A/N: So, here's another one that I posted onto the livejournal community and completely forgot about posting it here. It was written for another prompt or writing thing on there.
Inspired by the song, "All In" by Lifehouse. All the quotes italicized and centered are from this song.
"All night staring at the ceiling / counting the minutes I'm feeling this way / so far away and so alone..."
Betty couldn't sleep. It wasn't really a surprise. She hadn't thought she would be able to get to sleep. Not after the conversation she'd had with Daniel not twenty minutes before, standing right outside her stoop.
Now that had been a surprise.
Well, if she were honest with herself, maybe not that much of a surprise.
Except...it really was a surprise.
Because, really, who would think that Daniel Meade, someone she thought of as her best friend, could ever come to say the words to her he'd said.
Despite all the insinuations (which she had not been blind to, even though she pretended she was) of her sister and his mother, (Marc and Amanda she could ignore because, well, she was used to ignoring what they opined about things - old habit and all that) and yes, even some of the magazine employees that had seen them together here in London, there was no reason why she shouldn't be surprised.
No, she stared at the ceiling above her bed and decided that there wasn't. Of course she should be surprised.
After all, it wasn't as if Daniel had acted any differently to her since he'd come to London.
And yes, he did come all the way to London, but it wasn't like he had come to London for her.
He'd told her he wanted a change and that was why he moved.
And the fact that he had chosen London, well...where else could he have gone in Europe where he spoke the language? It wasn't like he was about to go to Canada.
She pshawed at the thought of Daniel Meade in Canada.
That's right...where else could he have gone?
And the rest of the US didn't count because...
She frowned as she tried to think of a reason.
Well, just because.
What kind of change would it be to stay in the US? No, she decided. To really make a change, he had no choice but to go out of the country, and the only place where he could hope to really make that kind of change was in London.
She had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Her having left just about a month before was mere coincidence.
So what if she hadn't ever heard him talking about wanting to make that kind of change before? She hadn't spoke with him about her desire to make that kind of change, had she?
She sighed and fidgeted under her covers. No, no she hadn't.
But the whole time he'd been in London, he'd treated her just like a friend and nothing more...
A friend that he asked out on what he had taken to calling 'dates', who held out her chair and bought her a rose every single time one of those flower girls came up to them on the street or at any of the restaurants they'd gone. And was it her, or had he been just a little more touchy feely with her lately? Not enough so as it freaked her out, but hadn't it usually been her that initiated the hugs, for example?
Betty took a deep breath in an attempt to calm her suddenly racing heart.
Could he have been giving her hints this whole time? Hints she was too blind to notice?
She closed her eyes tightly and brought a hand up to press against where her heart was still beating against her ribcage. It felt strangely like it did that day his mother suggested a ridiculous reason for his behaving so oddly before she left for London in the first place. She had managed to laugh it off then, so...where was the laughter now?
'C'mon, Betty,' she commanded herself. 'Get a grip, Daniel Meade? Like that would ever happen!' she chided.
Still, she couldn't help thinking...
...did she want it to?
Who was she kidding? She remembered the way her breath had caught when she'd seen him on the other side of her door his first night in London when he took her out to dinner. And when he'd looked at her across the table and told her she looked beautiful, her heart had skipped a beat. She knew it had, even then, but she'd ignored it, hadn't she?
She'd done a damn good job of ignoring it, and she understood why.
It was damn scary to consider that you were having feelings for your best friend, and it was easy to convince herself she was overreacting, and that she was responding to him because she was lonely and he was being so nice.
Was she having feelings for her friend?
Betty opened her eyes and stared in shock at the answer.
She was. She had been.
For awhile now...maybe the first stirrings of it had started about being so glad for having him in her life back when he'd let her have her way with the fashion show that one time (her heart had done a little dance when he'd held his hand out to her), but surely not that far back! She remembered feeling a twinge of something when he'd spoken for her at the Blobby's, and how it had hurt to think he couldn't appreciate her during that whole escapade.
And how desperate had she been to save him from the cult, the emptiness in the pit of her stomach when she thought he had cut her out of his life...
