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It Only Happens When I'm With You, Part VI

As Betty walked through WENN's door the following morning she felt as if she floated several feet above the floor. Contrary to her expectations, she'd slept wonderfully the night before, dreaming the whole night through of roguish brown eyes, a dark lock of hair falling over a broad forehead, and a grin capable of lighting up any room. The dreams and the dawn had chased away all of her apprehensions regarding what she must tell Scott this morning. All that was left was a delightful anticipation of the future and a love she knew would endure forever.

She gave Gertie an almost imperceptible acknowledgment to her "good morning", causing the receptionist to stare after her retreating figure quizzically. It wasn't like Betty to be so non-responsive and she'd had an almost beatified expression on her face. Gertie knew that Betty had been out with Craig the night before, she only hoped and prayed that he wasn't the reason for Betty's nearly other-worldly happiness. Of course, Scott had gone with them, maybe he'd finally found a way to break down the last of Betty's defenses against him. Gertie sincerely hoped this was the case - she'd never seen two people more meant for each other. With a sigh of romantic longing, she reluctantly turned back to her ever-demanding switchboard.

As Betty's early morning slowly progressed she found it increasingly difficult to keep her mind on her scripts and when she did get some writing done, the characters behaved in ludicrous ways. She felt the most ridiculous urges to turn The Crimson Blade and Rance Shiloh, US Marshal into romantic epics rather than adventure stories. And she was halfway through a script in which Brent and Elizabeth Marlowe were at last happily brought together, Brent's amnesia having propitiously been cured forever, before she realized she'd completely destroyed her carefully built plot lines.

Betty groaned in frustration as she ripped the script pages from the typewriter, crumpling them and tossing them in the nearby wastebasket. At this rate, it would take her all morning to produce even one or two viable scripts. She glanced at her watch. Shouldn't Scott be here by now? If she could only talk to him, maybe she'd be able to focus a little more on writing afterward. Maybe. If things went as she hoped they would, chances were far better she'd be even more excited and unable to write after she saw Scott.

Betty's fingers drummed impatiently on her desk. Scott really should be here by now. He should already be knocking on the writer's room door which had become a first-thing-in-the-morning habit for him of late. She'd just risen from behind her desk, determined to track him down and corner him, when a knock sounded at the door. Could that possibly be him? The knock seemed far too tentative. Well, only one way to find out.

"Come in," Betty called, suddenly consumed by a rush of nervousness. At last, this was what she'd been waiting for.

But as the man came through the door, her hopes came crashing down to earth, leaving her feeling sharply disappointed. The disappointment was quickly replaced by anger, however, because the man who came through the door was the last person in the world she wanted or expected to see at this moment: Craig Atwater.

She maintained her position behind her desk, folding her arms in a defiant gesture, fixing a cold glare on his face. "Mr. Atwater, what an unpleasant surprise. I was hoping that by now you'd be well on your way back to Indiana." Betty wasn't used to being rude to people, but somehow, around Craig, it felt entirely natural. After his actions of the past twenty-four hours, he didn't deserve anything else.

"C'mon now, Bess. Can't we let bygones be bygones?" he wheedled. "After all, we used to be such close friends. It would be a shame to part in anger yet again. Please, say you forgive me?" Craig finished beseechingly.

Betty relented with an exasperated sigh, realizing he probably wouldn't leave until she'd at least said she'd forgiven him. Besides, Scott would be here any minute and there was no telling what he would do if he found Craig there. Dropping her hands to her sides in resignation, she said "Fine, Craig, you're forgiven. Is that the only reason you came here?" Craig couldn't help but notice that she sneaked a glance at her watch as she finished speaking.

"Waiting for somebody, Betty?" he asked, trying to keep the malicious gleam out of his eyes. Craig knew coming here this morning probably wasn't a very good idea, and he certainly wasn't pining away for Betty's forgiveness, but he simply couldn't resist an opportunity to gloat over the success of last night's scheme. Besides, it gave him the chance to deliver one last, artful touch to his plan: making sure Betty knew Scott had abandoned her without a second thought. He wanted her to feel exactly what he had felt two years earlier when she'd left him for WENN without a backward glance.

"Oh, no, I was just...uh, making sure things are running on schedule," Betty replied self-consciously. "You see, in radio, timing is everything," she hinted, hoping he would take it as his cue to make an exit.

