Title: The Evolution of Us
Pairing: Henry/Betty, Daniel/Betty
Rating: R
Summary: "What good are all those women to Daniel now, anyway? He is tired of them. They disappear like sticky dreams when he wakes up in the mornings, and the only thing he's thinking of is Betty, Betty, Betty."
Disclaimer: I do not own nor am I affiliated with Ugly Betty. I make no profit with this. Don't sue me.

Henry is smart and sincere and, in his own awkward way, cute as hell, and Betty would be a fool to let him get away, because they're perfect for each other. And Betty is no fool. Daniel knows it's only a matter of time until she figures it out.

He sees Henry, sometimes, talking to her. He will drop by unexpectedly—just for a little while, just for a few minutes when Betty's not too busy for it (he'd never want to bother her, after all, or be an inconvenience)—and Daniel can't help but notice the reverence that he has for her, or the want. The attraction between them is palpable.

The truth is, when he visits, Henry brightens up the rest of Betty's day; Daniel's seen it. Her face lights up when he walks her way, and Henry always leaves flushed and smiling, like he's been given a gift. And he has.

Sometimes Daniel can't bear to watch them.

Henry and Betty are genuinely good, kind, honest individuals, and the rightness of the both of them, together, is so obvious it hurts. They suit one another; they fit. They deserve whatever happiness they get.

Daniel knows this. He knows it, but that doesn't mean he's selfless enough to let it happen, because—

The more Daniel gets to know Betty, the more he likes her, and the more he likes her, the harder it gets to let this geeky, besotted kid come in and steal her away.

Daniel could out-class Henry in a second, any day; he has more charm, more money, more prestige than Henry could ever imagine—ever hope for—but Henry is the one who's getting everything, because he's the one who's getting the girl (the important one, anyway, while Daniel goes through endless and endless rows of throw-aways).

What good are all those women to Daniel now, anyway? He is tired of them. They disappear like sticky dreams when he wakes up in the mornings, and the only thing he's thinking of is Betty, Betty, Betty.

Daniel had never thought of Betty as a woman before—as someone he could love, and be attracted to—until Henry had come in and made it abundantly clear that that's exactly what she was, and that Daniel would be a fool to let her get away. And Daniel is no fool.

From then on, Daniel couldn't stop thinking about Betty—couldn't stop thinking about being with Betty—and the more Daniel fell for her, the more she fell for Henry, and Daniel didn't know how to stop it; any of it.

Daniel couldn't stop thinking about how the top of Betty's head reached almost-but-not-quite to the bottom of his chin, or how her hands, in the few times they had brushed against his, were warm, and small, and soft.

He couldn't stop thinking about what she might look like without her glasses, or how the ridges of her braces might feel against his tongue.

Daniel especially couldn't stop thinking about Betty's skin: the clear, luminous white of it; the unaltered paleness it must melt in to in the places always covered by her clothes.

And what would she look like without her clothes, he wondered?

What curves did she have that he didn't know about? How would her breasts feel; her thighs? What noises would she make? What would she like?

Daniel had to stop thinking about that—about all of that. It wouldn't be right for him to stare at her lips, or to want to touch the long, dark curls of her hair. It wouldn't be right to want her like that; not Betty. But he did.

And he couldn't have her. Daniel was aware of this.

Daniel didn't deserve Betty, and he knew it, but Henry did, and Daniel envied him that. He couldn't even resent him for it; not really.

But that didn't mean he had to like it, and it certainly didn't mean he didn't want her for himself—or that he wouldn't try to steal her back.

Walter was finally gone—and good riddance—and Henry was getting closer and closer to making his move, to asking Betty out again now that he could, and Daniel couldn't let it happen; he couldn't let Henry, in his adorable, faltering way, ask Betty on a date, because she'd say yes, and Henry was naïve but he wasn't stupid, and he would know to keep her, to treasure her.

Henry would delight her; he'd make her laugh, and blush, and squirm, and he would love her, and she would stay with him, and Daniel wouldn't have another chance at this, ever. And he needs her—Daniel needs Betty more than Henry ever could, because Betty is the only genuine thing that Daniel's ever had. He can't afford to lose her; it would hurt him too much.

Daniel could make Betty happy, too, he thinks. He can learn; he is trying. He has stopped his womanizing, and he knows she notices—Betty's disapproving frown has disappeared along with the night-after necklaces and wristwatch-hunts.

Daniel can be someone that Betty wants; someone she needs. Someone like Henry. He just needs for her to give him a chance—he needs an opportunity. He can make her fall in love with him.

He knows it when Henry's finally decided to make his move. Betty hasn't seen him yet, standing just outside the main hallway, but Daniel has, and he knows. He knows.

He can see it in the last-second straightening of Henry's tie; from the set of his shoulders, and the way he pats his hair down carefully, carefully. It will be…now.

"Betty," says Daniel, from his doorway.

He doesn't know yet what he'll say, but he has to do something.

He has to interrupt that sweet, shy boy before he takes away the one person that matters; before he ruins everything that Daniel has been working for—everything he wants.

"Yes?" says Betty, looking at him expectantly.

Henry has stopped; he is rooted in place.

And this is Daniel's chance; he could kill this infant thing between them now, right now—he could crush that tender possibility of Henry and Betty (that absence of Betty and him) before it ever really got a chance to start. He could do that. Daniel knows he could do that.

But he won't. Daniel doesn't deserve Betty, and Betty doesn't deserve that. It would be selfish of him to do it, and he won't. He can't. It is time for him to think about someone besides himself.

"Daniel?" she says. "Did you need something?"

"No," says Daniel. "It was nothing. Never mind."

And he shuts the door and takes his seat and very pointedly doesn't listen to Henry asking Betty out for lunch, or to Betty saying yes.