Title: Snapshot #4: 5 Steps
Author: themastress of Betty/Daniel fic as appointed by neuriel (hey, I'm not that egocentric!)
Summary: Betty has fallen for Daniel. Daniel has fallen for Betty. Now what are they supposed to do about that?
Disclaimer: Hey, staff writers over at Ugly Betty…Betty and Daniel belong together! Do you hear us? They belong together, dammit! Ahem, I don't own Betty or Daniel. Yeah.
AN: And so we have the fourth entrant in the What I Want to Be series. I'm attempting to flip between POV's so that Betty's and Daniel's thoughts are equally represented.
So You've Fallen for Your Boss/Subordinate…
5 Easy Steps to a More Confident You
Step 1: Breathe. This is not the end of the world.
A depressed Betty walked into the Closet at Mode magazine, body language clearly indicating something was wrong. Christina walked out of one of the many rows of designer goods carrying an almost comically large stack of gowns and nearly ran into Betty, who had stopped in the middle of the room.
"Beh-ty! Oh, ya scared me." Christina took in Betty's slouched posture, sad eyes and nervous hand-wringing and came to the rather obvious conclusion that something was wrong with her friend. "What's wrong?" Christina set down the gowns in her arms on one of the couches and grabbed Betty's hands, pulling her to sit on another.
"He's so…but Henry…and Walter…Walter and Henry…but he's so…and he's just…and I'm just…and I…but he's so…" And Betty looked at Christina in desperation, but Christina, bless her heart, had absolutely no clue what Betty was going on about.
"Beh-ty, if you don't use English, I'm afraid I'm not going to understand what you're talking about." Christina's eyebrows were knit in concern and she still had a firm but gentle grasp on Betty's hands. Betty raised her eyes to look in Christina's and let loose a long sigh.
"I'm in love with Daniel."
"Daniel? As in yer boss Daniel Meade? That Daniel?"
Betty simply nodded and Christina's eyes grew wide.
"Ya have to tell him, Beh-ty."
Betty knew she had come to the right person with this. Christina would see reason. She would be sympathetic but she would see reason. She would tell Betty that she just had to forget about it and move-
"Ya have to tell him, Beh-ty."
"No. I can't tell him, Christina. He would laugh me out of his office."
"Who says it has to be in his office?" Betty glared at her. "And Daniel would never laugh at you. Me, maybe. You, never."
"I don't have to say anything. I could just, you know, go on like nothing was different."
"Could you? Really?" Betty looked at Christina and sighed, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose.
Christina looked Betty in the eyes for a moment, and Betty was grateful for the silence. Bombshells, no matter the size, had a way of unsettling everything around them. And right now Betty was feeling as unsettled as possible. She had no idea what to do. Actually she had one idea, but moving to a foreign country and hiding under a rock probably wasn't the best choice.
No, if she were to live with herself, there was really only one option.
"I have to tell him."
"You have to tell him."
She just had no idea how she was going to do that.
Step 2: A sympathetic ear can often do wonders for perspective. Don't be ashamed if you need one.
"Fuck!" Vincent Bianci glanced up from the magazine he was flipping through but didn't comment. "Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck! What am I supposed to do?" Daniel turned to look at Vincent, who waited a second to respond.
"Sorry, I thought that question was rhetorical." Vincent flipped the magazine closed and set it on an end table. "Being in love is not a tragedy, Daniel."
"No, it's not, but this is Betty. I can't fall in love with Betty."
"Why not? Because she's not your type?"
"For one- because she's my assistant. And for another…" Daniel trailed off and Vincent rolled his eyes.
"So that's it? Because she's your assistant? Come on, you can do better than that. How many assistants did you sleep with before she came along? What would one more be?"
Daniel fisted a hand in each side of Vincent's overshirt and pulled the man abruptly to him, almost banging their heads together. While Daniel was positively enraged, Vincent looked amused. "Do not speak about her that way, do you understand me?"
Vincent nodded slowly, the Cheshire-like grin never quite leaving his face. "You know, it's a pain being right all the time."
"Right about what?"
"Betty Suarez is the best kind of woman. And you, playboy Daniel Meade, can never deserve that kind of woman. You don't deserve her, and you know it. And it's killing you."
Daniel released Vincent's overshirt and slumped down in the chair behind him, his breathing labored. It was killing him. Loving Betty was killing him.
