By Andie O'Neill
Genre: Romance, Angst
Pairing: Nathan/Jack, Nathan/Allison (past)
Summary: Almost a year ago Jack Carter was fired as Sheriff, and moved from Eureka to start a new life in San Francisco, but he's not the only one who's moved on.
Spoiler Free Summary: Jack Carter and his daughter have started a new life in San Francisco, but they're not the only ones.
A/N: I'm not making this an AU story, which means it follows the timeline. Confused? Read and you'll understand! :D I like 'fix-it' stories.
Disclaimer: I do not own Eureka or any of this characters… :grumbles:
Carter smiled, grabbing his keys from the desk as he locked up his report. He'd had one of the longest days of his life, tracking a criminal who'd tried to skip town after making bail. The man, Vic Harper had been a tough catch, but Jack had learned a lot since his time in Eureka… including how to out-smart a genius. Being a US Marshall again had been strange at first. He kept waiting for insane disasters that would mean the end of the world, but instead he faced the usual cons and murderers. He didn't have to worry about the latest nuclear powered toaster that would inevitably explode. Sure, he missed the Vinspresso and he kinda missed the small town feel, but he'd moved on long ago and he refused to look back on what might have been. He wasn't sure he could have stayed there much longer anyway considering everything that had happened.
"How's Zoe doing?" asked Steve Cameron, a fellow US Marshall. They'd worked a lot of cases together since Jack's transfer, and over the year since had become good friends. Jack missed Henry, but it was always good to make new friends. Steve was a tall man, in his mid forties, with salt and pepper hair. It was cut short and styled prim and proper. His green eyes were a sharp contrast to his tanned skin, and Jack couldn't help but be reminded of a scientist he'd once known back in Eureka who'd had those same green eyes… until he'd manage to put those bad memories aside.
Jack looked up, grabbing his suit jacket. "They've got her enrolled in some honors courses this year, but Zoe complains it's not much of a challenge." He was a father, and father's loved the brag… especially when their daughters were god damn geniuses.
Cameron shook his head, laughing. "That girl of yours. You do know you're raising the next Einstein right?"
Thinking back to what he'd been used to in Eureka, Carter had to swallow back the words collecting in his throat. 'You have no idea,' he thought to himself. "Yeah well, she get's the brains from her mother. The street smarts are a Carter attribute. Either way, I figure she's got her bases covered." Sometimes it was tough pretending the years he'd spent in Eureka hadn't happened. He missed the people, even Fargo… and SARAH, though at least she'd always had a beer ready after a tough days work. The apartment he was staying in now did none of those things. Hell, it didn't even talk to him when no one was home. How screwed up was that? "See ya later, Steve. Tell that wife of yours I said 'hello'."
Steve smiled, grabbing his own things. "Will do. You know… Christmas is coming awfully soon. You and Zoe are welcome to come over and eat dinner with us… if you'd like."
Jack knew his label of 'divorced' often meant lots of sympathy from those around him. He too had believed the same at one time, but the fact of the matter was… he had a good life. He and Abby were on good terms. Zoe was still living with him, and their relationship was stronger than ever. What more could he really ask for? He didn't need companionship. Sure, he certainly wouldn't turn it down, but he wasn't desperate. He'd been through enough drama in the past to know that sometimes the single life wasn't so bad. "Uh, I'll let you know. We might be going over to Abby's to celebrate."
Steve raised an eyebrow. "You two trying to get back together?"
Jack laughed. "No, I think we like things the way they are. Besides, last I heard she's dating again."
Steve shook his head. "You must be the only man I know who has THAT good a relationship with his ex wife."
Carter was sure there were others out in the world that had managed to do the same, but chose to keep quite, rubbing the back of his head as he headed for the door. "What can I say? When you've lived my life, you get used to the unusual."
Jack dropped the keys on the table beside the door, smiling as he walked over to his daughter, kissing the top of her head as he shrugged off his jacket. "Hey Dad," she greeted, not bothering to look up from her homework.
"Hey Zo, how's the school work coming?" he asked, collapsing on the couch and turning on the TV to sports center in the hopes of catching the score of last night's game, which he'd sadly missed thanks to a very demanding job.
"Almost finished. I just have a few more problems to do and then I'll be done."
"I thought you had a science project to turn in tomorrow?" he questioned, surprised that she would be finished so quickly. He knew she would have gotten home hours ago, but normally she didn't bother with school work until around dinner time, which she'd gotten into the habit of cooking. The health fixation she had going was getting kind of old, but he'd managed to live with it, just happy to see her passionate about something. Besides, he'd lost quite a bit of weight, and he did have more energy since Zoe had gotten him eating the lawn.
