“Ugh,” Janet groans, lying flat on her back and staring at the ceiling. Daniel leans up on an elbow so he is looking down at her, his concerned blue eyes searching her chocolate brown ones.
“Are you all right?” he asks quietly, only to be answered by a violent sneeze that seems disproportionate to such a petite woman. “Allergies,” he finishes, sliding out of bed and padding his way over to the dresser, where a cluster of familiar orange pill bottles stands guard at one edge. Tapping a pill out of one of the bottles, he heads into the bathroom and returns with a cup of water, handing them both to Janet as she moans her way into a sitting position.
“Why are they so bad today?” she wonders aloud, glaring at Daniel as she sips from her glass. “And why are you not sneezing?” she asks, her voice tinged with jealousy. Usually they’re both sneezing like there’s no tomorrow first thing in the morning.
He shrugs and starts to say, “I don’t know - ” but is cut off by another loud sneeze coming from his girlfriend, followed by a glower so strong he moves away from the side of the bed.
“You lie back down and get some more rest, I’ll make you some breakfast,” he tells her quietly, escaping to the kitchen downstairs as Janet tries to struggle against the suggestion but eventually lies back down, another moan involuntarily escaping her lips.
Janet looks like she’s asleep when Daniel returns, but her eyes open as he walks up to the side of the bed. “I don’t think it’s just allergies this time, Jan,” he tells her as he sets down a tray of blueberry pancakes in front of her – her favorite – and rests a hand on her forehead, saying “fever.” He reaches over to try and help her sit up, but the look she shoots him stops him in his tracks as she pushes her way up and nibbles at the pancakes.
“I don’t, either,” she says glumly. “But where would I have picked this up? We haven’t been anywhere but here and the base in quite a while.”
Daniel chuckles. “You know far better than I do that that may not have anything to do with it. Maybe Cassie picked something up at school that she’s been carrying and passed on to you. We probably won’t know.” Janet groans and leans back, knocking her head gently against the wall behind her.
“I’ll see Cassie off to school and call General Hammond, tell him we won’t be in today,” Daniel says, trying to sound sympathetic but failing miserably as a smile plays at the corner of his lips at the sight of the Cheyenne Mountain CMO laid up in bed with a bad cold. She levels another fiery glare at him, and he scurries off into the hallway, only to be called back in again.
“Bring me the phone. You have to go in, I’ll call in for myself,” Janet says, the words muffled in a way that causes Daniel’s unavoidable smile to widen, earning himself a snarky, “go!” from the very independent woman who is currently wishing very hard for a cure to the common cold.
He complies for the moment, knocking on Cassie’s bedroom door and ignoring the requisite teenage eyeroll that always accompanies her, apparently polite, “good morning, Daniel.” She follows him downstairs, where he hands her the leftover pancakes before handing her her backpack and shooing her out the front door.
“Have a good day, Cass!” he shouts down the street as she walks toward the corner, and he is rewarded with a genuine smile and wave as she turns onto the next street. Hurrying back up the stairs, he finds Janet already asleep again, the cordless phone resting on her bedside table with a sticky note taped to it.
“I called in, don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Go in so they don’t expect anything. Love you.” Another grin spreads across his face, and he runs his fingers gently through her shoulder-length brown hair, careful not to wake her. He’s not going to comply with the note, despite knowing he’s risking a very annoyed Janet when she’s feeling better, but the fact that she wrote it, and signed it with love, hardens his resolve to stay home with her for the day. He hasn’t been back to his own apartment in quite some time – he’s been the one to send Cassie off for the day for nearly as long, as Janet would much prefer to not have to get up early in the morning – but neither of them is very free with words like love.
Tiptoeing back into the hallway, he folds the note and slides it into his pocket with one hand, dialing Sam’s cell number with the other. He feels back about lying to his friend, but he figures he’ll find it easier to fool her than to fool Jack or General Hammond.
“Carter,” answers the familiar voice on the other end of the line. Daniel fakes a cough, trying to sound as convincing as possible.
“Hi, Sam,” he says, voice scratchy from the attempt. “I woke up with a fever this morning; I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t come in today. There’s nothing on the mission schedule for a few days, so I was just going to work on some translations, and I should have enough notes that I can do a bit of work here.” He stops himself before he begins rambling – this is why he does not lie very often, if at all possible.