"She's my type."
"Betty, she's my type. She's funny and charming and loving and honest and well, breathtaking, and there's no way she would even look twice in my direction." Daniel sighed and looked up at Vincent, who was still standing. "What the hell am I going to do?"
"You're going to tell her."
Daniel stood up abruptly. "What?!? I can't tell her! She would laugh me out of my office!"
"Betty wouldn't laugh at you; she has more tact than that. And who says it has to be in your office?"
"No, you're right, she wouldn't laugh, she'd just run away from me as soon as humanly possible."
"Why don't you let Betty make that choice? Sometimes Daniel," Vincent took a hold on Daniel's upper arms and shook him gently with each word out of his mouth. "you…just…have…to…stick…your…neck…out…there." Vincent stopped shaking Daniel and removed his hands from Daniel's upper arms. "Hey…if it's worth it, it's worth it. Is it?"
And even though Daniel was foolishly wrapped up in his own thoughts, the message still came through loud and clear. The answer was obvious.
"Alright then. Now can we discuss what photos you want for the featured layout in the next issue?"
Step 3: Show them a side of you they've never seen before.
Daniel was nervous. This had to work. It just had to.
It would make her see a different Daniel.
He watched Betty walk up to her desk through his fishbowl-like window and sit down demurely and he smiled. He'd know soon.
But just as Betty was about to open the top left drawer of her desk, Marc came up and interrupted her. Whatever he said must have been important, because Betty got up and rushed after him. She hadn't looked into the drawer.
Daniel sighed and slumped down slightly against the window. Waiting was going to drive him insane.
An hour or so later Betty was back, looking extremely frazzled. Without thinking, Daniel opened the door to his office and stepped out, walking over to her desk. He stood there for a second or so until she noticed him.
"Oh…Daniel! Sorry…did you need anything?"
"Betty…are you okay? You look a little…upset."
Betty gave an embarrassed smile and waved him off, her shoulders drawing up as she pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "Oh…I'm fine."
Daniel didn't believe her but let it slide anyway. Embarrassing Betty further was not high on Daniel's list of priorities.
"I saw you rush away earlier. Is everything alright?"
"Oh…fine. Just something personal. Nothing you want to know about." Betty looked down at the surface of her desk and Daniel felt the smallest of twinges in his heart. She didn't want to include him.
Daniel nodded and left Betty with a, "Can you get me all the files of our photographers? I need to decide on who to use for our new Michael Kors layout." before turning, hands in pockets, and walking back into his office, wrapped in his own thoughts.
He was so distracted that he wouldn't see fifteen minutes later when Betty opened her top left desk drawer and smiled quite possibly the largest smile possible.
Step 4: Never let them see you sweat. You are independent, strong and capable.
Everything had been going perfectly fine for Betty that morning. She had said hi to Daniel and had managed not to completely give away the fact that she was madly in love with him. She had managed to get his coffee without spilling it on him, though her trembling hands were trying to tell on her. And she had managed to walk by him and not faint at the smell of his cologne.
Everything was going perfectly fine.
Then Walter had shown up.
Walter had shown up…at her work.
He had shown up with a karaoke machine, singing Wind Beneath My Wings in the lobby of the Meade Publications building, mostly because the guards below refused to let him upstairs.
Betty did not need this today.
She did not need this when her palms were sweating just being near her boss and she wanted to melt when he smiled at her.
One distraction was more than enough.
Amazingly enough, it had been Marc who had alerted her to Walter's presence. He hadn't even taken out his digital camera to record the event. He had simply walked up to her desk and told her in the lowest tone possible that there was a creepy guy in the lobby who refused to go away until she appeared.
Was it strange that Betty knew exactly who Marc was talking about?
The two of them moved quickly to the elevator and just as the doors were closing, Amanda squeezed in.
"Oh…don't think I'm missing this. I've wanted that toadie gone for months. He's creepy. And whiny. And he wears too much polyester."
They rode the elevator down to the lobby and as the doors opened, they were met immediately by,
Did I ever tell you you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be
I can fly higher than an eagle
'Cuz you are the wind beneath my wings.
Betty marched over to Walter and grabbed the microphone out of his hands, throwing it down on the ground. She put her hands on her hips and glared, her look making even Marc and Amanda pause briefly.
The two of them got over it quickly and gave one another a look that screamed disturbed joy.
