Daniel Meade wasn't the most unselfish person in the world. In fact, sometimes, he was downright obtuse when it came to other people. It was never intentional, but when you spend so much time trying to be exactly who your family didn't want you to, it was hard learning that yes, you could be a real person and still be a Meade.
Still, sometimes, he was still lost when it came to doing the right thing for the right person. He didn't always get that sometimes, you had to look out for someone else than yourself. That had changed, somewhat, with Betty Suarez – his assistant, his friend, and his closest confidante. They learned how to look out for one another, and he got used to someone having his back, and knowing he would always have hers.
It was just … well, he didn't think that would involve her love life.
Damn Alexis, anyways. It all started with her. If she had just minded her own damned business, he wouldn't be here in the first place.
"God, is Henry still here?" Were the first words out of Alexis Meade's mouth, thick with disbelief from the doorway of Daniel's office.
Daniel blinked up from where he was perusing the latest model shots for the next issue. Blue eyes narrowed on his former brother, now sister, disturbing gorgeous in her red dress. He took in her stance – arms over her chest – looking pissed as hell. He tilted his head, his voice mildly wry, "You know, most people just start with 'Good Morning'."
Alexis twisted towards him, her scowl still blaringly obvious. "Good morning, Daniel. What the hell is Henry doing?"
Daniel arched an eyebrow at her, before canting his head towards the round window that looked out to the rest of the office, but most importantly out to Betty's desk, where she sat smiling adoringly at her animatedly talking boyfriend, Henry Grubstick.
Probably about some sort of obscure scientific fact, that or baby ducklings. They were both ridiculously fond of infant fowl, for some reason.
He smiled a little at the thought of Betty's face lighting up at , before he cleared his throat and gave Alexis another dry glance. "Looks like he's sharing his lunch break with Betty. If it's really getting to you, we can always call security." He smirked a little, as he went back to looking at the pictures, "Damn him, anyways, for being hungry. We'll get the bastard."
He heard Alexis's aggravated snort, heard her Jimmy Choos clacking against his office floor towards him, but he didn't put it together until the back of her hand connected with his skull, hard. He dropped the folder in surprised and yelped, "Jesus Chris, Alex! What the hell was that for?!"
Alexis was perched on his desk, arching a perfect golden eyebrow at him, "Well, you shouldn't have gotten lippy, little brother. Now why is Henry Grubstick still here, working in our office and making eyes at Betty when he should be two thousand miles away with his pregnant ex-girlfriend?"
Daniel rubbed the side of his head, looking up at her with a dour look. "You know as well as I do that he's here until his baby is born, and he's trying to spend as much time with Betty before that as possible – and I want you to know I think I have a permanent dent in my head from your … gigantic, stupid ring."
"You'd deserve it, because you haven't stepped in and stopped this." Alexis glanced out the window, and her voice softened, "How can you just sit there, watching her break her heart every day with him?"
"Listen, it's like I didn't try – wait, why do you care?" He stopped rubbing his head long enough to stare at his sister. "You and Betty have never been close."
"She's just not your Betty, you know." Alexis balled up her fist and slammed it into Daniel's Armani clad shoulder, shades of annoyance curling around her perfect mouth. "She's done a lot for this family – for you, for Mom, even for me and I've never given her a reason to like me. I feel protective of her – like you should be."
"Ow! Could you at least hit like a girl?" Daniel sighed as he rubbed his shoulder, "And like I said before, I tried. I threatened to fire him. What happened was lies, a musical theatre debacle of the highest order, and some poor guy who had to pretend to be Betty's new boyfriend, dragged into the middle of it all," He snorted a laugh."You should have seen the fake boyfriend's face, though, when Betty came swinging out on stage --"
"She pretended having a boyfriend? Who was he? What he cute?" Alexis perked at this, leaning closer to her brother.
