Here's for you!
Title: Warning Signs
Category: Established Relationship
Summary: When Daniel begins to spend more and more time with his former love Sarah, Janet braces herself for the worst, and allows herself to let go of her own wants and desires for Daniel's happiness and peace of mind. But sometimes not even those who are keenly aware of their surroundings can see the warning signs.
Author's Notes: For the Dan/Jan fans out there. Wrote this for you Meg!
Disclaimer: Stargate, Stargate SG-1 and all of its characters, titles, names, and back-story are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, SciFi Channel, and Showtime/Viacom. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be printed anywhere without the sole permission of the author. Realize this is for entertainment purposes only; no financial gain or profit has been gained from this fiction. This story is not meant to be an infringement on the rights of the above-mentioned establishments
Out of all the things Janet dreaded each day—alien viruses, heavy causalities, hostile take-overs, she dreaded this the most.
Janet stared at the note that had been left on her door.
A warning sign.
Tentatively, Janet reached forward, ripping the taped note from the front of her door. From the looks of it, the note was hastily written, but held a very familiar handwriting.
"Luciano's. After hours. We need to talk."
Daniel was never abrupt. In his briefings, in everyday chatter, in everything. Daniel, a man that lived every moment in the past, a man who had been robbed of a normal childhood, seemed to take life and live it at his own pace, leisurely, or with full-force. But never did he cut it down, and discard the richness that made life whole.
Maybe that is why she loved him.
After pausing a moment longer to mull over the note, Janet decided to shove her thoughts aside and walk into her house. She knew this day was bound to come. She knew that while she loved Daniel, she also wanted what would make him happy. Even if that meant moving on and letting go.
Shutting the door behind her, she sighed, clearing her throat as she fought to keep her composure. But even though she knew, she never had thought it would be so hard.
There were too many warning signs.
"Cassie!" she called, tossing her purse onto the sofa. "I'm going out tonight. Did you get that laundry done like I asked?"
Nothing but silence resonated through the house. Janet waited: one, two, three…
Cassandra bolted down the stairs, her boots stomping down each board, until she reached the end. The look of trepidation and exaggerated guilt was enough to tell this mother all she needed to know.
"Cassie," Janet said with a sigh. "I don't ask for much, but I expect you to at least do what you're told."
Cassandra winced, twisting her hands as she bit her lip. Janet knew she was trying to form some kind of excuse, but Janet had had a long day and was in no mood for excuses.
"I'm sorry!" she said anyway. "I totally forgot."
Forgotten. She flipped over the note, studying the handwriting, trying to read into the curt message. So many things were so easily forgotten. Even the warning signs.
Janet pocketed the note, turning to smile and face her daughter. "Nevermind."
"Is-is Daniel taking you out tonight or something?" Cassie asked. "He came over before, and was, like, acting funny." She paused, as if gauging Janet's reaction. "He picked up a few things and said he was going to see Sarah," she added quietly.
"I'll be seeing him later," Janet replied, ignoring the other question that had lingered in Cassandra's voice.
Cassie didn't test her. Not this time.
Instead, she came up to her and drew her into a surprise hug. "Try to have fun."
Janet nodded, bringing a weak smile to her lips. No matter what happened, no matter what direction this night took, she promised herself to enjoy the time that she and Daniel had together.
It was a Thursday night and Janet found herself standing outside Luciano's.
Normally, when she was off-duty and Daniel wasn't off-world, they would spend Thursday nights watching comedies.
That had stopped two weeks ago.
A sudden clicking sound tore Janet out of her nostalgic musings. When she saw the trendy Italian restaurant open its dark burgundy doors, she did her best to smile, and slip into a mood of relaxation and cheerfulness. If tonight was the night where they parted, she wanted it to end with maturity and dignity, and not with the pettiness she had experienced with her ex-husband.
"Ma'am?" the young man asked, holding out his hand.
Janet nodded, excepting it, swearing she had seen his face before. But as hard as she tried, she couldn't remember his name.
