AN: Okay guys here is the last chapter, it's a lot longer than the others. I could have split it up, but I think it flows better as one. Also I think Daniel and Betty, and you guys have had to wait long enough. I had this whole plan of how this would end, but as I worked on it, it just took on this life of its own, which seems to be happening a lot lately with my stories. And as it worked out okay on those I decided to just run with it. I would really love to hear what you guys think, were you happy with the ending? It wasn't too drawn out or over too quickly? It just allows me to adjust these things on my next piece. So I hope you enjoy the last chapter, and thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed, it really does put a smile on my face.
Being an editor definitely had its perks. A company credit card, access to the gym, town cars, and the freedom to work from home. This is where she now found herself, sat at her kitchen table in her small New York apartment. She had buried herself in her work, not that it had helped all that much, there was always some small reminder which under any normal circumstances would have been trivial, but due to her current situation, had driven her to frustration. Post it notes stuck to her feature stories read, "Ask Daniel's opinion on photographer" or "Would Daniel approve this?" in her own flowing handwriting. She pulled them from the page as she scrunched them into little balls in her fists, and threw them at the bin. Missed. Daniel always made the shot. She buried her head in her hands, this was getting her nowhere. There was still the nagging thought in the back of her mind, that by end of business today she had to have the release forms from Mode. Unfortunately that required going back, and even though Hilda had offered to go for her, she knew that she needed to do this one last thing before she could finally move on. Hilda had been so supportive, and as the only other person who knew what had happened between her and Daniel, Betty was grateful that she hadn't pushed. She decided that she would leave it as long as possible, she didn't really want to plaster on a smile for everyone at work, who would no doubt bombard her with questions. No she would get in and get out as quickly as possible. Besides Daniel probably had a date with Trista tonight, so he would want get away for that, wouldn't want to keep Miss Blessing in the Skies waiting. Ugh, she scoffed at the thought of the leggy brunette that would have Daniel hanging on her every word. He had come so far, and grown up to become someone people respected, someone she had respected, but now it was like two steps forward and twelve steps back. If she was going to move on with her life she needed to get passed this, two minutes would be all it would take to get the papers signed and leave with her dignity intact.
As the elevator doors opened on the Mode floor, Betty held her breath. Peering from inside she took in the familiar surroundings, and the thankfully quiet tube, but still made no attempt to move. If she stood here long enough the doors would close, and she wouldn't be able to get out on this floor, a little wishful thinking on her part. As the seconds ticked away, the doors began to close and she knew if she didn't make her move she wouldn't have the courage to try again. Sighing she placed her hands between the doors, stopping them in their tracks, and slowly stepped off of the elevator. The clacking of her heels echoed through the empty space, making her feel smaller than she was. She ran her hand along the reception desk as she walked around it, taking in her surroundings for the last time. She broke off from the desk and made her way to the end of the tube, once she turned that corner there was no going back. She steeled herself, she knew seeing him for the first time since the wedding would be tough, and she didn't want him to think that his effect on her had weakened her in any way. She would put feelings aside, tonight was about getting her life together and there was no way she was going to let Daniel see how much this was killing her. She stepped out from the tube and looked up to see him sat at his desk, working away at his laptop. She sighed as she drew her shoulders back and repeated her mantra. "I am an attractive, intelligent, confident business woman." She smiled. "And this is all about business." With a final sigh, she put one foot in front of the other.
He had obviously seen someone coming out of the corner of his eye, but she suspected she wasn't who he was expecting to find. She hadn't bothered knocking, after the boundaries she had crossed by professing her feelings, it seemed neither necessary nor relevant. Instead she marched right into his office, and placed her bag on his desk as she opened it and removed the paperwork. He stood up, eyes level with hers.
"Betty…I'm glad you came in. I really wanted to talk to you." He seemed relieved to see her, but also sounded a little nervous.
She really wasn't in the mood to talk, much less about her feelings, look where it had gotten her in the past. So instead she focused on the task at hand, silently passing him the release form. He stared at her for a moment making no move to retrieve it, and left her wondering how long this would go on for. Finally he took the paper, as he looked over it.
"My release form…I'm leaving." Keep it short and sweet she thought. Any deviation away from the topic she was here to discuss, could only lead to heartache.
"What?" he asked in shock as his eyes scanned the form in his hand. He looked up at her. "Betty this is crazy, you can't leave Mode. Where are you going to go?"
"I've been offered a job, helping run a magazine…in London." She added as she looked away, it was one thing to be angry with him, but to see the hurt expression on his face would have her do anything to fix it.
She looked back in time to see him slump into his chair, as his hand came to rest upon his forehead, as it had done so many times before when he was under great deals of stress. Usually it was at this moment when she would have offered a friendly pep talk, and reminded him that he could do anything. But tonight she held her tongue.
