Disclaimer: I don't own Ugly Betty, nor am I in any way connected to ABC, Silent H Productions or any of its affiliates. No copyright infringement is intended, so please don't sue.
Summary: My own take on the whole Betty/Henry/Walter love triangle. Completely AU after
"Betty, can you get Alex on the phone? I'm just looking at the final proofs before we send the Valentine's Day issue for printing and there are a few things I want to go over with her."
Betty looked up from her desk and smiled brightly at her boss.
"Sure thing. Also, do you want me to confirm the dinner reservations for the three of you tonight?"
"Yeah, that'd be great. Please make sure to tell the maitre d' not to bring over a complimentary bottle of wine. The last time that happened mom downed half of the bottle before Alex and I could stop her."
"Next time just knock the bottle out of her hand. That's what I did at the spa. It worked like a charm."
Daniel grinned at her last comment as he walked back into his office.
Betty contacted Alexis and transferred her over to Daniel. A few minutes later, she could hear the soft clacking of high heels as Alexis came into the room, gave her a brief greeting and entered Daniel's office.
She was pleased to see that, instead of any bickering between the two siblings, they were talking animatedly with one another. They had come to a resolution of sorts a couple of weeks ago and, what had once started off as an uneasy truce, had become a friendly, albeit competitive, camaraderie.
They had both even made concessions on what to call each other. Daniel was not quite ready to start calling her Alexis, so she conceded that he could still call her Alex as long as she could call him Danny. Everybody seemed pleased with the results. At least no articles of clothing were being flung around Meade Publishing. For now.
She was startled from her musings by a voice in the doorway.
"Was it hard getting used to seeing them together like that?"
Betty looked up to find Henry smiling down at her, his endearing grin sending something fluttering in her stomach.
"I didn't know Alex before he became Alexis so it wasn't that difficult. But, it was definitely strange for Daniel. Things seem to be alright for now."
"No more impromptu separate press conferences, in any case. I saw on the news how you came in and diffused the situation. I never told you how impressive it was."
Betty blushed at the compliment. "I couldn't believe that they actually aired that."
"You looked great. You really took charge of the situation." Henry slowly made his way towards her and took a hesitant perch on the end of her desk.
"Yeah, my dad, uh, he actually taped it. He likes to show it to his friends when they come over."
Henry's grin widened. "He must be very proud of you. I sure was when I saw it."
Flustered, Betty cast her eyes away, desperate for somewhere else to look. Nervously, she picked up the box of candy hearts on her desk that they had been giving out in the cafeteria at lunch.
She felt the hairs on the nape of her neck rise when Henry leaned over to take a closer look at what was in her hands.
"NECCO Sweethearts Conversation Hearts. They've been manufacturing these since 1902. They add new sayings every year. This year they're including some pet-inspired sayings."
Betty dropped the box abruptly after Henry revealed the little factoid.
"It's just something I know." After a short pause, while Henry fidgeted a bit with his glasses and Betty unnecessarily tidied up her desk, Henry began to speak.
"So, um, Betty, I was wondering if you had any plans for Valentine's Day. Because if you didn't, I thought that we could go out to dinner and afterwards, we could go see Bridge to Terabithia. A friend of mine gave me passes for a special screening of the movie because it doesn't actually come out until Friday. You mentioned before that it was one of your favorite books growing up."
"A story about a girl who doesn't quite fit in at her new school. Go figure."
"Would you like to go with me?"
Betty looked up and saw the expectant look on Henry's face. Her heart began to drum a quick rhythm inside of her chest and she was somewhat surprised that he couldn't hear it sitting only two feet away from her.
She worried her bottom lip as she tried to come up with something to say. A loud voice inside of her head, which bore a striking resemblance to Christina's Scottish brogue, was chanting for her to do it while a much quieter voice was reminding her that she already had a boyfriend.
"I'm sorry, Henry. I really appreciate it and I wish that I could go, but, you see, I'm still dating Walter and we've already…" Her voice trailed as she saw the hopeful look on Henry's face fade.
"No, I understand. I thought that you and he weren't together anymore. You haven't mentioned him in a while, so…"
"We are. Still together I mean. I just want to give it a chance."
