Title: Behind the Mask
Author: SaraC
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Missing Scene (or Ep Tag) for 'Rite of Passage'
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Double Secret, MGM and their actors. This is just for fun!
Notes: Just a little something I would have liked to have seen in 'RoP'- and yes, it’s Dan/Jan!


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Behind the Mask


She didn’t allow herself to break down until Cassie was resting comfortably in the infirmary- whatever Nerti had done curing her of whatever ‘process’ her daughter had been going through.

Through it all, she’d remained the strong, professional doctor who headed the SGC- even when facing the loss of the most important person in her life. She’d forced her mind to think through all the medical logic she possessed and that she did not- keeping cool and rational in hopes of saving her daughter’s life.

She’d been ready to kill the damned Gou’ald System Lord when she’d trained that gun on her- but only sheer willpower- and the presence of Daniel at her back had stopped her. Still, she would have done anything to find a cure for Cassie and she did not regret any of her actions.

But in order to accomplish them all- she’d had to put her personal emotions aside. She did it every day- although it was more difficult when SG-1 was involved. It was harder still when it involved her daughter- but she did it- and thank God, Cassie was now fine.

She, however, was not.

Sinking into the chair behind her desk, she felt the tremors wrack her body- delayed reaction to all that had gone on in the past 24 hours. Images of Cassie, convulsing and scared, mixed with the hurtful "Janet’s" her daughter had uttered painting a picture she hoped never to see again. But the impact of such pictures was not as easy to push away.

Clenching her hands into fists, she tried to stop the shaking of her body, but only served to convulse harder as the images pounded against her brain. Cassie, so pale and weak- so determined to die- so determined to give up the battle. Hurtful words, said in the heat of anger, but making her seriously wonder if they weren’t rooted in something deeper. The imagined thought of a life without her precious little girl- who was fast growing into a beautiful young woman.

A process she’d come close to never knowing.

Her breathing grew ragged as her nails dug into her palms- fighting to hold back the building sobs threatening to overcome her. Lowering her head, trying to fight the dizziness, she focused on her breathing, not surprised to find she really had no control at the moment.

The first tear slipped down her cheek and she shakily reached up to brush it away- only to find a warm hand had beat her to it. Her head flew up to meet a familiar pair of concerned blue eyes.

"Janet?"

The soft murmur of her name, combined with the fact that his hand was now cupping her cheek, brushing away tear after tear was the final straw.

With a strangled cry, she leaned into his palm and let the sobs break free. She was barely aware of his strong arms closing around her, pulling her from the chair and up against his warm, hard body. Wrapping her arms around his waist in a death grip, she buried her face against his chest as she finally gave up the battle against her emotions.

~*~*~*~*~

Daniel wasn’t sure what had made him follow Janet from the infirmary back to her office- although if pressed, he could probably come up with a few good reasons. The logical- he wanted to make sure she was all right- to the illogical but much more probable- he felt as if he needed to do something more to help her through her pain.

It also didn’t hurt that he’d felt the spark that had arced between them in the hallway earlier tonight. It wasn’t the right time or place to notice the attraction that he’d only recently begun to admit was simmering beneath the surface of their relationship.

He’d beaten himself up for a while after that meeting, wondering if he shouldn’t have given into the urge he’d had to go after her and take her in his arms, promising her everything would be all right. He’d never wanted to hold someone, just hold them, as much as he’d wanted to hold Janet in that instant.

Until this very one, right now.

Peering into her office, his heart broke as he saw her pale form shaking in her chair. Her head was lowered and he could clearly hear her gasping for breath, her hands clenched into tight fists. She was on the verge of losing it and as much as she might hate him for seeing her like this- he knew he couldn’t leave her alone to fight her demons.

Not to mention she was entitled to a breakdown- she’d been the strongest one through this whole ordeal- having to become a doctor even more than a mother to save Cassie’s life.

Moving quietly into the room, he walked over to her, noting a single tear had slipped down her cheek. Without stopping to think- he reached his palm up to cup her cheek, brushing away the droplet with a gentle finger.

The feel of her skin was electric- sparked even more as her eyes flew to his, the surprise not enough to overcome the misery reflected there.

"Janet?"

His heart broke a little as at his whisper, he heard the first sob break free- even as she leaned deeper against his palm. Feeling the need to offer more- he didn’t think twice before reaching down and pulling her petite form against his body, wrapping her in as much comfort and support as he could.

His heartache eased a little as he felt her arms wrap tightly around him and she buried her head against his chest. The body he was so used to seeing as strong and agile was now limp and frail, shaking with the force of her sobs- relying on him to guide her through the storm.

Murmuring soothing words, he tried to allow his presence to calm her, feeling humbled that she trusted him enough to break down in front of him- in his arms for that matter. Her body was light- but her warmth encompassed him as she released everything she had been holding in since Cassie had gotten sick.

Stroking her hair- he held her until the sobs ran dry.

~*~*~*~*~

Janet finally felt the sobs stop, trailing off into sniffles as she tried to calm her body. As she breathed deeply to steady herself, she inhaled the scent that she’d come to recognize was uniquely Daniel. Turning her head up, she felt a wave of embarrassment as she realized she was cradled in the archaeologist’s strong arms, having just soaked the front of his shirt with her tears.

"Daniel, I’m sorry-"

He stopped her words by placing two fingers over her lips.

"Janet, don’t apologize." The look in his eyes made her breathing go shallow again as she heeded his order. "You needed to let it out- holding all that in wasn’t healthy."

She sniffed, trying to smile, realizing only then that he hadn’t removed his arms and she hadn’t attempted to leave them.

"I don’t usually fall apart like that in front of a patient-"

"But I’m not just a patient, Janet. I’m your friend- at least, I think I am?"

The words sounded so hesitant she had to look up at him. His eyes told her he really was unsure about his words and she sighed, instinctively pulling him closer, resting her head lightly against his chest once more.

"You are, Daniel- and I can’t thank you enough for letting me cry on you. It was well above and beyond the call of duty."

His small smile warmed her heart- which sped up again as he cupped her cheek softly, brushing away the few tears that remained.

"I meant what I said in the hall, Janet. Whatever you need, I’m here for you. Don’t shut me out, okay?"

The sincerity in his words brought a fresh flood of tears to her eyes. Struggling to hold them back, she reached up to cup his cheek in her palm as he had done to her earlier.

"Thank you."

His shrug at her words only made him look more endearing.

"For what?"

"For being here- for letting me cry and not trying to tell me things will be all right. For understanding."

The words left much unsaid, but for the moment, they did just fine.

Stroking her hair softly, he settled himself onto the small couch in her office, pulling her down onto his lap, wrapping his arms around her as she rested her head in the crook of his neck. It seemed to fit there perfectly.

"Sleep, Janet. You’ll feel better in the morning."

"Don’t go." She was nearly asleep, but remembered at the last minute to tighten her arms around him. Hearing his content sigh, she finally allowed a healing sleep to take over her body.

Daniel watched her for what might have been hours before he too began to tire. Closing his eyes, he settled her more comfortably against his body- the even lull of her breathing soon sending him to sleep as well.

Sam and Jack found them that way a few hours later- wrapped in each other’s arms, fast asleep on Janet’s office sofa. With knowing looks at each other, they smiled before closing the door behind them.

~*~*~*~*~

The End


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