She soaked in the rich details, not once feeling oppressed by the low lighting and moody atmosphere. She'd been to Luciano's after hours once before, she remembered. Months ago, Colonel O'Neill had insisted that everyone go out and have a good meal. Daniel hadn't been with them very long at that point, so it was a good excuse for O'Neill to try the food at the newly opened restaurant. Or just a good excuse to have the group of them eat together off the base.
Janet lost herself in the memory as the gentleman took her coat and led her past the seating area. She could remember the fiasco of trying to get everyone to order, and the relief once everyone had finally decided on what they wanted. It all ended abruptly when Daniel decided he wanted Greek food instead.
Since then, Daniel and Janet had only come here once. Janet had mentioned to him how much she had liked the feel to the restaurant. That much, she remembered.
"Right through here, ma'am."
Janet stepped into the main room and gasped.
Everything was different. The room had been cleared, leaving one lone table in the center.
But that wasn't what caused her to falter. It was the deliberateness behind the act, and the careful detail to the decorations that surrounded the table, the room, even the entrance to the kitchen. Also, there were the soft touches—a vase with two white roses and the faintest sounds of a sweet melody in the background.
Despite her mood, Janet smoothed out the fine wrinkles in her black dress—the only one she'd been able to find in her closet—and tried to enjoy the piano music. The melody was familiar, sad, but gentle, filled with a deep yearning and sense of mourning wrapped into one.
Janet wrapped herself in the music, closing her eyes and letting it overcome her. Somehow, it suited her perfectly tonight.
Only allowing her that brief moment of reprieve, Janet shook herself from the fantasy to round the corner. Gently, she pushed aside the large leaf of one of the floors plants to bring her gaze to the piano that hid in the corner.
Janet felt like she should be surprised, but she wasn't. While she had never seen Daniel play the piano before, she knew that he was fond of the instrument, and had kept one in his apartment for years. She'd almost forgotten that he had an interest in music.
She smiled, watching him play. His eyes were closed, his back arched, almost as if he didn't know the world existed around him.
Captivating and powerful, aching and sorrowful, the tune made the keys come alive. Daniel was completely consumed by the melody, his body, heart, and soul lost in the music that rumbled, and drifted from the piano. It almost seemed as if he were possessed, or that his fingers had no master. They continued to grace the keys, light feathery touches that moved of their own accord.
"Moonlight Sonata," Janet whispered.
Her heart fluttered when she thought she caught a whisper of a smile pass over his lips. Then, quietly, he brought the melody to an end, resting his fingers on the final keys. Finally, he opened his eyes.
"Hello," he said.
"That was lovely," Janet said, bypassing formalities. She truly wanted to savor the moment without getting lost in words.
The corners of Daniel's mouth puckered, teasing her with a soft, bashful smile. Slowly, he came to his feet and stood before the piano, clasping a lone yellow rose in his hands.
The gesture was moving.
But while part of her struggled to hold back tears, another part of her fought against bursting out into laughter. Though Daniel was neatly dressed, and had obviously worked hard to make sure he presented himself appropriately, hints of his true nature couldn't help but poke through.
Holding back a grin of her own, Janet stepped towards him, reaching her hands out to adjust his crooked tie, just as she had done on numerous occasions in the past. He bowed his head as she ran her hands down his chest. After she smoothed out his suit, she slipped her hands down to his, and gingerly fixed his cufflinks.
"There," she said, dusting off his pants. "Much better."
"Much," he said softly. He held the rose out to her.
Janet accepted the rose without question, standing on her toes before she leaned closer to kiss him. But instead of embracing her, like he normally did, Daniel scooted to the side, brushing off the gesture, leaving Janet feeling confused and cold. When she recovered from the shock, Daniel had already made his way towards the table.
Quietly, she followed him, and allowed for him to hold the seat out for her. As he pushed her close to the table, Janet reached over and placed the yellow rose into the vase. She took a moment to relish the ambiance of the display, and passed her hand over one of the two circular candles on either side of the table.
Smooth, soft, creamy, but fiery…
Just as they had been.
Biting back a twinge of anger, sadness, and even remorse, Janet decided to get straight to the point. "Daniel," she asked, "why didn't you just come back to the house?"
