Spoilers: All of season one but mostly the finale.
Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the plot.
Author's Note: I'm uploading fic I've been hoarding on other sites. This is my first McWitham fic but hopefully it won't be my last.
When Kate has been missing for nearly three months Betty says she doesn't want to look anymore.
Gladys stands in the doorway, her purse clutched in both hands in front of her, "I really don't mind driving. It's good practice." She gives Betty a reassuring smile but Betty just shakes her head. "We could start taking the train," Gladys offers quickly, hoping the switch will change Betty's mind.
"We should stop," Betty says simply.
Their earlier searches were always hurried, Betty would show Kate's picture to anyone she could find. They would comb the streets looking for any hint of the redhead and they wouldn't leave until Betty was sure they'd searched everywhere. There was hope in Betty's eyes that never seemed to falter.
They would never actually talk about Kate when they were out though. They would gossip about the factory and their friends, Gladys would read aloud James' letters, and Betty would tell stories from home. Betty began to refer to James as Prince Charming and Gladys fell in love with Betty's stories about her father's farm.
As soon as winter hit, Betty talked less and James' letters were fewer.
Their trips became quieter, shorter, not as thorough. The last few times they'd been out, Gladys had to be the one to show Kate's picture. Betty was there but she was gone.
Gladys had hoped that lack would stay away but it ended up following Betty home. She still laughs and she still smiles, but her laughs are cut short and her smiles no longer reach her eyes. She is quieter, milder, her wit not as biting, her comebacks a hair slower.
There is sadness in Betty that Gladys doesn't like, a tiredness in her eyes that doesn't belong there.
Gladys takes a few careful steps into the room and sits down on the bed next to Betty. "Okay," she answers. Gingerly, she slides a hand from her lap into Betty's and grasps the blonde's hand loosely in her own. "Okay," she echoes.
As close as they are, Gladys knows that Betty is still uncomfortable with her. There's always been a veil between them; nothing so severe as to prevent them from continuing their friendship, but just thick enough that Gladys knows Betty is always trying to hide something from her.
Gladys knows about Betty, though. She's never found the right time to ask Betty about itbut she knows and she doesn't care. She suspects that the only reason there is a veil is because Betty thinks Gladys will leave her if she knows.
Gladys, on the other hand, is terribly afraid of losing Betty. Now that James is thousands of miles away and Carol's family has all but banned the girl from seeing Gladys, Betty is the closest thing Gladys has to a best friend.
Betty's hand is cold as she curls her fingers around Gladys' own and sighs. "I kissed her," she says softly, "and she told me I was disgusting."
The admission is so honest and forthright that Gladys is stunned to silence. They'd never actually talked about what happened the night Kate left. The most that Gladys had ever gotten out of Betty was the slap and something about the jazz bar that made Betty cower.
Betty ignores the silence and continues, her voice a whisper. "I told her I loved her," Betty starts as she looks down to their joined hands, "with her father right there. I told her I loved her and she said she didn't want me."
"Betty," Gladys coos as she reaches a second hand over to cover Betty's.
Another long sigh escapes Betty's lips before she speaks again, "I can't do it anymore. I just can't." The sentence is a declaration, Betty's voice strong and definitive as she looks up to Gladys with a crooked smirk.
"Okay," Gladys says again, unable to form any other coherent sentence. She squeezes Betty's hand tightly between her own and mimics Betty's small smirk, "okay."
Betty's smile gets a little wider and she stands up, gently pulling her hand from Gladys' and heads to the dresser where she pulls out a bottle of whisky. "How's about a drink, princess?"
"I'd love one," Gladys answers.
And just like that the veil is gone.
They tell stories and play card games. Gladys nearly falls off the bed during one of Betty's stories involving a pig and a dress. They reenact scenes from the jazz club, Betty imitating the music as best she can as Gladys twirls around the room pretending to be only a little more drunk than she is.
They manage to finish the bottle before the rest of the girls come home from the movies. The sounds of laughter and fumbling bodies leaking in under the door quiets their own laughter and Betty, a little less sober than Gladys, lays a heavy hand on Gladys' knee. "You should stay here tonight," she insists with a wide smile.
Gladys nods immediately, her head heavy from the alcohol. "Yes, yes," she agrees.
They both slide into bed in just their slips, shoes abandoned at the foot of the bed, clothes settled on the lone chair in the corner of the room. Betty had almost insisted on night clothes but Gladys had so much trouble taking her dress off that Betty figured getting her redressed would be too much effort.
"Good thing you're tiny," Betty mumbles as she turns away from Gladys to face the wall.
"Am not," Gladys defends with a sharp pinch to Betty's side.
Betty yelps and nearly elbows Gladys off the bed but the brunette latches onto Betty's waist and pulls herself flush against the blonde's back. The action causes the Betty to stiffen and Gladys laughs.
"I don't bite," she says softly against the back of Betty's neck.
"Y-your hands are cold," Betty stutters as the hint of a shiver rolls through her back.
"Are not," Gladys defends again as she slides a hand up to lay on top of Betty's, "see?"
Betty lets Gladys lace their fingers and give her hand a small squeeze before answering with a simple, "yea."
Gladys softly yawns and inches her legs upward, the tops of her thighs now flush with backs of Betty's. "Goodnight, Betty," she whispers.