Title: A Bridge to the New Year
Fandom: Ugly Betty
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with ABC, Ugly Betty, the characters and creators.
Note: This may or may not be a three part story. If it does turn out to a be three party story, each part will reflect a different New Year's celebration between Daniel and Betty. This part is New Year's 2008.
An icy gust of air flew before him as his body stiffened against it. Gazing up at the velvet night sky, he felt a chill run through his body and wondered what made him come here. Walking the near empty sidewalk an hour before the new year began, Daniel had never felt so small against the towering city buildings in the distance. Having just left the over publicized and over crowded New Year's party that Mode threw at the most elite club in the city, he half regretted leaving the warmth chaos of his VIP booth that he was sure was still crawling with models in skimpy skirts. At least there, he wasn't alone.
You were still alone back there, a voice said in the back of his mind. He shivered.
Before he realized it, he had left the club, managed to get his driver to maneuver through the packed streets of New Year's eve partygoers and was, finally, brought here.
He looked up to see the bridge he had once stood on in what seems like a faded memory ago. This was the only place that came to his mind when his driver had asked him where he wanted to go. Maybe because it was the only place he felt he could desert everything in his life, even if just for a moment.
Hearing the faint crowds far away in the depths of the city grow weaker and weaker, now the clicking of his shiny shoes against the damp sidewalk cement invaded his hearing.
And the sound of someone blowing their nose.
Daniel immediately looked up to find a familiar bundle of puffy blue huddled over the banister of the bridge. He shook his head slightly, as if expecting the familiar image to disappear from his vision, but as he looked up again, he could clearly see Betty leaning against the banister with a handful of tissues. His body warmed at the welcoming sight. Quickening his steps as he drew closer to her, he could see her deep but shallow breathing in the icy winter air in between small gasps of tears.
"Betty?" he called out softly with concern when he was only a few feet away. Startled, Betty's spun rapidly towards Daniel.
"Daniel!" she exclaimed. Standing in front of her, he could see the streaks of tears that ran down her cheeks. Noticing the concern on his face, she wiped her face with the tissues she had been holding. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you at the Mode party?" she asked in confusion. Daniel shrugged, shaking his head lightly.
"Why aren't you with Henry? I thought you made really nice plans for tonight," he asked. Immediately, the tears began to form again in Betty's eyes, and he wished he hadn't asked. Betty shook her head, shoulders lowering even more. She stared at the tattered tissues in her hands.
"Hey, what happened?" Daniel asked softly as he handed her the handkerchief from his jacket pocket. Betty took it, and let out a long breath.
"Henry left," she managed to say without trembling. Leaning against the banister beside her, she knew he was confused and before he could ask she went on. "Charlie called from Tucson last night. She's in the hospital. She fainted. I'm not exactly sure what happened," she calmly stated, bringing Daniel's handkerchief to her face. "She called, and Henry was really worried. He was at the airport on standby since last night, and he finally got on a flight tonight." Folding and refolding the cloth in her hands, she sniffled loudly.
"I'm sorry, Betty," Daniel offered. He knew how much tonight had meant to her. It was one of the reasons she had told him she wasn't going to go to the Mode party although he had insisted she be there since she had done so much of the organizing and planning for the event. He remembered how excited and giddy she had looked when she had told Daniel that she had planned a secret rooftop party that had an amazing view of the city. Looking to his side, he was saddened that he couldn't do anything for her.
"I can't believe he just left. Just like that," she whispered as if speaking to herself. Slowly, Betty looked up at Daniel, "I'm being selfish right? I mean, I'm crying here about being alone when something could be wrong with Henry's baby or Charlie…" Daniel shook his head.
"No, you're not being selfish. You were looking forward to tonight, I know how much it meant to you," Daniel said firmly. Unconvinced, Betty let shook her head.
"He promised," she whispered gazing up at Daniel. The sadness in her eyes was deep and fixed in the dark night, piercing Daniel's. "He promised tonight was going to be a night we would never forget," she continued. Feeling the coldness around her for the first time since she had managed to walk to the bridge, she shivered. Daniel felt her shaking, and took off his scarf and wrapped it around her. Betty gave a small smile in the corner of her mouth. Feeling the warmth of his gesture, she suddenly felt a spark of energy run through her. Turning around to see the lights of the city, she rested her arms on the bridge and gazed into the sky as if looking for answers. The two stood silent, each attempting to empty their minds of everything.
"I think…" she began suddenly, breaking the quiet. Daniel turned to face her. "I think, I'm crying about this whole thing because…it's the first time I've realized that this is never going to be real," she spoke into the night. Her face had changed slightly, almost as if she had found her answer in the darkness. She turned to face Daniel, "Henry and me, what we're in, it's not real." She looked down at her hands that still held his handkerchief. "We're so desperate to be with each other because we think we only have this small gap of time, but…" she hesitated. "But if this was real, wouldn't we be able to figure out a way to make it work? If all of this was real, we would both be going crazy trying to find a way," she continued. Betty's clouded eyes met with his again, "If he really loved me, he would have found a way right?" Daniel heard the pleading in her voice and for the first time that night realized that maybe he wasn't the only lonely person in New York on New Year's.