But the voice on the phone appears to believe him. “All right, Daniel. I’ll let the others know. Hope you feel better soon,” she tells him, and they say their goodbyes and he finally risks a smile after hanging up the phone and returning it to its kitchen cradle.
Heading back upstairs, he leans upon the doorjamb of their shared bedroom and just gazes at Janet’s petite, quietly sleeping form for a number of minutes before heading down to the laundry room and beginning to fold some of the laundry that’s been neglected for quite some time in light of the busy schedules they both keep and the apparent allergy Cassie has to any kind of housework. He does realize that folding his girlfriend’s teenaged daughter’s underwear might qualify as creepy, but as long as Cassie doesn’t find out who did it, she’ll be happy to have clean clothes in her room again.
Meanwhile, at the base, Sam hangs up the phone, a grin plastered across her face, knowing that Daniel isn’t actually sick – but Janet is, and even though she hasn’t been specifically told what’s going on between her two best friends, she’s smart enough to have noticed that there is far more there than the two would like the others to believe. As she heads up to General Hammond’s office to let him know that both his CMO and archaeologist are down for the count for the day, she runs into Jack, who asks what she’s up to. They fall into step together as they climb towards the office, sharing a chuckle about how Janet and Daniel seem to think they can keep a secret from their closest friends and coworkers.
Daniel is slathering a piece of bread with mayonnaise for a sandwich when he hears shuffled footsteps coming his way. He pokes his head out into the hallway and meets a pair of chocolate-dark eyes that are attempting to look authoritarian but succeed much better in looking grateful.
“Hey, Jan,” he says softly, stepping out in front of her and resting his hand once again on her forehead. Cooler, but still too hot.
“I told you to go to work, Daniel,” she tells him, a very Janet-esque gaze reprimanding the much taller man, who has the decency to look chagrined despite his inability to refrain from smiling at how adorable Janet looks in baggy pajama pants, a tank top, and disheveled hair.
He shakes his head. “Not going to happen. Do you need anything?” He reaches out a hand and steadies her as they make their way into the living room, where she curls up into a corner of the couch and pulls a throw blanket over herself, reaching for a book left lying on the coffee table.
“I don’t need anything right now,” she says, still stuffy, “I’m just too bored to stay in bed any longer.” Daniel chuckles, keeping one eye on her as he heads back to the kitchen and finishes making his sandwich. Grabbing another book off the table, he settles down on the opposite side of the couch from Janet. As soon as he does, however, Janet turns and pushes herself down the couch, lying on her back so her head is resting on his thigh. She immediately resumes reading without a word, and a smile spreads across Daniel’s face as he becomes involved in his own book.
The sound of the door banging open jerks Daniel awake, and it takes him a moment to realize that both he and Janet had fallen asleep while reading on the couch. He bends over to kiss her forehead – it is finally cool to the touch, her fever having broken sometime during the afternoon. Her eyes open, and she sits up so he can stand and head for the entryway.
Cassie is hanging her jacket up in the closet, but she turns when she hears footsteps behind her. “Daniel?” she asks, incredulous. “You guys are never home this early!”
He nods. “Yeah, your mom wasn’t feeling too well this morning, so we ended up calling in and stayed home. She’s feeling better now, though, and there’s some clean laundry in your room,” he tells her. She smiles, her sneakered feet pounding up the stairs as she heads to hole up in her room until she is called for dinner. Smiling as well, Daniel heads back into the living room and wraps Janet in a quick hug.
“Feeling better?” he asks. She nods against his chest.
“I’m still stuffed up, but I can deal with it, allergies make you used to it,” she says resignedly, knowing he’ll understand. Running his fingers through her hair, he agrees, then steps away as she sits back down to her book and he begins deciding what he’s going to cook for supper that will entice a teenager out of her room and a still-sick girlfriend to eat.
The rest of the evening goes smoothly, and everyone goes to bed confident that tomorrow will be back to normal.
But it is not to be. The first thing Janet hears in the morning is a muffled “ugh” coming from the other side of the bed. Fighting a smile, she leans up on an elbow and asks, “allergies?”
“I doubt it,” is the familiarly stuffed reply.