He stared at her, failing in his usual quick, glib remarks. That was when Janet knew something was off. She grabbed a handful of the fabric from her dress and remained calm.
"I spent the day with Sarah," he said softly. Janet watched him as he licked his lips and adjusted his glasses. There was a far away look to his eyes, one which Janet had difficulty reading. But there was one thing she could recognize, and that was the pain. "Her counseling with MacKenzie is going…okay."
She let go of her dress and reached her hand across the table, taking his into her own. Warm, damp, clammy…she didn't mind. "Doctor MacKenzie and the Tok'ra are highly skilled. She will get better. And from what you've told me, Sarah is a very strong person."
"She never asked for this," he said, his voice nearly cracking. "None of them do."
And then he was silent.
Janet squeezed his hand, comforting him the best way she could until she could find the right words to say, if she could find the right words to say. But before Janet could think of something helpful, Daniel pulled his hand away and redirected his gaze to the floor.
"Sorry about that," he said, forcing a weak smile as he ran his sweaty palms down the length of his trousers.
Janet gave a slight nod, choosing not to reply. Daniel wasn't a nervous person. Then again, to her knowledge, Daniel had never broken off a relationship with a woman, either.
Janet shifted in her seat, shaking her thoughts aside. She refused to be negative or become somber.
Though, after another awkward silence, Janet was beginning to worry. First, Daniel was nervous and now he was quiet. Daniel was never quiet.
"What's going on?" she asked.
He refused to look at her. But even though his face was turned away, she could see a twinge of guilt in his eyes.
Sighing, Janet leaned back into her seat. She was about to call him on his behavior when the door to the kitchen opened.
Her jaw dropped. "Teal'c?"
Teal'c proceeded to approach the table, a plate in either hand. But for Janet, the most shocking sight wasn't that Teal'c was coming to serve them.
It was the tuxedo that he was wearing.
She brought her hand to cover her face, trying to hide both her shock and delight. But even she knew that her eyes were betraying her.
"Teal'c?" Daniel asked, sounding just as surprised. "What are you doing?"
"I am presenting you with dessert for consumption, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c answered simply. He placed the plates on the table. "It is my hope that you will enjoy."
"This looks great," Janet said, picking up the fork. She poked at the dessert, and allowed the aroma to fill her nostrils. Smiling politely, she encouraged Daniel to follow suit.
"It is what O'Neill calls 'tiramisu,'" Teal'c stated.
Daniel stiffened and dropped his fork. "Teal'c, please tell me that Jack didn't make this."
Teal'c appeared amused by the statement. Janet had to force herself not to laugh. "He did not. O'Neill was most displeased when the one called Luciano would not allow him to prepare dessert for you."
"Prepare dessert?" Janet arched her eyebrows at Daniel. "Mind explaining?"
"I might know a few people in the military," Daniel said in a playful tone.
Janet took a bite of the tiramisu and licked her lips. "I'm in the military."
"I might know some people higher than you that have some connections."
Janet laughed, wiping the corners of her mouth with her napkin. "You had Colonel O'Neill do this, didn't you?"
Daniel smiled back. "It's nice to have friends pull some strings." His expression turned mock serious as he turned to Teal'c. "Sometimes. I thought you were going to—" He made a motion towards the exit.
"You wish us to leave, Daniel Jackson?"
Daniel's face fell, which just made everything more amusing to Janet. Taking another bite, she sat back and enjoyed the show.
"Us?" Daniel asked. "You're still here? All of you?"
A grin of sheer enjoyment spread across Teal'c's face.
That was all Daniel needed to see. Rising, he placed his napkin aside and made a nervous gesture for Janet to wait. "I'll be-I'll be right back."
"Ah, take your time," a voice said from the kitchen doorway. "I'm getting it all on tape, anyway."
Turning her head, Janet saw Colonel O'Neill lazily leaning onto the wall right by the swinging door that attached the kitchen to the dining area. He seemed fairly content with himself as he adjusted the settings on the video camera he was holding.
"Do something," O'Neill said to both Janet and Daniel. "Maybe have Teal'c trip or fall onto the table." He picked at the side of the camera and held it to his face. "If it's good enough, we can put it on Funniest Home Videos."
