Daniel stared through the glass doors at the empty space Betty had danced in during her 'Goodbye' party. She was leaving. She was really . . . leaving. He didn't know why it hadn't completely penetrated his skull. But he felt it now more than ever. An empty space in his heart and his life was about to develop and he wasn't sure how he was going to deal with the pain. It was the reason he couldn't face her. It was torture just watching her from afar, seeing her so happy about starting a new life - a new life without him in it.
Obviously, he knew he was being selfish and quick to judge. He knew Betty wasn't leaving him – she was leaving MODE. She only wanted to achieve her dream of running her own magazine. This wasn't about him at all. He was being such a jackass to her because he had unresolved issues and he didn't want to face them – didn't need to face them with her leaving. What was the point?
And now she would probably spend the rest of her life thinking he hated her, when the truth was that it was the exact opposite. Totally and completely the exact opposite.
He wished he had had the decency to tell her 'goodbye', to say how much he admired and cared for her as a friend . . . how much he'd miss her. At least she would have known he wasn't writing her off.
If only he had danced with her one last time. To feel the warmth of her body next to his . . . to hold her in his arms . . . He could picture them in that moment, closer than they'd ever been before . . . clinging to each other as desperately as they clung to all the memories they had shared with each other . . . her head against his chest, his cheek resting on the top of her head . . . neither of them caring what others around them thought or whispered . . .
But it was too late. She was gone - probably on her way to the airport that very minute or already flying over an entire ocean to make another country her home. And he'd never see her again.
He climbed the stairs to the roof, needing some fresh air and a new perspective. He had to think of how he was going to move on from a relationship that had never really started . . . As he got to the roof he stopped, noticing a small figure leaning against the balcony wall, empty champagne flute in her hand. He'd recognize that figure anywhere.
"Betty?" he said, slowly approaching her.
"You weren't there. You avoided me for two weeks. Two . . . weeks. I left you thirty voicemails and a hundred texts and you didn't pick up the phone or answer me once," she solemnly responded, not even turning around; it was how well she knew his voice.
"I'm sorry. I-I couldn't –" he began.
"Couldn't what? Couldn't face me? Couldn't deal with me leaving, so instead of talking to me like we always have you just shut me out? That's not fair, Daniel!" she snapped, smashing the glass on the concrete as she whisked her body around, causing him to flinch.
He had never seen her so pissed at him, but he was pissed, too.
"Tell me what's fair then, Betty? Apparently letting me know in a mass email was perfectly fine, but me not letting you in on how much it's killing me to see you go is a crime!" he countered.
Betty guiltily looked down at the ground.
"You're right. I'm sorry - I shouldn't have done that. I didn't know what to say . . . how to tell you . . . I kept putting it off and then Marc said it for me before I had the chance . . ." she admitted, staring out at the city.
"Why was this any different than before? I'm your friend – I had the right to know! You can't just spring something on me like that and expect me not to be upset! We tell each other everything, Betty! I thought I meant more to you than that?'' he couldn't let her slide by with a measly 'I'm sorry'.
Betty abruptly turned to face him.
"You do, Daniel! God! That's why I couldn't tell you! I tried to, but every time I did, I took one look at you and chickened out. You have no idea how hard this has been for me! How much I agonized over seeing your face – that look of shock and sadness that you always try to cover up. It was breaking my heart to know I had to break yours. And this time it'll be even worse, because we won't even be able to have lunch or coffee or a movie night . . . I just couldn't bring myself to do it, and then it was too late," she explained, choking back tears of frustration and sadness.
"Did you honestly think you wouldn't have to at some point? Was I one day just going to find a postcard in the mail saying, 'Hi, Daniel! I took a job in London – see you at Thanksgiving!'?" he mocked her high-pitched enthusiasm.
"No – I don't know – I didn't think, okay? Kinda like you and your 'amazing' pyrotechnics trick with my release form," she pointed out, rolling her eyes.
Daniel lowered his head in shame.
"So what are you doing up here, anyway?" he wondered.
"I came out here to clear my head. There's a little voice that keeps telling me I need to stay – that I'm being selfish. And maybe I am. You hate me, my family's sad . . . I can't imagine what it's doing to Papi, even though he'll never admit it . . ." Betty regretfully sighed.
"You're not being selfish . . . you've done so much for the other people in your life. It's time to do something for yourself," he assured her.
She meekly nodded.
". . . And I could never hate you," Daniel promised, calming down.
"And you know I could never stay mad at you for long," she weakly smiled. "You're my best friend – I-I love you so much . . ." she told him, her chin quivering.
Daniel's heart skipped a beat, despite the fact that he knew Betty only meant it as a friend. He pulled her into a warm embrace.
"I love you, too," he sighed. "More than you know . . ." he inaudibly muttered.
"What?" Betty lifted her head from his chest.
"Nothing – I just said you need to go. You've probably gotta get ready to leave," he quickly covered.
"Oh. Yeah, my flight's at 6:30AM. I'm not gonna get a whole lot of sleep, but I'm sure my family's wondering where I am," she agreed.
"You're doing the right thing, Betty – you'll be great," Daniel reassured her.
"Thank you," she shyly tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. "I'm really going to miss you," she gazed at him, a bittersweet look on her face.
"Me, too," he said, briefly kissing her lips without even thinking.
The second he did it, he regretted it. Was he out of his freakin' mind? They'd never even done the whole friendly cheek kissing thing, much less a peck on the lips. He'd totally blown it. Or maybe he hadn't . . .
