Mistletoe © December 12, 2004
Bridget Cochran
D/J - PG - Sexual allusions
Belated answer to Challenge #42 - The Holiday Challenge- Awkward Kissing Challenge on the DanielJanet Archive.

Warning: Never wrote Daniel/Janet before. Haven't written het in, like, forever. So, be kind. Oh, and Heroes 1 & 2 never happened. And won't in my universe.

Acknowledgements: As always, thanks to Anita and Karen, who seem to follow me down any twisted path. Special thanks to Claire, who graciously accepted the challenge of beta'ing me in a new and different world.


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Mistletoe


Daniel had never been suave, not very subtle, not even very self-aware, but he had been married. He'd had romantic - okay - sex partners. But romance? That had never been something that he seemed to have time for.

To be honest, he never thought that romance was something that applied to him. He wasn't aware of women looking at him with longing, or going out of their way to spend time with him. It may have happened or be happening to him right now, he just wasn't aware of it. Romance was an obscure concept played out in movie musicals or Jane Austen novels. And while he enjoyed the novels occasionally, from their anthropological stand point, he didn't think of them as any part of his reality.

And, yet, tonight, all his previous experiences seemed to have nothing to do with the reality of the moment.

The Christmas party at Jack's was a given. Jack entertained three times a year - Fourth of July, Christmas and Stanley Cup Finals. Looks like there would be only two parties this year since hockey was MIA. Jack overdid Christmas. Tree to the ceiling in the corner of the living room, lights inside and out, bowls of Chex mix and red and green M&M's on every surface. The kitchen was filled with amazing savories and confections in Costco size proportions. Liquor and eggnog flowed freely, adding fuel to the Christmas cheer.

Daniel had picked up Janet and would have to take her home, so he was nursing a glass of burgundy. Pretty good vintage. Of course, he'd brought it to the party. Good wine came from Costco, in a box, according to Jack.

He was pleasantly surprised when Janet asked to try some of the wine, she was usually a rum and coke woman. She, however, was on her second glass; so, it must be good.

She looked great. Well, better than her usual good. Rich burgundy velour really, really suited her tiny frame. Hugged her curves in exactly the right way. And the color highlighted her hair. Made her smile somehow sweeter. He covered a laugh at his fanciful thoughts behind another sip of his wine.

"Penny for your thoughts." He wasn't sure if she'd been that close or if he'd conjured her up, but Janet stood looking up at him, her eyes warm with a smile.

"I was just thinking that you look really great tonight." Honesty was the best policy. He smiled down at the pleasure his remark brought her.

"You don't look so bad yourself, doctor."

Daniel accepted the comment for the polite offering it was. He looked okay. Gray corduroys that were a little baggy and a thin navy blue sweater. It was a little tighter than he was used to, but Sam insisted he buy it. To prove to the world that he'd been working out. He didn't understand why the world would be interested in his work outs. Besides that, the sleeves were way too long. Something he was assured by the sales clerk was a very happening look. Far be it from Daniel not to look happening. So, now the cuffs were probably stretched out from being pushed over his forearms.

"Thanks, but I wasn't fishing for a compliment."

Janet smiled up at him, her eyes saying 'duh'. "It think I'm ready to try the eggnog," is what she said aloud.

"You're braver than I am," Daniel said and followed her through the kitchen to the dining area and the punch bowl. They were stopped in the archway between the two rooms by a back up of traffic at the buffet spread out on the dining room table.

"Ahem." Jack nudged Daniel in the ribs. Daniel turned, not sure why Jack would have to nudge him so hard if it didn't involve projectiles being shot in his direction. Jack's eyes were looking at the ceiling.

Daniel looked up and sighed. Of course. Mistletoe. Live, genuine, poisonous mistletoe. Medieval practice, kissing under the mistletoe. Janet was now looking up at him, a brow arched, an ironic twist to her smile. He was pretty sure she'd start tapping her foot any minute.

So he did what he usually did and blushed, red flooding up his neck to his ears. Awkwardly bending, he was painfully aware of how diminutive she was. He didn't know if he was supposed to put his arms around her, just touch her shoulder - he had no idea of the protocol for this custom. Her smile formed exaggerated kiss lips.

Daniel was certain everyone was staring at them. He was sure that they were laughing at him, too. So, he pecked her cheek and stood up awkwardly. Jack slapped him on the back and said, "Call that a kiss?"

He looked at Janet and hoped he wasn't seeing disappointment in her eyes. "I guess." Not a very eloquent answer, he thought. In his discomfort, he knocked back the rest of his wine. He moved back into the kitchen and rinsed the glass before he put ice and coke in it.

"Daniel? Are you okay?" Janet was behind her.