Daniel wasted no time in confronting O'Neill and grabbing the camera. The two of them bickered for a moment, causing Janet to worry this would turn into an all out fight. Finally, Colonel O'Neill shrugged and took back the camera, making his way back to the kitchen.
"Remember, do something fun or he'll just bore you with Greece this and Peru that!" he shouted back to Janet before Daniel pushed him through the door.
Janet shook her head. She wasn't sure how Sam and Teal'c handled the two of them on a daily basis. She had enough problems with just Colonel O'Neill alone whenever he decided to grace her infirmary with his presence.
Remembering herself, Janet slid the dessert aside and focused on Teal'c. "Thank you," she told him.
Teal'c, who had been standing silently by her side, gave her a slight but respectful bow. "You are most welcome, Doctor Fraiser."
"So, how did you get roped into this, anyway?' Janet asked.
"I have wished to see how the Tau'ri—" He stopped, raising his eyebrow as he studied her carefully. "Are you attempting to deceive me into divulging information that I must not, Doctor Fraiser?"
She just smiled sweetly at him, her fingers finding their way back to the dessert.
Teal'c said nothing after that, but Janet could see that he was still enjoying his night so far. And surprisingly, so was she.
Daniel was trying. No matter how hard he worked, or how much he failed, she didn't care. She hoped that Daniel understood that all of this pomp and circumstance was unnecessary. She didn't need all of this to feel special.
The swishing of the door caused Janet to pull herself out of her thoughts. Surprised again, she watched as Sam wheeled a small cart over to their table.
"Hi, Janet," Sam said, as she started to set up. Carefully, she placed two tall glasses onto the table. "Are you having fun?"
"I am," she said carefully, warily, as Sam held up a bottle of champagne. With a pop, the cork sailed from the bottle and Sam shouted along with it. "Do you want to give me some more detail here?"
"I could, but that would spoil the fun, right?" Sam laughed and poured some of the champagne into the glasses. Then, she settled the bottle back into the ice before she leaned a little closer to Janet. "Daniel's never done something like this before," Sam said quietly. "He's a little nervous. We're just trying to help him along."
Janet chuckled. Sam was right. She couldn't count how many times she'd caught Daniel on the base late at night, his only supper a few candy bars and a bag of chips. He'd be lost amidst a pile of books with wrappers everywhere. Daniel might have big ideas, but he wasn't big on social etiquette, at least not in this millennium.
"So, you helped him plan a secret late night dessert party?" Janet said knowingly.
Sam beamed. "It was this or dinner a la Snickers in his office with three thousand year old artifacts. I thought you might like this better."
She had to admit that she did. Though, in all honesty, if a small snack in Daniel's office was all that he could spare, she would have been just as happy.
"This is perfect," Janet said, studying the detail of the room. "I can't believe how you could decorate it so beautifully."
"I'll pretend that wasn't an insult," Sam said. "But all I can say is I had a little birdie help me."
"Birdie?" Janet asked, crossing her arms.
Sam's eyes twinkled. "Cassandra."
"Cassie?" Janet gaped at Sam, not knowing whether to be flattered or horrified. "That conniving child," Janet muttered, putting the pieces together. "She lied to me about the laundry."
"Daniel loves that dress," Sam said with a devious smile.
"All right," O'Neill said, clapping his hands for everyone's attention. "It seems like Daniel doesn't want to share anymore and wants us to go."
Daniel glared at O'Neill as he walked past him before he settled down at the table. "Good night, Jack."
"Have fun," Sam said to Daniel and Janet. Squeezing Janet's hand, she reached over and whispered, "call me."
"Why?" Janet asked. "Something special planned?"
Sam smiled, exchanging a knowing look with Teal'c. Janet eyed them cautiously.
"Carter, Teal'c, let's go!" O'Neill tapped his watch impatiently by the door. "Sure you don't want us to stay and help, Mr. Fantastic?"
Teal'c bowed once more as he walked to meet O'Neill while Sam waved to them. The three conspirators hovered by the doorway before shouting out one last good-bye.
And threw in one last trick.
