This was my first "real" fanfiction. It is my version of what season 5 might have been. I've written three episodes, each episode can also work as a standalone as the show did.
So picking up from the "All's Noisy ..." cliffhangers here we go.
What Might Have Been Can Live Again
Episode 1: An Ideal Husband
BETTY FOUND LITTLE TO IDEALIZE in this situation, which was supposedly the dream of every young woman. All too often the scenario of two men fighting over one woman is romanticized in fiction. Betty knew this well enough having written as many radio dramas as she had. However Betty could find nothing romantic about it at that moment. Moments ago Scott had stunned her with his selfless declaration and now here he was returning to his old dealing ways. This was, in some ways, something to expect of Scott Sherwood. But of Victor? What was going on?
The two of them fighting like junior high boys for the privilege of carrying her books. The spectacle overwhelmed her.
"Do I have anything to say about this?" she asked.
Not even looking at her Victor answered, "You're right, Betty. You have everything to say about this. What do you say, Sherwood?"
"Yeah. Betty, you decide. Victor can order me to stay or to go," Scott answered.
"Like they say over at The Buttery, Betty, 'I'm ready to take your order.' " Victor's tone sounded out of place. Did he think the whole thing was a joke?
Both men turned towards her and Victor asked, "What'll it be?"
Betty felt as if her heart had stopped.
"I can't hurt either of them," she thought. "But how can they put me in this position? Oh, this is ridiculous, it's idiotic. But I've had months to decide, shouldn't I know who I want?"
It was all too much. Earlier it sounded like Scott had been making himself look good while protecting his own hide. Typical for Scott. But he had been arranging the plush assignment for Victor. Who was he thinking of? Victor, himself, or her? She couldn't be sure anymore.
And Victor. And what about that kiss? Even six months ago it would have been so clear. But lately he hadn't had time to share a cup of coffee. No time, that seemed to be the theme of the day. Scott, ready to join his unit momentarily and Victor ready to change the course of all their lives with a simple order. Each of them looking to her for a split second decision.
But she couldn't decide. Not like this. Not now.
"I care about you both," she said, "but I won't decide how you serve during the war. Do you think that just staying here entitles you to certain liberties? I will choose when I'm ready, but I won't be bartered for like this I ..."
Scott and Victor both looked a little flustered. Betty felt her emotions about to spill over and she desperately needed air and her own space. She left the room before they could respond.
She needed to be alone. But what was she suppose to do? Scott or Victor might leave and she wouldn't be able to say goodbye to them. She had to think, but she didn't have time to think.
She reached the writer's room, turned the knob, and walked into an extremely embarrassing moment involving Mr. Foley and Eugenia. Betty quickly mumbled, "I'm sorry," Eugenia let off her embarrassment in a series of unintelligible sounds, and Mr. Foley was so flustered he couldn't even say anything.
The last thing Betty needed at that moment was to witness such blatant displays of affection. She had to get away from people. The Ladies' Lounge was being cleaned, so the only place left was the green room.
Her fragile state was about to come crashing down when she opened the door to the green room where Jeff and Hilary were in the middle of an intense discussion.
"Jeffrey I don't care to discuss the matter."
"But Hilary, how could you go and marry someone without telling me?"
"I seem to recall an elaborate example of this phenomenon performed by ... you darling. And since when do I have to inform my ex-husband what I do with my own life?" Hilary turned and noticed that they were no longer alone. "Ah, Betty."
Jeff eyed Betty nervously and then tried to return to his original intentions with Hilary, "Hilary ..."
"This conversation is over, and besides I'm due back on the air for an announcement," and Hilary left the room.
"Hila ..." Jeff's words were caught in his throat and he reluctantly sat down on the couch.
Betty, despite her own personal upheaval, could see that something had upset Jeff. Jeff knew Hilary better than any of them and Betty could see he felt he had run out of chances with Hilary - at least for that day. However, Betty still needed to be alone, but the situation with Jeff was odd, she couldn't just leave. A few awkward seconds passed as she stood in the doorway trying to think.
