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{Fic} Change the World | Eureka | Pre-slash

Change the World
Clarity Scifiroots
Characters: Jack, Jo, Fargo, reboot!Nathan
Pairings: Mentioned - Jack/various and Allison/Nathan; Jack/Nathan pre-slashy
Tag: 4x02 "A New World" (for eureka_tag
Summary: It should have occurred to at least one of them to search for information on certain Eureka residents. (Rating: All.)
Notes: Thanks to enigmatic_blue for checking this over before I posted. :)


----- ----- -----


Jack's still reeling from recent events - this Tess excited about moving in with him, Allison's desire to stay for a chance to connect with her son, the realization that the six of them are alone with their secret. He's pacing restlessly around the bunker and fending off S.A.R.A.H.'s worried questions when his phone rings.

Nervous about who's on the line, he cautiously checks the caller ID and is grateful to see "GD Director." With a sigh of relief he answers, "Yeah, Fargo?"

"Sheriff! I was looking through the director's-- my files, since, you know, I really need to start getting caught up. I mean if we're staying here I should know what's going on, right?"

"Fargo. Point?"

"Oh, yeah. Ah..." Fargo's energy makes Jack nervous. "It's just that... I mean, I was looking at some of the independent projects. The offsite ones, you know? And I found-- I don't know what to do about it! I can't go check it out alone!"

"What Fargo?"

He hears a minor scuffle at the other end of the line and then Jo's voice comes through, controlled but tense. "He's trying to say that Dr. Stark has a private lab at the edge of town."

Jack feels his already tilting world falling away beneath him. The image of Stark stepping into the clear chamber fills Jack's mind. He remembers that unusually gentle smile tinged with what looked like regret. The quiet but firm "See you around, Jack."

"Carter?" Jo's tone indicates she's tried to get his attention for some time.

"Y-yeah," Jack replies shakily, running a hand over his face. "Stark. Right. Uh... did you tell Allison yet?"

"No," Fargo says, and Jack can tell they've switched to speaker-phone. "I don't know what to tell her! Maybe they... you know, never married?"

"We can't just spring this on her," Jo says quietly. "We want to check in with him first."

Jack leans against the back of the couch and closes his eyes. "How do we explain just showing up?"

"Well, Fargo is the head of GD, which gives him the right to check on any project at any time. Or you can pull your safety check spiel."

"Right," Jack replies, voice faint.

Stark. Alive.

"It's not that late," Fargo breaks the silence. "We could go now." There's excitement starting to slip into his voice.

Despite his wariness, Jack feels a strong desire to see the scientist alive and well.

"See you around, Jack."

"Where's the lab?"

---

They meet a half mile down the road from the driveway. Jo nods a greeting to Jack before taking the lead. The warehouse they approach is rather large for the use of one scientist, two levels above ground and three below. In "their own" time Jack remembers the place being used for collaborative work of several scientists.

As they step out of the cars, Fargo gravitates toward Jack and glances up at the sheriff. "Do you think he's really here?"

"You tell me," Jack mutters. He catches Jo giving him one of her rare concerned glances. "Let's go."

The door's security requests voice verification and an iris scan from Fargo before it lets them in. A mechanized voice with a light English accent in the entry hall informs them that Dr. Stark is in the middle of an experiment in sublevel two.

Fargo's eyes are wide behind his glasses as he asks for directions. When the voice replies, Jack detects a hint of exasperation. He represses a smile as he matches stride with Jo.

"What are you going to say?" Fargo whispers when they're ensconced in the elevator.

"Whoa, you're the director, you have the excuse to be down here." Jack holds up a hand to cut off Fargo's protest. "You found him, you figure out what to say." To be honest, Jack has plenty he's wanted to say since the day of the time loop, but he knows that this Stark won't be the same. His heart clenches at that thought and he swallows back the old feeling of guilt.

Jo claps a hand on Fargo's shoulder as the doors open on the correct level. "You've got this one, Director."

Fargo gulps loudly as he starts forward; Jo manages to keep him upright when he trips over his own feet. Jack's apprehension grows as they move down a long hall toward the lab where Stark's supposed to be. A light next to the door, once they get there, is lit red. The mechanized voice from upstairs informs them that it will be another three minutes before Dr. Stark can be interrupted.

As Fargo fidgets, Jo takes Jack aside and asks softly, "Are you okay?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Jack returns with a frown.

She gives him an impatient look. "You know what I mean, Carter."

"Uh, I really don't," Jack assures her.