"Ohhhh," Craig crossed his arms and leaned casually against the door jamb, making himself at home. "I thought maybe you were waiting to start your first audition of the day." Betty stared at him blankly. "You know, for the new actor," he clarified.

"What new actor? We don't have any openings right now," Betty's thoughts were swirling. What exactly was he getting at?

"Well, with Scott Sherwood leaving, naturally I assumed you'd be hiring someone to take his place," he shrugged. "Of course, you know radio much better than I do, if you say you don't need a replacement for him, it's your call to make."

Startled, Betty came out from behind her desk and crossed the short distance to where Craig lounged against the door jamb. "What do you mean Scott's leaving? Who told you that?" she demanded, panic rising in her throat.

"Why, he told me himself last night. Betty, don't look like that," he exclaimed as her face lost every vestige of color and animation. "You can't seriously expect me to believe that you didn't know about this. Last night he said it was something he'd been planning for quite some time. I say, Betty, are you ill?" inquired Craig solicitously. "Perhaps you'd better sit down."

Betty shook her head to try to clear it, then pressed her hands to her temples. Craig grasped her by the elbow and began leading her back to her chair. As she sank into it, she vaguely heard him saying something about a glass of water before leaving the room. Her hands still pressed to her forehead, she placed her elbows on the desk in front of her, needing to anchor herself to something secure.

It wasn't possible, it just wasn't possible. She repeated it to herself over and over again. And yet, if it wasn't possible, why wasn't he here this morning? Would Scott really leave WENN, leave her, without one word of warning?

With a pang, Betty realized he must have tried to warn her. All day yesterday, he'd been trying to tell her something- something she'd instinctively known was of the utmost importance to both of them. She'd repeatedly put him off, foolishly believing they had all the time in the world to talk about whatever it was. Had he been planning to ask her to go with him? Now she'd never know; he'd grown tired of waiting and simply left without her.

Craig was back, shoving a glass of water in her hand, murmuring words that she couldn't quite distinguish but which were probably meant to be comforting. Betty automatically sipped the water, although it did nothing to make her feel better. None of this fit with what she'd learned of Scott over the last few months, which made it all the more devastating. The Scott Sherwood she knew wouldn't sneak away in the night without a word of farewell to any of his friends at WENN. Something definitely wasn't fitting in here.

"Why should I believe what you say? Why would Scott tell you anything? He wouldn't just leave me like this. Scott Sherwood cares too much about WENN and...and me to just leave without so much as a good-bye. I don't know what you heard last night, but you're wrong, Craig, perfectly wrong," she cried insistently as she rose to her feet to confront him. "And now I think you'd better leave," Betty's voice was cold and she stared unwaveringly into Craig's eyes as she pointed towards the open door.

"Oh, I get it. Blame the messenger, right? Bess, this isn't my fault. I just happened to be the one to give you the bad news. I hope this doesn't mean you've changed your mind about forgiving me," he added unctuously.

Infuriated, Betty barely managed to resist stamping her foot. "I said get out!" she almost snarled, "and don't ever call me Bess!"

Deferentially, Craig lifted his hands and began backing towards the door. Clearly, his work here was done. "All right, all right, I'm going. Just remember, Betty," he over-emphasized her name, "if you ever want me, you know where to find me."

Betty seized the scissors conveniently placed on top of her desk. "If you aren't out of this office in two seconds, Craig Atwater, so help me I'll..." she waved the scissors threateningly in his direction.

Craig hastened towards the exit, afraid Betty might lose her grip on reality, or the scissors. "Well,, Betty, it's been great seeing you. Don't be a stranger, now," he quickly pulled the door closed behind him with a sigh of relief. This whole thing had been harder than he'd imagined it would be and all he could think about now was making good his escape. He began hurrying down the hallway, then froze in midstride as he came around the corner and saw the last person in the world he expected to see.

For at that precise moment, Scott Sherwood came barreling through the door of WENN with only one thing on his mind: preventing Betty from marrying Victor Comstock. He was sure that if she did, it would be a mistake she'd regret for the rest of her life. Scott was just as sure that she loved him and he wasn't going to let her leave the writer's room until she admitted it.

