AN: This takes place during The Past Presents the Future. It was intended as a light, funny story, but as I came back to it, it kind of developed into something more. It's told from both perspectives, hopefully I've made it clear enough who is who. Once again, if you recognise a piece of dialogue I have borrowed it from the show, but only a small amount right at the beginning. For those of you reading Save You, I haven't forgotten about it, and will back to work on it very soon. Hope you all enjoy.
She had drunk dialled Henry. Seriously, what was she thinking? She didn't even remember doing so, until she had the shock of listening to his answer phone message. She had drunk dialled Henry, and not only that, she had invited him to Hilda's wedding. As her date. And there was no way to stop it; he was on a plane headed for New York. How could she have done this? More to the point, how had Hilda, Christina and Amanda, well maybe not Amanda, let her do this? Now she had to tell Daniel that Henry was coming with her and not him. But she was really looking forward to going with Daniel, when he had raised his eyebrows in that suave manner when she asked him to be her date, and then blew off his evening with Trista, it seemed like he was looking forward to it too. It just sucked that now their plans were ruined, all because of one stupid drunk phone call. So instead of going with her, he would be bringing Trista. His girlfriend. Why did that bug her? Things between her and Henry were strained to say the least; the last thing she wanted was to spend the day trying to make small talk, while she watched her best friend twirl some dumb leggy brunette around the floor. She didn't know why she was "so down on her" as Daniel had pointed out; there was just something about her that Betty instantly disliked. The girl seemed sweet enough, but she certainly wasn't the sharpest of pencils, which after Daniel's recent track record, seemed to be a step backwards. In her search she found him on the way to his office, and followed him as she filled him in.
"So you drunk dialled Henry? Why would you do that?" he asked as they filed into his office.
How could she have called him, at all? Didn't she remember how much Henry had hurt her in the past? How long it had taken her to get over him? How many times he had looked up to see her crying at her desk when she thought no one was watching? He had warned her she would only get her heart broken, but seeing it first-hand he only had compassion for her. So why had she called him? And why did it bother him so much?
"I don't know." She replied shrugging her arms at the question.
"Well it must mean something if you drunk dialled him." He took a seat at his desk, awaiting her to do the same.
"Oh come on." She said sitting opposite him. "You've drunk dialled me before. 'Betty I'm locked out.' 'Betty I can't find my phone.' 'Betty is my hair thinning?'"
"Okay that never happened, because my hair is not getting thin." She sighed, having reached the hard part of the conversation.
"Anyway, the problem now is that Henry is on a plane, and he thinks that he's coming to Hilda's wedding, with me."
Daniel looked from her then down to his desk. Was he upset? She found it sweet that he was obviously looking forward to going with her. In all honesty she wished she had never drunk dialled Henry, and invited him in the first place. It was nice spending time with Daniel. Ever since her move from assistant to Junior Features Editor, they had seen very little of each other. That's why she had jumped at the chance to fill in for Amanda, and that's why she had asked him to be her date.
She was ditching him for Henry? He was Daniel Meade for crying out loud, women didn't ditch him. It was narcissistic of him to say, but this was Betty, she didn't ditch him, she was his best friend. She had asked him to be her date, and now she was taking Henry? Why was he so annoyed? As of a couple of hours ago, he wasn't even invited. Didn't she want to spend time with him? They had been so busy lately, and hadn't seen much of each other. But the wedding seemed like the perfect place to rectify that. He finally looked up.
"Are you uninviting me? Because, I cancelled plans." Now he was feeling hurt and abandoned. Great this was the last thing she had wanted, she had to reassure him, she knew what he was like.
"No, no, no, Hilda wants you to be there." She wanted him to be there, but he still looked upset, how could she make it up to him? Ah ha, she had it. "You could bring Trista." She said plastering on a smile, as if trying to bribe a child.
Although the idea of Trista being at the wedding made her feel about the same way as Henry being there did, and that was not all that happy. It was a sacrifice she had to make if she wanted Daniel to be there, which she did. It didn't mean she had to be pleased about it.
"I thought, ah Trista made me dumb?"
"But you like that." She said happily, trying to cheer him up. It didn't work, she realised, as his face fell. "Come on Daniel, why are you being like this?" Maybe he didn't want to come to the wedding at all. Maybe he had just said yes to be polite.
"I'm not being anything." Fine, he might have been sulking just a little.