Jo rolls her eyes. "Unresolved issues...? The mopey looks after he proposed to Allison, the depression after he died, your insistence that he wasn't dead?"

"Mopey?" Jack focuses on the easiest response. "I don't remember ever moping about anything."

In return she just raises an eyebrow.

Their conversation is interrupted by the lab's light going green and the door sliding open. Fargo jumps and looks around for the other two. His expression screams for help and Jack sighs.

They're barely three feet into the room when a familiar voice says, "The GD projects are already submitted - ahead of schedule."

Jack swallows hard as his stomach seems to flip. Fargo looks torn between jumping for joy or fainting. Jo not-so-subtly pokes them both in the back until they move closer to the center of the lab.

The scientist's back is to them as he leans over a workbench, but the curly hair and the curve of his back are recognizable. Jack's heart seems to thump harder against his chest.

"Well?" Nathan Stark straightens and turns to the trio, a scowl etched across his features. For a moment Jack sees Stark's gaze catch on him with a strange flash of emotion.

Fargo's mouth opens and closes silently a few times before he manages, "D-Dr. Stark? It's...a... so good to see you!" Jack sees Jo twitch in annoyance.

Stark's scowl is replaced by confusion and suspicion. "Is it?" He arches an eyebrow at the trio. "What's going on?"

Jo steps forward in a clear signal to the others that she doesn't trust them to answer. "Dr. Fargo wanted to get further information about your newest project, and the Sheriff's interested in making sure safety protocols are being followed."

Jack recognizes the calculating look Stark wears as he listens to cover story and looks over the trio. Stark's gaze runs over them slowly, taking even longer when he examines Jack. After a few minutes a smirk turns up his lips as he crosses his arms. "So, who exactly are you?"

"Wh-what do you mean?" Fargo squeaks. Jack fights the urge to roll his eyes.

Yeah, Fargo, that's really going to help.

Stark's body language is confident and self-assured as he continues to smirk. "You must realize how unusual it is to come out at this time of night to check on me without your assistant or anything else to record the report, Director. Plus you would never let your chief security officer take the time off from her rounds for a petty errand." He turns his gaze to Jack and again that unnamed emotion flickers in his eyes. "And you, Sheriff, made it pretty clear you wouldn't come back here unless there was a world-ending disaster."

Jo crosses her arms and shifts into a rather intimidating pose. "Seems you have a theory you're rather proud of, care to share?"

Stark smiles at her and rubs his beard in a dramatic enactment of thinking. "Well, it could be you're wearing disguises - I believe Dr. Rueben has been working on new camouflage techniques. However, given Dr. Fargo's stunned reaction to seeing me, I suppose it is more likely that you are yourselves but altered in some way." He smirks again and Jack is surprised how good it feels to see that cocky expression. "Mind-altering drugs? Amnesia of some sort? No, neither theory quite fits the evidence. Let me propose time travel, perhaps? Or no, a parallel timeline I suppose would fit better."

Jack exchanges an uneasy glance with his companions. So much for not telling anyone, he thinks. And even though Stark is genius in a level above most of the other geniuses in town, the fact that he could figure things out so quickly doesn't bode well to keeping their secret. Especially if Grant keeps running around like a kid in a candy store and making remarks about "the future."

"Hmm. Interesting." Stark's smug look fades a bit as he studies them with a considering expression. "I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're intelligent enough to realize the tenuous situation you're in."

"We're not idiots," Jack retorts, an automatic response to the familiar tone of insult.

However, the smile that crosses Stark's lips and the lowering of his voice is anything but familiar; "It's not always so clear with you, Jack."

"See you around, Jack."

Jack can feel the stares from Jo and Fargo.

"Ah... Dr. Stark," Fargo finally seems to have regained his footing. "We can't really talk about, um... 'the situation'." Jack rolls his eyes when Fargo adds finger-quotes.

Jo breaks in with a stubborn set of her jaw. "Why not? Stark figured it out and if we're stuck here for now, we can't keep screwing things up. Plus Stark can help Henry with getting us back."

"I can help!" Fargo protests.

Stark's expression blanks. "You're not the only ones," he says.

"Yeah," Jack sighs. He looks at Fargo and shrugs, "I'm with Jo on this. He already knows and he could help us out." Jo smirks at Fargo's nervous look.

"Dr. Blake's not going to be happy about this..."

Jack suddenly feels cold and he meets Jo's weary stare. It takes a few moments for him to gather up the courage to look over at Stark. The scientist merely arches an eyebrow in question.

