Title: Some Things Stay the Same

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG/K+

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world belongs to SyFy.

Summary: "So... you're not really my dad? You just took over my dad's life?" Zoe said, staring at him in horror. 1000 words.

Spoilers: Eureka 4.15 "Omega Girls"

Notes: For the eureka_tag 4.5 challenge, Week 5.


"So... you're not really my dad? You just took over my dad's life?" Zoe said, staring at him in horror. "And how is that any different from what Beverly just did to Allison?"

"What? Sweetie, no, it's not like that at all," Jack replied, hurriedly. He'd known his daughter wouldn't exactly be pleased to find out about his little detour to 1947, but he'd been hoping more for understanding than hostility. "It's not like there's another Jack Carter buried in the back of my brain somewhere. I'm still your father. I'm still me. I just... remember things a little differently than you do, that's all."

She crossed her arms over her jacket, her expression still deeply skeptical. "So... you're saying it's more like you have amnesia, or something."

"Yes! Yes, exactly. And it's not even like there are all that many differences. For me. Except, you know. Tess. And Jo not being my deputy."

Zoe snorted, not yielding an inch. "Allison's much better for you anyway. And as for Jo. This? This is why she slept with Zane?"

Jack winced. "I try not to think about it too much. But, yeah. I don't know if she told you, but he asked her to marry him just before all this happened."

"But he isn't her Zane!" Zoe threw up her hands. "He was my Zane. I get why she has feelings for him. I forgave her; I even feel sorry for her, now. That would really have to suck. But it doesn't actually make what she did any better. She'd never dated this Zane, so it's not like she had an actual claim, and she knew how much I liked him. So why'd she have to go and sleep with him?"

Jack sighed, tucking his hands in his pockets. "Remember, this is Zane we're talking about. And Jo. She dropped a lot of clues without meaning to, and you know what he's like with a puzzle. By the time Fargo gave him the final piece..." He shrugged.

Zoe turned her face away, working her jaw in an effort not to say something he wouldn't appreciate. "So it's not completely her fault. But still."

Ah, youth. Still the center of her own world. Now that reaction was more what he'd been expecting. "Why'd Grace choose to stay with Henry? Especially after she found out the truth? The heart's... not as easy to predict as a scientific experiment, Zoe," he said, tiredly. "I won't say I approve of what Jo did. But I understand. He was someone she really, deeply cared about. And then suddenly the relationship they'd built vanished out from under her. That kind of thing can leave a person floundering."

Zoe had been listening to his little speech with arms crossed again and a defiant set to her chin, but the moment he finished speaking, she gasped and clapped a hand over her mouth. "Oh my God," she said. "That's- when you came up for that visit. This is what that was about. You were making sure I was still the daughter you remembered and not in jail or living with Mom or something."

"My bright, beautiful pre-med student daughter," Jack smiled lopsidedly at her. "Still the same Zoe. Maybe it really was destiny that led us to this town."

"And I thought you were the same old Jack," Zoe replied, still distressed. "But you weren't. Aren't. Why didn't I notice sooner? You knew something was wrong with Allison from the start, but I just thought you were having an attack of the Dads when you suddenly got the urge to share. Or maybe that you were sick, or something."

"And you were right; I was having an 'attack of the Dads'," he hastened to reassure her. "Look, I know this is- weird for you. But it doesn't have to change anything. You don't even have to tell Jo I told you. I just thought you deserved to know the truth. Even if it turned out there were significant differences between you and the Zoe I remember, I wouldn't care for you any less. I'll always be proud of you, no matter what happens."

"Even if, I don't know, I ran away from college tomorrow and started stealing again?" she asked dryly, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth for the first time since he'd mentioned the time shift.

"Even if," he said, solemnly. "I'm sure you'd have a very good reason."

She snorted, then wrapped one arm around him in a sidewise hug. "I really hate this town sometimes, you know. I mean, it's home now, and I'll never regret our coming to live here. But I almost lost you today. Not even for the first time. And I can fight medical issues, but something like an Einstein-Rosen Bridge? One day you're just going to be gone, and I won't be able to do anything about it."

"That could happen anywhere, though," he told her, slinging his own arm around her shoulders as they walked. "You know that. I can't change my job. But I promise I will always, always do my best to come back to you."

"...And Allison," she added after a pause, elbowing him.

"And Allison," he added, ruefully. "You're still okay with that, right?"

"Please," she said. "Like we haven't all seen that coming for years. Uh. It has been years, right?"

"Right. That hasn't changed," he chuckled.

"Good."

"We're good, then?" he tentatively asked as they finally exited G.D.

"We're good." Zoe smiled wryly at him. "There better not be any other huge secrets you're keeping from me, though. This is your one freebie this year, you hear me?"

"I hear you." Jack grinned back at her, then pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I love you, Zo."

"I love you, too, Dad. Enough with the mushy stuff, though. I'm a college student, remember? You're tarnishing my independent image."

"I remember." He rolled his eyes at her. "Now, c'mon. Let's go home."

-x-