Title: Looking On Tempests
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world belongs to SyFy.
Summary: He should have been more careful what he asked for. 800 words.
Spoilers: Eureka 4.1 "Founders' Day"
Notes: For Season 4.0, Week 1 at eureka_tag. Title and embedded quote from Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.
Henry stared at the little metal circle the woman had dropped in his hand, completely taken aback. Smooth, golden in both color and metal, warm from being held close to her body: there was no question what it was, despite the fact that he'd never worn one in his life. A wedding ring.
Don't forget this, she'd said. As though it were habit for her to keep it in her pocket for him while they worked. As though her Henry had forgotten it, at least once, in the past- implying that the arrangement had been going on for awhile. And lest there be some confusion about them being only coworkers, that he might be married to someone else- she'd kissed him, a casual, comfortable peck on the lips, and asked if she'd see him later at 'home'.
He was married to that woman. That- Grace. Why? How? He barely even knew her! Before that little bout of accidental time travel, the only thing they'd had in common had been the 1947 Chrysler she'd borrowed from the Eureka Museum for the town's sixtieth Founders' Day anniversary. The same Chrysler she'd just been working under- wearing a stained, age-worn pair of coveralls labeled with her name and the name of his garage. She clearly believed she belonged in this place, this space, that for so long had been Henry's alone.
He remembered complaining to Jack just that morning: 'if only there were two of me.' He should have been more careful what he asked for. Two Drs. Deacon: it boggled the mind. Or... were there? Had she taken his name, or was she still a Monroe? He'd never cared one way or the other on the subject, unlike Jason, who'd taken real pleasure in stamping his own name all over his wife and her research.
How could Henry have married anyone who wasn't Kim? He'd never really thought of himself as a romantic, but there was a part of him that truly believed that love was never-ending; that it 'altered not when it alteration found'. Not when separated by a jealous man with a memory modification device; not when parted again by death; not when divided a third time by the well-meaning act of a friend. He worked on the data that would be her monument every day; he had no room left over, not yet, to give to any other woman.
How could this timeline's Henry have been any different? For him to have come to Eureka at all he must still have been the same frustrated idealist who'd made himself persona non grata in politically sensitive scientific circles; without Nathan's offer to join this isolated think-tank of a community, there was no telling where Henry would have ended up after leaving NASA. And if this other Henry had had the same heart, how could he have put Kim behind him so easily?
...Could it have been an external difference, not a change in himself? Henry swallowed hard as the thought occurred to him: had this timeline's Henry Deacon never lost Kim at all? Had he never even discovered that Kim Yamazaki had once been his to lose in the first place, before Jason Anderson had stolen Henry's project and used it to take his place in Kim's life?
...Could this timeline's Kim still be alive?
Henry found himself balking at that thought. If she was... and if the timeline they'd come back to was stable, unlike the one Jack had been forced to destroy two years ago...
Henry let a slow breath out and clenched his hand around the ring. No; he couldn't allow himself to think that way. He wasn't that guy anymore. The raging idealist had learned a little pragmatism over the course of those four unwound years, not to mention his experiences afterward: earning vengeance for Kim's death, saving the life of a friend's child, betraying another friend, and losing a former student to a ridiculously improbable malfunction of a temporal project. It might be clichéd, but it was true: great power- and great opportunity- meant great responsibility. He'd always believed that; and Jack had reminded him of it at great cost to them both. He couldn't allow himself to forget the lesson again.
So many questions. No answers. And an extremely thorny knot to untangle. Grace was waiting for him; and afterward, he'd see the other four time travelers again at the Founders' Day celebration. They'd have to share stories, find out how many other lives had changed in similarly dramatic ways, and try to track those changes back to a single source.
He would not be part of the problem again.
Henry weighed the ring in his hand once more, then sighed, slid it on, and headed out to become part of the solution.