Daniel shouted in protest, but was too late. Sam slipped out a camera and took a photo of them together. Laughing, the three left before they could deal with the infuriated and overly embarrassed look that was plastered on Daniel's face.
"It's okay," Janet said, trying to soothe him.
"That…wasn't supposed to have happened," Daniel admitted.
"I thought it was sweet."
Janet nodded. "They just want us to have a good time."
"Yeah. Just wait until one of them needs help," he said with a wicked grin.
Eyeing him closely, Janet couldn't help but notice he was still anxious, despite his joking. She kicked at his leg with the toe of her shoe. "Daniel, just what are you up to?" she asked suspiciously.
Daniel's eyes flashed mischievously. "Come with me," he said, extending his hand to her.
Cautiously, Janet accepted his hand, not entirely sure what Daniel had in mind. The two of them left the table behind them and started to stroll across the floor, back to the corner where she'd initially found Daniel.
"I wanted…to make things up to you," he said, leading her back to the piano. "I know I messed things up with Sarah because I was too involved in my work. I know I messed things up with Sha're because I was too curious for my own good." He sighed, stopping to stare at the piano. "I can't let it happen again."
"Daniel." Janet rubbed his arm affectionately. "Is this what this is all about?"
"You don't have anything to prove, Daniel," she said. "I understand."
"I know you do. Just-just come."
He urged her forward, beckoning her with his free hand as his legs slid against the bench. Quietly, he sat back down, positioning himself to play.
And play, he did.
Closing her eyes, Janet allowed herself to get lost once again in Daniel's beautiful but painful melodies. Easily, he dipped before he soared, taking her on a musical journey through the heavens. She gasped, feeling the ache that he seemed to captivate so acutely. That ache turned and tore, shattering into light wispy shudders as he continued to move across the keyboard.
Janet opened her eyes, wanting to see him as he played. She held her breath as she watched the keys mourn under his touches, and then jump towards him with anticipation.
Daniel had been claimed by the music long ago. Lips parted, eyes closed, he withdrew into himself and played with whatever he had. This wasn't Daniel focused on an exercise of the mind, or a puzzle that needed to be solved. This was Daniel raw, open, and sensual in a way Janet had never seen before.
Janet trailed her finger down his neck, leaving light kisses in its wake. But Daniel seemed immune to her touch, and didn't jerk or lose his place as she bowed down and wrapped her arms around his neck. Instead, he sighed and leaned back into her, urging for her to move closer.
Janet pressed into him.
He made a small noise, one that she recognized as contentment, as he continued onward with the song. She kissed his temple, finally realizing what he was playing.
"Swan Lake," she said, breathing into his ear. "My favorite."
He exhaled, his hot breath causing her earrings to sway like wind chimes. "I know," he whispered back. He nuzzled her neck. "Closer."
Janet grinned, knowing if they were any closer they would be either sitting on the floor or on top of the piano.
She took another step forward, burying her body into his back. Softly, Daniel kissed her neck.
"My parents introduced me to music, back when I was very young. Actually," he said with a chuckle, "they thought it would balance me." Daniel tilted his head, but kept his eyes closed. "I was…an intense child, for lack of a better word. They needed something to keep me focused." His fingers fluttered over the keys. "Music seemed to work."
Janet smiled to herself. Imagining Daniel anything but intense seemed to be wrong to her. Daniel's passion leaked into everything he did, everything he said, everyone he loved.
But this passion…this was that little part of Daniel that he rarely allowed the world to see.
"It's the Final Act," Janet said quietly, allowing her hands to dangle in front of his chest. "That part…"
"It's like a phase of life. Over. Done."
Done, she thought, feeling the hollowness that the musical notes seemed to capture. New phases. New possibilities.
His tongue darted out, licking his bottom lip, as his face continued to darken with pensive thoughts. "Moving on…"
She knew. She heard the agony in his pain, the pain reflected in the shrill peaks of the keys as they blended together.
"It's all I have left from my parents. I couldn't play for Sarah…though I don't know why. I couldn't play for Sha're because, well, I didn't have a piano and she wouldn't know one if she saw one, anyway. So…" He turned, while his fingers continued to grace the keys. "I play for you."
