Note: Thank you so much for the wonderful reviews. I'm glad people have enjoyed this fic. I hope you enjoy this final installment. Hopefully, I'll have some more Daniel/Betty fics in the future.
Daniel knew that the freezing temperatures should have chilled him, but all he felt were the itchy wool scarf around his neck, the drumming sensation in his chest, and the warmth from the hand that was in his. Looking down at Betty's hand in his own, the flurries of nervousness once again reached his lungs, making it somewhat harder for him to breathe normally.
"Daniel…are you okay?" Betty asked, looking up at him curiously.
I'm screwing this up already, he thought as he offered a reassuring nod. Though not completely convinced, Betty just smiled and the two continued walking.
It was an hour before midnight, and they were walking to their New Year's bridge. Forgoing all other parties and loud hooplas, they both knew there would be only one place they'd celebrate the holiday.
"It's weird," she said suddenly.
"What's weird?" he asked as she glanced up at him.
"It's our third time coming here on this day, but only the first time that we're coming here together," she said with a smile. Daniel knew what she meant.
The first time had been a coincidence, the second was a miracle, and now this third one, well, this third one was the one Daniel had been hoping would be perfect. Smiling down at Betty, he took another glance at her hand. Nervously, his other hand fidgeted inside his jacket pocket around the small velvet box. He had been planning this for months.
"Daniel! This is a surprise. Come in, come in," ushered Ignacio as he held the door open for Daniel. Daniel anxiously stepped into the warm and familiar living room of Betty's home.
Closing the door, Ignacio immediately said, "Betty's not here right now. She's helping Christina out with something at work?" Daniel could tell he was a bit confused. Suddenly feeling very restricted in his work suit, he began messing with his collar a bit before he was motioned to sit down on the couch.
"Oh yeah. I know. I'm actually here to talk to you," he said in tone that he had been practicing for days leading up to this moment. Daniel noticed Mr. Suarez's expression change into a slightly more serious one as he took a seat on his usual chair.
"Sure, go ahead," he said calmly.
Okay, here it goes. Don't blow this, Daniel…
"So, you know, I've been dating Betty for awhile now. Well, I mean, obviously, of course you know. She's your daughter and everything…" he flustered, wiping a bit of perspiration from his forehead. Ignacio hid a bemused smile.
"And the thing is, I really do care for her. I mean, it's more than just caring. We're like…" Daniel didn't know how to explain it and instead crossed his fingers, but realized that was weird. He continued, "It's pretty much love. I mean, I know it's love because it's sort of like…this nauseating whirlwind of emotions that I can't seem to shake off. Not that, I want to shake them off. No, it's like, it's a good sort of nauseating. Like the kind you get when you drink too much…"
What kind of word vomit am I puking up right now!?
Daniel stopped though in mid-thought because the nervous ringing in his ears had been overshadowed by the warm laughter of the man sitting in front of him. Suddenly, his own grin spread across his face. Taking the breath that he realized he should have taken three minutes ago, he started again.
"I love Betty, Mr. Suarez. I'm hoping you'll give me your blessing in proposing to your daughter," Daniel said with sincerity. He saw a flash of an unreadable amusement flash through Mr. Suarez's eyes, but before he could think about it, Ignacio took Daniel's hand with his.
"You be good to my daughter, son" he answered.
Daniel felt Betty tugging his arm as they neared their usual spot on the bridge.
"Come on," she said playfully. They reached the recognizable worn railing that separated them from the distant city.
"I never realized how beautiful it was," Betty said as she gazed at scene. Daniel couldn't help but agree. For the first time, he saw the city lights as though they were alive. He looked at Betty's profile and saw the look of wonder in her eyes. He couldn't help but think how beautiful everything really was.
"How about these, Mr. Meade?" asked a young sales lady as she brought another assortment of rings.
Sitting and sifting through a variety of velvet holders, Daniel was feeling a bit hopeless. He had spent weeks looking for the perfect engagement ring. Something that would be good enough to be worn on Betty's finger. Something from him. However, the task had been more than difficult. The only other time he had ever had to pick out an engagement ring was for Sophia and back then he just picked a few of the flashiest pieces. This time though, he knew it had to be a good one – Good enough for her, he kept reminding himself.