"You didn't..." Jack starts but the words get stuck in his throat as he recalls the first couple months after Stark's disappearance and how Allison sometimes looked like she wouldn't be able to hold herself together.

"Weren't you married to Dr. Blake?" Fargo asks, eyes widening.

Stark looks amused for a moment. "Hardly. There were three dates - twelve years ago."

Fargo blanches. "O-oh..."

Jo exchanges a grim look with Jack. "We have to tell her. She'd find out on her own eventually."

"And it would be worse that way," Jack continues the thought. He grimaces, already imagining the possible reactions. "Is there any possible way that I can get out of being the one to tell her?"

Fargo offers, "Maybe we could tell Henry first..." He nibbles on his lip nervously.

Stark breaks into the conversation by clearing his throat. "Seems you have some things to sort out. Think you can make your plans elsewhere?"

"Of course, Dr. Stark!" Fargo replies. He glances between Jo and Jack. "Um, the bunker?"

"S.A.R.A.H.," Jack reminds them.

"Oh."

Stark's lips twitch as he says, "I'm sure your AI will be able to ascertain the situation whether or not you talk about it within her hearing."

Jack supposes the scientist is right, already his house seems suspicious of his mood. "Probably. But can we save this for the morning? Call Henry in on this before we decide anything else. Besides, it's been a long day."

"Fine," Jo replies with a shrug. "Come on Fargo."

Jack turns to join them but is stopped by a sudden pressure on his arm. Startled, he glances at Stark who has somehow covered the distance between them in the second it took to turn around.

"A minute, Jack."

The sheriff blinks dumbly at the hand on his arm. He looks toward the door and finds Jo looking back with a knowing expression. Jack turns his attention to Stark and is caught by the serious green-eyed stare (and again he sees a flicker of emotion, something that he's beginning to recognize).

"See you around, Jack."

Yeah. You but not you, Jack thinks as he nods his agreement to Stark's request.

---

Apparently Stark lives at the lab. The scientist leads Jack to the second floor where they pass through a simple den and into a medium-sized kitchen. Stark gestures to the small table and chairs before reaching into the 'fridge and retrieving two beers.

"Thanks," Jack says as he accepts the bottle. He's disconcerted when Stark's fingers brush against his in a not very subtle way. "Um."

Stark huffs out a small chuckle and Jack hides his flinch at the unhappy sound.

"I suppose it makes sense," Stark says quietly, sounding almost as if he's talking to himself. "Wherever you're from, Dr. Blake was married to my... counterpart."

Jack rolls the beer bottle between his hands as he forms a response. "Divorced... but about to be married again, actually."

"Hmm. In the midst of a wedding party, were you?" Stark asks with a mix of amusement and frustration.

"No." Jack looks up and stares at Stark until their eyes meet. He knows what to look for now and he can label the emotions Stark's no longer holding back - longing, regret, desire. "He vanished more than a year ago. But yeah, they were supposed to get married that day."

Stark snorts and Jack can somehow tell that the scientist is covering his surprise. "Sounds to me like a sign that marriage wasn't a good idea."

After a time, Jack murmurs, "Maybe." He takes a long swallow of beer before fidgeting with the bottle again. He thinks about Nathan Stark standing inside the chamber with the device that had caused the loop. He thinks about the smile he saw and feels certain now that it had been filled with regret. Regret for what? Jack wonders, finally allowing himself to think that question.

"Never involved then?" Stark asks, voice deceptively casual.

Jack glances up and shakes his head. "Um, no. Not exactly much time to think about that when we spent years competing for Allison's attention." He chuckles at the recollection. "Funny thing is, I keep thinking - now that he's gone - that we could've been pretty good friends."

Stark's quiet snort startles Jack. "Friends," the scientist repeats flatly.

Although he isn't sure he actually wants to know what has happened here between this Stark and this Carter, Jack asks, "What about Tess?"

Stark's lips tighten at the name. "Trying to prove something? Maybe chasing something you think is normal? I didn't know before and it doesn't look like I'm likely to ever know."

Jack mulls that over as he picks at the bottle's label. Now that he's opened the subject, he might as well continue. "But, um, you... you and me were...?"