I play for you.
Janet let out a little gasp at the sincerity and emotion in those few little words, more so than she could have ever imagined. All at once, she felt overjoyed and awestruck, but at the same time ashamed at herself. She should have never had doubts.
With his hands still on the keys and without missing a beat, Daniel slid closer to Janet, rubbing his cheek against her shoulder. She ran her fingers through his hair, tipping his head back so she could study the details of his face as he played.
As if on cue, his eyes opened, peeking at her from beneath his glasses. They were pure, but intense, and eager, waiting…
Daniel closed his eyes again, and leaned towards her as he played, licking his lips as he often did when he was excited. Janet met him more than halfway.
Their kiss was deep, but sweet and full of longing. It spoke of nothing but the here and now, no hints of the past, no doubts of the future. Just now, strong and steady, full and vibrant. She lost herself, just as she had lost herself in Daniel's melodies, feeling the gentle touches of his fingers as they caressed her jaw line. Everything seemed to stop for that one moment, sealed in that one kiss, even the song that had once surrounded them.
Janet opened her eyes, inhaling as she realized Daniel had stopped playing. Or more accurately, had left the keyboard altogether. Though she was sad the song had ended, she smiled and scooted even closer, encouraged by the hand on the small of her back. She managed to steal another kiss before they withdrew once again.
Daniel paused, opening his eyes, and looked down, as he often did when he was contemplating his next move, or something he had just done. Before long, he broke from his thoughts and beckoned her over with the gentle nudge of his head.
Janet obeyed, slipping onto the bench to snuggle up beside him. Content, she rested her head on his shoulder, snaking an arm around his waist.
"Thank you," she said softly, studying his long fingers as they rested on the keys. "Thank you for sharing this with me."
"Thank you," he said. Daniel bowed his head, his nose brushing by her hair. "Thank you for being here. But—"
Janet pulled away, sitting upright as she heard the insecurity in his voice. The nervousness of the entire night came back to haunt her. While she knew Daniel would never do something this elaborate just to let her go, she felt her anxiety growing nonetheless.
"What?" she asked, keeping her voice as steady as possible.
"I-I just have one more." He withdrew his hands, his shaky hands, and exhaled sharply. "Then—just this one more."
"Daniel." Sighing, Janet slid her hand on top of his. "Daniel, you don't have to do this. I appreciate everything tonight. All the thought and the preparation." She shook her head just wishing he could understand how deeply moved she was over everything he had done for her. "Please. Let's just go home."
"One more. One."
Sighing once again, Janet shrugged and let him be. It was no sense arguing with the man. He wouldn't give up until he got his way, anyway.
"I couldn't really find the words," he said with a nervous laugh. "I've never really done this before, so I thought…I'll just let the music talk," he decided.
Sitting by his side, Janet waited for Daniel to continue. He took a few deep breaths, as if he was mentally preparing for the worst, and then began to play.
Familiar, the tune started out strong and powerful, in sharp contrast to Daniel's anxious form. But as he gained more confidence, his body seemed to match the strength of the song, and the two intertwined steady, rising, cresting, marching…
Janet gasped, letting out a small, uncontained cry as the song flooded her senses. With shaking hands, she covered her throat, unable to stop the tears that had begun to flood her eyes and were now running down her cheeks.
His serious and intense face was now focused on her, searching and waiting as he continued.
"Yes," she managed to say, finding her forgotten voice. "Yes."
Daniel exhaled and almost collapsed, the weight of a thousand questions finally seeming to slip off his shoulders. His face was now filled with a peace and joy she'd not seen on him for months and months, perhaps not even as long as she had ever known him. Holding back tears of his own, Daniel let out a laugh, and finished playing The Wedding March with a spunky dance of his fingers.
When he was done, Janet flung her arms around him and squeezed him into a tight embrace. Daniel hugged her in return, and rocked with her, holding her as if he'd never let go.
They had been through disasters, heartaches, loss, through death and back again to this moment of fulfillment. This was the Final Act. Over. Done.
Drawing Daniel into another kiss, a kiss that only came once in a lifetime, Janet couldn't be happier that she'd misread all the warning signs.