A complete crush.

A/N: I wanted to write a Daniel/Betty fic, but wasn't sure where to start; eventually I picked the end of episode 15, burning questions. I realise this has already been done, but again I wanted to write what I saw could maybe happen.

Daniel watched as the two of them outside his office, each looking so loving and eager. Why couldn't he have that? Then Betty leaned up to kiss Henry, and he found he couldn't watch any longer. There was a bitter wrenching down in his gut, an echo of that he had experienced just minutes earlier.

Yes, just minutes earlier, when Betty had been making fun of him. He knew it ought to be funny; perhaps it was ridiculous? But how - why - he tried his best to be good. Oh God, that made him sound like a little child. But it was true, he was doing his best to be responsible; why was it so utterly ridiculous that Betty could have a crush on him? Perhaps he hadn't improved at all and was still that shallow playboy of yesteryear.

And seriously. Even Amanda thought Betty was too good for him. Well at least it seemed like that, the way she said it, something like: she has a crush on you? True, Amanda had accepted it later but there had been complete scepticism.

Maybe Daniel just wasn't good enough. He would never be good enough; he was always disappointing the people he cared most about. It wasn't fair. Why couldn't Betty be even the slightest bit impressed by looks? Didn't she notice his eyes, which were totally captivating, though he said so himself?

Okay, now he felt like a vain, pathetic jerk.

Henry and Betty finally broke apart, and Betty flashed her boyfriend a brilliant smile before he walked away, in that peculiar gait of his. Kind of stiff and awkward, Daniel thought. How could Betty fall for that scrawny accountant, with his still-armed waves and straight-necked kisses? Why, Daniel could -
Daniel shook his head, slightly dazed. Why the hell was he comparing himself to Henry? That wouldn't get him Renee back. It wouldn't get him someone like Renee. It wouldn't get him B-

It wouldn't get him Bett- better. Yes, that's what he was about to think.

There was no denying it, was there. Even to himself. Sometimes Daniel hated his brain.

He had a frickin crush on his assistant, who he had arrogantly assumed had a crush on him.

Well, now that he was out with the denying, he could think properly about how he'd felt when Renee said Isn't it obvious? Your assistant is totally in love with you. Some strange pang, but he couldn't remember all the mixed up feelings in that big whopper of a feeling. There was one emotion he could recall though, the emotion that had now been crushed under a great big cloud of despair.

Hope. Hope and a dash of elation. Really? Betty Suarez, who was so good and able that all her friends and family turned to her for support, who went out to help her friends and family when they were too stubborn to reach out themselves, had a crush on him?! A crush on Daniel Meade, irresponsible playboy who only got a leadership position on Mode because of his father's name, whose only asset were his eyes and jawline, both of which came again from his father? The elation swelled in him like a balloon, only this balloon felt very threatened and because of its fear of being popped kept itself small so that it might be hidden.

We can work through this together; that was what he said. And he saw that smile of slight incredulity on her face before she got that oh-so-serious "oh no I do have a crush on you indeed" face, and he felt that sickening crunching thud. But he could still allow himself hope, even as he said, "you're making fun of me;" but then it had all gone. All gone with that one phrase of hers.

Daniel, I love you, but nooot like that.


Maybe not, after all.

He was just grateful his devastation had not shown when she said, "oh look, there's the man I do love."

Of course he had excused her. What could he say to keep her there?

Oh, it was just a crush. He could manage it. Hell, he could remember when he had a crush on Rachel Ripley back in college and never did anything about it because her boyfriend was That Other Guy, the other guy who was quite as popular as Daniel had been. Only in a different way, because That Other Guy had been big and brawny. Anyway. Not that it mattered. What mattered was, he had survived without ever getting that crush off his back. (Apart from when he did It with her that time after they drank too much at her best friend's party. And had a black eye to show off for it for weeks.) So there was absolutely no reason Betty should ever have to know that pathetic Daniel Meade had a crush on her. Oh no.