It had taken him a few minutes to reach those conclusions once he'd finally wakened from his alcohol-heavy slumber. At first, Scott hadn't been able to recall why his alarm clock hadn't gone off at it's usual time. Then he'd seen it smashed to bits on the floor and the memories of the previous night had come flooding back. He wasn't going in to WENN this morning. He no longer had a place there. He was supposed to be looking for a way out of the city - train, boat, plane, it didn't matter, just so long as he got as far away as fast as possible.

The thought had brought him an almost overwhelming grief; all of his prospects seemed dim and lifeless. Then, a vague memory had returned to him, a memory that took on vibrancy the more he pondered it. That night that Betty had forgiven him, he'd made a vow to himself that he wouldn't leave until Betty was sure she didn't love him. She hadn't married Victor Comstock yet and until she did, nothing was settled.

That idea had restored his energy and Scott had leaped out of bed, determined to find Betty Roberts, corner her, and tell her he loved her until she had no choice but to believe him. He scoffed at the idea of her marrying Victor now because he was almost positive she didn't love him. It was only his own insecurity, and too much whisky, which had convinced him otherwise last night. If she was thinking of marrying Victor, it was only because Scott hadn't yet declared his love for her, an error which he intended to remedy immediately.

It was with these thoughts in mind that Scott charged through the door and demanded grimly of Gertie where he could find Betty. With unswerving determination, he headed down the hallway, intent on his purpose, only to come up short at the sight of Craig blocking his path.

He pulled himself up straighter, placing his fists on his hips. "Well, if it isn't Craig Atwater. I thought I told you last night to stay away from Betty. If I go back there and find out you've hurt her, I'll come back here and..." he began threateningly, advancing upon his opponent.

Craig lifted his outstretched hands defensively. "Now, let's not get excited, Scotty-boy. What are you doing here? I thought you were bound for parts unknown." He stepped to the side as Scott tried to walk around him, blocking his path again.

"Get out of the way, Atwater. I've got to make sure Betty's all right," Scott snarled, his voice low.

"N-n-no," Craig stuttered, knowing he was risking Scott's anger, "Betty said quite clearly that she didn't want to be disturbed, particularly by you. I hate to be the one to tell you, but she doesn't ever want to see you again, Scotty-boy." He shifted to the other side, blocking Scott's passage again.

Scott took a half step back and regarded Craig with poorly concealed menace. Without hesitation, he drew his right arm back and then let it fly, smashing his fist into Craig's eye, knocking him flat on the ground. "If Betty doesn't want to see me, she'll have to tell me, not you," he explained, skirting his way around Craig's prone figure. He paused, swinging back around to face Craig. Pointing his finger for emphasis, he added, "And another thing, don't ever call me Scotty-boy!"

With that, Scott spun on his heel and plowed ahead to the writer's room, concern for Betty overriding everything else. He didn't pause to knock, simply twisted the knob and stepped inside, not wanting to risk her refusing to allow him in. "Betty," he began urgently, then stopped and stared at the sight that greeted his eyes. She stood, only a few feet away from him, her face ashen and a pair of lethal-looking scissors gripped in her right hand. He tried to pass it off lightly. "Betty, I know I'm a little late this morning, but there's really no need for violence," he said a little nervously as he indicated the scissors with his hand.

Betty stared at him blankly, not willing to believe what her own eyes saw, that Scott Sherwood was really standing in the writer's room with her. "Scott, you're really here?" she whispered weakly in disbelief. She took two tentative steps in his direction, disregarding the scissors she still clutched in her hand.

"Yeah, Betty, it's me. In the flesh, which I'm hoping you're going to let me keep." Scott closed the door behind him as he replied. He wasn't sure what Craig had said to Betty, but he would bet just about anything that it had had a lot to do with Scott abandoning her without so much as a good-bye. He'd expected that when he'd seen Craig in the hallway; what he hadn't expected was Betty's apparent reaction. Scott had never seen her looking this distressed, and he'd had plenty of reason to see her distressed in the past.

"What are you talking about?" Betty asked in puzzlement. Then she recalled the scissors she threatened Craig with and realized she still held them. She quickly dropped them to the desk beside her and smiled sheepishly. "Oh, those weren't for you. They were for Craig. They worked pretty well, too. Why are you here?" she asked a little defensively as she crossed her arms, afraid he might say he was just here to get his final paycheck.

