She Said No
By Andie O'Neill
Genre: Romance/Alternate Universe
Summary: Allison turns down Stark's proposal after overhearing a conversation about Carter and Nathan.
A/N: This is just a small story I've had in my mind for awhile now. Hope ya like it! :D
Disclaimer: I don't own it, Eureka and all the characters belongs to sci-fi.
Allison Blake was used to pressure. She thrived under pressure. She was a mother… it was part of the job. Working as head of Global Dynamics had refined this gift, of course, but she'd always had it. Still, even she had her limits. It'd been almost a week since Nathan Stark had proposed and he wasn't making it any easier on her. She was still no closer to figuring out what she wanted than she'd been when she'd asked him if she could think about it. Then there was all the paperwork… piles and piles of it after their latest incident. Henry had been arrested, something which had affected almost everyone in the town as he'd always been quite popular. Even Carter seemed more on edge since the arrest. Allison rolled her eyes as she watched Sheriff Carter walking past Fargo's desk with Nathan. They were bickering as usual, and neither seemed to be winning their latest argument.
Allison was about to turn the corner to pass on a message to Fargo when she noticed Taggart and Vince standing at his desk talking with them, all three of them watching Carter and Stark, looking quite amused. Taggart sighed. "There they go. I swear if they weren't both madly in love with Doctor Blake I'd think they were a couple!"
Ally almost laughed at the thought. 'Now that would be interesting,' she thought to herself.
Vince snorted. "Oh please, those two spend more time fighting each other than actually pursuing Allison!"
Jim smiled at that. "You should have seen them try to save Doctor Blake during that shut down last week! I don't know how they manage to work so well together AND bicker at the same time."
Fargo raised an eyebrow, looking slightly disturbed. "Uh Sheriff Carter and Doctor Stark?" he asked them both in surprise, giving them a pointed look.
"Don't tell me you don't see it, mate!" exclaimed Taggart in surprise.
"Believe me, Fargo those two don't hate each other nearly as much as they want people to believe," Vincent remarked, folding his arms.
Allison frowned. Was it even possible? Sure they fought… all the time, but was it because of her or something else? Nathan had proposed, but that didn't necessarily mean he wasn't interested in Carter. Allison looked over at Nathan and the Sheriff, both standing at the end of the hall. Stark made some smart ass remark, Ally was sure by the glare Jack sent him, and Stark gave him a wide smile in return… a real smile… the kind that reached his eyes and made him look extremely adorable. Allison knew that smile well, because he'd smiled at her like that many times during their previous marriage. Apparently it was possible. Suddenly Allison knew what she had to do. She'd made plans with Nathan for dinner. She'd give him her answer then.
Nathan smiled at Ally, taking a sip of his wine as the two sat in her kitchen on the wooden stools. "This is nice," he told her, his voice soft and relaxed.
Allison frowned, knowing she was about to change that. "Nathan… I…" she shook her head sadly. "No."
"What?" he asked confused.
"I can't marry you, Nathan."
Nathan's smile immediately faded. "This wouldn't have anything to do with a very annoying Sheriff now would it?" he asked darkly, putting down his glass.
Allison smiled grimly. "Truthfully… yes, sort of-"
Stark rolled his eyes, huffing angrily. "You want him? Fine!" he told her, moving to leave.
Allison grabbed his arm. "Calm down, Nathan! I don't want to be with Carter!" she assured him.
She could see Nathan turn back to look at her, his expression revealing his confusion. "But you just said-"
"I said it had to do with him… I didn't say it was because I have feelings for him," she corrected, letting go of his arm.
Stark shook his head. "I don't understand… that doesn't make any sense."
Ally took a deep breath, knowing she would probably pay dearly for what she was about to say. She could only hope they would be able to salvage their friendship somehow. "I'm not turning you down because I have feelings for Jack. I'm turning you down because YOU have feelings for Jack," she spoke hurriedly.
Nathan stared at her blankly for a moment, as if his brain had somehow frozen. "What?"
"Nathan, you know what I said."
"Yeah, but I'm having a little trouble believing it! You think I have feelings for Sheriff Carter?!" he asked, his voice rose marginally and she knew he was getting upset.
"Carter, the whole town can see it! I see the way you look at him. At first I just thought you two couldn't get along because of me, but I know better now. You just don't want to face the truth! You love him, Nathan, you must see that," she fought, hoping he'd accept it.
Stark shook his head, getting up. "That's it, I'm gone," he told her, his voice almost a growl as he tried to walk away.
Allison immediately moved in his way.
"I know you love him, Nathan," she told him sternly, not ready to back down. She knew how stubborn he could be.