He couldn't help it; he was looking forward to spending some quality time with her. They were friends, it was allowed, and now that idea was out the window. He'd have to entertain 'Miss Blessing in the Skies' for the day, instead of actually enjoying himself. His other option was to turn up stag, but that meant spending his time hiding out by the bar, as Henry twirled Betty around the dance floor. It came down to the lesser of two evils. He sighed.
"It's fine I'll bring Trista. I'll just make sure to powder my head, I wouldn't want the pictures to blind anyone." He said with a small smile. If it meant he could still go to the wedding and see her, it was a sacrifice he had to make.
"Thank you." She replied as her face lit up, it was a small price to pay.
That afternoon as she worked away at her old desk, she felt sorry for Daniel. Hilda's wedding was going to be a chance for them to hang out again. And now that Henry was going, she could hardly leave her 'date' by himself. She wanted to make it up to Daniel, but how?
By the time she had cleared her desk, Daniel had packed up and was about to leave for the night. She grabbed her bag and coat and walked with him to the elevator. They rode in silence for a few minutes before he broke the silence with small talk.
"So what are your plans for tonight?" he asked, thinking she would say visiting her family, or perhaps a quiet night in.
"Well I thought I'd take my best friend out for drinks, to make up for the fact that I had to take someone else to my sister's wedding." She smiled as she turned to face him. He too wore a smile. "I mean that is, if he doesn't have any plans for tonight?"
If he had plans, he would have cancelled them. He was already going to miss spending time with her at the wedding, this was his best chance to hang out like they use to. He just had one condition.
"Promise me one thing?"
"No karaoke." They both smiled.
They had settled into a bar, less trendy and more affordable. Neither was in the mood for expensive cocktails and superficial clientele. No just a place where they could hang out and talk. But what had started out as a couple of drinks now had them necking shots. Daniel had lost the jacket and tie, and rolled up his sleeves. She had to admit, she did like the more relaxed side of him. He tapped the bar and two more shots appeared.
"I am so going to regret this in the morning." Betty groaned, as they raised their glasses.
"We're here to have fun, remember? Besides I know your boss. I'm sure we can work something out." At that they clinked glasses, and downed the shots in one.
"Woo!" Daniel called, clapping his hands.
He had missed this, the closeness they use to have, the way she made him feel. Like there was nothing he couldn't do if he set his mind to it. She was always ready and willing to give him a pep talk, and as much as he had protested in the past, he secretly missed them. Hearing that she believed in him, and was proud of who he had become was such a great feeling, one that could only have been rivalled by his father's approval.
She laughed; this was fun and just what they needed. She hadn't realised until that moment, how much she had missed spending time with him. Her new role at Mode had been more time consuming than she could have ever imagined, but she had never for one moment thought about giving it or her friendship with Daniel up. Betty grabbed her bag as she tried to stand.
"Right you get the next one's in, while I go to the little girl's room." But as she got up the booze hit her, and she grabbed a hold of Daniel to keep her balance. They both laughed, as he helped her stand. It was strange, usually their contact didn't allow her to feel the muscles in his arms tense, as he had helped her up, and she felt her cheeks flush at the action.
Her closeness reminded him what he had been missing. She was the one person in his life that he trusted completely, he could tell her anything and everything; it just seemed that lately they had both been too busy to remember that. She had changed, the hair, the clothes, the braces, she was wearing make-up, although not enough to look like she was, the outside world saw these changes. He saw Betty, the woman she had always been, his best friend. But as he steadied her, he saw a subtle change. He could blame it on the alcohol, but he could have sworn he saw her blush.
"Are you sure you're gonna be okay getting there by yourself?" he asked bringing her out of her thoughts.
"I'm fine." She said, a hiccup following, as she made her way to the bathroom. Daniel chuckled as she disappeared into the toilets. It was subtle, but it was there. Turning to the barman, he ordered again.
After washing her hands she rummaged around in her bag, looking for her lipstick. She applied it, and when she was done, threw it back in her bag. Seeing it land next to her cell phone, she began to think back to what happened the last time she had drunk dialled. It wasn't fair; she was part of Hilda's wedding too, why couldn't she bring who she wanted? At this point she wasn't sure who she was angrier with, herself for calling Henry or Henry, for assuming things would magically be okay between them and that him coming was a good idea? If she had had the courage earlier, she would have called him back and explained everything. How she didn't want to go to Hilda's wedding with him, or honestly how much she didn't want to go back to what they had. They had both moved on, they were different people now, and he wanted to stroll back into her life and ruin the one thing she was looking forward to. Spending time with Daniel at the wedding. She seemed to have talked herself into dialling the once familiar number, and didn't even care if he answered in person. It just so happened that he did.
