Disclaimer: I do not own Ugly Betty in any way. Honestly, don't you think Walter would have already died in some freak accident involving nose clippers and super glue if I did? Hmm?
AN: Let me know what you think, guys.
Daniel Meade was a walking, talking disappointment.
If he were a betting man, he would say that at any given time at least 17 percent of Manhattan was in some way disappointed in him. And that was only Manhattan.
Not that he was counting.
Daniel had learned long ago how easy it was to disappoint someone else. He had also learned long ago not to care.
At least, that's what he would say if you asked.
But Daniel did care sometimes, and damn if he didn't hate that.
He cared when his father compared him to Alex.
Dead Alex: the brilliant son who could do no wrong versus Alive Daniel: the screw-up son who could do no right.
One might see how a man could grow a complex.
So when his father announced that he was naming Daniel the Editor-in-Chief of Mode, Daniel had seen it for what it was: a challenge he could not win. Bradford was simply staring his son in the face, waiting for Daniel to blink. And though Daniel's eyes were watering and all he wanted to do was close them to ease the pain, it would take simply a word or two from her and the pain would subside.
It was worth the pain just to hear the even, caramel sweet tone of her voice when she told him he could do it.
Before he met her, Daniel would have never imagined that anyone could treat him with such care. It was in everything she did. She protected him, sheltered him, encouraged him. She stood behind him so that when he stumbled, and he would, she would be right there to make sure he didn't completely lose his footing.
And yet, Daniel had still reverted to some old habits. He had not been nearly as kind to her as she was to him, at least not from the outset. He had taken her for granted. He had disregarded her.
Worse yet, he had disappointed her.
She had simply given him the look and turned away.
And Daniel had never felt worse in his life.
The look had driven a spike through Daniel's heart. Betty disappointed made Daniel positively sick. It made him want to do absolutely anything in his power to prevent ever seeing it again.
But Daniel was still learning to take someone else's feelings into account, because heaven knows his parents weren't great role models. So he messed up again and disappoints her and he feels sick all over again. But Daniel is nothing if not smart and he learned not to do it so much. And eventually he could count the number of times he'd received the look during a week on one hand and he's more than a little proud of himself.
But Daniel also knew that Betty's look was different than his father's and his mother's and Wilhelmina's and Miss Tuesday's. His father's look asked Daniel why he wasn't Alex. His mother's, why he was so like his father. Wilhelmina's was asking a question the entire fashion world wanted to know the answer to, and Miss Tuesday wanted to know why Daniel wouldn't call her back.
No, Betty's look was very different.
Why won't you even try to be what you could be?
Little by little, Daniel had learned to tune into Betty and tune everyone else out. When he wanted an opinion he turned to her first. When he had a problem, Betty was his ear. She seemed so familiar to him now that Daniel couldn't remember when she became the voice in his head.
But he knew the exact moment he had fallen in love with her.
It had been a bad week at work for Betty, and Daniel had been so busy with layouts for the new spring lines that he hadn't had time to say much to Betty other than "Hi", "Goodbye" and "Could you get me that file?". It wasn't until two pm Friday that Daniel caught wind of what had been happening with Betty all week, and by 2:01 pm a furious Daniel was storming out the door of his office.
Wilhelmina Slater had no idea what she had done. And she was about to see a side of Daniel she had never seen before.
After a very terse five minutes in Wilhelmina's office, Daniel had gone in search of Betty and barely caught her as she was about to step into the elevator. He stood in the doorway to the elevator as the automatic metal doors tried to shut, pushing them back where they came from. Betty looked up and immediately put her head back down, and Daniel could see she was trying to come off as unemotional as she could.
She was failing miserably, but Daniel supposed that wasn't really the point anyway. Betty always put on a brave face. It was her way.
Daniel stepped into the elevator and the doors dinged and shut behind him. He simply stood there, hands in the pockets of his black slacks and looked at her, silently begging her to look at him. When she wouldn't, he reached to his left and pulled the stop button, halting the elevator instantly in its path. Betty looked up in surprise at Daniel, who had his gaze fixed on Betty, his eyes gentle.
Wilhelmina had put some crazy idea in Betty's head that the only kind of men who could ever find her attractive were the Walters of the world; men stuck in one place who wanted a wife, not an individual. They wanted what was comfortable to them and Betty deserved so much more than that.
"I'm a fool."
"Yes you are." Betty's eyes shot up in surprise. "You listened to Wilhelmina Slater about something other than which belt goes with which shoes."
Betty smiled lightly and her voice was almost a whisper. "It's just…well…she's right, you know."
Daniel moved closer to Betty and put his hands on her upper arms. "No, Betty. Don't you dare. You are worth forty times what a man like Walter deserves. Hell, you're worth more than any man deserves." He paused and gripped her arms lightly. "Don't fool yourself, Wilhelmina Slater admires you. She wishes she had half your imagination and beauty."
And there it was.
The moment Betty's eyes connected with his, he knew.
Daniel Meade was in love with Betty Suarez.
"You think I'm beautiful?"
"I know you're beautiful, Betty."
When the elevator reached the ground floor, Daniel sent Betty home and told her he'd see her on Monday. He rode the elevator back up to Mode and after exiting, stood in front of a certain blonde at the circular reception desk.
"Mode magazine, please hold. Mode magazine, please hold." Amanda pressed the hold button on the multi line phone. "Well, someone looks happy."
"Thank you for telling me, Amanda. You did a good thing."
"Whatever." Daniel walked away.
"Mode magazine, please hold."
Daniel Meade refused to be a disappointment ever again to Betty Suarez.
That was why, even though he loathed spending time with his father, he had arranged to meet him for lunch.
Bradford Meade marched into the upscale restaurant and abruptly sat down across from his son, reaching for the menu.
"I hope this is important, Daniel. I had to put off a very important meeting to be here."
"I asked Betty to marry me, dad. And she said yes."