"I'm not in love with Carter, Ally! I hate him! I hate how he looks at you! I hate that he flirts with you every chance he gets! I hate how self-righteous he is! He drives me crazy! I hate his smug little smile every time he thinks he's right! I hate that his eyes light up like a child's on Christmas morning every time he sees some new invention! He's a moron! He's clueless! And I can't stand him! I hate him!" Nathan shouted, completely furious. He's out of breath by the time he's finished. Allison could see the fire in his eyes just before he took a step back, looking away from her.
"You don't hate him, Nathan. You hate the way he makes you feel," Allison whispered and Nathan's head snapped up, his eyes wide as he took another step back. Allison laid a hand on Stark's cheek, stroking his beard softly. He looked confused and upset. She figured it be a hard concept for him to accept. "I will always be here for you, Nathan, but I can't marry you when I know you're in love with someone else."
Nathan hung his head, his shoulders sagged and Allison immediately pulled him in her arms. "We can't even stand being in the same room together for more than five minutes," Stark objected weakly, his forehead rested on her shoulder as he spoke.
Allison tightened her grip on him, and felt his arms wrap around her. "Love is a very strange and mysterious thing," she told him, unable to stop the smile that formed.
Nathan snorted in amusement. "More like twisted and demented," he remarked.
Somehow Allison couldn't help but agree. "Yeah… you may be right about that."
In the next few months Allison did her best to be as supportive as she could be for Nathan. She knew he was afraid to tell Carter how he felt because he believed he would be rejected. Although Allison truly believed Jack felt the same way, she knew it was a long shot considering the Sheriff's background. It'd been much easier to believe Nathan could have feelings for Jack, especially when he'd told her before they were married about his dating history, some having included men. It hadn't really bothered her as she knew he'd truly loved her. Carter on the other hand was a little harder to understand. Although he did seem to flirt with Nathan just as much, it was still possible that not even Jack realized what he was doing. It was also possible he'd never even considered dating another man before.
Still, Allison knew she couldn't let them go on as they were. The tension between them had grown since Nathan had admitted and accepted his feelings for Carter. Stark continued to be snarky with Jack, often getting the Sheriff angry simply to get a reaction out of the other man. Allison knew she'd have to do something soon before they ended up killing each other. Thankfully, she had a plan. Eureka had a huge festival coming up celebrating a very important physicist named Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics. His contributions had changed the world, as to their understanding of nuclear physics leading to many discoveries Eureka's scientists could never have made without Rutherford's research. The celebration was a pretty big deal, and everyone was getting ready for the big event. Allison knew many were planning on making everything bigger and better after the rough year they'd all had, which Blake felt was just what the town needed. Vince was even planning the feast of a lifetime. Allison also knew many people would be going together. Last year there'd even been a romantic picnic under the stars near the bonfire. There'd be music and dancing. The perfect first date….
"No! No way! I am not asking Carter out on a date! It's juvenile!" Nathan resisted furiously.
Allison put her hands on her hips in annoyance. "And it's not juvenile that you fight with him and pick on him every chance you get? Nathan, if he had pigtails you'd probably be yanking them by now!"
Nathan frowned at her comment. "I'm not ready, Allison!" he fought.
"Yes you are!"
"No! I'm not!"
Allison narrowed her eyes, frustrated. "Go ask him out or I'll lock you both in the smallest room I can find until you do!" she threatened.
Stark shook his head, giving her a weary look. "You're bluffing."
Allison didn't back down. "Try me!"
Nathan looked at her for a while, then his face fell as he realized just how serious she was. "Ally, I'm just not ready yet."
Allison huffed and folded her arms, seeing the fear in his eyes. It was then that she realized her goal might have to be reached another way.
If Nathan was going to be stubborn she'd just have to try Carter. She'd gotten Stark to admit he loved Jack… she could get Carter to admit he loved Stark. She had her work cut out for her! Big time! She knew Nathan much better than she knew Jack, so that would be a challenge. Jack could also be just as stubborn as Nathan… another challenge. She would need the right moment.
"I swear Allison, I don't know what you ever saw in Nathan Stark!" Jack shouted as he barged angrily into her office.
Bingo! "What'd he do now?" she asked, trying to sound annoyed.
"He doesn't have to do anything! All he has to do is open his mouth and let words come out!"
Allison smiled at that, amused as she watched Carter take a seat across from her. "Oh come on, he's not that bad," she defended.
Jack looked at her as if she'd suddenly grown a third eye, before taking a large gulp of his coffee. "Oh no, your right! He's not that bad," he replied sarcastically. "He's just arrogant, self-righteous, an ego-maniac… and let's not forget completely psycho! But other than that…" he trailed off.
Allison's smile widened. "Yeah and he also happens to be the man your in love with."
