By Andie O'Neill
Genre: Romance, Angst
Rating: PG-13 (Mild Language)
Warnings: Slash, Language
Spoilers: Season 3 (slight)
Summary: Jack must give Stark a reason to stay in Eureka, or lose him forever.
A/N: I'm really not sure where this came from. Must be those damn romantic movies again…. ^_^
Disclaimer: I sometimes wish I owned the show… but its never gonna happen. It's owned by Sci-fi and the other powers that be.
"Isn't this what you wanted? You win, Carter. She said no… she doesn't want to be with me. You've gotten what you wanted." Jack watched as Nathan Stark cleared out his desk, forcefully stuffing his things in the medium sized box. The Sheriff was at a loss for words. When Jo had told him Stark had proposed to Allison he'd never expected how hard it'd hit him as he realized just how close he was to losing everything he wanted. He'd been even more surprised to learn later on from Vincent that Allison, after careful consideration had decided to decline his proposal and completely cut off any lingering questions as to their relationship. From what he'd been told, she'd given him the 'let's be friends' speech that seemed to be so popular to the opposite sex. Jack had heard it once or twice himself, and he knew first hand how hard it was to hear those words. "She's all yours."
Jack swallowed hard, watching him empty out his desk drawers. He'd never seen so much stuff in one desk. "You can't leave Eureka, Stark. We need you here," he protested, knowing just how weak it sounded. He wasn't quite sure how to change the scientist's mind, but he did know he wasn't doing so well. Why the hell would Stark care what they needed by this point? He'd just gotten his heart stomped on by the woman he obviously loved. When Jack had realized his marriage with Abby was over, it'd hurt just to be in the same room with the woman, bombarded with memories of their life together… all the good days, all the bad days, all the mistakes they'd both made that could never be fixed.
Nathan snorted, though obviously less than amused. "Need me? You don't need anyone, Carter. You live in a town of scientists… what's one less?"
Carter bit back a curse, trying to keep calm though his heart was steadily beating faster and faster. "We've already lost Henry, Stark! I can't protect this town alone! As much as I hate to say this… we work well together, despite our obvious issues with each other. Remember the last time you were planning to walk away? If you'd left when you did Fargo would probably have been sent down a giant hole with a nuclear device! You've saved my life more times than I can count! You can't just turn your back on us now," Jack fought, trying desperately to get through to the scientist. It was strange to think he was actually standing in Stark's lab trying to convince him to stay in Eureka… especially with their complicated relationship, but Carter knew what would happen to the town with Stark gone. More than that, Carter knew what would happen to him with Stark gone.
Stark paused, looking up at the Sheriff, his eyes a darker shade of green… darker than Jack had ever seen them. "I have no reason to stay, Carter. There's nothing to keep me here. So forgive me if I don't give a damn what you want. I'm done with Allison, and now I'm done with this town."
Nathan rolled his eyes, grabbing the cardboard box. "Don't you have work to do, Sheriff?!" he interrupted, glaring at Jack.
Jack ran a hand through his hair, so tired of the scientist's stubbornness. "Look Stark, I know how it feels to be rejected, believe me. When I realized things between me and Abby were over… it was one of the hardest moments of my life, and frankly I didn't know what to do. Stark, it sucks, I know, but running away isn't the answer!"
Stark slammed the box down on the desk, making Carter jump just a bit, and walked over to face Jack head on. "Let's get this straight right now, Carter… you have no idea what I'm feeling! You don't have a fucking clue, so turn the hell around and leave me alone."
Jack didn't miss the barely controlled rage swirling in Stark's eyes, a warning to back off before things got physical. Everything in Carter's gut was telling him to let go, to step aside and let the scientist walk out of his life before Stark made good on his threat, but despite all this he ignored his gut feelings for the first time in his life. He couldn't let go… just like he hadn't been able to when Stark had been fired. "I'm living in a town where in comparison I might as well have the IQ of a monkey. My daughter has only just recently stopped blaming me for everything that's wrong in her life. And I currently have feelings for someone that I know will never be able to return them. Believe me, Stark; you're not the only one going through a hard time right now."