"Of course. You don't want to just throw it away without giving it a shot with him. I understand. Um, I've got to go back to work." Henry stood abruptly and quickly started to make his way towards the elevators.
"Henry, wait!" Henry turned around towards her. "I'm really, really sorry." Betty wrung her hands as she watched him standing there in the doorway, his face carefully blank, before he nodded briskly and walked away.
Betty looked down at her not-quite-dry palms in frustration. What was she doing? She was saying no to Henry because she didn't want to throw what she had with Walter away? But wasn't she doing the same thing with Henry?
But you don't know if Henry could love you and you know Walter loves you, the little voice inside her head said.
But did she love Walter? More to the point, was she still in love with Walter? Was it really the smart thing to do, to stay with someone just because he loved her?
She buried her face in her hands and put her head down on the desk, hitting it lightly against it in frustration.
Looking up, she saw the Meade siblings staring at her with concern from the other side of the room.
"Um, hi! I'm just, you know…"
"Beating your head against your desk?" Alexis supplied.
"Yeah. Um, you know, paper work's getting me down."
Alexis and Daniel shared a look and, after a moment's pause, the former silently took her leave.
"Are you okay, Betty? I saw Henry in here with you a minute ago. Is everything alright?" Daniel asked as he approached his assistant.
"Yeah, he just, uh, asked me to go to dinner next week."
"For Valentine's Day. That's a good thing, isn't it?" Daniel asked with a puzzled look on his face.
"It's great, but I'm still with Walter. So, I told Henry no." Betty gave a great sigh at the last sentence.
"I see. I thought that you were going to break up with Walter, especially after the way that you were talking about Henry after Fashion Week. Something about popping and locking?"
The mention of Henry's dance moves brought a smile to her face.
"Yeah, it's just that Walter and I have been together for a long time."
Daniel took a seat on her desk in the same spot Henry had just sat on a few minutes ago.
"Betty, I may not be the best person to give relationship advice. Let's face it, I'm a better go-to person for advice on one-night hook-ups and the only actual relationship I've had was fabricated for a magazine article. But I'm not blind. I see the way he looks at you and the way you look at him."
"Betty, you didn't see your face just now. It lit up just because I said popping and locking. I don't want to tell you what to do or to influence your life, but as somebody who cares about you and wants you to be happy, I think maybe it's time you took a good hard look at this and figure out what you want to do, not what you think you should do."
Betty nodded, touched by Daniel's words but not knowing what else to say.
"I have to meet Alex and Wilhelmina to finalize everything and give approval before we send the cope to the printers. Are you going to be alright?"
"Yes, of course. Do you need me to go with you?"
Daniel stood and gave her an affectionate, if slightly awkward pat on the shoulder. "No, you just stay here and finish whatever you're doing. You worked hard the last couple of days. If you need to take the rest of the day off to, you know, think about stuff, go ahead. Once the issue goes out, things should be pretty quiet."
"Thanks, Daniel. For everything." Betty gave him a sincere, albeit weak, smile. He smiled in return and gave a short wave as he left.
As she sat at her desk, Betty mulled over everything that Daniel had said, along with all of the conflicting emotions warring inside of her. Looking glumly at her computer screen, the picture of Walter and her eating hot dogs stared back at her, almost mockingly.
She gathered up what was left of her paperwork and quickly finished it off. Afterwards, she took a resolute breath, grabbed her purse and headed home to think about her rather confusing love life and to finally, finally make a decision. One that she hoped she would be happy with.
To be continued…
A/N: This is my first attempt at a multi-chaptered UB fanfic. It was originally supposed to be a one-shot as my other UB stories have been, but the story has taken on a life of its own (as stories are want to do). Some of the details (particularly the conversation between Henry and Betty) are quite close to what happened in episode 1x15 with a few changes here and there, so I do apologize for my lack of originality. However, I quite liked how the writers did it on the show and I just wanted to emulate their flow.
I hope you enjoyed it! Please let me know what you think! I always appreciate comments and suggestions. The next chapter should be done shortly.