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Part 2

                Allison comes into his lab a half hour after he arrives. Nathan casts her an annoyed glare and goes back to staring at the computer readouts as he inputs data. The task is simple but requires meticulous accuracy that keeps his mind focused on something productive.

                For about ten minutes he’s allowed silence, longer than he expected. But Allison won’t wait forever and she jumps in without preamble, “Dr. Teng reported David’s accident last night. Since I didn’t get any panicked calls, I take it the only damage is the project’s setback and perhaps a ruined suit?” She sounds amused with the last.

                Nathan grinds his teeth and refuses to answer. He jabs the keypad harder than necessary.

                With a quiet sigh, Allison steps closer and lowers her voice. “So you were affected. Where did you go, Nathan?”

                “None of your business,” he snaps, staring determinedly at the screen.

                Allison inhales sharply and he realizes she knows him far too well if she can guess what he refuses to speak aloud. “Oh my god,” she breathes. “How long…? Nathan, are you all right?”

                Straightening up, Nathan turns to stare down at her. She meets his irritated gaze with a startled expression.

                “What the hell do you think happened?”

                “Dr. Teng reported others’ reactions to the injected subject to be sexually violent—”

                “And when experiments go wrong, do they work according to expectations?”

                Allison frowns and he can tell she’s waiting for him to explain. He refuses to elaborate.

                “She modified the serum since the last recorded results?” Allison asks. Her lips press together in a sign of annoyance when he doesn’t respond. “You’re fine? Okay. What should I expect when the sheriff comes in?”

                Nathan flinches at that, realizing he’ll have to face Carter far earlier than he expected.

                Allison’s expression becomes shuttered. “What happened, Nathan?”

                “It’s not your business,” he snaps and starts to turn away. Allison stops him with a tight grip around his elbow. He stares pointedly at her hand.

                “I’m not letting this slide, Nathan.” Allison’s grip loosens and she steps away. “You don’t have to screw this up,” she says quietly.

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                Jack taps his fingers on his chair in front of Allison’s desk as she finishes a conference call. He wishes she didn’t know anything about Stark showing up at the bunker, but he knows he’s not that lucky. Secrets are particularly complicated in Eureka, and the best way to keep them is share other secrets to throw the curious off-track. Jack isn’t sure yet what he can say that will keep Allison from asking too much.

                His ass aches as he shifts restlessly in the chair. He grimaces at the physical reminder of last night’s activities.

                Allison clears her throat. Jack feels heat rising to his cheeks when he meets her knowing gaze. He swallows convulsively but holds his tongue, letting her make the first move.

                “I believe you’re aware that Nathan was exposed last night to an experimental serum.” Jack manages to hide his wince this time as he straightens up. He can’t quite look her in the eye.

                “Well if you know already,” Jack says, proud that his voice is steady, “I have something he, uh, forgot.” He digs the watch out of his pocket and deposits it on the desk. Instead of watching Allison, he focuses his attention on the watch.

                For a few moments she doesn’t say anything, though she brings the timepiece closer. He can feel her stare assessing him and he suddenly worries about any tell-tale bruising. He hadn’t looked closely in the mirror this morning, but certain activities from the night have likely left a mark. He knows Stark will be sporting a few bruises, too.

                Allison gently breaks in with the reassurance, “Nothing shows.” This doesn’t make him feel any better. When he glances up to meet her gaze, he knows that he hasn’t hidden his emotions well. She clears her throat again and glances down at a screen filled with charts. “I have information about the incident,” she offers.

                “No,” Jack responds without thinking. He meets her surprised look with one of his own.

                “Carter?”

                Jack looks away and clenches his fingers to keep from fidgeting.

                “I don’t want to know,” he eventually answers.

                Allison doesn’t say anything for a long time. When she does, her tone is professional. “Are there any injuries that need to be treated?” Jack clenches his teeth and jerks his head in the negative. “Do you wish to file any grievances?”

                “No.” He frowns and casts her a suspicious look. “Are you expecting me to press charges or something?”

                Her stoic expression gives nothing away. “If you feel it’s necessary.”

                Jack lurches to his feet and braces himself on the desk. “Damn it, Allison, what do you think happened?”

                A very brief glimpse of amusement turns up the corners of her lips. “Why don’t you tell me?”

                With a sinking feeling, Jack lowers himself onto his chair again and covers his face with his hands. “Nathan said something. What did he tell you?” Without giving her a chance to answer, he presses, “Is he… ‘filing grievances’?” Determinedly he fights the wave of nausea that idea provokes.

                Allison’s hesitation makes him nervous but he doesn’t look up, afraid of what he might find.

                “No, he’s not.” Her tone has moved away from the cool professional. He’s unsure whether the note of concern is for him or Stark. “We’ve established there are no physical…injuries to address. But I’m considering sending you to see our new psychologist.”

                Jack rolls his eyes even though she won’t be able to see the action.  “No.”

                “Jack,” she sighs. “I’d be sending Nathan, too. Separate sessions but… You might find it helpful.”

                With a frustrated groan, Jack drops his hands into his lap and meets Allison’s troubled gaze. He shrugs helplessly. “Talking just… Look, I’m already reliving— It’s just a bad idea.” He slumps in the chair with a grimace.

                “It’s a bad idea leaving either of you to brood over this on your own. Come on, Carter. You know better than to think this will just disappear.” Her own frustration pushes aside the previous concern.

                Jack shakes his head. “God, Allison. It’s barely the day after. Can you back off?” He peers at her hopefully. At her frown, he tries, “For now at least?”

                For a moment it looks like she’ll press the point, but in the end she sighs and relents. “For now. We will talk about this later.” She gives him an assessing glance as he gets up. Jack waits tensely for her to make some sort of judgment.

                “Can I go?”

                “Yes. Thanks for coming in, Sheriff.”

                Jack politely keeps from snorting. Not like he had much choice in the matter. He doesn’t bother to say goodbye.

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