And the feel of his lips on her skin...how long had that stayed with her?
But he had been grieving for his dead wife, and it had been wrong and without even realizing she was doing it, she had squelched those feelings. It wasn't like she was going anywhere with those feelings, anyway, so she put them out of her head.
If those feelings had been around like a kernel deep inside her, why had she reacted the way she had when he'd told her how he'd felt?
She opened her eyes and kicked at her covers, punching the mattress under her.
He'd caught her by surprise, damnit! And she'd reacted with a knee-jerk reaction.
How else was she supposed to react when he kissed her out of the blue and told her he loved her? Seriously! Didn't he know anything about subtlety?
You couldn't just come at a girl who'd been telling herself for years that someone like Daniel Meade could never think about her in a romantic way like a freight train!
He could have maybe told her...well...he could've maybe acted like...
Okay, so there wasn't much he could've done so that it didn't catch her by surprise.
...wait a minute...
Had she been feeling this way about him, on some level, for years?
Sure, she'd loved him - as a friend.
How could feelings for a friend change like that without there being some basis for them?
She'd been a fool.
Yes...she probably loved him.
And when he'd told her he loved her, she'd freaked out and told him he was her friend and...
She cringed at the thought of what she'd said. At the look on his face.
How could she have been so blind?
He probably hated her now.
She sat up and reached for her phone. She had to make it right. She stopped with her finger hovering over his name on the touchscreen. She couldn't do this over the phone. What could she say to him over the phone, anyway?
She shook her head and threw off the covers, climbing out of bed and reaching for her shoes under the bed. He might slam the door in her face, but she had to face him.
Now that she'd admitted to herself how she felt about him, she had to let him know. Yes, she was still scared - what would happen if it didn't work out between them? How could she deal with losing her best friend and the love of what might be her life? - but she had to try.
"All night staring at the ceiling / counting the minutes I'm feeling this way / so far away and so alone..."
Betty ignored the man she knew was probably calling her, and pressed on through the crowd.
"Hey lady!" A different voice called out as Betty ducked under the ropes. "You can't go that way, lady!"
She heard the rushed steps coming after her and picked up her pace, going from rushing to jogging and outright running when she heard two men calling out behind her.
"Sorry!" she called to whoever would hear as she ran across the park, despite it being closed off for filming. "I can't stop, sorry!" she called out, outright running now.
And she couldn't stop.
And she couldn't go all the way around the park either.
Not when it meant she might lose her nerve, or god forbid, losing him altogether.
She staggered in the heels of her wedge sandals and paused to take them off, holding them in one hand and continuing running in her bare feet.
'Just across the park, Betty,' she told herself. 'He's just across the park...'
'You're my friend, Daniel.'
'Does that mean you can't see me as anything more?'
She had messed up so bad...she had been so scared and she had messed up so bad...she couldn't let it end that way.
'I care about you so much.'
'Just not that way, right?'
The look on his face had brought tears to her eyes, but she was so afraid - his declaration had caught her by surprise and made her face the precipice - the yawning void - and she couldn't take the chance.
And he'd looked heartbroken.
It hadn't been until hours later when she'd lain in bed, staring up at her ceiling bathed in shadows, unable to sleep, and counting the minutes (hours, days, years?) she'd felt this way about him - felt like she couldn't lose him, like any risk was worth washing that heartbreak from his eyes, heart racing like anticipation - that she admitted to herself that she loved him too.
'Idiot!' she had chided herself, sitting up in bed and hitting the mattress underneath her. 'You really messed up, Betty! All because you were scared!' She had sat there in the dark. "I love him," she had admitted aloud. "Oh, God, I love him!" she said again, falling back against her mattress. "And I've messed it all up," she screamed into her pillow wordlessly. "Stupid, stupid, stupid-head!"
She had allowed herself a few moments of self-derision before she calmed and wondered, 'Now what?'
She had sat up like a bolt, throwing on a pair of pants, a t-shirt and the first shoes in her path, and stepping out the door before she had really consciously made the decision to move. 'Now, you fix this,' she had told herself as she grabbed her coat and rushed out the door.
