Title: Crossing The Timestreams
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: Eureka/A:tS. Dr. Burkle tilted her head, birdlike, and the hairs inexplicably stood up on the backs of Jo's arms. 1200 words.
Spoilers: A:tS post-"Not Fade Away". Eureka post-4.2 "A New World".
Notes: For the Twistedshorts August Challenge. (Just assume in this 'verse any Buffy references on Eureka were instead for other SMG or supernatural pop culture).
Jo frowned as Dr. Burkle stopped dead in the middle of the doorway to her newly assigned lab.
"Problem?" she asked, peering around the slender woman into the depths of the Time Maintenance room. There hadn't been anyone assigned to the space since Leo Weinbrenner and Dr. Stark had both died in it- at least, in her original timeline, and as far as her research had uncovered that day hadn't happened any differently in the new one- but it hadn't been sealed, either, so there was no telling what some wandering mad scientist might have left in there.
The physicist turned to look at her, and Jo found herself falling back half a step, startled by the expression on her face. Winifred 'Just Call Me Fred' Burkle had struck Jo as the friendly, sort of shy, non-dangerous sort; not that anyone smart enough to get hired at G.D. was ever totally harmless, but she'd developed a pretty good sense for who ignored the risks they were taking on purpose and those whose projects might destroy the world accidentally. She'd definitely pegged Dr. Burkle as the latter.
Now though- it was like she'd turned into a pod person. All the warmth had been stripped out of her expression; her gaze was as remote as the North Pole, and just as frozen-looking. Jo would swear her eyes hadn't been that shade of blue before.
"There has been a temporal disruption in this place," Dr. Burkle said, making the words a statement, not a question.
Jo blinked. Had someone been telling tales even before the new hire got to her lab? She'd fry Larry- or Zane, or whoever- if the prickles that had just run up her scalp were the result of a gossip session. "Uh, yeah," she said. "About a year ago. Dr. Weinbrenner's project malfunctioned, and two scientists died."
Dr. Burkle tilted her head, birdlike, and the hairs inexplicably stood up on the backs of Jo's arms. Then she blinked, and the ice bled back out of irises and expression alike, leaving friendly Fred back in their place. She shrugged, sheepishly. "I- I don't think that's true. I got a sense about these things. Not real scientific, I know, but it's why I started studying the mechanics of time in the first place. Something's off about this whole town, but it's worse in here. I think- I think someone's still stuck in that project."
Jo blanched. This version of Dr. Burkle might not be tripping the danger sense that lived in her lizard hindbrain; but her deductions were no less dangerous. If what the scientist was saying was true, she could tell that the timeline had been altered! Jo would have to warn the others about her, and see what they thought- whether or not it would just make things worse to fire her and hire someone new. But if she was actually serious about this 'sense' of hers...
"Are you saying you think Dr. Stark might still be- alive?" Jo asked, intently.
Fred bit her lip, then nodded. "I know you have no reason to believe me, but- yeah, I do. Do you know if all the equipment Dr. Weinbrenner used for his experiment is still here?"
Jo took a deep breath, glancing around all the racks and lights and whiteboards lined up along the margins of the room, and the central column where the photon accelerator still stood. "I can't swear to it- I'm not a scientist myself- but it looks like it, yeah. Do you think-?"
"Just give me a minute." Fred gave her a quick, absent-minded smile, then finally entered the lab, walking straight to the accelerator. She touched it with her fingertips, frowning, then walked over to the nearby computer station and pressed the power button to turn it on.
While she worked, Jo fished her cell out of her pocket and stared down at it, wondering if she ought to alert anyone else. She missed the weight of her official radio, but not much else had changed about her job in the timeline shift, despite her official title adjustment from sheriff's deputy to Chief of G.D. Security. She and Carter still worked best together- but he'd taken Stark's death pretty hard, and so had all the rest of them: Allison, Henry, and Fargo. Maybe she'd better wait until she had some evidence of whether Fred was just talking crazy.
Jo returned the cell to her pocket as the other woman finished a hasty sequence of keystrokes. She frowned intently at whatever readout she was watching on the lab computer, then stabbed a finger down over the Enter key; a moment later, a whine began building in the center of the lab, and the accelerator started to emit a faint glow.
"What's happening?" she asked, instinctively dropping a hand to the butt of her gun.
Fred turned a beaming smile on her. "I think that did it," she said. "The accelerator's got to synch him back up with us, but that should only take a few- there!"
The glow coming from the accelerator had brightened steadily as she spoke; it flashed into eye-searing brightness at her exclamation, and Jo threw up a hand to shield her eyes. Then it dimmed again- leaving behind a tall human figure, blinking in confusion, inside the accelerator.
Jo swallowed. "Dr. Stark!" she exclaimed, then ran forward to catch him with an arm behind the shoulders as he began to slump.
He frowned a little, dark eyes narrowing in focus as he turned his attention to her, but the confusion in his expression didn't fade. For a second, she worried that he'd lost his memory or something- that would just be adding insult to injury- but then he spoke, and a whole new set of worries popped up to threaten Jo's peace of mind.
"Deputy Lupo? What's going on?" he asked, puzzled. "I thought Carter and Fargo were the only ones here."
Deputy Lupo. Deputy Lupo? She hadn't been a deputy in the new timeline since the powers-that-suck back East had put Carter in as Sheriff over her head, way back when he'd first come to Eureka. The alter-Jo been working for G.D. for more than three years while Carter had gone through deputy after totally-unable-to-keep-up-with-him deputy, until Fargo had finally finished the designs for Andy.
But the timeline change had been triggered, subjectively, after Stark had been knocked out of the timestream.
"You were in there a lot longer than you think," she told him, offering a quick, tight smile, then helped him over to a chair. "Like, a year. Dr. Burkle got you out. Just sit here a minute- I've got to call Carter."
He stared after her, frowning, then turned to Fred. She could still hear him talking as she retreated to dial the sheriff's office: "Dr. Burkle? You must be new. Would you mind explaining exactly what happened? The last thing I remember is activating the accelerator to end the self-destructing time loop Dr. Weinbrenner created. If it knocked me out of the time stream, how did you find me?"
"Uh, Carter?" she said, as her former boss picked up the phone. "We've got a situation."