The two remained still, until they heard the faint voices counting down in the distance. Daniel looked at his watch and when the second hand hit the twelve, the voices became a bit louder with cheering. He turned around to face the world like Betty had. Gazing down at Betty at his side, he broke out into a small smile.
"I know this isn't how you imagined this moment would be…," he started. Turning to face her a bit better, he continued, "But I'm glad I could be here with you right now, Betty." Even with the sadness that had loomed over both of them, something in his core felt alive again just by being with her.
"Right, I'm sure you want to be freezing on a bridge on New Year's with me crying all over your handkerchief," she said with a slight tone of sarcasm though she felt the same. She had come on the bridge to be alone, but being on the bridge alone with Daniel was unexplainably better.
"You know, from what I remember, I told you could call me at 5am if you wanted me to ever meet you on this bridge," he said with a small, playful tone. "I guess 12am is okay too." Smiling at the memory, Betty looked at Daniel in a daze.
"You never told me why you came here. Did something happen at the party? Are you okay?" she asked with concern. The worried attention she showed warmed Daniel.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just wanted to…get away," he replied as simply as he could. He could see Betty had enough emotional dilemma for one night and didn't want to bother her with his own.
She gave a slight nod accepting his answer. She could tell he didn't want to share too much, that he had come to the bridge to be alone that night too. A small bout of guilt spread over her as she realized he had clouded thoughts of his own. Putting her tears to rest, she folded his handkerchief and put it into her pocket for safe keeping.
"So, what's your new years resolution?" she asked him simply, attempting to change topics. Daniel shrugged.
"What's your's?" he asked. Betty looked up at the New York skyline. A million different ideas roamed through her mind.
"I'm going to keep promises. All of the promises I make, I'm going to keep them," she answered with determination. Understanding how much a broken promise could wound someone, Betty wanted to make sure never to be person doing the breaking.
"Yeah? What kind of promises?" he asked curiously looking over at her. He was sure that Betty had kept all the promises she had ever made anyways.
"Well, I promised Christina I'd help her with her husband situation – don't ask," Betty replied when she saw the wide eyed look Daniel had given her. "I promised Hilda I'd let her advertise for her salon at Mode, then there's the million things I promised Justin, like, letting him pick something from The Closet and getting him Christina Aguilera's autograph, and then, there's the promise to your dad – "
"What?" he responded instantaneously, cutting in. Having realized she had been rambling without much thought to her words, she looked up at Daniel with a guilty expression while his was etched in complete curiosity and confusion. Betty wasn't sure why she didn't tell Daniel his father's last words before, but she knew it was something he deserved to hear, especially tonight. She took a deep breath before she began.
"Your dad, right before he died…" she began, "He promised me to…take care of you." She wasn't able to look at him as she said those words, fearing the reaction that would follow, but he remained silent. Betty looked up to see Daniel in a small state of shock. Unsure of what to do, she continued, "It just happened, Daniel. I was there with him before he…went. It's just…" She expected to see anger in his eyes for having kept something from him yet again, but when she realized his eyes had soon glazed over, she was sorry that she hadn't told him before. Grabbing his hand into hers, she spoke with a stronger tone, "Daniel, he loved you. He just wanted to make sure you would be okay."
Finally meeting her eyes, his body reacted immediately, his arms wrapping around her so quickly and urgently, pressing her tightly against him. Though taken by surprise, Betty returned his embrace gently. The two stood on the bridge in each others arms – both feeling the most comfortable contentment either had felt in so long. She wanted to say more, to apologize for keeping it from him, to tell him that she would keep his dad's promise forever, but instead, she warmed towards his body as her own sorrow melted away. Her words replayed over and over in his mind, and he felt a giddy relief wash over him. My dad loved me, he loved me, and he wants me to be okay, he thought as his arms drew Betty closer. They remained molded to each other until Daniel felt Betty begin to stir. He felt the cold, emptiness when her body was no longer secured in his arms. Standing face to face again, Daniel rubbed at his glistening eyes, shaking out of his daze. Looking down at her again, he gave an honest smile. She immediately recognized his smile and felt her own mouth twitch into a grin feeling relieved and warm.
"Thank you, Betty," he whispered. Placing her small hand in his, she gave a small nod. A new exhilaration running through his body, he began speaking before his mind had a chance to process the thrill of her fingers wrapping around his. "You have to make a promise with me now too," he said playfully to liven the deeply emotional mood that circled them. She raised an eyebrow.
"Promise me we'll spend every New Year's like this," he said looking into her eyes. Her eyebrows furrowed as she laughed.
"What?" she asked grinning. "You want to celebrate the New Year in below freezing and unforgiving temperatures, standing on a silent old bridge, with…well…just me?" adding emphasis with every new aspect. Daniel smiled at her Betty-like response.
"I couldn't imagine anything better than standing right here with you," he replied with sincerity and a hopeful expression. Betty felt unexplainable warmth from their joined hands.
"I promise," she said with a squeeze.
The troubles and sorrow that had overwhelmed the two were finally at rest with the dismissal of the old year. As the two looked back towards the glittering city towers, they saw a new beauty and brightness that neither of them had expected to find in the new year.