Betty's voice was terse, the anger in her words obvious. "Walter! What are you doing???"
"Look…I know you're mad at me…but I just wanted to tell you that…"
He kept talking but Betty wasn't listening. Had his voice always been that nasal? Had he always whined this much? Wait…who rolled their eyes when they were supposed to be apologizing?
Was he always this annoying?
"Walter…stop. I'm tired of the apologies and the stupid excuses and the singing. Just stop. Get out of the lobby and get out of my life. I don't want you anywhere near me anymore. Take your karaoke machine and walk out of here right now."
Betty stood there, arms crossed, and Marc and Amanda held their phones out from their spots beside her, taking a picture of the crumpled face of Walter.
Okay, so they had each brought a very small digital camera.
The three of them stood in the elevator and as they reached floor 10, Amanda said, "So I'm guessing you won't mind if I change my desktop wallpaper."
"Not at all, Amanda."
Betty walked out of the elevator after it stopped at floor 28, flustered but invigorated. She sat down at her desk and reached into her left upper desk drawer for a pen, but instead pulled out something that didn't belong. A box.
A pink, cardboard, bakery box.
Betty lifted the lid of the box and read the note taped inside to the top.
I heard you mention the other day that oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were your favorite. My grandmother taught me how to make these before she died. I haven't made them since she died twenty years ago, so I can't promise they're any good, but I wanted to tell you I appreciate all your hard work.
The cookies were in various sizes, misshapen and slightly overcooked, but Betty couldn't help but smile.
Daniel had made cookies just for her.
Step 5: Cave in and kiss them senseless.
Daniel had no idea what he was doing here.
It's not as if he had a real solid reason to be standing on Betty's doorstep.
The one he was holding in his right hand was flimsy at best, but it would have to do.
And swallowed his nerves down.
Justin answered the door, a delighted but questioning expression on his face. "Mr. Meade! What are you doing here on a Saturday night?"
Should he tell the boy in front of him that he was there because he wanted to be as close to his aunt as humanly possible? That being away from her for one day was driving him crazy? That he could have called her and almost did but decided quickly that that would never be enough?
Somehow, that didn't seem like appropriate information to share with a kid.
"Well, I was trying to work on a few things, but I got stuck and Betty's much better at this than I am, so I was hoping she would give me her opinion."
"Oh, okay. Come in."
Daniel followed Justin in to the family room where he stopped, waiting for Betty to notice him.
It didn't take long.
"Daniel! What are you doing here?"
"I was working on the final layout, but I wanted your opinion first. Do you mind?" Betty shook her head in the negative and set the popcorn bowl she had been holding down on the middle cushion of the couch. She led him into the kitchen and pulled out a chair, sitting down. She waited as he sat and then laid the book down in front of her.
As she flipped through, Daniel sweated. Then sweated some more. He was sure she was seeing right through his transparent excuse to be near her.
But if she knew, she wasn't saying, preferring to focus on the book in front of her.
"Well…" Betty scrunched her forehead and looked at him.
"Go ahead. Be brutal."
"It seems wrong to put the article on minimalism right after an article on how to add volume to your hair, doesn't it?"
Daniel leaned closer to her. "What do you suggest?"
As Betty told him what she thought they should do, he tuned her out, focusing on the house around him. By now Justin had migrated to the table and was seated on Betty's right, pointing out what he would change. Hilda had stopped drying dishes and was leaning over the book directly on Daniel's left, dishtowel draped over her right shoulder. Ignacio even had stopped whatever it was he was doing and leaned over the table in the space between Daniel and Betty, nodding every once in a while at something Betty was saying.
Daniel wanted to cry.
But he also wanted to have an excuse to stay right here, forever wrapped in this moment.
An hour later, Daniel and the Suarezes had decided on the final changes. Daniel found himself standing next to the door of his car and Betty was standing next to him, jacket temporarily draped over her shoulders to keep away the cold. She was looking at him, smiling, and Daniel couldn't help but smile back. When her jacket started to slide off her shoulders, Daniel reached up and put it back where it belonged, pulling it snug.
She thanked him and started to walk away when Daniel knew that if he let her walk away from him now, he may never do it.
So he pulled her to a stop and kissed her.
That's it. Kissed her.
And felt his heart stop.
And for just a moment Daniel was afraid Betty would pull away from him and run into the warmth of her family just a few steps away.
Then she leaned in to him.