A/N: To any of my TT readers: Yeah, I know. Sorry. I promise I won't give up TT. But I've been bitten by the Ugly Betty Bug. Specifically, the Daniel/Betty pairing. First foray into the fandom, so constructive criticism only makes me a better writer!

Spoiler Warning: Season Finale.

Disclaimer: All the characters you will read about here are property of their respective copyright owners and I make no money or profit from the distribution of this writing. I own nothing. Except maybe my hairbrush. And my neat wet/dry flat-iron. Oh, and Chester (that's my laptop).

Delayed Reaction
by Emania

"And if you want to talk about it anymore / lie here on the floor and cry on my shoulder / I'm a friend."
- Cry, James Blunt

Funny, really, how the tears just hadn't come, not even when she was alone, not even when Daniel lay motionless, fed by tubes and machines. And now...

She approached the bed cautiously, Daniel's eyes flickering back and forth between her and his father who was saying something about...something. Betty wasn't paying attention to their conversation, she was too busy trying not to burst into tears.

He looked so pale. So...fragile, even though he was sitting up and the nurses assured her he was making a wonderful recovery.

He hadn't been eating enough, why hadn't she noticed that before?

She wished for about the billionth time in the last two days that her father was back home. He'd know what to say to Hilda, he'd know how to comfort Justin, and he would make something that Daniel would eat.


Betty started out of her reverie and blinked back the stinging in her eyes, just in time to watch Mr. Meade walk past her and out into the hall. She turned around to watch him go, wondering if he had been saying something to her. It had been his voice that had called her.


She turned, surprised, at the sound of Daniel's voice, to meet his eyes. "What?" she asked. Realizing how deer-in-the-headlights she must look, she cleared her throat and tried again, "What did your dad want?" she asked. "He said something to me but I wasn't paying attention..." she looked back at where Mr. Meade's footsteps couldn't even be heard in the busy hospital hallway.

"He was saying goodbye," Daniel answered, his voice hoarse.

She frowned at him, "Why's your voice so hoarse?" she asked, saying the first thing that came to her head.

Daniel smiled, but not like he was happy. "The nurses say it'll last a few more days," he said and it almost hurt hearing him speak. Betty must've made some expression of confusion because he explained, "Because of the tube they had stuck down my throat to pump my stomach and keep me breathing," he explained.

"Oh, God, Daniel," Betty breathed, walking the rest of the way to his bed.

He looked away from her and then back, a wry smile on his lips, "I know," he rasped. "Beyond disappointed."

Betty gasped, "What?" She shook her head, "Oh, no, God, no," Betty hurried to assure him. "This is not disappointment, Daniel, this is--"

"--pity?" he offered.


He exhaled and leaned back a little into the pillows.

"I'm sorry," they said simultaneously.

Betty smiled and Daniel offered her a small smile in return, and tried not to let her see the wince as something somewhere hurt.

She saw it anyway. "How do you feel?" she asked, unable to stop the automatic gesture of reaching over and brushing the hair off his forehead.

So casually.

"Considering they're treating me like a junkie and not giving me so much as a Tylenol for the pain, I'm swell," he said tiredly. "How are you?"

"Santos is dead."

The words were out of her mouth before she even thought about them but once they were, she collapsed on the chair by his bed as if her legs could no longer carry her weight.

"I tried calling you when I went to the morgue, but...your phone...it wasn't on...and...I guess you were..." her words were faltering because she was trying to keep the tears from coming and she couldn't seem to speak and do it at the same time. She stopped to gulp in air, still trying valiantly to stem the flow of tears, and then she realized what she was saying and to whom. She looked up, shocked. "Oh, God, Daniel, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to say anything to you about any of this, I mean, look at you, it isn't your problem anyway and...and..." she felt the salty sting in her eyes and she blinked rapidly, lowering her head.

She started to raise her hand to wipe at her eyes when she suddenly couldn't. She looked up, watery eyed and all, to find Daniel holding her hand still on the side of his bed. She hadn't even realized she'd placed it there. She met his eyes and the concern in them nearly undid her.


Funny really, that after all her efforts at keeping the tears at bay, it was the simple use of her name that broke her.

Next thing she knew, her forehead was resting on their joined hands and the tears were flowing the way they hadn't since her mother had died.

Through her sobs, she told him all of it.

"...go to the airport, but...tell Hilda and...God, Justin...what to say...Hilda...so broken...I couldn't make Hilda go...morgue...by myself...and then you..."

And somehow, through snatches and bits, Daniel understood. Or, he understood enough. He understood that Betty had to go to the morgue by herself: that cold, lifeless place because she couldn't make her sister endure that. He understood she had called him to come with her. He understood she had come to the hospital that morning when they called her.

Somehow, he understood.

But he didn't know what to say about any of it. So, he placed his hand on her hair and slowly pet her and let her cry, feeling the hot tears fall on his skin and the warmth of her hand under his.

"It's okay, Betty," he made comforting noises. "S'alright..."

After a while, she looked up, her eyes red and puffy and he realized for the first time since she'd been in his room that she wasn't wearing her glasses. Their hands were still touching. He lifted a hand to her face and wiped at her tears. "You're not wearing your glasses," he pointed out.

Betty was breathing hard from the crying and trying to wipe at her eyes with one hand, but she looked at him with a sudden realization. "God, Daniel, I thought I'd lost you, too."

Daniel squeezed her hand and shook his head, very carefully. "Not gonna happen."

Funny, really. That she wouldn't cry until he was awake and talking to her, that the full impact of the near misses and full on collisions with life she'd been part of one way or another the last two days would suddenly assail her then. When it was all over, and only Daniel was there to see.


A/N: So?