See You Around
By Andie O'Neill
Summary: They all thought he was gone, but when Nathan Stark appears in Eureka with no memory of who he is, it's Jack Carter that must learn the truth… and face the demons he never thought he had. Jack/Nathan Slash! SPOILERS FOR "I Do, Over."
A/N: I'm sure a lot of people are upset with the sudden end of Stark, but I have a feeling the writers have something up their sleeve and that Nathan will return. This is just one possibility of how it happens.
Disclaimer: I don't own Eureka, and that's probably a good thing….
"I'll see you around, Jack."
Jack couldn't help but stare as the countdown continued. He didn't understand. He knew something bad was about to happen. Stark knew it too if the sad look in his eyes meant anything at all. He couldn't look away no matter how hard he wanted to. He could only stare into Nathan's eyes, see the tears Stark refused to let fall and suddenly it hit him like a ton of bricks. His heart wouldn't stop pounding… it raged like a wild animal forced to be caged. He felt cold, as if the world was both ending and beginning at the same time and he was powerless to stop it. And suddenly it was over, and his body went numb. He watched as Doctor Nathan Stark disappeared, taking a piece of Jack's soul with him.
Two Months Later
He couldn't sleep. He never could. The nightmares were the worst, and although it helped to have his sister and his daughter to lean on for support, he could never really make them understand. Jack Carter hated Nathan Stark… so why did it hurt so much? It was late, that much he knew. The lights were off in his room as he lay in bed, rolling the beautiful diamond Nathan had gotten for Allison. He'd never given it to her; despite Stark's wishes… he hadn't been able to let it go. Maybe it was selfish. After all, Nathan had loved Allison. They were going to get married… but as he'd told Allison what had happened he realized as his hand reached into his pocket for the necklace that he couldn't give up the object that connected him the most to Nathan. And so, each night he would take it from his drawer, pulling the diamond off its chain and just stare… not quite sure why it meant so much to him.
When he closed his eyes he could still see Nathan's smile just before he faded away. It haunted him. How could a man he'd spent years despising affect him this way? 'Because you never hated him, Jack. You never hated him.' Jack tightened his grip on the diamond, a silent tear falling down his face as it sometimes did in the night. He never cried… not until now. But he couldn't stop thinking about Nathan's last words… the look in his eyes. He'd known something, and Jack couldn't understand why as everyone else mourned Nathan Stark's death, he didn't.
"I'll see you around, Jack."
Jack closed his eyes tight, trying to stop the words from repeating in his mind despite how hopeless it was. Those words were like a rope, and Jack couldn't untie its knots. He couldn't mourn Nathan's death because… somehow… he believed them. He hoped in them. When he felt the sob rip out of him there were no defenses. Tears flowed from his eyes, his hand holding the diamond that much harder.
He could hear his daughter's voice, but he couldn't get control. The tears were rolling down his face, as if the flood gates had finally been opened and there was no stopping them. Zoe pulled him into her arms, rocking him gently as he cried.
"Dad… it's okay. I'm so sorry. I didn't know, Dad. I… didn't know," she whispered to him, kissing the top of his head as his arms wrapped around her. In the morning he would pretend that everything was okay, but as for that night… he would cry for the man who'd never said goodbye.
He couldn't feel, see, touch, nor taste… yet somehow he could. He couldn't even speak, though there was nothing he could say even if he could. He was everything, and he was nothing, and as he felt the energy surround him, move through him he realized what was happening was beyond understanding. He saw the future. He saw the past. He saw time. Everything was at his finger tips, yet not.
"The question is… will you be ready?"
He could hear the words so clear in his mind, a question he finally knew the answer to.
Jack sat at his kitchen table, quietly drinking his coffee while his daughter tried not to stare. It'd been a rough night, but somehow he'd never felt better. It was like shedding dead skin… he couldn't be someone new unless he peeled off the past. His heart ached in a way he'd never expected, but somehow he knew he was finally ready to admit the truth… because he'd never hated Nathan Stark.
"Good morning," a voice said from behind him as his younger sister walked into the room, giving him and Zoe a kiss on the cheek.
"Morning," said Zoe, her voice so filled with sadness, that Jack almost winced.
Jack looked over at his sister, seeing the worry in her eyes and smiled. "Morning stretch," he whispered before getting up from the table, grabbing his things and walking toward the door.
The first moments of consciousness were the hardest to understand. One minute there was nothingness… the next there was. All his senses were activated at once at he felt as if his mind would overload from the shock. He could move, breathe, see, smell, taste, and talk… all at once. The scream of agony that ripped through his lungs was loud, and his ears rang. He could feel the blood running through his veins. He could feel his heart beating faster and faster. He couldn't comprehend as he felt the grass brush against his skin. It was too much. It was all too much, and he didn't know how to make it stop.
Carter knew he was supposed to be at work an hour ago. Jo hadn't tried to call him though… she never did… not since Nathan disappeared. It was as if they all knew what he'd only just accepted, which seemed so impossible considering the fact that most in Eureka had expected him to be in love with Allison. Jack had thought so too. After telling her what happened he still remembered holding her in his arms as she cried, telling her it would be okay and that he was there for her… he always would be. He loved her with every bone in his body… but he ached with his very soul for Nathan. It didn't make any sense, but then again… life in Eureka never did.
He was forced from his thoughts with a resounding scream, and his feet had immediately hit the breaks. He hadn't even realized where he'd driven to. It was the middle of nowhere on some back road of Eureka and he knew he'd been there before… but he couldn't think of when. Suddenly the feeling was back, a numbness he hadn't felt since watching Nathan slip away and he could feel his hands shaking as he opened the car door to search for the originator of the deafening scream. The words left him before he could hold them back. "Nathan?!"