Stark shook his head, backing away. "Spare me, please. Everyone else may buy this act, but I've seen right through you the moment we met. You've wanted Allison since the second you saw her! She and I are over… for good, so don't give me that shit about unrequited love. She's made her choice... and it sure as hell isn't me."
It was at that moment that Jack Carter realized why he was fighting so hard to keep Stark in Eureka. He'd told himself the moment he'd realized the man was planning to leave that it was for the town, that Eureka needed him, but he'd only been fooling himself to keep from facing the truth. For a moment Jack couldn't breathe, could only stare back at the scientist, eyes wide. This had nothing to do with Eureka. He wasn't just being selfless, putting his issues with Nathan aside for the good of the town. He wanted Nathan Stark to stay… and not because he was a brilliant scientist, or they worked well together. No, it had nothing to do with that. Nathan Stark needed a reason to stay, and Jack only knew one. Jack took a deep breathe, shaking just a bit as he prepared himself. He'd never been good at facing his feelings head on, sharing them with others, especially when he wasn't even sure if the man he was about to share them with could be trusted. Still, it was the only way. "When I found out that you'd proposed to Allison… I spent the whole day trying to pretend that I didn't care what her answer would be. Everyone could tell it was bothering me, but instead of facing those feelings I dove as far into my work as I could, and when Martha went AWOL it was just the excuse I needed to distract me from what was happening. I told myself that it shouldn't matter… that I'd never had a chance anyway. I won't lie to you, Stark, I was relieved when Allison chose not to marry you, but not for the reasons you think."
Nathan was standing just a foot or so away, hands stuffed into his jean pockets, waiting. "What do you mean?" he asked his voice slightly softer than before.
Jack forced himself to keep his eyes locked on Stark's. "You said you wanted me to give you one good reason why you should stay. You were right before… this has nothing to do with the town. I'm not here trying to stop you for the good of Eureka. When you were fired you chose to stay for Allison. Well now I'm here, asking you to stay, not for Allison... but for me," Carter whispered. His heart seemed to stop beating as he waited for some type of reaction from the scientist. He'd put himself on the line, and now he would know if it'd been worth telling the biggest secret he'd ever had.
Nathan's eyebrows rose half an inch, and he looked away, opening and closing his mouth. "Carter… what are you trying to say?" he asked.
Jack licked his lips. He'd come this far. There was no point in turning back now. "After Abby… I never thought there could be someone else, but since coming here I've come to believe in second chances. The thing is… it's not Allison I want. She's attractive sure, I can't deny that… but it was never about her. Nathan, I want you to stay." The scientist was staring at him, not quite comprehending and Jack was starting to realize that talking was getting him nowhere. Jack should have known. They were so similar in that way. They were men of action. Carter tightened his hands into fists for a brief second before walking over to Nathan, his purpose pushing him forward as he grabbed the scientist's shirt and pulled him down for a bruising kiss. Nathan seemed too stunned to kiss Jack back, but the Sheriff was beyond caring. He was going to show Stark how he felt the only way he knew how. Jack poured everything he had into the kiss, applying just enough pressure, letting his tongue slip out to taste the other man and finally just as Jack was ready to give up Nathan kissed him back.
Stark opened his mouth, giving Jack permission to explore and he immediately took advantage, sliding his hands into Nathan's curls as he slipped his tongue inside to slide along with Nathan's. The kiss was tender, passionate, strong, dominating, and everything Jack had always suspected it could be. When he was sure he'd gotten his point across he pulled away, dropping his hands as he stared up into Nathan's eyes. Slowly he backed away, clearing his throat awkwardly.
"You wanted a reason… now you have it," he said, trying to keep it together. He felt like he was going to have a mental breakdown any second, but he refused to give anything away. Instead he simply waited, praying his sacrifice hadn't been for nothing. "Say something."
Stark swallowed hard, glancing at the box that sat on his desk. For a moment Jack was sure he'd pick it up and walk away, but instead he turned back to look at Jack. "Good reason," Nathan whispered, cracking the barest hint of a smile.