Eureka fic: The Shadow Of A Love We Once Erased
A/N: Spoilers for all of the first season of Eureka, especially the finale. Massive thanks to apple_pi for looking this over at the last minute. Some day she'll get all the riches she deserves. shoshannagold also did a marvelous job on this and someday I'll repay her for all the times she's saved me. The title is a line from a Magic Numbers song, 'Goodnight'.
The Shadow Of A Love We Once Erased
And in the end, none of it happens the way Carter remembers it happening.
Kim's funeral is on a Thursday morning. After the service, Jack tries to fix things with Henry. He reminds Henry that he's not the only one who lost something, but Henry just looks at him and says, "We're not friends anymore, Carter."
"I did what I had to do, Henry. I did what was right." And he did. He did the right thing. Knowing that hasn't let him hate himself any less.
Henry shakes his head and walks into the church alone. Jack kicks the ground and swears. In the course of the past week, he's lost his wife, his unborn baby, and his best friend. At the rate he's going, he wouldn't be surprised if Zoe up and disappears.
The following weekend, after all the paperwork's been filled out (in triplicate) and Jack's instructed Jo that he's not to be disturbed for the entire weekend, Zoe flops on the couch next to him while he watches the Tigers blow the World Series. "You seem sad."
"I'm fine," Jack says automatically.
"Really? Because you're acting like you did when Mom said she wanted a divorce."
Jack leans his head back against the couch and closes his eyes. "Zoe, really, I'm fine. Why don't you go do your homework?"
"Because you could wind up becoming the valedictorian."
"Dad, stop trying to distract me from your deep emotional pain by making bad jokes. I'm not a little kid anymore."
Jack rolls his head to the side and cracks an eye open. Zoe's hair is blond with purple streaks this week. He still remembers her first haircut and how hard she cried as bits of her hair fell to the floor. A little voice in the back of his head reminds him that he could've had that again with Allison, but he pushes it aside. He's here, this is now, and that's got to be enough. Instead, he says, "No, you're not. You're a young lady now."
A look of shock passes over Zoe's face, like she can't believe Jack's actually agreeing with her, before she nods. "Exactly. So, what's bothering you?"
"It's just been a really long week. You'd be amazed at how much paperwork there is to fill out when someone dies and someone else leaves town without permission. I need a vacation." Which might not be a bad idea, actually. He straightens up and turns to Zoe. "Do you want to go fishing next weekend?"
Zoe crinkles her nose in disgust. "Ew, no."
"C'mon, it'll be fun. You and me versus nature. We can camp out, roast marshmallows, and tell ghost stories."
"Okay, fine," Zoe groans. "I'm only agreeing to this because you've had a pretty crappy week. Are we clear on the fact that this is a pity trip?"
"We can't go any further than thirty miles from civilization and I want Vincent to pack our meals."
"Zoe, that's not camping." Jack protests.
"Do we have a deal or not?" When all is said and done, Zoe inherited her stubbornness from her mother and her tendency to drive a hard bargain from Jack. Alone, they're not attractive traits, but together, they're enough to make her into a mini-dictator. At least, that's how Jack feels as he shakes her hand.
The fishing trip turns out to be the best thing for both of them. He knows school's harder than Zoe's used to, and Jack's a little worried about the fact that no one calls the house looking for Zoe like they did when they lived in LA.
Jack fishes, not very well, while Zoe reads and mocks his lack of fish. The first time he actually catches a fish, she screams in disgust. By Sunday afternoon, Jack's managed to get her to cast a line and reel in a fish. He suspects he might be able to make a fisherwoman out of her yet. On the drive back, Jack gets her to sing along to some Stones and for a second, everything feels perfect.
The following morning, Jack walks into his office and finds Allison waiting for him. She's sitting in one of his guest chairs, her head in her hands, and she looks up as Jack walks in.
There are bags under her eyes and her shoulders are slumped. Jack wants to run his hand down her back and stop in the small of it; he wants to rub the back of her neck until the tension flows away. Instead, he asks, "You okay?"
Allison stands up and rubs her temples. "Yeah, I'm fine. Kevin's been having a bad week, and, between him and Kim and Henry, I'm exhausted."
"You need anything?"
"I'm okay. Nathan's been a godsend lately and that's helped a lot. I can't tell you how many meltdowns we've avoided because of him." She smiles and the little tiny bit of hope that she might remember their marriage dissipates.
"That's good of Stark."
"Yeah, he really is a good guy. Listen, Carter, I wanted to tell you before I told anyone else. Nathan and I have decided to try again."
"Congratulations." His ex-wife always told him that he faked enthusiasm well and Jack hopes to god that he's doing another great job now. He'd hoped for a bit more time to work on Allison, to get her to go out with him, but Jack can see he's not going to be that lucky.
"Thanks." Allison smiles gratefully.
Jack sits down at his desk and moves some papers around. "Is that the only reason you came by? I've got a ton of paperwork to catch up on, and if there's nothing going on at Global, I'd like to push through some of this stuff."
He doesn't have to look up to know Allison's hurt; he can hear it in her voice. "No, everything's good at Global right now. I guess I'll talk to you later."