'Fix this, Suarez,' she told herself, pocketing keys, but (she would note later) forgetting her cell phone. 'You have to fix this...whatever it takes.'
"But you know it's alright / I came to my senses / Let go of my defenses / There's no way I'm giving up this time / Yeah, you know I'm right here / I'm not losing you this time..."
It had taken her eight minutes to realize that the intersection near her side street that was usually filthy with taxis was barren and deserted and about a minute after that to realize that it was nearing on 3 in the morning in a residential London neighborhood.
"Poop!" She had cursed with feeling. She had paced, wondering what she should do. She reached into her pocket for her cell phone, hoping to call a cab company. "No, no, no," she had chanted, searching her pockets for a phone she could by then remember having left on the bedside table. "Fudge!"
She had glanced at the block down which the brownstone housing her flat was located and considered going back, but something inside her feared that if she went back, she would never see Daniel again, and that thought alone spurred her forward, racking her brain for the bus schedule and whether she had any hopes that one might be passing anytime soon near any of the stops she knew, and cursing the fact that Daniel had to rent a flat in a different neighborhood than her.
She had gone three blocks before that inner voice she hated started questioning her actions. 'What do you think you're going to resolve if you go there now?' it had asked. 'He'll probably slam the door in your face, if he even opens it up to you in the first place...why should he care that you've changed your mind? Not after how horrible you were to him.'
Five blocks in, the reasoning changed. 'It was probably a fluke. He'd had some wine with dinner...he was feeling good, I was feeling good...he was probably drunk...he couldn't possibly feel that way about me...'
But her feet kept moving and in her heart she had known it didn't matter if that voice was right - it didn't matter, because she was not losing him, not giving up - not the way she did when she let him believe she couldn't see him as anything more than a friend, and not the way she did when she left for London, and certainly not the way she did when she chickened out and couldn't tell him she was leaving for London in the first place.
"And I'm all in, nothing left to hide / I've fallen harder than a landslide / I spent a week away from you last night..."
On the edges of her neighborhood, she spotted a taxi and ran to get its attention. With a squealing of breaks, it stopped and made a very illegal u-turn to get to her.
"Where to, luv'?" the man had asked.
Breathless, Betty had given Daniel's address and sat back as the taxi made its way through the silent neighborhood.
What would she say to him?
The thought stumped her.
'Daniel,' she tried mentally, 'I'm sorry for letting you believe we could only be friends, but you just drop that on me like a friggin' bomb...' she exhaled and shook her head. That wouldn't do. That was too defensive. If she was honest with herself (and Betty tried to be honest with herself as often as possible), he hadn't really dropped anything on her - there'd been all sorts of signs she could've seen and didn't...
...chose not to.
She had been afraid. That was the truth.
'Daniel,' she tried mentally again. 'I was afraid.'
She winced as she pictured Daniel's reaction to that one. How could she be afraid of her best friend? How could she be afraid of someone she knows, deep down, could never hurt her?
"Oy!" the cabbie's rough bark intruded into her thoughts.
Betty sat up in surprise and looked at him. "What?" she asked.
"You gettin' off or what?" he asked, motioning to the street outside his stopped cab.
Betty glanced out and was surprised to realize she was there. She noted the dark windows of the front of the brownstone and felt a quiver in her heart. 'He would never consciously hurt me, but letting myself love a man like Daniel Meade is heartbreak waiting to happen.'
At least, that's what she'd always thought - not that she'd consciously let herself think anything about love and Daniel in the same sentence, not without adding the 'like family' modifier.
She handed the cabby some money and stepped out onto the quiet street, her eyes on the light she could see shining out of the fourth floor window she knew was his bedroom.
But that was just it, she realized. He wasn't just her friend and he wasn't precisely like family, either. He hadn't been for a long while. She hadn't thought of what exactly he was, because she had never thought it was necessary to, but standing on the Mode veranda the night of her going away party with the sinking feeling she wouldn't talk or see Daniel again before she left for London and what she'd felt then in the pit of her stomach was unlike anything she'd ever felt at the thought of leaving her family.
Hell, she couldn't even compare it to what she felt when Henry left, or when she knew Matt and her weren't going to make it.
