Title: A Discussion Between Delinquents
Author: BithaBlu
Rating: Well, I interspersed my fic with my usual foul language but there's no implications of sex or violence this time so I'm going to go with PG13.
Characters: Zoe, Zane, implied conversations with Vincent & S.A.R.A.H and mentions of Jack, Jo, Henry, Allison, and Fargo.
Spoilers: Through 4.04, "The Story of O2"
Summary: Zoe's worried about what's going on in Eureka and there's only one person she can call to get the real news. Well, two people. And one smart house.
A/N: I justify this fic with the belief that Zoe and Zane bonded over chats on previous brushes with the law and became friends. Plus, Zane would just hang out with Zoe to piss off Jack.
A/N2: Ummm, this got longer than anticipated. For no apparent reason.

Zoe stared out the window of her dorm room and tried to sort out the vague uncomfortable sensation that she had been experiencing for the past three days. Ever since her dad had left, she couldn't stop thinking about something he had said and it was really beginning to bother her.

'This is one Eureka situation that I can't tell you about.'

There were tons of things that went on in Eureka that people weren't supposed to talk about but they did anyway. It was, at heart, a small town and small town gossip spread like the plague. And even though this an unequivocal truth, Zoe was worried that something bad had happened that almost no one knew about. Maybe not even anyone but her dad. Which would suck.

So, the night after her dad had left, Zoe had called Vincent. She had said that it was only to thank him for the care package but he had seen right through that and filled her in on all the gossip. The Baker brothers had accidentally let one of their projects get loose and it had left pot holes all over town. Pilar had completely shot down Spencer with a face full of soda after he had asked both she and Diantha out on the same night. Then there was the whole rage incident at GD. Kevin saving the town from rockets with balloons. Tess leaving. Mansfield plotting against everyone over a sandwich made on stale chibatta bread (Zoe could totally understand why Vincent considered that a good form of revenge even if no one else would see it as that huge of a deal).

It took over two hours for Vincent to say something that actually surprised her. One: Larry wasn't dead or maimed for blowing up Jo's house. Two: Her dad had asked Vincent if he had proposed to Tess.

The first one was a shock because, well, duh- Jo wasn't exactly the most stable person ever. But from all accounts, Jo had just looked at the crater where her house had been and just nodded a few times before shrugging, pursing her lips and walking away. And that was it.

Larry was still paranoid though. Vincent had even cut back on the caffeine in his coffee because he was twitchy enough without liquid stimulants.

But then there was the thing about her dad. Zoe had spent the rest of the night pondering about it but something just wouldn't click. Why wouldn't he remember proposing? Why did he break up with Tess so abruptly? Why had he flown across the country to visit without calling first? What was up with all the nostalgia? And how the hell was it that there was something going on in Eureka that Vincent didn't know?

Since Vincent was tapped for gossip, Zoe called the next best source of intel- home. Literally.

S.A.R.A.H. had filled in a few more gaps and offered to e-mail some of the pertinent video files but Zoe had the feeling that watching a few videos wasn't going to give her the information that she needed. Seeing her dad mope over cereal and beer every morning wasn't going to explain why he was acting so weird. And knowing that Jo cried herself to sleep last night didn't do anything but make Zoe worry more.

What the hell was happening in Eureka?

There was only one more call Zoe could make but it was the one number that she didn't want showing up on her cell bill. Zoe toyed with her phone for a few minutes but she simply couldn't justify not calling. Sighing, Zoe settled back against her pillows and dialed. She'd worry about what her dad had to say about it later.

After two rings, Zane answered with a cheerful, "Little Felon! What's up?"

Zoe sat up suddenly. Zane never answered the phone in less than five rings. Hell, most of the time, he just ignored his phone because he was too busy with his experiments. Cautiously, she replied, "Hey Zane. Just calling to see how you're doing after your crash."

"Crashes. Plural."

"Plural?" The nagging sensation intensified. Zane didn't crash. Blow things up? Yes. Totally. For fun most of the time but he didn't crash- especially more than once in a week. Something was really going on back home and Zoe wanted nothing more than to be there to keep an eye on everyone.

There was a low chuckle from the other side of the line and Zoe relaxed a little bit. It couldn't be that bad if he was laughing. "I'm guessing you've already heard about me divebombing the prototype but I doubt that anyone told you I was with Jo when she passed out while driving."

"What? Why did Jo pass out? And why the hell were you with her? Did she arrest you again?"

There was a pause before Zane answered, "All the extra oxygen in the air made little Lupo sleepy and we ended up in parking the car rather suddenly. As to why I was there... I think she was trying to hide me from Mansfield because she doesn't usually ask me if I want to tag along on one of her cop hops. Especially since I was an escaped prisoner at the time. Well, technically not escaped. More like let go. By Jo. Without Mansfield's knowledge."

Ok. That was it. Next. Plane. Home.

Zoe leaped off her bed and began pacing. First her dad was acting weird and now Jo. This was seriously getting bad if those two were acting strange and Vincent didn't have a clue as to why. And, you know, Zane was acting kinda strange too. It was starting to get to be too much and Zoe burst out with, "Is something going on? I mean, did something weird happen to Eureka and now you're all insane?"

Zane laughed. "Something weird in Eureka? You do remember this place, right?"

"Damn it, Zane!" Zoe yelled as she stomped her foot, "My dad's acting like someone's going to die, Jo hid you- YOU- from Mansfield, Vincent doesn't know what happened and I'm really scared so just tell me what's going on!"

"Chill Little Z." Zane scolded as he laughed. "As far as I know, it's only been the usual mad scientist crap."