"I finished that yesterday," she told him, as if it were nothing. He'd never thought that tone in her voice would be a good thing. He'd never really understood how much Eureka's schools had challenged Zoe until he'd seen her in a regular one again.
Carter just smiled. "How about pizza for dinner tonight? You've been cooking all week and I could use some grease for once."
Zoe rolled her eyes. "Whatever Dad, it's your body… but I think I'll stick with the tofu chicken over wheat rice."
Jack shivered at the thought, grabbing for the phone. He really wanted some pizza.
It was a warm night, and almost quiet for a change as he walked the half a block to the pizza place down the street from his apartment. The small shop was owned by a man who'd moved to America from Italy and was probably the closest thing to Vincent's skill as Jack was ever going to get. He'd always known he had it good between the cooking at Café Diem and the house that was more like a maid, but now there was no doubt. His tongue missed the creative flavors and unique ideas that only Vince had been able to provide. Jack was pulled from his thoughts as a black car, sped past, so quick he hadn't even been able to identify what kind, parking in the lot beside the Pizza place. He wasn't quite sure why he found himself staring across the street, watching the door open and a surprisingly tall, well built man climb out wearing jeans, a well fit black t-shirt, and a leather jacket to match.
Jack couldn't make out his face in the dark, but he could see the five o'clock shadow and curly hair and for a moment the man was replaced with Doctor Nathan Stark, looking back at him with those green eyes and cocky grin. Carter closed his eyes, shaking the image from his thoughts before he watched the man walk inside, then looked both ways and crossed the road to follow. He really needed to get some sleep after dinner… he was seeing ghosts. He opened the door to the small place, smiling at the little girl eating at one of the tables with her parents. Her blonde hair immediately made him think of Zoe, and suddenly he was back in time to the moments before his divorce when their family had been complete. Carter liked the way things were, but there were still times when he wondered if it would have been better had he and Abby never separated.
"I'd like a chicken parmesan…" he heard the deep voice and Jack immediately froze, looking up slowly to see the same tall man and suddenly his heart was pumping a mile a minute. He really was seeing ghosts… and apparently hearing them too. The man's back was turned, but Jack knew that voice well, as if it'd been burned into his very soul. The last words he'd ever heard had played over and over in his mind more times than Jack care to consider.
The woman taking his order nodded, writing it down quickly. "To go?" she asked, in a faint Italian accent.
The man nodded. "Yes, thank you."
'Well it couldn't be him… the man I remember doesn't say things like please and thank you,' he thought to himself, allowing a smile as he remembered the teasing banter they'd shared. Then suddenly he was turning around and Jack immediately saw those eyes… and they were those eyes… his eyes! Carter was sure his heart had stopped. Suddenly the world faded to black and everything froze, as if time stood still, and he was back in that damn town watching helplessly as a man gave up his life for the greater good. The man before him seemed to be just as surprised, eyes wide, and Jack could see the settle differences. His beard had been toned down, a mere shadow of what it was. His hair had grown longer. Despite the differences, Jack knew this man. He'd seen dead people before… looking back to one of his first cases involving Mrs. Perkins, who they'd buried moments before, then saw waltzing into his office asking for her dead husband… who had also been very much alive. He'd seen ghosts before, but never one that hit him so close to home, knocking him backwards and taking his breath away.
"N-N-Nathan Stark?" he asked, positive that he'd finally lost it. His time in Eureka could surely have caused some sort of mental disorder with all the stress he'd been under… facing the pressure of the world on his shoulders.
The ghost stared at him for a long moment, as if he too were seeing a ghost before a small smile appeared on his face. "It's been a long time, Sheriff…."
"A long time?!" Now Jack was talking to the ghost… not good. "You were… I mean you can't be… you were… I watched you…" Jack huffed in frustration, unable to actually saw the word. One part of his mind assured him that people coming back from the dead was impossible, and therefore Jack had to be dreaming, or mentally unstable. The other part kept playing back all the impossible things he'd seen during the time he'd worked as Sheriff in Eureka. It occurred to him that there were people around, and shouting that he'd watched the man before him die would not be a good idea, and would probably land him a trip to the mental institution. He tried to keep his calm, even though the panic inside him was struggling to take over. He was talking to a dead man!
Nathan took a step toward him, and Jack took a step back. Stark sighed, rolling his eyes. "Carter, I can explain… just calm down before you-" but he never got to finish the sentence as Jack suddenly started to feel very dizzy and the world began to swirl around him before fading to black.
To Be Continued