"So you really want to leave?" he asked just above a whisper.
"Well, it's not like there's anything keeping me here." She couldn't help it, she was hurting and so was he, judging by the look on his face that comment garnered.
"We've been friends for over four years, doesn't that mean anything to you?" he asked hurt.
She sighed, he wasn't making this easy for her but then what did she expect, he could be stubborn as a mule when he wanted to be. But how could she answer that, of course their friendship meant something, it meant a whole lot of something. That's why she had thought long and hard before saying anything to him in the first place. He stared at her awaiting her answer, and all she was left with was the truth.
"Daniel what we had, it meant everything to me. But things have changed, and I…I can't stay here and be around you, it's too hard."
"So you're leaving the country?" standing he argued back, and his sudden hostility only heightened her own anger.
"What else am I supposed to do Daniel? It's been days and you haven't even called. I poured my heart out to you, and all you could do was just stand there and watch me walk away. You didn't even have the decency to tell me how you really felt, one way or the other!"
"So this is how you deal with it?" he asked, slamming the form down on his desk.
Who did he think he was? She was the one who had had her heart ripped out; she was the one who had to leave her family and her home, just so she could deal with losing him. Yet here he was acting as if everything she had done so far was in a bid to hurt him, some form of payback for what she had been through.
"I'm sorry Daniel but what would you have me do? Swan around here all day pining after you, begging you to give me the time of day?" He was moving now, around his desk and standing in front of her.
"No of course not. How could you even think that?"
"I don't know what to think anymore, I thought I knew you, obviously I didn't!" He was so close to her now she could feel the heat radiate from him.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means the Daniel I thought I knew, wouldn't be dating someone like Trista!"
"Well I'm not!"
"What?" she asked confused.
"I broke things off with her the night of the wedding!"
She didn't know how to reply to that news, this whole time she had run numerous scenarios over and over again in her mind. She saw Daniel and Trista sipping cocktails and having a good laugh at her expense. But she knew him better than that, he might not feel the same way about her, but he would never hurt her like that. She guessed it was her own way of dealing with things; make him out to be the bad guy so she didn't feel like such an idiot.
"Well." She paused, her voice now strangely quiet in comparison. "It's none of my business is it?"
Daniel sighed, some of the anger left his body and she saw him relax a little. "Betty, look I know things between us are different now, but can't we just talk about this, before you do something crazy?"
Things had gotten complicated, so much for her plan, keep it short and sweet, two minutes and she would be out of there. Well that had definitely gone out the window. Daniel might have broken up with Trista, but how long before he got a new girlfriend, and she would have to see them together? As much as she loved him, she really didn't think she could stand that kind of pain. It would be better all-round if she left, but first she had to know for sure. She prepared herself for one of the most difficult questions she would ever have to ask, her entire future hinged on his answer.
"We could talk about this until the sun comes up, but it all comes down to one question…and I need an honest answer, because I can't look back a year from now and regret what happened." Daniel gave a small nod of agreement, and she sighed.
"Do you have any feelings for me?" she said just above a whisper. Her heart was racing as she scanned his face for any sign of an answer. He stared at her for a long while, it seemed as if he was inwardly memorising her, the way her hair fell, and the nervous bite of her bottom lip, adding her up in his mind.
"Betty…you're my best friend…" he replied mimicking her tone, as he reached out a hand and cupped her cheek. She could feel the tears falling before she had a chance to stop them. He loved her, just not in the way she wanted him too. Well at least she had her answer, she just didn't think it would have been this hard.
"I guess this is goodbye." She said, and before she had a chance to chicken out, leaned forward and kissed him softly. Pulling back, she reached for her bag, and without a second glance left his office for the last time.
Daniel stared after her, his eyes misting as he reached his hand up to his lips. Betty was gone, and she wasn't coming back.
This was how Claire found her son moments later, still stood in front of his desk, staring out at Betty's old desk. She had been working late and heard the yelling from his office. Having been the only person he had told about Betty's revelation, Claire took it upon herself to help her son come to some understandings. She placed a hand on his shoulder and he jumped at the contact.
"Mom? How long have you been here?" he seemed to shake himself from his thoughts, as he took a seat on the edge of his desk.
"Oh long enough." Claire smiled, taking a seat in the chair in front of him. "How are you doing?"
"Fine." He lied, although he knew he was fooling no one. "I kinda had a fight with Betty…a big one."
"I heard." He looked up at her. "It was hard not to hear." He ran his hands over his face as he sighed in frustration.
"She's gone…and she's not coming back… not that I blame her." Claire looked up at her son. "She asked me, she asked me outright if I had feelings for her and I lied."