"I work here, remember?" he questioned her, his voice low and husky as he advanced a couple of steps closer to her.

Disarmed, Betty blinked and took a deep breath, trying to maintain her composure. His voice always seemed to affect her this way, last night she'd finally discovered why. In desperation, she grasped at the only thing that would help her keep her equilibrium before she became completely immersed in his eyes. "It's just that Craig was here and said you'd told him last night that you were leaving. I didn't know what to think, but I didn't want to believe him. I knew you wouldn't leave here without saying good-bye."

"Betty," two more steps brought them only inches apart, "I'm not going anywhere unless you tell me to," he vowed earnestly.

"Scott," she gasped as a hopeful smile lit her features, "you mean, you aren't leaving WENN? You're not leaving Pittsburgh?"

"Not a chance, Betty Roberts, I have too much unfinished business here," he brought a hand up to her cheek and she accepted the caress willingly, nestling her cheek further into his palm as a tiny sigh escaped her lips. Scott, feeling as if his heart was overflowing, moved his hand to the back of her neck and, gently pulling her towards him, kissed her passionately, letting the anguish of the last several hours recede to some dark, forgotten corner of his mind.

Betty returned Scott's kiss ardently, wrapping her arms around his torso as tightly as she could, willing him to understand that she would never ask him to leave. She reveled in the sensations of being so close to him: his left arm clasped tightly around her waist, his right hand cradling her neck and head, his warm lips pressed against hers. When the kiss ended they simply stood there, silently holding each other, lost in a world of their own creation where nothing existed save their love for each other.

Reluctantly, Scott realized that there was still one matter that needed to be settled before he could tell Betty that he was in love with her. In some discomfort, he cleared his throat and drew infinitesimally away from her so he could meet her sparkling eyes. With great trepidation he asked "Betty, you aren't going to marry Victor, are you?"

"Marry Victor?" Betty murmured slowly, searching his face for some clue as to why he would think she was engaged to Victor. "Why would you think I was going to...mmmmm, I think I detect the work of Craig Atwater here. No, I'm not going to marry Victor. In fact, one of the things that I have to tell you today is that I don't love Victor; I'm sure of that now. I'm definitely in love with somebody else."

Scott's relief was so enormous at hearing that Betty's engagement had existed entirely in Craig's imagination that he barely registered her last sentence. He gathered her closer to him for a moment before pulling back again. "Betty, you have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that because now I can tell you what I was trying to tell you all day yesterday." Steeling himself, Scott forged ahead. "Betty, I'm in love with you. I love you more than anything else in the world. It doesn't matter if you can't say the same to me right now, I just need you to know how I feel: that nothing in my life is worthwhile unless you're there, too. Betty, I love you," he said simply, looking earnestly into her eyes.

"Oh, Scott," Betty exclaimed delightedly, "that's exactly what I was hoping you were going to say because it's what I need to say to you, too! I love you with all my heart. I can't imagine ever loving anyone more. I knew it last night; I just looked at you, and suddenly it was there. I couldn't wait until you got in this morning to tell you and then when I thought you weren't going to come back..." Her voice trailed off and she shuddered, remembering the emotional roller coaster she'd been on for the last hour.

Scott pulled her further into his arms to comfort her. "It's all right, Betty. I'm here, and I promise, I'm not going anywhere," he said huskily. After a long moment, he chuckled softly and added "You know, it's funny, Craig sure caused a lot of problems for us, but in a way, I guess I should be grateful to him."

"Grateful? What for?" Betty asked, wrinkling her nose.

"Well, if he'd never come to Pittsburgh, we'd never have gone to dinner with him. Then, if he'd never attacked you, I'd never have had the chance to rescue you and you might never have realized that you loved me. Piece of cake! Do you think we should invite him to the wedding?" he asked, with a devilish grin.

"That depends, Mr. Sherwood," Betty answered, with a grin of her own. "Was that a proposal of marriage?"

Scott looked down at her speculatively, but he couldn't disguise that his eyes were still twinkling. "For now, let's just call it a proposal to propose in the near future. If that's all right with you?" he added quickly.

"I think that sounds perfect." Betty sighed in contentment and a joyous smile broke out on her face as she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. Scott returned her smile, then lowered his head to kiss her again, both knowing unquestionably for the first time that they belonged to each other.

The End!

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