Scott, Victor, and now Jeff, she didn't know what to do with any of them.
After a moment, he spoke. "Betty, it's just so frustrating. I've been trying to make her see how sincere I am in my apology and she goes and does this to me."
Betty was so engrossed in her own dilemma she didn't know what Jeff meant. Her head was pounding horribly, it took her a moment to recall the fragmented portions of their argument that she had overheard. She took a couple steps forward toward the couch.
"Hilary married someone else?" she asked.
"That's what I'd like to know."
Jeff stared off into space, he looked somewhat deflated.
Betty was shocked but didn't know what to say. Everything was so confusing, she didn't have energy to spend worrying about Hilary and Jeff. She sighed then sat down on the couch next to the unusually silent Jeff. She guessed this was as close to her own space in the station as she would find. And where were Victor or Scott? Most likely still fighting over her like apes in the next room. Why did everything have to be so complicated?
Betty's revery was interrupted by noise from the hall. Maple could be heard talking to Gertie.
"Really? Hilary's married?" Maple said.
Betty glanced at Jeff sympathetically. She felt awful that he had to over hear all the talk that this would generate.
Back in the hall Gertie gave more of the details. "Yes, Hilary told him on the air!"
"So all Pittsburgh knows?"
"All Pittsburgh knows what?" said Victor from down the hall.
Maple proceeded to walk into the green room with her attention still focused on Gertie and Victor. "Hilary married somebody else" she continued, "and humiliated Jeff on the air. She ..." Maple turned her head and when saw Jeff on the couch, she turned pale, "Oh hiya, Jeff," she said timidly.
"Hello, Maple" Jeff answered rather bitterly.
Maple, Gertie, and Victor were all frozen in the doorway. Betty saw Scott standing just behind Victor.
Maple, also noticing Scott, tried to find another topic of discussion. "Scotty, what's with the uniform?" she said as she looked him over. "You join the military or something?" she added with a more concerned tone.
"Yeah Mapes," he answered a little distractedly.
Scott's eyes were on Victor's and Victor's had moved from Jeff to Betty. He approached her by the couch and Scott followed. Betty turned her eyes to the floor.
"Betty listen," Victor began. "We're sorry for behaving so badly. We've decided to give you time to choose. Scott and I talked this through, we thought that we could have a treaty, that we would put things on hold until Scott comes back from London."
"Hey," Scott protested. "Who said anything about me going to London?"
"Well, I have the job running the W.E.N.N."
"But how do I know you're not going to welch on the deal?"
"Are you questioning my honor, Sherwood?"
"Oh no! Here we go again." Betty thought. "Stop," she said as she rose to her feet. "I thought I was clear on this, I ... "
Just then Mr. Eldridge peered through the door.
"Jeff, while you were on the air, your lawyer dropped some papers by for you to sign."
"Oh, thank you Mr. Eldridge," Jeff replied.
"Everyone wants people to sign things today. Sign this, sign that," Mr. Eldridge continued. "Hilary had me sign all sorts of things for her."
"You helped Hilary with paperwork?" Maple asked cautiously.
"Yes, she took me to see a judge."
"A judge?" Jeff asked.
"Yes and he made me answer all sorts of questions: Do I? Do you?"
The room quickly fell to silence. Jeff's wide eyes went from Betty to Mr. Eldridge. Betty looked franticly at Jeff. Maple and Gertie gaped at each other. Scott and Victor finally stopped eyeing each other to stare flabbergasted at Mr. Eldridge. And Mr. Eldridge just smiled, turned, and left the room.
Victor was the first too speak, "What?"
"Hilary married Mr. Eldridge?" Maple exclaimed.
"But she couldn't have? Could she?" Scott replied.
MAPLE OPENED THE DOORS TO THE GREEN ROOM and the group peered through the window into studio A, where Hilary and Mackie were on the air.
Betty and Jeff were momentarily forgotten on the couch. Only Betty saw the expression of shocked and hurt feelings displayed on Jeff's face.
