Summary: The people closest to him knew that Nathan Stark's legacy was far more than science, awards, and business. Takes place during and one year after "I Do Over."
A/N: So I just got into Eureka, and now I'm completely hooked. I managed to catch up to the current season in about a week. Stark is one of my favorite characters, and so of course, my first Eureka fic just had to be a reaction fic to his death (dematerialization, whatever). The first part of this fic is the reaction of the news for several different characters, and then one year later (before the trip to 1947 changed certain things). So, starting with the Prologue and Fargo chapter, here we go.
It was ironic, really. Nathan Stark had spent a lifetime trying to make a name for himself, through scientific research and discovery, through business and job decisions, through power. In the end, he was remembered most for something he never really tried for at all.
After he died, or at least, after he was dematerialized in the space time continuum, the people who knew him best dealt with the news, the grief, and the memories in their own ways.
But all of them had one thing in common – they remembered the man, not the suit.
As flawed as Nathan Stark may have been, his legacy was great. He had friends and family in Eureka, friends who appreciated him, and would miss him more than he ever would have guessed.
The way Douglas Fargo dealt with grief was so textbook that he would have found it laughable, had he been able to laugh at the time.
It began as grief often does, with the persistent disbelief.
As Stark failed to reappear, it grabbed hold of Fargo.
"He's gone," he told Carter, but he was hoping for some refutation, some insistent, No, he's not.
There was none to be had.
Fargo had stood there, blinking stupidly at the spot where his boss once stood. And then he reached out impulsively, towards the empty space, hoping to grab onto a man that was no longer there.
Carter pulled him back. "It's over, Fargo. There's nothing we can do."
But still, the sheriff made no move to leave the room. For five minutes, they stood there in silent company, and Fargo knew they were both waiting.
Waiting for Stark to reappear as if by magic, with a shaken but still smirking expression on his face and a "can't kill me" attitude.
But then the minutes started to clump together and Carter shook his head as though shaking off a trance.
Carter laid a hand on Fargo's shoulder. Briefly. "Come on, Fargo...we have to go see Allison."
The name assaulted Fargo with the reminder of what was not to be.
Fargo moved like a zombie as they walked out to the sheriff's jeep. The car ride over was silent between the two men, but in Fargo's mind, all was chaos. I can't believe he's gone kept playing like a never-ending soundtrack over memories Fargo hadn't thought about in years.
Nathan Stark had given Douglas his first job. It was an internship assisting Dr. Burke in the Artificial Intelligence lab. Fargo knew he had messed up the interview; he'd talked too much and floundered, but Stark had waved his hand to shut him up. Fargo was sure he was going to be thrown out, but Stark simply said, "You start on Monday."
And later that same year, Fargo had discovered how to program AI, complete with artificial emotional intelligence, into nano-technology. It was Fargo's first real break-through discovery, and Stark had been there after the first field test. He had smiled, patted Fargo's shoulder, and congratulated him. He'd seemed legitimately proud, and maybe Fargo was romanticizing, but it had felt like Stark could, in some ways, make up for the father Fargo had never gotten a chance to meet.
Stark had also given him his promotion. True, assistant didn't have quite the same ring to it as other positions, but assistant to the Head of Global Dynamics was one of the most important jobs within the company. Stark, for all his reprimanding and sarcasm, had trusted Fargo's capabilities to an unprecedented (and perhaps undeserving, Fargo sometimes thought) level.
Fargo was lost in these memories until they reached the wedding party, at which point the sheriff parked the vehicle and the men got out. Many heads turned in their direction, but Carter ignored them all. "Fargo, I need you to tell Jo what happened. She needs to make an announcement. I have to tell Allison."
The sheriff set off to find Dr. Blake without another word, and Fargo couldn't help but feel abandoned for the second time within the hour.
Jo found him before he could even think to seek her. She began to berate him with questions, oblivious to his inner distress. "Fargo, what's going on? Why isn't Carter in his suit? Where's Stark?"
It took supreme effort to keep the bile from rising in his throat. He felt sick with the words, afraid to say them, because that would make them real. Definite, final.
But he had to do it.
"Jo," he started. "There's been, I guess you could call it an accident. I mean, we had to fix it. Fix time." he was rambling now, and his voice started to shake. "We were in a time loop...Stark fixed it, he was the only one that could do it but...he's gone. Dematerialized and...Jo, he's not coming back. He's dead."
Jo's face was suddenly stricken and pale, disbelieving. If only I could regain that denial, thought Fargo wistfully.
"I don't understand," Jo replied after a long pause.
"I'll explain more later. But you need to tell them. The guests. Carter's with Dr. Blake..."
Jo swallowed tightly. "Oh, God. Allison."
"I know," replied Fargo, and he knew the grief they felt was as much for Stark as it was for the pain Allison would surely feel. "Tell them, Jo."
Jo regained some composure and nodded. She made her way up to the front of the crowd and Fargo collapsed into a nearby chair. He did his best to tune out the announcement, the one that turned the smiles and expectations into sudden disbelief and tears.
One week later, he was in another chair under another a clear blue sky, and he was still trying not to listen. He didn't want to hear the eulogy, the memories, the sounds of sniffling. He wanted to control his emotions, but they welled up and overflowed. And it would be a memory that embarrassed him much later, though he knew no one would judge him for it.
The fact remained, however, that at Nathan Stark's funeral, the only one that cried with more true grief than Fargo was Allison.
A/N: Reviews greatly appreciated. :)