up at him with wide eyes and an even wider smile. "Betty, what…" Suddenly, thoughts both froze and ricocheted off the walls of his mind. Her eyes stared at him expectantly, silently pleading with him to understand what she was thinking and, slowly, he began to. "Betty?" he whispered, watching her nod subtly. He looked down for a second and inhaled, hoping to take in some resolve with the oxygen and did. When he turned back towards her, he smiled.
Lifting his hands gradually to her face, his fingers were the first thing to come into contact with her skin, brushing across her damp cheeks until the palms pressed against them as well, his fingertips resting just behind her ears. His lids slipped low, hooded, but not closed and exactly like hers as their faces neared an inch at a time. Their eyes still locked on one another, his lips finally met hers and the combination of the tingles their joined mouths created with the fiery passion of their locked gaze pumped liquid fire through their veins, shooting them into orbit as her arms wrapped around his neck and his held her against him.
Unlike anything they had ever experienced, it was over far too soon, the unexpected ignition between them catching them off guard and taking their breath away. They pecked slowly, quickly and every other way, desperate for the feel of each other's mouth, until the need for air won the battle against their passion. Panting heavily, he rested his forehead against hers and they stood there like fools in love in his office. She gave a content little purr of satisfaction and let her fingers lace behind his neck, playing with the short tendrils at the nape.
"I love you, Betty Suarez," he mumbled, his lips moving so close to her lips that she felt the movement against them. She smiled and stole a small kiss from him, opening her eyes to look into his clear blue orbs.
"I love you, too, Daniel Meade," she whispered, smiling and lowering one hand from behind his neck. Reaching blindly, she fumbled and he heard mechanical clicks from somewhere on his desk until she lifted a round reflective object. His eyes swung to the side to look at the disc in her hands and he grinned as she turned and dropped it into his waste basket. "Don't need that anymore."