Zoe frowned. He still sounded amused by life and that wasn't what she needed right now. What she needed was the insightful genius without the obnoxious five-year-old boy mentality. If only she were home, she could just smack him and get him to tell her what she wanted to know. 'Of course,' Zoe thought as she rolled her eyes at herself, 'If I were home, I'd be able to check it out for myself.'

"But, you're right." Zoe's ears perked up at the defeated tone in Zane's voice. He only sounded like that when he was being completely honest and serious. Now she was going to get some answers. Finally. "Some people are acting... different and, as far as I can tell, there's no reason for it. Which is weird. People just don't change overnight."

Not good. This was so not good. And it was also incredibly vague so Zoe asked, "Who's acting the most different and how? I mean, if we can figure out the players, we should be able to figure out the game, right?"

Zane took a minute to ponder and Zoe tried to stuff her impatience down. If Big Trouble was thinking things over than that meant he was taking it seriously and that was good. After the longest one minute and forty-seven seconds of her life, he replied hesitantly, "Well, your dad and Jo are at the top of my list but Fargo and Allison have been acting a little odd lately."

Crap. The sheriff, the head of GD security, the head of GD and the head of the medical department. Throw in Henry and Eureka was screwwed.

"And I overhead Grace talking to Vincent yesterday about Henry acting all distant lately."

Oh fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck.

"Ok, so Henry's being distant to the woman he adores," Zoe said hesitantly. "How are the rest of them being weird?"

"Well, Allison's the one who cheated in the rocket race. She added the TAP fluid to Kevin's rocket because she said she was worried about him being disappointed if he lost. He flipped when she told him and said that she had been nuts for the past few weeks and that it was like she didn't even know him if she thought he'd want to win that way."

Zoe paled. Crossing her fingers that she was wrong, she asked, "Did he actually say it was like she didn't know him?"

"Yeah. I think so. Why?"

Zoe flopped down back on her bed. Mabel hissed from underneath the bed but Zoe ignored it. Scrunching her eyes shut, she answered, "Because when my dad was here, all he wanted to talk about were things that had happened years ago. It kinda felt like he was trying to write an autobiography but he couldn't remember the details."

"So you're thinking they got hit with something that made them forget what their kids are like?" Zane suggested. "And makes Henry forget his Gracie-Poo, Jo forget to hate me, and Nerdpolian forget to be a dick every minute of the day?"

Zoe sat up, surprised, and asked, "Fargo's being nice?"

"Well, not nice," Zane hedged, "but he's not being the his usual douchebag self. If I had to be specific-"

"And you do," Zoe interrupted.

"I'd say that he's trying to make up for some of his past dickishness." Zane continued, "He pushed back some deadlines, been polite- for him, and, if I remember correctly, he sided with me over Mansfield. Sort of. I mean, I got locked up at GD but Fargo wouldn't let General Stick-Up-His-Ass just haul me off to prison without letting Jo do her investigation first."

"What do you mean, if you remember correctly? Are you forgetting stuff too?" Zoe started chewwing on her thumbnail. Things never went well when Zane wasn't in full control of that crazy smart brain of his. Hell, even when he was in charge of his great gray matter, shit still went bugnuts. Stupid low impulse control.

Zane snorted. "That all happened when I was high from the sky. Which, by the way, is the worst buzz ever. I don't recommend it."

Zoe took a big sigh of relief. At least Zane was his normal self. 'Which, considering the circumstance, is actually pretty scary,' Zoe thought. Slowly she said, "So, to sum up, five of the most influential people in Eureka are acting like pod people. And one of them is my dad. Great."

"Yup."

There was an overwhelming silence coming from both sides of the line. Zoe was officially freaked and wanted to go home to get this all figured out but she couldn't think of a legitimate way to bail on the last few weeks of the semester. Thankfully, Zane figured out her dilemma and grudgingly added, "Look, I'll keep an eye on them for you and I'll call if things get too weird, ok?"

"Thank you- Thank you- Thank you." Zoe gushed. There was no way in hell her dad would be ok with Zane spying on him for her but Zoe didn't care. S.A.R.A.H. and Vincent could only give her so much info and Zane was the perfect person to snoop out the rest. Cause, if nothing else, at least Zane wouldn't mind getting close enough to Jo to put a bug on her. If he felt like things were getting that hopefully they weren't.

Oh shit. Zoe suddenly remember that throwing Zane in Jo's path might not be that smart right now. If ever. But especially right now. Though she was hesitant to tell him what S.A.R.A.H. had said about Jo crying, Zoe had to warn him. "Umm, you might want to stay away from Jo for a few days though. S.A.R.A.H. told me that she's not doing that great right now."

"Yeah, sure. I'll stay away from Lupo." Zoe could almost picture him with that snarky grin on his face and she groaned. Zane just laughed and added, "Don't worry, Zoey-girl, I'll play nice. Fargo's favorite enforcer won't even know I'm watching. I promise."

After they said good-bye, Zoe curled up on her bed and shut off her light. When Mabel jumped up, hissed and snuggled up next to her, Zoe took that as a good sign. Maybe she'd finally get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's presentation.

On the other side of the county, Zane started making lists. He spent an hour jotting down notes and then another hour studying what he had written. From what he could tell, the strange behavior was a recent development and Jo was the one acting the most strange. Or maybe she was just the one acting the weirdest around him.

Absently, Zane circled the words 'Founder's Day' and started diagramming the observations he had listed in chronological order. But his mind wasn't on the details. Zane was already plotting as many ways as he could to throw himself in Jo's way without drawing too much attention. Who knew- maybe this could be fun.

If Jo didn't kill him, that is.