Secret Past

By Andie O'Neill

Rating: T

Genre: Romance/Angst

Parings: Nathan/Jack, Jack/OC

Summary: When a stranger arrives at Eureka looking for Sheriff Jack Carter, secrets about Jack will be revealed and nothing will ever be the same. Jack/Nathan Slash!

A/N: I've never actually written slash before so take it easy on me! :D Please review! I'd love to read your thoughts and comments!

Part One

It'd been a long time since he'd been in such a small town. Los Angeles wasn't known for its small towns, and he'd lived in California all his life. Still, there was something pleasant about the town he now found himself in, even if it did seem slightly off. It certainly wasn't old fashioned, he noticed as he watched kids walk down the street with ipods and other devices he didn't even want to know about. He'd decided to park his car and take a little walk down the brightly colored streets, curious about the town Jack Carter had been living in for the past couple of years. Somehow he'd never expected it to seem so… small. Jack enjoyed a challenge, and a small town in the middle of nowhere didn't seem like it would ever be enough. Still, he'd been wrong before, so he would wait before passing judgment. The town certainly seemed unique… and that had always been Jack.

He slowly opened the door to the Sheriff's office, and walked inside, noticing immediately two desks. One was empty, and the other sat across the room. A woman was sitting down typing on her computer, obviously engrossed in her work. There was a small jail cell nearby her desk with a bed, bathroom, and sink. He couldn't help but wonder if it was ever even used. "Can I help you?" the woman asked her expression guarded and gruff. He liked her already.

"Uh yeah… hi. I was told this is Sheriff Jack Carter's office," he explained, taking a few more steps into the room, looking around a little more, a bit curious about Carter's new working space.

"That's right. He's kinda busy right now… probably won't be back for a while."

He should have known. Jack never could stand still to save his life. "Right… um, I'm Benjamin Mitchell by the way. I used to work with Jack back in LA," he explained with his most charming smile.

The woman didn't seem fooled for a second, somehow Ben liked that. "Deputy Jo Lupo. A Marshall eh? Interesting…." She was looking him over, obviously curious though she hid it well.

"Well I was... but that was another life," he told her. He had no doubts that Deputy Lupo was good at her job. He wondered how she'd gotten stuck in such a small town.

"Welcome to Eureka," Lupo said, getting up and walking around her desk, folding her arms.

Suddenly the door opened once more, making Ben look back, hoping it was Jack. Instead he watched a young blonde that he hadn't seen or heard from in years come bursting into the office like she owned the place. Some things never changed. "Hey Jo, I have serious issues! I've got this huge test on quantum physics and…" she trailed off the moment she saw him, her frown suddenly turning into an excited smile as she dropped her back pack and launched into his arms, forcing the air from his lungs. "Oh my god! Uncle Ben!" she shouted in his ear.

Ben laughed, hugging her back, surprised at how much she'd grown. "Zoe Carter! As I live and breathe! You've grown up, kid! Abby told me you'd changed quite a bit, but this I was not expecting!"

Zoe let him go, the smile never leaving her features. "Well, what can I say? I can't believe you're here! How did you get here?! What are you doing here?! When did you talk to mom?"

Ben chuckled at all her questions. "Uh, way too many questions! Actually I called Abby a couple months back to see how you guys were doing. I gotta say I was pretty surprised to hear the best US Marshall in LA had relocated to a town in the middle of nowhere. Never thought I'd see the day!"

Zoe shrugged. "Well, Eureka's pretty special. You'd be surprised."

Ben had a feeling the young teenager was right. "So… I hear you'll be turning seventeen soon! Last time I saw you, you were what? Fourteen? You've grown up on me, Zoe!"

Zoe laughed, blushing just a bit. "Well, it has been a while. Does Dad know you're here yet?" she asked, folding her arms.

Ben cleared his throat, looking over at Deputy Lupo who was simply watching them interact, obviously more curious now than ever. "I was hoping to give him a visit, but Deputy Lupo over here says he's busy at the moment. So tell me… seeing anyone?" he asked with a raised eyebrow, folding his arms.

Zoe rolled her eyes. "Oh please! If you talked to mom, you already know the answer to that question!"

"Lucas… Abby says Jack calls him hair boy. Tell me that's just an expression!"