After a moment, Jeff rose from the couch. He didn't say anything; didn't acknowledge anyone as he walked resolutely to the door and past the group, still at the door, and left the room. He headed down to Gertie's desk where Mr. Eldridge was busy with some papers.
Maple and Gertie despite their immense curiosity, knew that they had to clear out of the way. The group filed back into the green room silently. One by one they sat down, Maple joined Betty on the couch, Victor and Scott pulled up some chairs from the table, while Gertie stood next to the closed door. There was so much to be said but no easy way to say it.
Gertie seemed trying to decipher what was going on in the hall. Maple glanced at Gertie and then looked at Scott with an air of curiosity and concern. Betty occasionally glanced at Victor and Scott. Victor wore an troubled expression, Betty was unsure how much of it was due to Jeff's situation or his own. Betty never caught Scott's eye but she could sense that he was looking at her, when she looked up she caught him glancing at his watch.
In the corridor Jeff reached Mr. Eldridge.
"Mr. Eldridge, how could you do this?" he asked.
"Oh it was no trouble."
"I mean really, after all the years of our friendship, how could you?"
"I just thought I'd save your lawyer the trouble of another trip down here to find you when he could just as easily leave the papers with me."
"Mr. Eldridge you know perfectly well that's not what I'm talking about," Jeff stated firmly. "Oh, this is ridiculous! I'm talking about ... "
The sound of a door opening and closing was heard. Jeff looked and saw Hilary. She had apparently finished her segment on the air. Mr. Eldridge was momentarily forgotten and Jeff approached her rapidly.
"Hilary, this is low, this is really low."
"Jeffrey, don't start this again."
"Of all the people you could have chosen; you had to chose one of my friends?"
"Of course," Hilary answered, clearly enjoying the torment she was putting Jeff through, but with a hint of confusion in her eyes.
"To pick one of my friends, that's despicable."
The confusion in Hilary's eyes intensified. She seemed to be searching for a response. "Friendship is one thing and love is another. And we love each other."
"Love? How could you love him?"
"Oh Jeffrey you don't know him the way I do, I ... we ... well beneath that distant exterior is a warm man who ... who loves me."
Jeff's eyes were now a mix of shock and confusion.
Hilary continued, "He's bright, really a genius in his own way, and just a dear sweet man. And he has such a sharp wit."
Jeff was dumbstruck by this assessment. After a moment he regained his focus. "Well he's here now, perhaps the two of you would care to explain yourselves?"
Hilary's expression was the most extreme shock imaginable. "I ... how?"
Jeff turned his head toward the reception area. "Mr. Eldridge," he called.
Hilary was so wrapped up in the situation she hadn't entirely registered Jeff's last words. "Jeffrey, he's a very private person I'm sure he wouldn't want to ... Mr. Eldridge?"
"Yes Hilary! Mr. Eldridge!"
"Mr. Eldridge, what?" she replied.
"Yes?" asked Mr. Eldridge, who had come when Jeff had called him.
Ignoring Mr. Eldridge, Jeff continued. "Hilary you know perfectly well. How could you marry Mr. Eldridge?"
Hilary's eyes widened, at first with an expression of shock followed by rage. "Mr. Eldridge!" she screamed. "Oh, how could you think such a thing!"
"I never did think such a thing," Mr Eldridge answered.
"Not you Mr. Eldridge, Jeffrey," Hilary replied.
"Oh, sorry," said Mr. Eldridge.
Jeff's face now displayed a different kind of shock all together. "It's not true?" he asked.
"Of course it isn't true. Jeffrey, how could you ever think I would marry Mr. Eldridge?" Hilary turned her head to the old man and added, "No offense, Mr. Eldridge"
"Don't bother," said Mr. Eldridge.
"Mr. Eldridge, will you please leave?" Hilary said.
"Cast aside again," Mr Eldridge said as left them.
"Oh Jeff, how could you even come up with such an idea?" Hilary said.
Jeff looked slightly relieved but still confused. "Mr. Eldridge told us that you took him to see a judge."
"Jeff, I ... he ..."
"He said you and he signed papers."
Hilary took a deep breath, "Jeff, Mr. Eldridge and I are involved in a financial matter."