"Betty. It's great to hear from you again. We're finally here." He sounded so happy, too bad she was about to ruin it.
"Henry…I need to tell you something, and, and I don't want you to feel bad. Okay?" She tried to sound coherent but those last shots were really doing a number on her.
"Betty have you been drinking?" He sounded shocked. Although she didn't know why, the last time she had called, she had also been drunk.
"Yes, but it's not the point. I don't, I don't want to go to Hilda's wedding with you." There was a pause at the other end of the line. "Henry?"
"Yeah?" he said sounding distant.
"It's just, I was going with Daniel, and then I got your message, and everything just got messed up. I just don't think us together, is a good idea."
"You're not just talking about the wedding, are you?" he replied, a little saddened as the reality of what she was saying hit home.
"No, I'm sorry. I just think it would be like going backwards." Just like Daniel dating Trista. Damn it, why did everything come back to Daniel?
"I get it." He said, and she believed him. "I guess we had our shot. I think it would probably be better, if we didn't see each other while I'm in town."
"I think you're right." She paused. "Goodbye Henry."
"Bye Betty." They ended the conversation, as well as the possibility of any further relationship, and Betty sighed with relief.
She returned to the bar, picking up the shot glass and downing it before she even sat down. Daniel stared at her with a smirk. "Okay…"
"I needed that." She said, as she hopped back up onto the bar stool. She turned to him, still holding his shot. "Come on drink up, I'm buying. Bartender, hit me!" she said calling to him for another round.
Daniel laughed. "What's gotten into you? Not that I mind." He definitely didn't mind. She had returned from the bathroom with an added confidence, and he was intrigued.
"You said so yourself, we're here to have fun. So let's have some fun."
While she had been away, a drunk guy had sat on the stool next to her, and was getting a little too close for her liking. She was trying her best to keep her distance, but her loud call to the barman had gotten his attention, and when he turned to see her, a sleazy smile crossed his face.
"I can show you fun." He replied cockily. Turning to the source of the voice, she spoke.
"Excuse me?" she had heard him, but didn't believe what he had said.
"How about you ditch the boyfriend, and come hang out with me?" This guy has some nerve, how dare he talk to her like that? Daniel was going to have to do something about him, but Betty beat him to it.
"As tempting as that offer, really isn't. I think I'll have to pass." Daniel chuckled, as Betty told the guy where to go. His laughter soon died away, when the guy didn't take the hint.
"Come on, you know you want to." He said, as he began reaching out to her. That was it, this guy was going down. Something happened inside, as if a switch had been flipped, and every protective gene in his body went on high alert.
"Hey, get your hands off her!" Daniel said, as he quickly stood between Betty and the idiot.
"Why, you gonna make me?"
Betty put her hand on his arm. "Daniel, its fine…" As much as she loved him for defending her, the guy was pretty big and very drunk. She didn't want Daniel to get hurt. Or for him to be arrested for assault.
"No Betty, this guy is being a jerk. I won't let him talk to you like that." He squared up to the idiot, "You apologise to her, now." At this point the bartender arrived.
"Everything okay here?" The idiot looked from Daniel to the bartender and back again.
"No problem. He was just about to apologise and be on his way." He looked past Daniel to Betty.
"Sorry." He picked up his glass and downed what was left, before leaving.
"Are you okay?" Daniel turned to Betty, placing a hand on either shoulder as he rubbed soothingly. The adrenalin was still coursing through his body, as he thought about what might have happened, had he not been here. It surprised him how much that thought scared him.
She nodded. All she could think about were the soothing ministrations his hands were working up and down her shoulders. Suddenly she didn't feel very drunk anymore.
"I'll get you two another drink." The bartender said, as he disappeared.
"Thanks, for standing up for me." She smiled, as she finally found her voice. Hoping that it didn't betray her.
"Are you kidding, no one speaks to you like that, not on my watch." That made her smile again. "Are you sure you're okay?" She playfully pushed him away. She couldn't believe that he had defended her honour like that. He was so sweet when he got protective of her.
"Yes, I'm fine. Well I will be when I get that drink." They both chuckled, as Daniel placed his arm around her shoulder. The action intended to comfort her was also an outward warning, to anyone else who was even thinking of hitting on her. Daniel was here, and he wasn't going anywhere.