Zoe grinned. "You know Dad!"

Ben laughed. "Unfortunately yes… I do. So when do I get to meet him?" was his next question. He'd been itching to ask the moment he saw her, having known about the new boyfriend from conversing with Abby months ago.

"Never!" was Zoe's retort as she shoved him playfully.

Ben chuckled.

"I was actually just about to head over to this shop nearby… Café Diem. I work there. Why don't you come with and I'll introduce you to a few people?" Zoe offered.

Ben was about to answer, when Lupo spoke first. "Um Zoe…" she trailed off, making an uncomfortable look as she glanced at Ben.

Zoe shook her head. "It's cool Jo. Just let Dad know… you can tell him where to meet us!"

"I don't know Zoe… maybe I should just wait for Jack. You know we have a few things to discuss…" he said sadly. He wanted more than anything to catch up with his adopted niece, but knew his issues with Jack would have to be worked out first.

Zoe frowned, understanding. "Yeah… you're probably right. We'll catch up later. I better go. Uh Jo, take good care of this guy… he's family," she told the older woman, with a sad smile before hugging Ben goodbye.

Ben smiled, kissing the top of her head. "I'll see you later, Zo."

"Later Uncle Ben!" she said before grabbing her bag and walking out of the office with a wave to them both.

Ben waved back, sighing as she looked back at Deputy Lupo.

"Stark! The guy is running an unsanctioned experiment without a permit! In fact, the guy wasn't even given permission from GD to start it to begin with! How am I supposed to do my job when you won't even let me do anything when they break the law?!" he shouted, following the scientist out of the elevator.

"Carter, I realize this is a hard concept for you to comprehend, but for the last time, you are not to arrest him under any circumstances. Thorne believes his experiment has promise, and frankly so do I. Now, if you're finished I do have a meeting with Ms. Thorne in a few minutes-"

"Stark-" Jack cut in.

"Carter," interrupts Jo on the radio. "Over."

Nathan watched, slightly curious as to whether there may actually be a problem he should be aware of and waits patiently as Carter sighs. "Yeah Jo? What's up? Over."

"Uh, there's a Benjamin Mitchell here to see you. When you're finished, you might want to come down to the station… over."

Nathan watched the complete look of shock on the town Sheriff's features. Obviously the name has some meaning to Carter, though Stark can't imagine how. Perhaps an old friend or relative? Still, Carter does not look happy, and Nathan has a feeling there's a history there, and a bad one at that. The Sheriff looks over at Stark and sighs. "Alright, I'll be right there, Jo. Over," he says quickly. "This isn't over," he then tells Nathan, pointing a finger his way for emphasis.

Stark rolled his eyes, turning and walking away. "It never is, Carter," he tells him calmly, knowing the words will only frustrate the Sheriff further. Somehow he can't help but smile, if only for a second before going up the stairs that will lead to Thorne's office.

Jo watched as Benjamin Mitchell shifts uncomfortably in Sheriff Carter's chair, playing with a pencil he'd found off Carter's desk to waste time until he arrived. "So… Deputy Lupo. Must be interesting working with Jack everyday. He's quite a character, isn't he?"

Jo isn't really interesting in idle conversation, but her curiosity about the strange man from Carter's past get's the better of her. She's itching to talk to Zoe and find out more about the man. "How long have you known him?"

Mitchell smiled, putting down the pencil. "Feels like forever… way before Zoe or even Abby for that matter."

Jo leaned back against her desk as she stared at the man before her. His skin was evenly tanned, with raven black hair and the bluest eyes Jo had ever seen. He was attractive, that was for sure. He was a medium build in his dark jeans and gray polo shirt. He was wearing some rather worn out looking black boots that only seemed to highlight his appeal, and Jo couldn't help but wonder who he was. "Carter's never mentioned you," she told him, waiting for some kind of reaction that would give her a clue about his relationship with her Sheriff and his daughter.

Mitchell just laughed. "He wouldn't," was the only answer he gave, though the regret in his eyes told Jo enough.

