AUTHOR: Little Red
CATEGORY: Daniel/Janet. And since there has been all this discussion about warning for everything, I warn you about impending fluff.
SPOILERS: AU after "Heroes"... but nothing beyond the character basics, really.
SUMMARY: Never the obvious answer.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Tammy is the best. Ever. I swear I write things just to have her beta them. This one's for Amanda, who's very patient with all of my lapses away from Daniel/Janet. And Sara, because I pity you a lot for the whole scholastic insanity thing.
Their new house has a porch.
The view is relatively unspectacular, for Colorado. They're going to put in a hot tub, eventually, but have only had four months to settle in and in SGC-time that equates to only enough days off to finally get all their books and dishes put away.
But it's a back porch, and it gets sun, and for the few months a year when it's hospitable to do so, it's perfect for sunbathing.
There are a lot of things to like about the house. She is taunted daily by the modern, open kitchen that she rarely has the time to properly cook in. Daniel almost hit the floor when he first saw the built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the study. The practical side of her loves how well most of the house is insulated against the winter and the frivolous side loves the way their bedroom upstairs opens into a little verandah just large enough for two chairs, even if it will have to be blocked off half the year to keep heat from escaping.
Her favourite room in the house is Cassandra's bedroom. It's not really about the room itself, although Cassie loves the walk-in closet and sloped ceiling and the skylight right above her bed. It's more about how Daniel let Janet's mostly grown daughter be a part of the house search and a major consideration in the final selection, even though she will likely only ever be an occasional resident. Though they have never made promises for how long their relationship will last, both Daniel and Janet know that buying a house together means a commitment hopefully beyond the three remaining years Cassie has at the state university.
It's important to her that her daughter always have a room to come home to, even when she's married and 45 and (it's possible, in their lives) living halfway across the galaxy. It amazes her that Daniel respects that, finds something admirable about it even beyond his own affection for Cassandra, and the oddly-shaped bedroom reminds her of that.
Today, however, she loves the porch.
"Are you sure we're not supposed to be... doing something?"
Rather than turn her head to see him where he's lying next to her, she lazily opens one eye and squints. "Too relaxing for you?"
Daniel frowns. "No, I just... women really do this all the time?"
"Yep." It's really too late in the day to tan, but it's still warm. After a six-day week under the mountain she feels like she's soaking in fresh air and natural light through every exposed pore in her skin.
Daniel fidgets next to her. She's rather entertained that he came and joined her -- he's not much for doing nothing (unless it's a planned doing nothing, like meditation, which he sometimes rationalizes as "productive" because of how it helps him explore other cultures).
"Why don't you get a book?"
She feels him shrug rather than sees it. "Not in the mood."
That's unusual, and earns him both eyes open. He's always reading, usually something work-related (if not actively work-related, then something that may become work-related in the indefinite future). More than once she has actually had to drape herself half-naked across his desk at home to get his attention when it's 11:30 and he promised her playtime right after this chapter three hours ago.
It would be a blow to her self-esteem, maybe, if she didn't know better. She can think of it like a medical condition -- Daniel's brain might implode if it isn't constantly feeding on new information.
"Is something wrong?" Even though they sleep in the same bed whenever he's on Earth, he has been oddly distant lately. She suspects part of it might be Cassandra's presence -- her daughter has been home all summer and Daniel had gotten used to having Janet to himself most of the time during the past year. Of course, it might have nothing to do with their home life. As well as she knows him, as much as she loves him, there are pieces of him she is still unable to touch.
Daniel grins and slides closer on the quilt she laid out, leaning up on one arm until he can properly leer down at her. Or try to. He's yet to perfect a proper lecherous smile, and it's one of the little things she adores about him that she could never really explain to anyone else. "Nothing's wrong. I just don't have anything to read." He tries the leer again. "I'd rather look at you."
She tries to keep a straight face and doesn't quite manage it. "Well, as long as I don't have to move..."
Daniel drops a kiss on her cheek and stares down at her for a moment in contemplative silence. She's curious, but bites back further questions. He's already brushed off one attempt to ask what's in his head and prying never works as well with him as patience. "Don't move at all," he finally tells her.
He's still staring but not saying anything else, so she reconciles herself to the situation and his strange mood and closes her eyes again. She flexes her bare toes, the most muscle exertion she's made in half an hour, and sighs happily. This is the life.
Curious fingers brush her ribs beneath the elastic of her sports bra and trail down over her sun-warmed skin. The contact is light, almost unintentional, like it's an extension of the words he hasn't spoken yet.
"If you weren't here..." he starts. "What would you be doing?"
The fingers are skimming her thigh now, tracing the frayed hem of the irresponsibly short cutoffs she never wears outside of the house. "If I wasn't with you?"
He shrugs. "All of it. If you weren't at the SGC now, what would you be doing?"
She smiles a little, still unsure. "There are lots of places I could practice medicine."