Jack ran… ran like he never had before and he couldn't make his legs stop even if he wanted them to. And suddenly he was in a clearing as he could see the very person that had haunted his dreams for the past two months. "Nathan!" he shouted again, running even faster toward the body lying in the grass, thrashing on the ground as if he were possessed. It took him a few minutes to realize Nathan Stark was actually there, completely naked. "Oh my god! This isn't possible!" he whispered in shock as he pulled the man into his arms without thinking.
Nathan gripped him fiercely, his eyes wide in shock, as he gasped for breath. "W... wh… who-" he tried to speak.
"Who… a… am… I?" he finally forced out,
Carter froze in surprise, holding him even tighter. "It's okay Nathan… I'm here. It's going to be okay."
Nathan said nothing more. He simply stared up at Jack as if nothing else existed, his familiar green eyes, so intense Carter couldn't look away. It wasn't possible… couldn't be, but he was there… in the flesh… alive. Nathan Stark was alive, and Jack couldn't let him go.
It had taken all the energy Jack had left to call for Jo and tell her what had happened. He hadn't left Nathan's side, and it didn't seem like he would be allowed to even if he wanted to. Stark hadn't let him go since the moment he'd found him. The others had wanted to move him, take him back to GD and figure things out, but Nathan wouldn't go. He was scared out of his mind, and wasn't letting anyone near him but Jack. Carter wrapped the blanket Henry had brought for Nathan hours ago just a bit tighter around the large man, covering up his nakedness as others did their scans of the area, trying to solve the mystery no one could comprehend.
Allison Blake stood at a distance, simply staring at them both with such an intense gaze it almost rivaled the one Nathan was giving him. Carter looked up to meet her stare and smiled weakly, nodding just a bit as he silently asked her to come. Allison hesitated for a second before walking slowly toward them both, still a little upset. When she'd first arrived Nathan had been absolutely terrified, and had moved away from her touch, burrowing into Jack that much more. "How is he?" Allison asked, staring at Nathan.
Nathan's eyes were closed, but Jack knew he wasn't sleeping. "He's calmed down, so that's always good."
"Has he said anything? Anything at all?"
Jack shook his head. "The only thing he did was ask who he was. I've tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't say anything more. I think he's still a little out of it."
"He doesn't remember a thing?" she asked.
Carter shrugged. "I really don't know. He obviously knows how to talk, so the memories are there…. He can move, though I'm not sure if he can walk. It's like he's an infant."
Allison nodded, smiling sadly. "I never thought I'd see the day…" she whispered.
Jack looked up at her curiously. "What?"
"The day that Nathan Stark would be clinging to you like you were as precious as gold," she told him.
Carter chuckled, rubbing his back as he continued to soothe the man he wasn't supposed to care about. "I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be clinging back," he muttered sadly. "He's alive, Ally," he whispered.
"Yeah." It was all she could seem to say as the tears began to fall and she moved to sit down beside him. She didn't move to touch him. She just sat there with them both, watching over Nathan just as Jack was. He supposed it made sense. In they'd both cared about Stark, even if Carter had only realized it after he'd been gone. "The question is… how." Carter shook his head as Nathan's last words rung through his mind for the hundredth time.
"I'll see you around, Jack."
"I don't know, but somehow… I think Nathan knew all along. Don't ask me how… but I think he knew. He knew it wasn't the end." Jack looked up at Allison, not quite sure how to explain Stark's last words and the look in his eyes. "I was the last one to see him…. He was looking right at me and… he was smiling. There were tears in his eyes, but he was smiling. He looked right at me, and I looked back at him and… I don't know. I watched him disappear… he was there, and then he was just… gone." He knew he probably wasn't making much sense, but he didn't think he could do any better. Nothing else mattered but the man he was hold in his arms.
"I'll see you around, Jack," Stark whispered, and Carter froze immediately.
"Nathan?" questioned Allison, hope in her eyes.
"See you… around," Stark spoke, his eyes opening slowly. "Jack."
Allison looked over at Carter, confused by Stark's words.
"It's the last thing he said to me before he disappeared. Could he be remembering… something?" Jack asked her, looking down at Nathan, their eyes locked.
"I don't know… possibly," was Allison's answer. "Nathan? Do you know who I am?" she asked.
Nathan shook his head, moving closer to Carter.
"Do you know who he is?" she then asked, pointing to the Sheriff.
"J… Ja… Jack," Nathan stumbled on the words, looking extremely confused.
Carter smiled, looking up at Allison, before his gaze went back to Nathan. "That's right… that's right Stark, I'm Jack."
"Who am I?" Nathan asked. Carter couldn't help but wonder how he could remember Jack's name, but not his own.
"Your name is Nathan Stark," Jack answered quietly.
"Nathan Stark," he repeated, as if trying to understand the words.
"That's right Nathan, that's your name," added Allison, her voice filled with affection.
"N… name," Stark spoke. "Who am I?"
Jack frowned, realizing the man before him didn't understand. "Your Nathan… and your home."
"Home," Stark repeated his voice a little more even. "Jack… Nathan's home?"
Carter laughed, unable to process it all. It was just too much. "That's right, Nathan… your home. You're finally home."
Nathan continued to stare at him, as if trying to comprehend, a look he was sure Stark had seen on Jack more than once while trying to understand some crazy calculation or technical term. He knew it wouldn't be easy. Stark was starting from scratch, but he wouldn't be alone. Carter promised himself silently to do everything in his power to help Nathan be the man he'd once been… the man Jack Carter didn't hate. The man Jack Carter loved.
To Be Continued