She'd heard the tightness in Carter's voice the moment she'd told him about Benjamin Mitchell, and had immediately realized he wasn't just some old friend coming for a visit. The bitterness in Mitchell's voice told her there would be awkwardness the moment Carter walked in and she suddenly wasn't sure what'd she'd do when he returned from GD. She was about to say more when she heard the door slam shut and watched Carter walk into his office, his features almost cold compared to the usual pep she'd gotten used to seeing from him. "What the hell are you doing here?!" Carter demanded, and Jo immediately tensed.

Mitchell didn't seem phased, as he turned in the chair. "Nice to see you too, Jack."

"What did you expect, Ben?! What?! Did you really think after all these years that I'd just forget what happened?!" the Sheriff shouted.

Jo was frozen in place, not quite used to seeing Carter so upset. Mitchell stood from the seat at Carter's desk. "I'm not here to start World War Three with you, Jack. We were friends once… a long time ago, and despite everything you and Zoe are still important to me."

Carter looked away for a second, his arms folded as he took in a calming breath and tried to gain back some control. "Last time Abby came to town… she said you'd quit."

Mitchell smiled leaning against Carter's desk. "Yeah well, it wasn't like I was given much choice. I was tracking a bad one down near San Diego… the whole thing went to hell. I wasn't fit for active duty so they offered me a desk job… somehow it just didn't appeal to me," he explained.

Jo had noticed a slight limp in Mitchell's step the moment he'd walked in, but she'd never quite expected it to be because of his former work as a Marshall.

"I saw Zoe earlier. Abby told me she'd grown up quite a bit, but I don't think I actually believed her."

Carter sighed, shaking his head. "Well, it's been awhile."

Mitchell nodded, his eyes never leaving Carter's. "Maybe I shouldn't have come."

The Sheriff's head dropped for a second, and Jo knew then and there that he regretted his earlier outburst. "No Ben… it's… good to see you. When Abby'd told me you'd gotten hurt… I was worried. I'm glad you're back on your feet. How long were you planning to stay?"

"A week at most. Abby told me all about this place, but I gotta say it's pretty insane. Not exactly a place I ever expected you to end up."

Carter chuckled at that, though he didn't seem all that amused. Obviously, he was trying to be civil with his 'old friend.' "Yeah well, it keeps me busy believe it or not. Got a place to stay?"

Jo could see the worst was over and stood up. "I could take him by the inn," she offered.

"No… no, Jo. He can stay with me and Zoe," Carter told her, looking back at Mitchell. "Come on, get your stuff and I'll show you around."

Mitchell nodded a faint smile on his lips. Somehow Jo had a feeling things in Eureka had just gotten interesting.

"Okay, seriously, what is up with those two?" Jo asked Zoe as she poured more coffee in her cup.

Zoe rolled her eyes. "It's a very long and complicated tale… frankly, to tell you the truth I have no idea! Ben was Dad's like best friend for as long as I've been alive. I mean, they've had their issues over the years but they usually were worked out. Then one day they got in this really bad fight and Ben requested a transfer. That's all I know."

"What are we talking about?" asked Vince, who'd never had the self-control to resist Eureka gossip.

"Benjamin Mitchell. Apparently he was an old friend of Carter's. They had a bit of a fight back at the station… right in front of me. It didn't last long, but I doubt it's over. Something is obviously up with them. He said Mitchell did something… something Carter couldn't forget."

Zoe shrugged. "He and Dad tracked a lot of bad dudes together, maybe the fallout was work related?" she offered.

Vince raised an eyebrow, obviously interested. "A mystery… interesting!"

"I don't know, Zoe… that guy seemed pretty close to your Mom. He mentioned they'd been keeping in touch. Love triangle perhaps?" she asked. "Wouldn't be the first time Carter's had one of those," she added with a knowing smile.

Zoe smiled, shaking her head. "My Mom's always been close to Uncle Ben, even before I was born. He was my Dad's best man! Believe me, there's no love triangle there."

"How can you be so sure, Zo?" questioned Vincent, folding his arms. Jo smiled, mimicking Vince's look.

Zoe rolled her eyes. "Well, for one thing… Ben's gay."

Jo frowned at that, a little surprised by the new piece of information. Oh yes, a definite mystery! Jo wasn't sure how yet, but she was going to figure this one out… one way or another….

To Be Continued

A/N: Well? What did you think? If your upset by the extreme lack of Nathan/Jack in this chapter, don't worry... it's coming big time! This was just the set-up! :D