It was getting late, and only a few stragglers were still in the bar. Both Betty and Daniel sat sideways on their stools, resting one arm on the bar to hold up their heads. They had drunk their way through the happy phase, and had now ended up at 'deep and meaningful'.
"You're like, the bestest friend I ever had." Daniel said looking up from under heavy eyelids. "I mean I have friends, well had friends, but it's not the same." Betty nodded in agreement.
"You're my bestest friend too." She leaned forward giving him a hug. The alcohol allowed them to linger longer than the friendship clause deemed necessary, and they both enjoyed the closeness while it lasted.
"Betty?" he asked as he held her.
"Yeah?" she replied, hoping that the moment would last just that extra minute. That she would be allowed this one perfect instance, before everything got screwed up again at the wedding.
"Thanks for tonight. It was really nice spending time with you." He truly meant it; he missed her more than he knew, and tonight had opened his eyes.
"I'm kinda tired." She mumbled, though reluctant to let him go.
"Me too. Let's get out of here." They gathered their belongings and made their way outside.
Looking from left to right, Betty spoke "I think I live that way." She pointed left. "Or was it that way?" she pointed right. The alcohol had gone to her head, as it was she didn't think she would be walking in a very straight line without the help of Daniel.
"Well I know where I live." He reached down and took her hand, enjoying the softness as their fingers intertwined. His apartment was closer anyway, and he gently tugged her in the right direction as they made their way down the street.
After walking in the cool night air, they began to sober up a little, at least enough for Daniel to get the key in the door. Walking into the apartment, Daniel flipped the switch to the bedroom light, casting a dull glow into the living room, as Betty stopped.
"Why don't I remember buying this couch?" she asked a little puzzled.
"Because it's my couch." He chuckled, she could be so cute when she was confused.
"Oh, that makes more sense." He looked at the clock, a little after 1am.
"You can stay here tonight. You're not going anywhere like that." If he was honest, he had no intention of her leaving in the first place. He didn't want her left on her own, what was it she had said when she brought him home drunk? He could have choked on his own vomit. Well that was a pretty picture, and one he wished he hadn't just conjured up. But more than that, he didn't really want the night to end. It was as if they had found each other again, and call him selfish he wasn't ready to let that go.
"Okay." She shrugged, as she sat down on the couch and closed her eyes. The drink was beginning to wear off, which she put down to their walk in the fresh air, and she was more tired than anything. She was content to just sit quietly, but as Daniel disappeared into the bedroom, a few seconds later she was hit in the face with a t-shirt.
"Hey, what was that for?" she asked as she pulled the offending t-shirt off her face. It smelt of his aftershave and a scent that was distinctly him, and for a moment she savoured the smell.
"Put it on." He said with a smile from the doorway, dressed in his boxers and t-shirt. She was suddenly aware that Daniel was wearing fewer clothes than before, either that or she had been too drunk at the bar to notice that they were missing.
"Sure thing boss." She saluted, trying to muster up the energy to move, as well as a distraction. Daniel took this opportunity to use the bathroom. Standing in the dim light, she faced the couch as she removed her coat and glasses. Then pulling her hair to the side, she reached behind to undo the zip on her red dress, and slowly stepped out of it. Daniel reappeared in the doorway, but held back, as she pulled the t-shirt over her curves. She had changed in so many ways, but in others she was still the same, and one thing that hadn't changed, was her self-consciousness when it came to her body. Although as he stood in the shadows, he had no idea why. The oversized t-shirt that, on most women would have looked just ordinary, seemed to hug her in all the right places, and hung at just the right length, brushing her thigh. He didn't know if it was the alcohol talking, but he had to face it. Betty was kinda hot. He couldn't pinpoint an exact moment when his feelings had changed, but the scene before him was definitely an eye-opener. When he was sure she was finished, he cleared his throat and walked through the room to get them both a glass of water, thankful for the distraction.
"Drink this." He said handing her the glass. "It'll make you feel better."
After drinking what she could, he held his hand out to her. "Bedtime Suarez." She took his hand as she stood from the couch, although a little too quickly, as the movement caused her to wobble slightly and Daniel's hands went straight to her hips to steady her. "Whoa, you okay?" he asked, his hands still lingering. He didn't know why, but they seemed to fit, as if they belonged there. He was suddenly aware of her hips, and the notion that should his hands slip just a few inches, he would have made contact with supple skin.
