AUTHOR: Matt, Dec 05 - Feb 06
SUMMARY: Daniel has planned to take Janet out for dinner after the events of Beneath the Surface. However, his car has decided to let him down.
DISCLAIMER: Characters are property of MGM et al. No financial gain is made from this writing effort.
NOTE: A while back, one of the Dan/Jan communities on Live Journal had a challenge called Breakdown. It inspired me to begin this, but I never got it completed on time due to work commitments. This is actually my first attempt at writing the Daniel/Janet relationship. Normally, they've just remained in the background of my Sam/Jack fics.
THANKS: To Allie for the beta.
She held out her hand, and he was tempted to remind her that they weren't in an operating room. She was, however, tackling the task as though it was a surgical procedure. After all, the process was similar: diagnose and repair. Only this time, Janet was playing mechanic and the patient was Daniel's usually reliable car.
"Daniel?" Her head lifted up briefly.
"Oh, right." He handed over the tool she'd given him less than a minute ago. "Discovered the problem?"
"I think so." She wouldn't elaborate further. Instead, her head disappeared back under the hood.
The evening wasn't supposed to have gone this way. After having been trapped in an underground work camp with his memories rewritten, all he'd wanted was a night out with Janet. Their relationship had barely got going before SG-1's ill-fated expedition and the close attachment Daniel's alter-ego, Carlin, had formed with one of the inhabitants there hadn't helped matters.
So Daniel had suggested a romantic dinner at Janet's favourite restaurant. Sam had agreed to baby-sit Cassandra and had arrived at Janet's house shortly after him. Unfortunately, his car had begun to splutter midway between there and the restaurant. They had continued on, albeit nervously, for another mile. At that point, the car had come to a shuddering halt.
To Daniel's surprise, Janet had told him to raise the hood and then had jumped out of the car. She'd been fixing it ever since.
"Who taught you about fixing cars?"
Janet released the catch and lowered the hood with a dry laugh. "My ex-husband of all people. He didn't think a woman belonged in a garage, but he sure as hell didn't want some greasy mechanic fixing his wife's car and giving her the eyeball. Can you believe that?"
Daniel had never met the man, but strangely, he understood. "Rock and a hard place," he murmured. He wouldn't have wanted another guy making eyes at her either if he could help it. Janet Fraiser was an elegant woman in almost every situation.
Emphasis on the 'almost.'
"What?" She looked at him enquiringly. "What's wrong? Oh, have we missed our reservation?"
They probably had, but Daniel wasn't focusing on that right now. Instead, a lovely greasy smear adorning her cheek had captured his attention.
"Um, no, it's just that," he gestured with his finger, not quite wanting to cross that intimate boundary and touch her skin.
"Oil?" He nodded and she laughed. "Typical. Got a Kleenex?"
He did and he reached into the passenger side of his car to grab one for her. "Here you go."
She spat onto the cloth and then scrubbed at her cheek. After a few moments she dropped her hand. "Better?"
It was a slight improvement. "I think soap might be needed."
Daniel looked at his watch and sighed. They weren't going to make the restaurant in time for their reservation. He flipped out his cell phone and dialed, hoping to book a table for a slightly later hour. A few minutes later he was giving Janet the bad news.
"Booked solid for the rest of the evening," he said ruefully.
They stood there, looking awkwardly at one another. Daniel didn't quite want to take her back home. For one, he wasn't ready to end the evening. For another, Sam had been looking forward to spending some time with Cassie.
"I suppose we could do something else," he hesitantly suggested. "Perhaps that Chinese place you like, or Luigi's, or even Burger King," he finished with a laugh.
"Chinese sounds good," she replied. "But I've a feeling we'd be overdressed."
"Oh." He glanced down at his suit, and silently agreed. Lucky Dragon was more of a casual place.
But then she smiled, and it was a smile that suggested she had a plan and he may not be prepared for it.
"We could always go back to your place and order in."
