15 Minutes Earlier
Daniel looks at the mess they made of his already very large office, like – dare he say it – a tornado had just hit.
(The Tornado Girl incident still hasn't dropped of his short term memory just yet and he's still careful about it with Betty.)
They're sitting on the floor in all their formal finery because they'd given up on luxuries like chairs and tables as they raced against time to finish the next issue. Betty had resorted to colour coding like a mad woman and Daniel had degenerated into shovelling Chinese from his favourite take out place, so hungry was he for actual food despite the truckload of donuts he's had today.
It had been close but he thinks they've finally finished. The layouts look fine to his tired eyes, he's happy with all the articles (no typos!) and he's just sent the graphics department home, no doubt cursing his name under their collectively artistic breath.
He takes stock of the damage and glances at his watch.
"If we hurry, we could still make it."
She grabs his wrist to look at his watch, sighs. "I'm not sure whether I'm up for it."
"To tell you the truth, me neither." He rubs bleary eyes, starts undoing his bow tie. "You look – gorgeous tonight, by the way. Christina did well."
He thinks the way she blushes is quite pretty.
"It's nice of you to say so. Christina is a magician. And … your eyes really pop in that Armani."
He laughs; it's hearty and full bellied and he hasn't laughed like that in a while.
"And at least I got to wear a nice dress. I can't believe Christina was able to alter it for me so quickly."
"She's a regular fairy godmother." He gets up from the floor just as the lights go off. They're plunged into complete darkness. "Ah … okay."
"Must be a power outage." She's struggling to get up in her long, flowing dress, so Daniel extends his hand without thought and she takes it. "I'm sure the lights will come back on soon."
Even without light he's able to see her silhouette, hear the rustle as she leans against his desk.
"I'm going to miss you when you go, Betty."
He'll never know why he decides to confess it to her now of all times, but she doesn't act in the least bit surprised.
"I'm going to miss this place a lot Daniel. I'm –" He doesn't even need to look at her to know she's biting her lip. "I'm going to miss you."
Maybe it's the sadness in her voice, the slight trembling at the trail of the sentence that makes him do it. He never really knows why, but one moment he's struck by how poignant the moment is and the next he's standing in front of her with arm hand outstretched.
"Since your fairy godmother didn't get you to the ball, would you allow me the pleasure of a dance, Miss Suarez?"
His words are strangely formal and he would deck anyone who dares remind him of it afterwards, but it somehow fits this moment. There's surprise on her face, even shock, but she's swift to take his hand.
He doesn't notice right away how tight his heart contracts when he pulls her close to him. Doesn't notice how sweet she smells or even that she has a scent; how had he not noticed it before?
They dance without music and it's effortless really, how well they come together, no awkwardness at all, like they're the only two people in the world.
He stops thinking, and wondering; lets himself be caught in the moment. Doesn't question himself when he tightens his grip around her, doesn't stop to consider the whys and wherefores when she leans into his chest.
Doesn't consider the consequences of the strange feeling that's rushing around inside him.
The promise of mistletoe and all that contains hovers in the air, discordant notes to a future symphony only they can hear.
"Mistletoe." She smiles as their eyes meet and he blurts. "I'm really going to miss you too, Betty." She doesn't, can't know, how much he means it. How can she, when she's always been there to bail him out of whatever mess he's in? When she's always been there for him to talk to, to wheedle and cajole him into doing the right thing when it counts?
She's his rock, his touchstone, his conscience. Everything that's good about his life.
"I know. But we'll always be friends, right?"
Her voice trembles slightly but he doesn't notice it because his lips are hovering inches from hers. His heart's racing but his mind is strangely calm, doesn't think about much of anything before softly brushing his lips against hers.
The kiss is soft, tentative, gentle; everything he associates with her. She isn't made of glass but she's his to hurt and he doesn't ever want that.
He'll never know whether it would have led to something more, because the lights come back on and literally puts the situation into a whole other light.
She springs away from him, rising panic no doubt mirroring his. "Um –"
"Sorry." He's still trying to untangle his arms from her dress.
"No, no – I mean, yeah."
"I didn't mean –"
"Well, yeah, but … you know."
They stare at each other like deer caught in a thousand headlights, then scramble as one to head for the door.
He remembers just in time it's actually his office and it's probably best if he lets her leave first. "Thanks – thanks for all your help tonight Betty. Great - great job."
Daniel can be a blubbering idiot sometimes.
"You're welcome. Don't stay up too late!" And just like that, she walks (runs) out the door and oddly, he notices the silence now is deafening.
He's so preoccupied with his thoughts that he almost doesn't see her stop and look back at him, the tiniest of smiles on her face.
10 Hours Later
They don't talk about it, don't even allude to the possibility of its existence lest difficult words need to be exchanged to explain why it (whatever it is) is a mistake. They're friends, he's still her boss, he's emotionally needy and she needs to kick start her career and not have any distractions like incurably immature playboy millionaires complicating her life, especially when Daniel doesn't know himself what the hell happened last night.
He knows they're all valid reasons, not because he's scared (he is) but because even he can see it isn't a good time for her. He's her friend first which is why he thinks he'll be able to put his own feelings aside, for now.
But he doesn't forget and one day it'll be the right time. But today isn't that day and so he waits.