Title: Conquering Doubt
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world belongs to SyFy.
Summary: This was one of the highlights, for Jack, of sharing a house with his former deputy. 1000 words.
Spoilers: Eureka 4.16 "Of Mites and Men"
Notes: For the eureka_tag 4.5 challenge, Week 6.
"I am never going to wear a suit again," Jack groaned, slumping back on the coach and rubbing at his throat. Hours after the mites' construction efforts had trapped his tie in a brand-new wall on level Q and nearly strangled him, he could still feel the imprint it had left in his skin.
"Poor thing," Jo said with absolutely no sympathy in her voice as she followed him into the bunker. "I have to wear a suit every day in this timeline, you know."
Wisely, Jack did not air the first rebuttal that came to mind: Yeah, but you're a girl. Allison wears more torturous things than that every day of the week.
He chose a more innocuous comment instead: "So I already know how the stress testing phase of your day went. How did the early morning commando abduction part go?" He'd known it was coming, since there was no way the trainers would have got by S.A.R.A.H.'s security without either prior authorized notice or an override password from Fargo, and Fargo was likewise involved in the testing. Jack had made sure to set an alarm so as to witness the rare phenomenon that was Jo Lupo, Completely Off Her Game, the moment he'd been informed.
"Cute PJs, by the way," he grinned at her. "The plaid was a nice touch."
She gave him a dirty look. "So I should repeat that to Allison, then? Give her a little advice the next time she shops for lingerie?"
"Aw, Jo," he not quite apologized, never losing the grin. This was one of the highlights, for him, of sharing a house with his former deputy: the sibling-style ribbing and support that had never quite clicked into place between him and Lexi. "C'mon. How'd you do?"
Her severe look melted into a smug smile as she crossed into the kitchen, reaching for the drink S.A.R.A.H. had already poured for her. "I have it on good authority I looked even cuter doing the happy dance," she said lightly.
"That good?" Jack was thrilled for her. If only one of Eureka's non-scientific personnel went to Titan, he knew she would make the most of the opportunity. "Jo, that's great!"
"I got a 92," she grinned back at him, joy suffusing her features for a brief moment. Then she grimaced, expression fading to a frown. "Well, I assume I did, anyway. Zane hinted he'd hacked in and changed it during the stress test; I could have killed him for that, but he took it back later when he told us he'd been messing with us on Senator Wen's orders."
She left unspoken the possibility that he'd been lying the second time, not the first, but the faint hint of doubt was audible. Jack rolled his eyes. "Given my interactions with Senator Wen today? I'd believe that before I'd ever believe Zane would tell you he'd hacked your test scores," he replied, wryly.
"Just that he'd tell me? Not that he'd do it?" Jo raised an eyebrow at him.
"I've learned the hard way not to put anything past anyone in this town," he said, raising both eyebrows back. "But if he did it? He'd have done it to make sure you got on the Astraeus mission. And actually admitting that in public would definitely be counterproductive. They'd retest you at best, if they didn't just kick you out of the program automatically, and he'd have wiped out any goodwill he might have been accumulating with Wen. And you."
Her skeptical look faded into a thoughtful frown. "...You know, you're probably right. Huh."
"Not the most law-abiding citizen ever, but you can trust him with some things," Jack said.
"Yeah," Jo said, returning to the living room and plopping down in a chair across from him with a distant expression. "Well, we'll see, won't we."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" he asked, frowning at the lack of enthusiasm in her tone. He'd thought she'd got over most of her doubts about Zane- both in their old timeline, and in the new one. She'd stopped trying to pretend it was a simply a repeated one night stand a while ago, and she'd even looked, dare he say it, happy again lately. He would never have done his best to buffer Zoe away from their burgeoning relationship if it had been otherwise.
Jo blinked back into focus with a visible effort and waved him off. "Oh, nothing important. I just. Oh, I don't know. The worst part of the day for me? Wasn't being trapped down there with a bunch of poorly socialized geeks folding cranes and trying to fend off death yet again. It was... that it only took him a couple of words and a knowing look to make me completely doubt myself."
Jack didn't think they were talking about her grade anymore, exactly, and winced, feeling a pang of sympathetic guilt. He hadn't realized he was acting so- patronizing, he guessed would be the word- regarding Allison's recovery until his girlfriend had called him on it.
"Speaking as a guy who sometimes- okay, frequently- puts his foot in his mouth, he probably didn't mean to hurt you," he offered.
Not much got by Jo: she blinked, then made a show of glancing around the living room again. "Yeah... Where is Allison, anyway? I wanted to congratulate her on her reinstatement."
"At home, wrapping up a few loose ends before the kids return. And... enjoying some time alone. Apparently," he drew the word out comically, "I have a tendency to dote."
"No," Jo clasped a hand to her breast in mock surprise.
He chuckled at her theatrics. "Oh, go on with you: leave me to sulk and ponder the errors of my ways in peace."
"Aye aye, Sheriff," she smirked, then rose to her feet and headed upstairs.
The course of true love never did run smooth, Jack thought, watching her go.
Ah, well. Allison- and Zane- would still be there tomorrow. Right?