"That's the obvious answer."
She loves him, but he's very strange. "I'm not really sure what you're asking, Daniel."
He rubs a hand down over her leg as far as he can reach without moving from where he is propped on his elbow. "If everything could be different -- if you weren't a doctor or a military officer or involved with the Stargate... what would you be?"
With the exception of the requisite period of introspection after coming back from the dead a year and a half ago, it's not something she thinks about very often. She's happy and fulfilled where she is, professionally challenged and supported in equal measure. She is also blessed with being kept too busy to really have the time to think about it.
"I did always want to be a ballerina."
"Really?" He moves to sit up and she can all but watch the mental images play across his features. "I didn't know you could dance. Did you take lessons?"
She laughs. "For about three months when I was five." She would sit up to be more at his eye level, but he anticipates her action and touches a hand to her shoulder. He slips his hand under the knee closest to him and she obliges by bending her leg, letting him pose her, enjoying his alternately absent and inquisitive touches.
"Three months? Lose interest?"
"My mother lost interest in driving me halfway across town, I think. And sewing the little frilly tutus for the recitals. All I remember is that we were finding sequins in the carpet for years."
Daniel kisses the top of her knee. "So you're a famous ballerina."
"My career would probably be over by now, wouldn't it?" She doesn't know much about the dance world, really, but she doesn't think she has heard too much about aging starlets.
"Say it isn't." Daniel lifts her foot off the quilt and she extends her leg upwards, pointing her foot toward the sun and flexing it back. The idea is pretty hilarious in its entirety, but it's a fairly harmless fantasy. "Why did you want to be a dancer?"
He kisses her calf in a few places, nuzzling the muscles borne of long days on her feet in killer heels. She thinks absently about how she really should have shaved her legs that morning, but he isn't complaining and she wickedly considers that it's fair play for him to get stubble rash once in a while.
He makes suggestions between kisses. "Fortune? World traveling? Glamour? Fame?"
She nods. "And because I wanted my ballet teacher to have to publically eat her words about me having no talent."
He pauses, hand hovering an inch over her skin. "She said that? When you were five?"
"I think I've recovered," Janet promises. Daniel lets her put her leg back down and goes back to touching her, stroking his fingers over her skin as they talk. She shivers when it tickles, but otherwise doesn't dissuade him. It's nice to have this contact after so many weeks of wondering why he's avoiding her.
It might be all in her head, of course, which is why she hasn't brought it up. He does tend to retreat into himself when he has a lot to think about, or it could be a childish reaction to her having less time for him. Sam has been unusually mopey since Daniel and Janet bought the house, joking about loneliness in a self-pitying way that raises flags in Janet's mind, and worry for her friend's emotional state has led to her spending many more evenings in Sam's company than she did when she and Daniel were first together.
Although the state university isn't far and Cassandra comes home for the weekend every time she runs out of clean socks during the year, it's nice to have her around full-time for a few months. Daniel knows how important her close relationship with her adopted daughter is to her, and he would never openly begrudge her their girls-only outings or late night gigglefests over bad movies that he tends to opt out of to keep from feeling like the third wheel... but that's more time that they don't spend as a couple.
This is nice. Cassandra is at work and then off to see some old friends. Sam... well, she doesn't actually know where Sam is, but secretly hopes that she is taking the racquetball spot against General O'Neill that Daniel bowed out of this weekend. And she and Daniel are here.
"What about you?" It's her turn to prop herself up on one elbow and look at him. "If you weren't doing this?" And then, because she can almost hear what he'll say about such-and-such an archaeological dig, she holds up a hand to stall him. "Not the obvious answer."
He puts an arm behind his head and lies flat on his back, mirroring her earlier position. "I don't know."
She grins. "Come on. You asked first; you have to have some idea."
"I could have been a professor."
Janet shakes her head and traces a finger across his bare chest. He has put on a little weight in the past year, and she likes it on him. He's comfortable around her and he likes her cooking. "That's too easy. If you weren't a scholar, or an archaeologist, or a linguist, or a soldier..." He's shaking his head, like there's nothing left to choose from. "Come on, I'm a ballerina. What did you want to be when you were five? A fireman? A cowboy?"
He laughs. "Not a cowboy exactly. My grandfather told me I wanted to be a Bedouin once, but I think that was just so that I could have my own camel."
"Small chance we'd meet."
"I think my grandfather probably made that up," he admits. "He didn't really know me that well. When I was a kid I remember wanting to be anything that let me stay in one place for a while. Not exactly the Bedouin life."
"Not exactly your life, either." Daniel doesn't talk about his childhood much, and when he does talk about being an archaeology brat in foreign dig sites it's always related to a specific artifact or piece of information. He will admit that it was an important, formative experience, but she's never heard him talk about how lonely it must have been sometimes.
Sidestepping a possible descent into seriousness, Daniel picks another fantasy. "I wanted to be J.P. Morgan the first time I saw his library."