He turned around to lean against the kitchen counter, hands across his chest. "Sure, why would you ask?"

She looked up with him, her concern plain. "I hope I didn't make you feel uncomfortable."

"Of course, you didn't." He couldn't uncross his arms, no matter how much he wanted to. He couldn't look her in the eye either. She stepped closer, right into his personal space. Which might be too close.

Janet looked up at him, expecting some kind of explanation for his behavior. And she should have one. He looked at the encouragement in her eyes, wanting to explain himself, but she was looking too deeply into his soul and he had to look away.

Straight into Jack's knowing smile. Closing his eyes wouldn't help him hide from anything. He turned back to Janet. "Would you mind if we left?"

Frowning, she tilted her head to study him. "No, not at all." That surprised Jack, who was avidly listening.

"You're not leaving?"

Daniel narrowed his eyes on his friend for a minute. "Yes, I think I am. Janet can stay if she wants."

"Nope, that's fine, Daniel. I'm ready when you are." She was already on her way to the guest bedroom and their coats.

They drove to Janet's house in silence. Daniel didn't know how to break it. Not without saying something stupid, so he kept his mouth shut. The CD player was playing Prokofiev which may have been a little too perky for the mood, but he didn't want to draw attention to himself by changing it. Pulling up in front of Janet's house, he cut the engine.

"Don't you think you might be over reacting?" Janet asked quietly. "It was just a friendly kiss among friends."

Daniel flicked the keys in the ignition with his index finger, trying to figure out how to reply. This was important.

"I-" he started, he wasn't going to chicken out, so he raised his head to look in her direction. "I wanted our first kiss to be special."

Janet blinked at him, lost for words. Finally, she said, "I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me."

He hardly believed that. He returned to flicking his keys in the ignition, not sure of what to do or say now that he gave himself away.

"Do you think we could make it special now?" Janet asked.

His heart skipped a beat, and his breath stopped as he raised his head to look across the car and into her eyes. Her kind, understanding eyes. He moved toward her, pulling her into his arms and up into his lap. She was so small, so easy to hold. She smelled so good and fit so well. Trying to keep his hand from shaking, Daniel moved it to cup the back of her head. Her eyes smiled as she let herself be guided to his slightly parted lips. Breathing her scent fully into his lungs, he let his lips and tongue explore her waiting mouth. It was a good, rich flavor that Daniel could hardly believe.

It was a sweet first kiss, with a hint of roughness that sharply aroused Daniel. Janet's charm was in the "dynamite in small packages" cliché - to the nth degree. Squared. He knew she would be as fierce in love as she was healing her patients. He just hoped she would turn that fierceness in his direction. He pulled back from her before the kiss deepened further.

She was flushed and had a dreamy look when she finally opened her eyes. "That felt special to me. How about you?" she asked.

Daniel's nose wrinkled with his smile. "It definitely felt special." He dipped his head to pull gently at her lips with his. She felt so perfect in his arms, in his lap. But, his lap was getting uncomfortable for him, and might embarrass them both, too. Settling her weight on one hip, he sighed and raised his head to look at her again.

"Is this okay with you?" he asked, hoping she understood him. His emotion was so deep right now, he didn't know if he could explain himself if pressed.

"More than okay," she murmured, her palm resting on his chest. If he hadn't had his jacket on, he was sure she would have felt the hammering of his heart. "Are you okay with it?"

"Very okay."

Janet sighed and looked toward the house. "I imagine Cassie is spying on us."

Daniel smiled and followed her line of sight, noting the shadows lurking at the living room window. "Guess this is better than playing video games with Dominic."

"If they were playing video games," said a knowing mother, shocking Daniel into chuckling.

She laid her head down on his chest, letting him rest his chin on top of her head. "This is nice," she whispered.

"It is. I've waited a long time to do that."

"You have?" She wanted to sit up again, but his hand gently convinced her to stay where she was. "Why didn't you say so?"

"Lack of confidence. Professional distance. Fear of rejection."

"Oh, Daniel." Her hand grasped his arm, squeezing comfort.

"I know. What can I say? What I have in brains, I lack in common sense."

"That sounds like what Jack would say."

Daniel smiled. "It does, but it's true."

"Glad you found some common sense."

"Me, too."

They sat there a few minutes, enjoying the newness and sweetness of the moment before Janet pushed herself upright.

"I think we need to go in and have some hot chocolate - because there are two teenagers in the house that need a chaperone."

"Hot chocolate sounds great."

He pushed his door open and let Janet go very reluctantly. She gracefully got her footing, and turned to help him out of the car.

"There's just one thing," he said, not letting go of her hand.

An inquiring brow rose.

"Who's going to watch the chaperones?"

The end.

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