Were they ready for that? Was he ready for that? Was that how the evening was going to end? Not in a restaurant but… in his bed?
His face must have showed his line of thinking because Janet's eyes twinkled. "I need to wash up anyway, Daniel," she reminded him. "I'm also getting hungry. You can order the food while I get clean, and then we can eat."
Daniel nodded. She made sense; she usually did. "Okay," he said, and got back behind the wheel of his car. He just hoped his car would make it back to his place before something else happened to it.
Upon arriving at his apartment, Daniel had shown Janet to the bathroom before digging through the drawer of takeout menus he had in his kitchen.
By the time she came out, muttering about a stain on her jacket, the food had been ordered. Daniel had discovered a partially-full bottle of wine in his refrigerator and poured out a glass for each of them. He'd removed his jacket, kicked off his shoes and lost the tie. They made small talk until the food had arrived.
An hour later, they were sitting on his couch and picking through various food boxes that were on the coffee table in front of them.
"Mmm?" he replied, trying to swallow a noodle.
"I have a confession to make."
Noodle gone, he turned to face her.
"There's nothing wrong with your car."
"I'm glad to hear it," he replied. And he was. However… "How do you know?"
He'd been a little disturbed that his previously reliable car had failed him on such a crucial evening. To hear that the amateur mechanic thought it was absolutely fine was a little concerning.
She blushed as she admitted it. "Sam and I sort of messed with it."
"I know you had made reservations, Daniel, and it was awfully sweet of you, but I didn't really want to go."
These were not words he wanted to hear. He was confused. If she hadn't wanted to go out with him, then why had she suggested coming… back… here?
"You didn't want to go out for dinner?"
"Not really. Daniel, it's… well, Sam and I were discussing it and we both agreed it's really difficult to talk about what we do in public. I know why you wanted to do this, and it's fine, I get that. But how could we discuss, if we wanted to, where you were, if we were in a crowded restaurant? Anyone could overhear."
This was true, he supposed. "Do we need to talk?" he asked, warily. Kegan came to mind.
"Maybe not. But I didn't want us to be unable to, if we had needed to." She paused. "Does that make sense?"
He nodded. "Absolutely. But why not just cancel on me?" He was still a little confused. "Or why not talk at your place? Why go to all this pretence?"
Janet laughed. "It's funny, really…"
"Sam was so looking forward to spending some time with Cassie and I hated to disappoint her. So, we made a deal. I'd get out of the way, if she… messed… with your car."
"What exactly did you do it?" he asked cautiously. As much as he knew Sam to be a decent mechanic when it came to engines, he still wanted to know the problem… just in case it wasn't as easily resolved as hoped.
"It's something called a PC - something or other," Janet explained with a shrug. "Sam loosened it so the car wouldn't go very far. All I had to was tighten it up."
"And that's it?"
She nodded. "'Fraid so. I didn't care about fancy restaurants, Daniel. I just wanted to spend time with you." She looked down at her box, appearing to find it very fascinating.
He was both honored at her admission and dismayed by it. Honored because she actually wanted to spend time with him, but dismayed because she'd had to resort to such subterfuge. Why couldn't she just have told him outright that she didn't want a night on the town.
"Because you'd set your mind on it," she told him softly.
He didn't even realized he'd expressed the question out loud.
"Am I that stubborn?" he asked.
Janet laughed softly. "Only some of the time."
"I hope I haven't ruined the evening for you."
He looked at her in disbelief. How could she possibly think that? She'd admitted she wanted to spend time with him - not in a public place - and now, here she was, in his apartment. "No," he exclaimed. "You're not ruining it at all."
"Good. I'd hate to have to go home early." She blushed slightly. "Sam thinks she's needed at my place all night."
Then that meant... But Daniel knew he'd have to tread carefully. "What do you think?" he asked cautiously.
Janet grinned saucily. "I'd like to think she might be needed there all weekend."
"I think we can arrange that," he said as he began leaning towards her for a kiss.