The younger sales girls were helpful at bringing him a wide selection of rings, although he could tell that some of them were more interested in eyeing him. He was almost sure he had heard one of them whisper something about giving him a reason to change his mind about getting engaged. Daniel couldn't help but smirk. A former version of him might have been curious, but the person that he was now couldn't help but just find it to be trivially amusing. Though the staff was helpful (though somewhat distracting), Daniel still hadn't found the ring.
Heaving a sigh of defeat, he said, "Maybe I need to look somewhere else."
"How about you look at these first, Mr. Meade?" called the deep voice of an older gentleman from behind him. The older man wore a shy smile as he set down another box of rings. "I heard what you were saying to the other sales representatives about your girlfriend?" said the man. "You're really quite lucky aren't you?"
Daniel felt a burst of rejuvenation at his words.
"You wouldn't believe how lucky," he said glowing. The older gentleman gave him an understanding smile.
"When I asked my wife to marry me 43 years ago, I felt the same way. Actually, I still do," he said with a small wink. Daniel immediately felt a sense of wanting. He looked at the older man and hoped – prayed – that he would be just as happy as he was.
"So, from what I could make out, I think these rings would be better suited for your liking? Or rather, her liking?" he said as he opened the case to the box. Looking inside, Daniel felt relieved and excited for the first time. The box had a small number of rings, most of them with old-world detailing, elegant stones. His eyes immediately reached a ring – the ring. A platinum setting with small triangular cushioned side stones next to an elegant center diamond that was slightly elevated on a beautiful bridge.
He picked it up out of the box and looked over at the man who had given him a nod of understanding.
"I think you've found what you're looking for?" he asked.
Nodding, Daniel said, "Thank you. It's absolutely…" He wanted to say perfect, but instead he said, "…her." A couple of more young sales ladies came in with more trays, but Daniel had told them he had found one. Their faces fell slightly disappointed as they left. The older man smiled as he leaned in slightly toward Daniel.
"You know, I think I might get ostracized by the female staff. I think most of them were planning on keeping you here until you changed your mind," he whispered with a twinkle in his eyes. Daniel laughed.
"Looks like nothing is going to change your mind though, Mr. Meade," he reflected with a sincere smile.
Anxiously, Daniel felt the velvet box with the ring in his pocket for the hundredth time that night. He felt as if it would somehow disintegrate into thin air if he didn't check on it every few minutes.
"This year went by so fast," Betty said unexpectedly.
"Yeah, I guess it has," he agreed glancing up.
They had both been busy with work – Betty with her writing, Daniel with Mode. However, this year, they were also busy together. Lunch dates in his office, dinner dates at the pizza karaoke place that Daniel always refuses to go to but ends up going to anyways, secret rendezvous' somewhere in the Meade building for special kissing sessions. They never formally announced their relationship because they had wanted to keep it as private as possible for as long as they could.
Unfortunately, someone at Mode had caught the two in a crowded storage room that was filled with accessories one afternoon. Even more unfortunate was the fact that it was Marc, and he had started spreading the news faster than he knew how to spew out the gossip. Soon the media found out, and the paparazzi stalking followed. Daniel knew Betty was amused by the fact that they were trying to take pictures of the two of them together all of a sudden, when nobody had cared to even notice the pair years before when she was just his assistant. That was something he loved about Betty – her ability to turn ugly situations into a laugh.
"You're pretty quiet today. What's on your mind?" she questioned, reaching down for his hand again.
Daniel shuffled his feet and shook his head.
"Guess I forgot how cold it was out here. Apparently, I am not too talkative in below freezing temperatures," he managed, smiling nervously.
The truth was, Daniel had become a bit quiet as of late.
A few days earlier, he had stood at the cemetery holding two bouquets of flowers. He set a vibrant bundle of roses next to his father's headstone. There was so much he had wanted to say.
"Hey, Dad. I know I came by during Christmas with Mom and Alexis, but I had something to tell you that I thought would be better when we were alone. I...I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to be proposing to Betty. Soon. It's…sort of making me go crazy thinking about it, you know?" he asked in a soft voice.
"Anyways, I guess I wanted to just let you know, seeing as you are the one who hired her as my assistant in the first place," he said with a smile. Placing a hand on his headstone, Daniel whispered, "Thanks, Dad."
After a few silent moments, Daniel got in his car and went to visit another person.