He suddenly noticed Betty's expression turn from confusion to curiosity. Her lips fell onto his - timidly at first, then with a lustful passion, her tongue battling his as if she yearned to hold onto him, take a piece of him with her.
As they broke, Daniel had to take a few seconds to process what had just happened.
"A-Are you okay with this?" he asked.
"Isn't that supposed to be my line?" she joked.
They both laughed, nervously.
"Seriously, was that weird for you?" Daniel wondered.
"I thought it might be, you know, given our history – but it wasn't . . . And from your reaction, I take it your mother's 'theory' was right?" she said.
"'Theory'?" he raised an eyebrow.
"She told me tonight that you didn't hate me . . . that losing me was really hard on you and she had a theory of why," she recalled. "I didn't believe her . . . I didn't think in a million years you'd think of me that way . . . or that I'd wonder for a second what it'd be like," she confessed.
"But you did," he observed.
"Yeah," she nodded.
Their lips magnetically met again, both trying to postpone the end of the night . . . the end of their time together.
"We should go . . ." Betty eventually said, her breath ragged.
"You're right . . . you need to get home, get ready for your flight . . ." he reluctantly agreed.
"No – I mean somewhere besides the roof . . ." she clarified, taking his hand in hers.
"Oh," was all Daniel managed to say before they raced down the stairs and into his office.
As Betty closed the blinds in the already dim room, lit only by the city lights, Daniel began to get a little apprehensive. The last thing he wanted was for things to be awkward between them.
"Betty, are you sure about this?" he asked.
"I don't want to think . . . I don't want to talk anymore . . . I just want to be with you tonight," she said with pleading eyes. ". . . if you want that, too?" she hesitantly added.
"I do . . . but Betty, I –" he tried to think rationally, knowing she'd be leaving in the morning, knowing it was their first time together - that it could change everything in their relationship.
Betty gently pressed two fingers to his mouth.
"Shh . . ." she smiled and practically devoured his lips, pushing his suit jacket over his shoulders and onto the floor.
It was all it took for him to cave. After all, it was what he'd been fantasizing about not a week after Hilda's wedding.
He slid the gold sequined jacket off of her shoulders and struggled to remove her black sleeveless turtleneck top. Betty, however, had no trouble at all and proceeded to relieve him of his shirt as well, leaving a seductive trail of kisses as she unbuttoned it and his pants, allowing her hands to roam free.
Daniel kissed her hard on the mouth before his lips and fingers wandered down her neck and over her breasts, the classic black lace of her bra surprising, considering her usually colorful wardrobe. He glossed over the trivial observation as he fervently stripped the rest of her clothing and his and led her to the chaise, never breaking the closeness between them as he continued to make love to her into the night.
"Mmm . . . that was . . ." Betty struggled to find the right adjectives as she snuggled against Daniel's muscular chest, her leg lazily draped across his waist.
"Amazing? Incredible? Spectacular?" Daniel filled in the blanks as he kissed his way up her arm.
"Complimenting yourself again?" she flirted.
"Well you were a big part of it, if I remember correctly . . . Why didn't we do this sooner?" he playfully asked.
"I have no idea," she grinned, toying with his fingers.
For almost a half an hour, they silently basked in the afterglow, enveloped in the bliss of their union.
Daniel couldn't have been happier to have been so close to Betty, the smell of her hair . . . the taste of her lips . . . she was intoxicating. And as they both drifted in and out of a contented sleep, he briefly forgot what would happen the next day and concentrated on the present.
". . . I've got a confession to make," Daniel said, after fully waking up.
"What?" she curiously looked up at him.
"Promise you won't get offended . . . and not that I spent a lot of time on this - but I guess I always pictured you as . . . innocent . . . sweet . . . And you turned out to be . . ." he trailed off.
"The exact opposite?" she finished for him.
"Kinda . . . a little feisty . . . and a lot more experienced than I expected," he admitted.
"I'm not a virgin, Daniel," she smirked.
"I know - it's just the guys you dated were . . ." he hesitated.
"Pathetic? I guess so . . . except for Matt. You have to admit he was ten steps up – not that he can compare to you, though," Betty replied, briefly kissing his lips in assurance.
"Thank you," Daniel chuckled.
"I don't think I'd go that far about Hartley, though. He was better for you, but still a big flake and a loser when it came to treating you right," he absently stroked her hair and kissed her temple.
"There you go again, always trying to protect me . . . I'm going to miss you," she smiled.
"And I'll miss you, too – who else is gonna pull me out of the messes I get into or give me enthusiastic pep-talks?" he teased.
"Daniel . . ." Betty giggled into his chest then turned serious, tenderly capturing his lips as a wave of sadness seemed to overwhelm her.
Reality set in. Daniel tried not to let on how much he wanted to hold Betty in his arms forever . . . not to get in even deeper than he already knew he was. But the feel of her warm skin against his . . . her soft lips swollen from their heated passion . . . the way they had melded together mere minutes ago . . .
Their first time was more about curiosity and desire . . . a need to make the most of the night. But as they made love again, it was different - tender . . . emotional . . . attempting to memorize each other, knowing it would more than likely be the last time they'd spend together so close and so vulnerable.
Daniel found it difficult to detach his feelings and consider that night as just a moment and nothing more. It was ironic, when he thought about it, because that had been his claim-to-fame in the past. But he had found someone – the one. And now, more than ever, he didn't want to let her go . . .