Story Title: The More Things Change...
Character/Relationships: Jack, Henry/Grace
Warnings: Implied Potential Death
A/N: I wrote this for a prompt challenge and I'm not particularly fond of it. I hate writing in first person and I had a hard time with the word count limitation (100-1000 words only).
Some days, I love being the sheriff of the strangest little town in America. There's always something happening and, after some time to adjust to their weirdness, the people are amazing. I mean, they're insane but they're great people. Ok, so they can be a little pompous and reckless but there's a sense that they actually care about each other. That's not something I saw in LA. Or anywhere else really.
Then there are days like today. Days where I don't want to be in town that has a death count five times the national average. The odds may increase with me around (according to Andy) but that doesn't stop accidents from happening. And what happened today was no accident.
There are a lot of places in Eureka that I have to visit in an official capacity and my least favorite place is a hallway outside of GD's OR. Fargo once referred to it as the 'Ray of Hope Hallway' and, even though he was just being a flippant little turd, he nailed it with that nickname. They spent a ridiculous amount of money designing this one little section of hallway to 'create an atmosphere of hope'.
I think it looks like it belongs in an airport.
The lighting is subtle but bright. The design is supposed to reflect simple but technologically advanced something or other. I don't know. A bunch of shrinks spent too much time talking about things that most people don't want to ever deal with. No one wants to be the one sitting on the -thankfully- comfortable benches waiting to hear if their loved one has survived or not.
And I don't want to be the one to have to talk to them about whatever brought them here. Especially not with him. Not again.
I can see him right now. He's twenty feet from me but his mind is probably a million miles away. Or four years in a past that doesn't exist anymore. Well, it might not exist for anyone besides the five of us but it can still hurt. And, right now, Henry's hurting.
It only takes a few steps to bring me over to him.
"Hey Henry, any news yet?"
I know the answer and, yeah, it's dumb question but I can't really think of anything else to say. How do you ask a friend if his wife is dead? There's no real polite way to go about it.
I get a slight shake of the head in response but I was expecting that. All I can really do right now is sit with him while he suffers. You'd think the geniuses around here would have come up with a protocol for the proper way to deal with this situation. Instead, we get things like the resurrection paperwork and procedures on how to deal super smart ferret infestations.
But the rodent problem we have doesn't have anything to do with ferrets. We've got a rat in GD and Beverly has them by the tail. I'm guessing Henry already knows but I feel... compelled, I guess, to talk.
"Jo filled me in on what she's got so far. The explosion in your lab wasn't an accident. They found a timer. But we don't know if Grace was the target or if someone just wanted your project destroyed."
I paused right there- hoping that Henry would say something. He didn't. I can't say I'm surprised, though, so I just blurt out something else in the hopes that he would talk.
"I heard that Mansfield co-opted Grace's memory thing-a-majig for military use. I guess it's more press-friendly to be able to get the information straight from people's brains without torture."
That one name dropped from Henry's lips like lead. Really quiet lead. Or whatever the heavier, more eco-friendly equivalent, of lead is. Tungsten?
"She did this." He turned he head and I caught a glimpse of familiar pain. God, I hate how, even in the worst of times, he can't turn off his brain. He can never just have a moment of peace and just not think things through. "It's Beverly's MO- an accident that isn't. Back there, she didn't want Nathan to toy with the artifact so she arranged an explosion. Here, she didn't want Mansfield to be able to root around in people's memories. Different situations, same solution."
The monotone worries me. The fact that he's right worries me more. But what bothers me the most is that I can't do anything but sit with him right now. Beverly's too clever to be any where near Eureka at the moment. Andy's scanning all the cameras in town just in case though.
"I can't do this again, Jack." Why does it seem like we've had this conversation before? "I can't lose another woman I love to her madness. I lost Kim just after I got her back from Jason and now Grace..."
His voice drifts off as he stares at the floor and I know this is the point where I'm supposed to say something comforting but all I can say is, "They're doing everything they can for Grace and, if anyone can save her, it'd be the people in there right now."
I wish I could tell him that Grace will be fine. That he'll get the chance to live a lifetime with her. That he won't have to bury another woman he loves.
But I can't. I don't know and neither will he until Alison walks through that carefully designed door to tell him.
So we sit. And wait. It seems like hours but eventually the door does open. We both stand and Henry raises his eyes from the floor. Even now, in the worst moment of his life, Henry has to look his greatest fear in the face and hope that the tears are from happiness. Or relief.
Anything but the alternative.