"And what would that be?"
"I can't tell you, I promised Mr. Eldridge I wouldn't. He's very private when it comes to certain money matters."
"But what about the judge."
"We went to see a lawyer. I guess Mr. Eldridge, doesn't know the difference."
"You're involved financially with a man who doesn't know the difference between a lawyer and judge?"
"But it's for a good cause Jeff, a very good cause."
Jeff leaned against the wall of the corridor, overwhelmed by all that had taken place. He took a deep breath and looked imploringly at Hilary.
She looked back at him surprisingly sympathetic.
"Hilary, who are you married to?"
"Jeffrey I ..." Hilary's words seemed to catch in her throat. She looked again at him with that same compassionate look. "I'm not married."
Jeff stood upright, his eyes widened. "But you said ...?"
"I was lying."
Jeff was too dumbstruck to say anything.
"Jeff, I was still mad about your enlisting, and Pavla and everything else and I wanted to rake you over the coals some more."
Jeff's relief had now overflowed into a smile.
"Oh Hilary! does this mean you accept my ..."
"No so fast there," she replied. "Let's just call it an agreement to listen to a proposal sometime in the future," she added softening her tone. Then in an undertone she said "I may have a few more punishments for you in store, especially after this fiasco."
"Can't wait," Jeff said still smiling.
Back in the green room little had been said as there was great curiosity about the conversation in the hall, which had been easily overhead. But when things between Jeff and Hilary were resolved so easily. There were a couple of shocked looks exchanged. Gertie finally deemed it safe to return to the hall, and the group exited in time to see Jeff put on his coat and help Hilary with her's and then they left the station together.
"Well how 'bout that?" Gertie declared.
"Yeah," said Maple.
"Women, one minute you're on top with them, the next ... humph," said Mr. Eldridge.
There was silence a few seconds until Eugenia's voice was heard coming down the hall.
"Everyone, everyone, listen!" she said as she dragged Mr. Foley in toe. "Mr. Foley has something to tell you all," she added blushing ear to ear.
Mr. Foley was about to bring the words to his lips when he was interrupted by Eugenia.
"We're engaged," she said ecstatically.
"Why that's wonderful," said Gertie.
"Congratulations," said Victor.
Everyone was now talking all at once, especially Eugenia, shaking hands, and laughing.
Mackie, having finished his broadcast, exited the studio and was quickly caught up on all the happenings at the station.
IN THE MIDST OF THIS DISTRACTION Betty had been forgotten on the couch. She could see Victor take Scott aside, but Eugenia's boisterous chatter made it difficult to hear what they were saying. Betty looked at her watch again, it was well past the eight minutes that Scott had said he had left, and she still didn't know what to do.
The group proceeded down the hall to the lobby. From there Betty, heard the continued congratulations and then talk about going some place to celebrate properly, perhaps O'Malley's. Slowly the noise began to die down as members of the party adjourned to the continued celebration. Betty clearly heard Victor as he left with the group.
Betty wondered if she should follow them, and confront Victor, or Scott for that matter. Well if she was going to do that, why didn't she do it when both of them were here. Victor had left the station and Scott might even be gone as well.
But what was she suppose to say if she did try to talk to them? What were her real feelings?
A few moments passed. The station was fairly quiet; they were still on the air, broadcasting some sporting event. Betty didn't even know if anyone else was still there, besides perhaps Lester.
After a few seconds, Maple's voice was heard coming from the hall.
"Scotty, you leaving?"
"Yeah," he answered her in low voice.
"Where?" Maple asked.
"Training down in Georgia," he replied. "Well Mapes, I gotta go, I'm late as it is."
Maple's voice seemed rather week. "Scotty ... take care of yourself, you understand. Don't you go getting yourself hurt or nothing." After a pause she added, "What about Betty?"
Betty sat petrified on the coach.
There was a long silence.
"Victor ... ," Scott paused. "Well, so long Mapes."
Betty, alone in the green room, steadied herself on the couch. Her heart stoped as she heard the door in the reception area close.