Carefully standing at the small grave site of Betty's mom, he placed his second bouquet of wild tulips down. He had come to her grave once before with Betty, but being here alone, he was overcome with sadness. He had wanted to tell her so many things – I'll take good care of your daughter though I'm sure she'll somehow end up taking better care of me, She makes me laugh all the time without even trying, I don't know where I would be without her – but instead he stood silently, closing his eyes to send her a secret prayer.
Mrs. Suarez, it's Daniel. I plan on proposing to Betty soon, but then I realized I never asked you if I had your blessing. If you could, somehow give me a sign, any sort of sign, that I have your approval, it would mean a lot to me…
"Oh my goodness, Daniel. Look. It's snowing," Betty whispered as she wrapped her arm behind Daniel, pointing to the sky. Looking up at the sky, he saw the snow lightly floating down
"Wow, it is," he managed to say. He couldn't believe it.
I'm taking this as a sign, Mrs. Suarez…
"What sign?" Betty asked curiously.
Realizing he had spoken his thoughts out loud again, he cursed himself but managed to say, "What? Oh nothing. It's just amazing, isn't it?" She smiled.
"It's perfect," she whispered in agreement before she took a quick glance down at her watch. "Hey, it's almost midnight." Sure enough, they both began to hear the countdown from far in the distance.
Daniel took a deep breath. He ran the proposal speech he had been planning for weeks in the back of his mind once over. He lightly touched the box in his pocket once more, just to make sure.
Okay, here goes, he thought.
"Bet-" he began but was cut off by her soft lips on his. His arms wrapped around her instinctively. They both heard the roar of the crowds of partygoers in the city erupt into celebration. Enjoying the warmth of her body against his, the softness of her lips, and the glittering whiteness that was floating around them, Daniel was sure that this moment would become one of the unforgettable ones. Separating slightly, Daniel looked into Betty's eyes and sent a silent thank you to whoever was listening.
"You know I love you, right?" she said in a low voice, still in his arms. Daniel nodded.
"The kind of love that makes you my best friend, lover, and everything in between and beyond?" she asked, and he nodded.
"The kind of love that sticks around forever? Right?" she asked slowly. Deeply lost in her eyes, all he could do was nod.
She smiled happily. She gently moved out of his arms and reached into her jacket pocket. She brought out something in her hand. Opening her closed fist, he saw a small white box. Seeing the confusion on his face, Betty lightly laughed and snapped open the lid. Nestled in between a white setting, Daniel saw a ring. A simple silver band with a small diamond enveloped in the center.
"What…" Daniel began as his eyes shifted from the ring to her. Betty took the ring and Daniel's left hand. Looking up into his surprised expression, she couldn't help but smile widely.
"Daniel, will you marry me?"
His eyes widened and finally, he understood. The anxiety that had been building for weeks had disappeared and was now filled with the feeling of a happiness and surprise he couldn't explain.
She's proposing…to me.
Daniel's eyes were glued to Betty slipping the ring on his finger. Daniel looked down at the ring that fit perfectly on his left hand.
She asked me to marry her.
"Oh my god," he whispered. Betty bit her lower lip and she held in a fit of laughter. Daniel's expression soon changed from silent shock into something louder than the celebration that was going on in the city.
"Oh my god!" he yelled as he lifted Betty in his arms and spun her around, her laughter tickling his ear. All he could see was a swirled mixture of her hair, the dark sky, the sparkling snow, and the joy that encircled them.
I'm going to marry her.
"Oh my…" he said before meeting her shining eyes. She kissed him softly on his lips and another on his cheek. Finally, she broke out into a knowing smirk.
"What?" he asked curiously, a smile forming on his own lips.
"I'm glad I kept my resolution from last year," she said. "You're eyes only turn that shade of blue for me."
Daniel smiled at the memory of a year ago. He wished he could have expressed what he was feeling somehow to her, but all of his word-forming abilities had escaped him.
"Happy New Year's, Daniel," she whispered with a smile.
She's going to be my wife…
"Happy New Year's, Betty," he managed to say.
He brought his lips down to hers, cherishing her. He had only just remembered in mid-kiss of his own ring sitting in his pocket, waiting to be given. He smiled against her lips and decided that he had plenty of time to ask her to marry him in return.
After all, the year has only just started.