"Have a good one." He doesn't move until she's left the building and then he drops his head on the desk. Jack contemplates slamming his hand in a drawer just to distract himself from Allison's news but in the long run it doesn't seem likely to save him any pain and doing paperwork with a broken hand would probably be a pain in the ass.
He wants to get up and chase after her, use some of the information he remembers from their life together to convince her to give them a chance, but he doesn't. It's not fair to Allison or for that matter, Kevin, for Jack to act on only his feelings. There are too many people involved now, too many hearts to be broken, and Jack already did his share of disappointing people in the life he left in LA. He's not about to start again.
For a few days after Allison's announcement, Jack tries to stay in bed. He wants to stare at the ceiling and think about everything he's lost, give room to the grief he's been pushing back for weeks. S.A.R.A.H. and Zoe won't let him, however, and they take turns nagging him each morning till he gets out of bed. Eventually, Jack gives up on the moping in bed idea and decides to mope at the office instead.
He hadn't taken Jo into consideration when he made that plan, however. Specifically, Jo and her refusal to let Jack sit in a dark office and ignore his phone. She claims that it's poor form for a sheriff to not do his job and she's probably right.
Things continue on the way they did before everything went to hell. He and Jo are called out to Global at least once a week, and they start trying to predict the calls before they come in. Jack wins it all a year after Kim's death when he predicts dinosaurs, sharks with lasers on top of their heads, and Stark turning into a bear all in one day. Jack's not a petty man, not usually, but he's got to dig pretty deep to find the energy to say, "Fargo, make Stark human again."
Somehow, Jack convinces Zoe to make their fishing trips a monthly thing and, for her sixteenth birthday, Jack surprises her with her own fishing rod.
The next time they're camping, standing in the shallows of the stream, Zoe looks over at him and says, very gently, "Did something happen between you and Allison?"
"What?" Since the first few days after Allison made her decision, Jack's tried to keep his breakdowns to a minimum, or at least have them when no one else is around. "No. Why would you ask that?"
"You guys aren't hanging out as much as you used to before Kim's death. I thought that might be why you were so weird a few months ago when she and Stark got back together."
Jack wades over to Zoe, the water splashing against his hip-waders, and throws an arm around her. "Nothing happened between us. I just realized that she and Kevin were better with Stark in their lives and I decided to step back. Thanks for asking, though, kiddo."
The truth is, Jack's been having a hard time lately remembering things about Allison. He remembers the day they got married and how she looked right before he left her, but Jack can't remember what her pajamas looked like or how she liked her coffee.
Maybe time does heal all wounds, or maybe Jack's forgetting the alternate timeline the way everyone else did. The only person who could answer that question is Henry, and no one can find Henry these days, not even Jack's old buddies in the Marshal's office.
In fact, Henry doesn't come back to Eureka again until Zoe's graduation. Jack's sitting next to his ex-wife, waiting for the processional to begin, when Henry slips into the chair besides him. Jack glances over at him and looks back to the front before he says, "Nice of you to make it."
Henry smiles and a weight that Jack's been carrying for three years lifts. Henry flips through the program for a few minutes before he leans over and whispers, "No valedictorian?"
Jack shakes his head. "No valedictorian, thank god. She did, however, become class president and earned a full ride to University of Washington."
"What's she majoring in?"
"Fine arts and physics. She says she wants to make science beautiful." Jack shrugs. After eighteen years, he's still no closer to understanding the inner workings of Zoe's brain. He does know she's smart, and that she turned down offers from a few East Coast schools to stay on the West Coast. He also knows she's a lot happier here than she could have ever been elsewhere and he's glad he gave her this life. They've got their last camping trip planned for next month and Jack plans to give Zoe her graduation present then: a tackle box filled with everything she'll need if she ever decides to go fishing without him.
"Good for her."
The music starts then and they don't speak for the rest of the ceremony. Afterward, while Zoe makes plans with her friends for things that Jack, as both the sheriff and her father, doesn't want to know about, Henry pulls him aside. "Where's Alison?"
"Probably at home with Stark and Kevin, getting ready for the graduation party later."
"You and her?"
"Never happened." Jack smiles. "Turns out we only work in the timeline where Kim's still alive. How are you doing?"
"Better. I did some traveling, stared at some walls, and contemplated my navel for a bit. I'm sorry, Jack. I'm sorry for a lot of things I did and said but mostly, I'm sorry about you and Allison not working out. I know how happy you two were."
"It's okay, Henry. It was best for Allison and Kevin to be with Stark. Besides, a lot of my memories have faded now. I really only remember most of it because I wrote it all down one night after a few too many beers." And it really is okay. Maybe this isn't the life that Jack would have chosen to lead but it's still a pretty good one. "Although, I've done a lot of thinking about free will versus pre-determined fate that I probably wouldn't have otherwise."
Henry stares at him in surprise. "Jack Carter, contemplating the nature of destiny? Will wonders never cease?"
"Hey, I had questions and you weren't around to answer them, so I had to do some research." Jack laughs. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see his ex signaling that they need to get back to the house and finish setting up for the party. "S.A.R.A.H.'s throwing a party for Zoe. It would be great if you could come. We can talk about this some more, and I know a lot of people who'd like to see you."
Henry claps his hand on Jack's shoulder. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Summary: (Eureka) And in the end, none of it happens the way Carter remembers it happening.
14 Valentines: Hunger