"Yeah, I'm good." She replied, brushing her hair from her face. Good? Good was the feeling of his hands on her hips. Why, she didn't know. He was her best friend; they trusted each other and told each other everything. But suddenly he was her best friend, whose hands on her hips were causing her to question everything she ever knew.
Daniel reluctantly let go of her hips, and took her hand instead, leading her to the bedroom, as she shuffled her feet. She felt cold where his hands had been, once he removed them, missing something that had only just been given to her. But missing it all the same. He pulled back the blankets and let her climb in, she sighed as her head hit the pillow and she finally relaxed. He leant down and kissed her forehead. Not for the first time that night, lingering longer than usual. Their relationship was changing, and without any regard to their opinion.
"Night Betty." He whispered as he moved off the bed. He stared at her for a moment longer before turning away.
"Daniel?" she called, eyes still closed.
"Where are you going?"
"Just, the couch." She knew Daniel would never presume to share such an intimate act, and it warmed her to know how sensitive he could be to her feelings. But she trusted him completely, and something had happened tonight that gave her a boost of confidence. She pulled back the blankets, offering him the space next to her. It was an offering that something more could one day soon, be on the cards. If he backed out, she could blame it on the alcohol, if not she had her answer.
He looked towards the dark, lonely couch, and then back to Betty in his now favourite t-shirt, as of the moment she put it on. He knew what she was offering, not mindless sex or a one night stand, but the first step to something more. He could take a spot on that lonely couch, and forever wonder what if. Or he could do what his entire being was screaming at him to do. He slowly slid in next to her, as he covered them both with the blanket. As he rested his head on the pillow, they were level with each other.
Betty was afraid to open her eyes. What if she dreamt it, and he wasn't really there? What if he was? What did this mean for them, for their friendship? She couldn't lose him, not now. She needed to know one way or the other, so she slowly opened her eyes. He was staring back at her, and she took in a shaky breath. He was really there, he hadn't left her, and she let go of that breath.
"I drunk dialled Henry again." She said, watching as his face fell at the mere mention of her ex-boyfriend's name. "We had a good talk, and he's not coming to the wedding." She added.
"He's not?" Daniel asked surprised, and she couldn't help but notice the slight glint in his eyes, as the revelation seemed to please him. She was glad; she had made the right decision.
"I didn't want to go backwards. And that's exactly what I would have been doing. I told him, I wanted to go with you." She had shown her cards, and now it was down to Daniel.
He didn't want to go to the wedding with Trista, and he didn't want Betty going to the wedding with Henry, or anyone else for that matter. Tonight had been about recapturing what they had had, and the pleasant surprise along the way had been that there was more there, than either had realised. She had ditched Henry for him, the once love of her life, and chosen him. He had never felt so in awe of anyone in his life, kind, caring, loyal, honest, trusting, beautiful Betty wanted him. And there was no way he was going to screw this up.
"Betty, I really wanted to go with you too. I only agreed to bring Trista, because you told me too. And it beats watching you with some other guy, who is lucky enough to be your date." It was the real reason he was disappointed when she first drunk dialled Henry, and why he had been so down when she had told him.
She couldn't believe that she not only had these feelings, but that Daniel shared them too. There had always been such drama in her life when it came to men, that it surprised her how easy this had been. The transition from friends to whatever this was, not only felt right, it felt destined, that everything that had happened over the last four years was heading to this point.
"So, does this mean you'll come with me, to the wedding?" she asked almost anxiously. He smiled and her fears melted away, leaving her to wonder why she would ever question him.
"That's all I've ever wanted." She smiled back at him, and although she was enjoying the moment, there was still a cloud of doubt that hung over her.
"Can we just, take this slow? I mean until we figure out exactly what we are? Our friendship means too much to me to just rush into this. I don't want to lose you."
He placed his hand on her cheek, as his thumb brushed back and forth. "You're never going to lose me. No matter what."
She smiled as she leaned into his palm, noticing his eyes shift from hers, down to her lips and back again. She knew what he was asking, and she adored him for the gesture, awaiting her approval as opposed to rushing in. She nodded her consent, as he slowly leaned in savouring the moment, before gently brushing her lips with his. As she kissed him back, she realised her earlier fears were unfounded, what she and Daniel shared went far beyond that of any relationship either had been in before. This was a fresh start for both of them, and as he pulled back and gazed into her eyes, she knew they would be okay.