She laughs, but it's not really that strange. She wonders if that's why Daniel loves the bookcases in the study so much. "Money and power. You could be my patron."
"I could be your lover."
"You could have anyone in the world," she points out. She has taught Cassandra that money can't buy love, of course, but she's pretty sure J.P. Morgan could have bought a first date with anyone.
"So could you," Daniel replies. "You're world famous."
"I think I should have my own island," she decides. "Somewhere that's warm all year."
Daniel nods agreement, but doesn't make any further material demands of his own upon their proposed fantasy world. "Do you like that better?"
"What... than my real life?"
"Yeah. Something glamorous. Something where... you don't have to deal with death every day."
She frowns. "I prefer to think of it as dealing with life... but I see what you mean."
"The fate of the world never rides on your decisions. You don't know there are other races in the galaxy bent on global destruction. You only work a few weeks a year, you can have anyone and anything you want and you don't have to suffer through winter in Colorado." He cuts off any answer with an addendum, "Cassie's still your daughter somehow."
She feels a weight behind the question but isn't sure what it means. "It would be fun," she admits. "I could live without knowing what I know for a little while. But in the real world, I like my life." There are parts of her life she could certainly do without. Watching Daniel actually die once hasn't made it easier to bear his all-too-frequent close brushes since then. "Don't you?"
"It would be fun," he echoes. "I do; I've just been thinking."
It doesn't sound like he's inviting further questions. "I can see where fabulous wealth and power has its appeal," she teases, laying her head on his shoulder and settling in. She loves the way he smells, at least when he hasn't been crawling around in dusty tombs.
"Marry me," he says, suddenly.
For a second, everything freezes as she races to figure out if he's talking to Janet the world-class dancer or if this is real, apart from their idle fantasies. She's fairly sure this isn't the answer he's looking for, in either case, but needs clarification. She lifts her head, studies his face. "Are you really asking?"
It takes him a second to reply and she can hear his fingers clench and release with nerves. "Yeah. I think I am."
He turns his head to look at her straight on and she sees a hundred thousand things, all the parts of him he has let her get near before but has never truly let her explore. She knows she's not just taking him now, but taking the little orphaned boy who longs to share in the second family she has built with Cassandra, the widowed husband who has never fully found a way to separate love and his fear of grief, the man who has never really had a home before. It's a responsibility, maybe, but it doesn't feel like one. It feels easy and right.
She doesn't want to give the obvious answer, but it's the only one that fits. "I'd love to."
He gives her the same look he uses when he thinks she's making fun of him. "I... really?"
She grins. "Expecting something more?" Her heart feels like it's tripping over itself. It shouldn't be a total surprise, not when they've bought a house, but her body doesn't seem to recognize that and it pulls her rational mind along for the ride.
"I don't know. Maybe?" He still looks like he thinks she might be joking.
"Tears?" She suggests, fingers shaking a little as she rubs his chest. "Shrieking?" For all her joking about it, she really does feel like she might cry any minute.
He smiles. "Maybe." He touches a hand to her face and she shivers the way she always does when his attention is entirely taken up with her. "I love you."
She kisses him then, and it feels different. He feels different, or she does. She loves the change and doesn't ever want to lose it.
Daniel's the one who breaks the kiss, and she can see in his eyes that he noticed the same thing. As he catches his breath he brushes his hand over her face, her hair, the bare skin of her arm. "You're sure about this?"
After one divorce she can't help but be a little jaded about the binding nature of til death do us part. She doesn't care. She is so sure. "Definitely."
"If you need to talk it over with Cassie-"
She stops him with her own hand on his cheek. "I don't." The truth is, she has already discussed the possibility with Cassie, back when she and Daniel started seriously talking about buying a house together. "I want this."
He kisses her again, and she can feel him smiling. "Inside?" he whispers in her ear.
"Right here?" is her counter-offer.
To his credit, his eyes only widen a little at her suggestion of sex outside, where conceivably they could be stumbled upon by any of their friends who haven't quite learned how to knock or spied upon by local perverts with binoculars (who would have to climb up trees in order to get a view, of course, but that wouldn't have stopped the prospect from freaking Daniel out a year ago). "Really?"
"Privilege of the rich and famous?"
He holds one of her hands as he kisses her. "I love you," he says again, against her lips. It's almost like she's never heard the words said before when she hears them from him. She can never muster up the cynicism she has come to expect from herself in the face of his complete, boyish honesty.
"Me too." She's spoiled on being with him now, and wants it forever. "Always."
He pulls her tight against him and says "thank you," like she's doing him the mother of all favors by accepting his offer and the man who comes with it. She can do nothing but hold him. She feels with her skin the emotional knots inside of him loosening just a little, exposing frayed ends she'll have the rest of her life to study and unravel.
For her real life, this is better than any fantasy.
A private island will always be nice, but they can start with a porch.
- end -