"There's no 'you' and me," Stark says. "But him and me? Sure, we fucked." Jack flinches as the word comes out harshly, although it doesn't quite cover the hurt beneath. "Even when she started closing in we were... together." For a moment the bitterness falls away. Jack glances up and sees Stark staring distantly into empty air and there's a wistful expression. The moment passes quickly and Stark's hands fist on the table. "He pulled away, pretended to move on, and still the bastard came back. Again and again--"

Stark breaks off and stares at Jack. "I never expected you--him to be so heartless."

Jack can't look away but he doesn't know what to do. His mind is full of memories and also images that Stark's explanation conjures. His chest aches and for the moment he knows what it's like to hate himself.

It's Stark who breaks eye contact and he leans back in his chair, not quite slumping. Jack watches him, noticing the tension lines at the corners of Stark's eyes and the imperfect trim of his beard.

"See you around, Jack."

Without planning to, Jack says, "He never called me Jack before." He rubs a hand over his face and avoids Stark's curious gaze. "He said, 'See you around, Jack,' and just... smiled." He flicks a quick glance at Stark. "He looked like you."

Stark looks amused. "How astute of you."

"Not like that," Jack says. "Like..." Cautiously he locks gazes with Stark. Yes, what he saw then and what he sees now, in this Stark's eyes, is the same. Jack inhales shakily and feels like he's coming apart. "Oh... God..."

Stark seems to understand. "So."

So? So? Jack thinks with a rising sense of panic as the full impact of his conclusion hits. That's all you say? So what if he just disappeared, looking at me like that when it should have been Allison? So what if I just figured out now what the hell he didn't say? So what that I never had the chance to even think about it? So what if you feel the same?

"Warn me if you're going to have a breakdown in my kitchen," Stark says, tone dry but his eyes reflect genuine concern.

"Doubt I could afford it," Jack laughs shakily. "This really is the week from Hell."

Stark plucks the bottle from between Jack's hands and stands up. "Get some rest, Sheriff." He emphasizes the title a little and it's enough to remind Jack that he has a lot on his plate tomorrow plus the likelihood of another imminent disaster thanks to the local geniuses.

"Ah, thanks for the beer." Jack pushes himself to his feet. "Guess I should head home."

"Think you can find your way out?" Stark asks as he brings the bottles to the counter.

"Yeah. Sure." At least Jack thinks he can.

"Hm. If you need, ask JARVIS, the building's AI, for help."

Jack takes a second to place the name. "Uh... JARVIS? As in... Iron Man?"

Stark looks over his shoulder with a smirk. "The obnoxious playboy holds no appeal, but I admit the technology has always held my interest."

"That's so unlike..." Jack trails off and smiles. "Cool." The Nathan Stark he had known had no time for comics and disparaged almost every science fiction title mentioned within his hearing.

Jack says, "Night, Stark," and heads out the way they'd come.

He's reached the apartment's front door when Stark calls his name. Jack pauses in the doorway and glances back.

"You're welcome to come back," Stark offers. Expression neutral, he continues, "I'm here ninety-eight percent of the time and don't keep a regular schedule."

Jack feels a smile turning up his lips. "Workaholic?"

Stark snorts quietly. "Perhaps. More that I tolerate very few people's company."

The admission brings Jack up short. He realizes he has nothing to stay in response so he nods and steps into the hall.

"Goodnight, Jack."

Then, a few seconds later, as the door is closing, Stark says, "I'll see you around, Jack."

----- ----- -----

Completed: July 17, 2010

Comments greatly appreciated!

Comments

( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
going_not_gone
Jul. 18th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, my. Now there's an interesting twist! Well written, plausible in the context of 4.02, and well characterized. :) good work.
enmuse
Jul. 18th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
:3 Thank you! I appreciate that you took the time to comment! (I've had an interest of hermit-like!Nathan for a while now so it was fun to set that up in here.)
kaypgirl
Jul. 18th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Interesting, although who would Jenna's father be?
enmuse
Jul. 18th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
lol Exactly the question I realized when I was wrapping this up. (Also the question enigmaticblues asked.)