"Yes, she did, so I wouldn't fire Henry. I won't admit the temptation still isn't there but – anyways. The guy's name was, well it is Gio, and for the love of God, Alexis, how the hell would I know if he's cute?" Daniel gave her a wry look, "Gio's -- well – he's a normal guy -"
"Gio? Gio. Where have I heard that name before?" Alexis interrupted, her lovely face creased into a thoughtful frown. In response, Daniel dug into his top desk drawer and pulled out one of Gio's brightly colored flyers for his sandwich shop. Alexis stared at it in disbelief, "The Sandwich Guy?"
Which would was the point where Gio cleared his throat from the doorway, making both Meade siblings twist towards him in shock. He flashed them a lazy smile, as he leaned against the doorway, drawling. "Strangely enough, my mother decided 'Giovanni' would look better on my birth certificate. But hey – Sandwich Guy is always catchy."
"Hello Gio, how are you doing?" Daniel gave Alexis a pointed look, as he hopped out of his chair. "Got my order?"
"Doing all right, and I got it right here, Mr. Meade. I would have given it to Betty, but Egg Salad's there and they're making with the baby duckling talk." Gio held out the white bag, his face carefully deadpan, "I thought I'd spare all of us."
Daniel grinned, as he put his bag on the counter, going for his wallet. "How much do I owe you?"
"Seven even." Daniel turned around to see Gio eying Alexis, and Alexis eying him right back. Gio tilted his head, giving her a long look over. "So if I'm Sandwich Guy, does this make you the Barbie formerly known as Ken?"
Daniel paused, his jaw hardening as he turned to give Gio a piece of his mind. However, Alexis waved him off, meeting Gio's dark gaze evenly with her own icicle-cold blue eyes, her tone crisp. "That's Editor-in-Chief Barbie, to you."
Gio's grin flashed suddenly, dimples deep with mischievousness. "Hey, makes no nevermind to me. I just make the sandwiches. Sandwich Guy, remember?" Daniel relaxed, and handed over the money. Gio took it with a nod of thanks, turning to leave, but he paused by the door long enough to eye Alexis for another moment, then he winked flirtatiously and left, calling out behind him, "For what it's worth, I think it's a definite improvement."
Daniel's jaw dropped open, and as he looked at Alexis he found her expression mirroring his own. They gaped at each other for a moment before Alexis snapped her jaw shut, her voice incredulous. "What a … he's got some balls, saying that to me!"
"Yeah. I know." Daniel suddenly grinned, soft and amused. "That's one of the reasons I like him."
Alexis's surprise faded to admiration. "I can see why. That's a man who speaks his mind, straightforward. Honest. Also, he's got good taste." She arched an eyebrow at her brother, as she stood up, a little pleased smile on her lips. "You should definitely get him together with Betty."
Daniel stared at her for a moment, before he threw up his hands in exasperation, "Are you insane? I'm not getting involved with this, Alexis! I'm not anyone's Yenta!"
Alexis gave him another long, calculating look, as she clacked expertly out the door, "I was thinking more like Cupid, actually. Get on that, will you?"
Daniel inhaled deeply to say something pithy in response, and failed as anything appropriately snarky just fled his mind in shock. He just sighed instead, muttering under his breath as he glared at his sister's leaving form. "Yeah, well, I always sucked at archery."
Of course he forgot all about it.
All right, to be fair, he purposely forgot about it. He pretended ignorance to Alexis's pointed looks. After all, it was Betty's life. They both agreed to that after the Wicked mess. She was going to love Henry, and be with Henry, because she honestly couldn't see her life without the gangly accountant.
Daniel didn't push it. There were too many other factors, he explained to himself. There was Wilhelmina Slater to consider, after all. Not to mention his father's passing. Life was… complicated.
Well… maybe he should have at least said something or asked anyone else in her life what they thought of the situation. But Betty put up a solid wall of stubborn when it came to Henry and in the end all he could do was offer a shoulder and late night Chinese sessions.
In the end though, his avoidance didn't matter. Mostly because his mother decided to get involved.