"And why do you think you did that?" she asked placing her hand on his.
"I don't why, mom. I guess…I guess I was scared, what if I ask her to stay and things don't work out huh? What then? She's been offered this amazing job in London and she was willing to give that up, for me. I've done a lot of stupid things that I'm not proud of, but I can't stand in her way, even if it means I lose her forever."
"Sweetheart, don't you think that you're being a little selfish?" Daniel glared at his mother confused.
"Betty opened her heart to you and you kept yours hidden. She wanted you to fight for her. She only took the job to get away from how hurt she was feeling."
A sudden look of realisation crossed Daniel's face, and Claire smiled. "How about you listen to you heart and not your head?" She stood from the chair and planted a kiss on his cheek, then turned to leave.
"Oh I almost forgot." She said as she turned back and handed Daniel a photograph wallet. "Justin dropped these over." Daniel took it, as Claire turned and left his office.
He sighed as he opened the wallet and pulled out a stack of photographs. He smiled as he went through the photos from Hilda and Bobby's wedding, but stopped when he landed on a photo of Betty and himself. They were sat at their table, his arm was around her shoulder, and they had both tilted their heads in towards each other as they smiled at the camera. He placed the other photos on the desk as he stared at the one in his hand. It had been taken not long before everything changed, they both looked so happy like they had known each other their entire lives; it only took him a moment to react. Jumping up off the desk he grabbed his coat and ran from the office.
Betty sat on her couch watching as the rain ran down her windows. It seemed fitting that the weather had taken a turn for the worst, and reflected her current mood with alarming accuracy. She had been sat in the dimly lit room since she arrived back from his office, not surprisingly in the mood to do anything else. She wished she could go back and change things, at least if she hadn't messed things up they would still be friends, and right now she would have given anything to be able to return to that simpler time. For so long she had put everyone else first, and now she needed to do that for herself, she needed to move on and if that meant leaving Daniel, it was what she had to do. She held the cushion close, a lousy substitute but the only thing she had, as she tried to forget. A knock at the door so soft, at first she thought she had imagined it brought her out of her thoughts. Standing she discarded the cushion, and made her way to the door. Glancing through the peephole she had to do a double take. Daniel soaking wet stood before her. She questioned whether or not to let him in, but decided that she had nothing left to loose.
She opened the door and stared at him, as the rain water ran down his face. Within two steps he had closed the distance between them, and kissed her intensely. Pulling back he breathed heavily, as his hands lingered on her face. She had no idea how to react, less than an hour ago she had said goodbye assuming she would never see him again. Yet here he was standing in her apartment dripping wet, kissing her like there was no tomorrow.
"I lied…" he paused as he stared deeply into her eyes. "I thought if I told you how I really felt, that you would realise that you deserved better than me, and I would lose you." She couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Daniel…" she tried to speak, but words eluded her so he continued.
"I thought that if you turned down that job for me, you would grow to resent me for it. It's such a great opportunity; I didn't want to stand in the way of that. You've turned into this incredibly amazing woman, and you have so much in front of you. It made me realise that one day you would figure that out and leave, I guess that's why I started dating Trista; I fell back into old habits. I was afraid I would lose you, and then people would realise that I'm nothing without you."
Seriously was she dreaming this? Because as he continued, Daniel seemed to tell her everything she ever wanted to hear and then some. She had poured her heart out to him at the wedding and now here he was, doing the same. She searched his eyes and all she found was truth, he did care about her and he had told her things she supposed he had barely admitted to himself. How could she reply to that?
"Daniel, over the last four years I have seen you grow into this amazingly kind and caring guy. If you could see what I see every day, you would realise that you don't need me to make you look good. You've earned the respect yourself; I just gave you a little push." She replied with a small smile.
"I do mean it though, without you Betty, I'm nothing." She smiled up at him as she draped her arms around his neck, a smug smile crossing her features.
"Does this mean you're asking me to stay?" He leaned his head back with a chuckle, as he took in the woman before him.
"Yes, I'm asking you to stay. With me." She seemed to think it over for a moment, causing him to smile.
She was enjoying messing with him, as she thought back over the last few months. It was strange that it had taken her so long to discover her feelings. It seemed like a lifetime ago that she had been sneaking around behind everyone's back, and staying at his apartment, helping him deal with his grief. But as she watched him before her, she realised that she had felt this way for longer than she had ever admitted to herself. She had fallen for her best friend, and he felt the same way. He leaned in and kissed her again, leaving her breathless.
"Okay, I'll stay. With you." She smiled, and suddenly everything that had happened seemed worth it. This was the start of something amazing, she could feel it. And as his lips met with hers once more, all thoughts disappeared.