TBH, I just don't know yet! So far it doesn't seem like Allison's attached to anyone in this new world, which doesn't help me figure out how address this.... (IDK, sperm donor maybe??)
(no subject) - indigocat - Jul. 19th, 2010 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Jul. 19th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
cedara
Jul. 18th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
Oh. My. :)
enmuse
Jul. 18th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
Um, thanks? ;)

And your icon cracks me up.
(no subject) - cedara - Jul. 18th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Jul. 19th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC) - Expand
molleo
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
How can I fit into a comment the way this makes me feel? Just picture me doing a happy dance, okay? I love it! Please can we have more? You may already know how much I love reboot!Nathan stuff, but I'll just say it again. I love bringing Nathan back! I miss him! This is the 2nd excellent reboot plot idea so far for this series that I've read. I'd love to see more of this! Thanks so much for sharing!
enmuse
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Thanks so much, dear. All these comments are giving me warm fuzzy feelings, lol. I am intrigued with what else might come in this fic verse, so we'll see how cooperative the muses are. :)
fai_dust
Jul. 20th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
This is great! *giggles* Although I have a hard time seeing any form of Jack being an asshole like that, I guess you never know. I loved this.
enmuse
Jul. 20th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for commenting. =)

I needed to have a Jack that was a little different. I don't think that he was purposefully being a bastard, but I kind of imagine that he felt less secure and less confident than our Jack... probably with a truckload of other complications, lol.

I wanted to make sure there'd be a different dynamic on both sides before these two get together. ;)
(no subject) - fai_dust - Jul. 20th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Jul. 20th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fai_dust - Jul. 20th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Jul. 20th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fai_dust - Jul. 20th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Jul. 20th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fai_dust - Jul. 20th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Jul. 20th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fai_dust - Jul. 20th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Jul. 20th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
I'm _special_ - fai_dust - Aug. 11th, 2010 10:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm _special_ - enmuse - Aug. 11th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm _special_ - fai_dust - Aug. 12th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
byrons_brain
Jul. 20th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC)
This is lovely, please let there be a sequel....
enmuse
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
I'm working on a conversation bit that could well work in a sequel... we'll have to see what comes up. :) Right now trying to finish a class paper (ewww *scowl*) plus wrap up house-sitting and then returning to my apartment in MN with my mother visiting. lol Kinda busy week
psyko_kittie
Jul. 21st, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
Brilliant and intriguing. And I would love to see more of this!!
enmuse
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! Well, I've begun typing something for a continuation and finally I'm to the point of editing of my damned paper so I'm just about done with class, w00t! Will be down to the matter of vacation events, then. :D

Again, thanks for dropping a line, I appreciate it!
vipersweb
Jul. 22nd, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
Cool. Like that you brought Stark back. I had hoped we would see him on the show...

Also like that he's smart enough to realize something is wrong -- and guesses correctly.

I don't know if you did this on purpose, but did you mean JARVIS instead of Travis? I'm not that up on IM comics, but the only AI I know of is JARVIS in the House of M continuity.
enmuse
Jul. 22nd, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
OMG THANK YOU FOR THE CORRECTION! *facepalm* I totally only know the movies for IM. *facepalms again* And I haven't watched either film very recently and was a bad fan and forgot to lookup the name again. :3

Thanks for commenting and correcting that error. >_> I'll be fixing that now...

Edited at 2010-07-22 04:26 am (UTC)
jedibuttercup
Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Interesting tag. They really had better address the Nathan question (not to mention the Kim question) at some point in the next few episodes, other than Henry's casual aside about 99.9% of the world probably being the same.
madeleineurban
Aug. 30th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. I'd love to read more, if you're ever inclined.
enmuse
Aug. 30th, 2010 05:43 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) I do have a sequel started, but I constantly have numerous plotbunnies (of a variety of fandoms) nipping at my heels, lol. Writing comes in waves, but rest assured that I love this pairing and desire to write more. :D
(no subject) - madeleineurban - Aug. 31st, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
calmena
Aug. 30th, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
I love this! There is... Stark! Love it!
Okay, I'll stop repeating myself now. :)

Is there more to come...? *keeps fingers crossed*
enmuse
Aug. 30th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
Some day...? lol See my reply to the comment above ;)
(no subject) - calmena - Aug. 30th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enmuse - Aug. 30th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
kalijackson
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
just re-read this after you posted saying that you wanted continue this 'verse! all i can say is THANK GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!
im (sorta kinda REALLY) in love with Nathan!!!
enmuse
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
*g* Thanks! And I'm in love with Nathan, too. ♥ I'm nervous & excited to try picking this story up again. :3
lizardoo
Jun. 28th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
i don't have any actual relevant icons to express my joy so you can have a football player looking entirely victorious because this fic is awesome and i love the way you write everyone

i hope you find the inspiration to continue it! i'd be really happy to see this keep going.
enmuse
Jun. 28th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your comment! I have like three paragraphs for a continuation, heh. I would like to write more of this, I admit, so maybe something on my hc_bingo card will inspire me.
( 45 comments — Leave a comment )