It was deeper, stronger, more encompassing.
"There's no taking back / what we've got's too strong, / we've had each other's back for too long / There's no breaking up this time..."
It was three in the morning, but god bless her father's lessons on manners, because even the night doorman remembered her and knew it was okay to let her through even though she'd only been to Daniel's place during his shift a couple of times, and never this late. But Doorman Carl didn't feel the need to call up to Mr. Mead's flat and ask if it was okay to let Miss Suarez up, because it was always okay to let her up, and so he waved her on with only a brief worried glance at her disheveled appearance.
"Thanks, Carl," Betty waved, offering him what she could spare of a smile as she walked to the elevator lobby and pressed the up button.
"Come on," she mumbled under her breath, pressing the button again and once again for good measure. "Come on," she whispered fiercely.
She didn't know what her urgency was - she probably could've waited until the morning, but then again, she couldn't. She couldn't get over the look in his eyes when he'd walked away from her or the heartbreak she'd seen there - couldn't get over the fact that every nerve in her body was yelling at her that she had been wrong, that she had been crazy to tell Daniel she couldn't see him as anything other than a friend, because deep inside, she knew she had been seeing him as more than a friend for a long time.
"And you know it's okay, I came to my senses / Letting go of my defenses / There's no way I'm giving up this time..."
She had to tell him that she saw that now. That's she'd finally woken up and seen what had been right in front of her for a long time...seen that he was right in front of her always.
She had to tell him that these feelings his declaration had stirred up in her weren't new, that she finally recognized it.
That pushing them back and ignoring them, calling them something else, had been part of her defense mechanism, because she had never been that type of girl who men like Daniel looked at as girlfriend material, and that even after Henry and Gio and Matt (maybe despite of them) her self-defense mechanism of not expecting anything more than friendship was still very firmly in place but...it was different now...she didn't need those defenses anymore, not against Daniel...she knew that now...
"And I'm all in, nothing left to hide..."
She gave up on the elevator and looked around for the stairs, taking off her shoes as she went, breathing hard and not knowing if it was from exertion, nerves, or expectation.
She had to tell him...
"And now I'm calling, calling out your name / Even if I lose the game, I'm all in / I'm all in tonight, yeah I'm all in, I'm all in for life"
She didn't think once about the neighbors as she banged on pale ivory wooden door with the plaque in the center around the peephole.
"Daniel," she called through the door, trying - at first - to moderate her tone. "C'mon, Daniel, I saw your light, just open the door," she called through the wood, unsure if he could hear her. She banged again, a loud staccato in triplicate. "Daniel," she called, a little louder this time. "Please open the door," she said, pressed close and trying to hear into the apartment. "I left my phone or I'd try to call you," she said inanely. "And I just have to tell you-"
She cut off as the door opened abruptly, and she almost lost her balance as she stepped back to avoid falling on her face, her left shoe slipping from her fingers.
"Tell me what?" he asked.
"...I'm all in...even if I lose the game, I'm all in...nothing left to hide...I've fallen harder than a landslide...I spent a week away from you last night...I'm all in for life..."
She met his eyes, a sea of stormy blue, and she didn't blame him one bit. The pain was still there, but only someone that knew him as well as she did could see it behind the cold in those eyes.
When she didn't immediately speak, his eyes took a moment to roam her face, take in her appearance, and he must have seen something there, because when he met her eyes again, his had softened, and the pain and regret and guilt there nearly undid her.
"Look," he said on a sigh. "It's okay, Betty," he said, turning his eyes away from her and running a hand through already disheveled hair. "I understand, I do, I just can't..." he shook his head. "We'll talk tomorrow, okay?" and without more than a glance at her, he started to close the door.
"I love you," Betty spoke. He stopped, but didn't look at her, and she could read the doubt on his expression as clearly as if he were broadcasting with a ticker across his forehead. "I love you," she repeated, louder this time.
Slowly, he turned to look at her, doubt transforming into a kind of awed disbelief.
Betty opened her mouth, everything that she had to tell him about to tumble out, but he didn't give her a chance.
He kissed her.