Apparently Ally's timing was absolutely perfect as she said those words just as Jack was taking another gulp of his coffee. The fluid immediately went down the wrong tube as he coughed and sputtered in shock. "WHAT?!"
Allison looked at him calmly. "Oh don't even try that with me, Carter. The way you two flirt I'm surprised the whole town doesn't know it."
Allison raised an eyebrow, not phased by his outburst. "You heard me."
"We do NOT flirt! We've NEVER flirted! We can't even stand each other!"
"It's called sexual tension, Carter." She had him right where she wanted him.
"Sexual tension?! Me and Stark?! Are you nuts?!"
Allison couldn't help but laugh at his reaction. When she'd confronted Nathan about his feelings he'd been pissed. Somehow it didn't surprise her that when confronting Carter he'd be just plain flabbergasted. "Stark was right… you really are clueless."
Jack's frown deepened. "I am NOT in love with Stark! I don't even LIKE the guy! Despise, now THAT'S a word I'd use to describe my feelings for Stark!"
"Oh please you do not despise, Nathan. If anything the only thing you do hate is the fact that he knows how to get under your skin and break down your defenses. Carter… it's okay, it's not a big deal. No one in Eureka would ever judge you for your feelings. You should know that by now."
Jack faltered. "Even if I was interested in Stark… and I'm not saying I am, it wouldn't matter. The guy can't even stand me."
Allison rolled her eyes. They were BOTH clueless. "Oh believe me… you don't have to worry about him not returning your affections."
Jack put down his drink, leaning back in his chair, arms folded. "Nathan Stark? Doctor Nathan Stark? Are we talking about the same Stark? Him? Interested in me?"
Allison looked him in the eye. "I tell you what… ask him out for the Rutherford festival. If he says 'no,' I'll do whatever you want. You get one wish."
"And if he says 'yes?' What then?" Jack questioned.
Allison shrugged. "Then I get one wish."
Jack smiled mischievously. "Deal."
Allison grinned. Perfect!
"You're actually going to do it?!" Jo asked in surprise.
"Yup," was his only answer. He didn't even bother to look up from his paperwork.
Jack pushed a few folders aside, signing a document here and there as he went. "Probably."
"You are going to ask Doctor Stark out on a date?" Jo questioned in disbelief.
Jack knew he was losing it. Then again, he was about to win a bet. There was no way Nathan would agree. "Oh come on! Jo there's no way he'll say 'yes.' I'm going to win this bet. There's no way he'd ever be interested in me."
Jo frowned, her eyes softening just a bit, obviously detecting something in his voice that he'd been trying to keep hidden. "You never know, Carter… he might say 'yes.'"
Jack rolled his eyes. "Yeah… right."
They'd managed to save Eureka once again from destruction. All in a day's work. Jack emerged, following the dog Fifi, out of the tunneler. Fifi barked at the lava spitting from the hole they'd just created using the tunneler. It was hotter than hell. Nathan emerged next from the giant machine and Jack soon found them standing side by side watching the lava flow from the pocket they'd just punctured. He was still panting for breath after their little adventure. Jack still hadn't asked Nathan out and he knew he was running out of time. He needed to face his fear… no time like the present! "So… what are you doing tomorrow?" he asked, looking over at Nathan Stark.
Stark looked back at him with a raised eyebrow. "Eureka's Rutherford festival is tomorrow," he answered.
Jack nodded, a little nervous. "Going with anybody special?" he asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
Nathan frowned. "Uh… no."
Carter cleared his throat. "Oh… because I was just wondering… maybe… if you're free and I'm free… maybe we could… uh… go together?" he stuttered awkwardly. There… he'd done it!
Nathan paused. He looked beyond surprised by the invite. "You mean like a date?" he asked curiously.
Jack swallowed down the lump in his throat. "Uh yeah… like a date."
Suddenly Nathan smiled. "Exactly how hard did you hit your head while we were in there?" he asked, motioning toward the tunneler.
"Nathan, just answer the question!" Carter snapped, in no mood for Stark's games.
"Maybe we should get you out of this heat. You might have heat stroke…" he kept going.
"Nathan… I'm fine! Now answer the damn question!" he shouted angrily.
Nathan smiled warmly, looking down at Carter. "Okay."
"What?" Jack almost gasped.
"You wanted an answer. I just gave you one. Just uh… leave the polyester at home," he told Jack, glancing at his uniform, and flashing him a sexy smile that made Carter's insides melt before turning back to stare at the lava.
Jack smiled, unable to believe Stark had accepted. And just when he was sure the shit-eating grin would never be off his face he realized that Allison Blake had just won their bet. "Oh shit," he mumbled under his breath.
To Be Continued