Disclaimer: I do not own any of the situations or characters of Eureka. No money is being made off this story. Please do not sue me.
Author's Note: This, like the rest of the series, is probably more what I want to be true rather than what I think is true. Again, this follows the others, but with the exception of a couple references to her conversation with Zane, it could easily stand alone.
The Prognostication Analysis
Summary: Jo finds out who she was really talking to in the medical bay. Part three in the Avoidance series.
Spoilers through: 5x05—Jack of All Trades
Jo was trying to keep her distance from Carter at Cafe Diem that next morning. She was still ticked off at him for completely shutting her down when she tried to talk about the matrix situation like an adult. He did not make himself easy to avoid though, sitting a couple seats down from her at the counter, acting like nothing was wrong.
She did not intend to eavesdrop on Carter's conversation with Fargo; they were just hard to tune out. They were talking about Carter's brain swap ordeal. Fargo started in on how it was hard enough just being stuck in one other person's body; he couldn't imagine doing it three times. That gave Jo pause. Three times?
Then Carter described how traumatic it was to perform brain surgery on himself. That was when Jo swiveled in her seat. "Wait, you switched bodies with Allison too?"
Carter nodded earnestly. "Yeah, in the middle of surgery."
Jo's brain was working overtime. "How long did that last?"
He shrugged. "A few hours."
That explained a lot. "Excuse me, I have to go." She drained the last of her Vinspresso, and then she was out the door.
Jo still had not officially resumed her position at Global Dynamics, but no one on the security team ever stopped her from entering or having full access to the premises. Being their former chief had its privileges. She made a beeline for the medical bay.
It was still early enough in the day that Allison was there alone. "It was you," Jo said. "When I tried to talk to Carter—"
Allison's expression became slightly more hostile than before. "You mean when you decided to tell my boyfriend that you've thought about having sex with him and then asked him if he'd ever thought about having sex with you?"
"That's not—" Actually, Jo could not really deny that was what happened. "I just wanted to clear the air."
"Clear what from the air?" Allison asked, punctuating every word.
"The fact that everyone is thinking it and no one is talking about it. I thought it would help to talk about it." The way Allison glowered at her made the idea sound less reasonable than it had in her head.
Allison sucked on a tooth. "How would you like it if I went to Zane and told him that I'd thought about what it would be like to be with him?"
Jo would not like that at all. The memory of Zane saying how "really good" Allison looked when she was almost naked came back to her. "The difference is you don't have some computer program telling everyone that it's going to happen. And I said that I wasn't going to act on it. Pretty sure I said that."
"But why did you feel the need to say anything? Why can't you just leave it alone, leave Jack alone?"
She could tell that nothing she said would make any difference to Allison, but she still had to try. "Because he's my best friend, and I just wanted things to be normal again. With him and with you. I wish everyone would just get over it."
"How am I supposed to get over it? You stole my family!"
Jo was taken aback. She expected Allison to be a lot more rational than this. At least now she knew that this was about more than just Carter. "Uh, no, I didn't."
Allison sighed and closed her eyes. When she finally opened them, she said, "I know. But you would have."
It was insane that Allison was actually mad about this. "Like Carter stole Nathan's family?" Remembering the animosity between those two, Jo realized she could make an even better point. "In fact, how do you think Nathan would have felt about the idea of Carter raising his daughter?"
Allison was not happy that Jo was throwing her dead fiancé/ex-husband in her face. "Nathan would want Jenna to have a loving and stable home."
"Exactly." She was making Jo's argument for her. "I've been thinking about the predictions those algorithms made. Maybe I'm the only one, but I've been thinking about them a lot. If you were dead—" No, it was not just about Allison. "If you and Zane both disappeared, Jack would be left with the kids, right? And I, as your friend and Carter's, would want to help him, help provide your kids with whatever stability and normalcy could be achieved in the wake of your apparent death. Because that's what I would think you'd want me to do."
"And maybe at some point, I'd move in," Jo continued. "To create an even more stable home. And eventually, way down the road, when we'd both given up any hope that you were ever coming back, and only after that happened, in our loneliness and friendship and mutual loss, maybe something would happen between us. And we would already be a family in every other way, and it would be easy and comfortable and just make sense, so maybe we'd continue. And then, even further down the road, maybe that would develop into some kind of romantic love."
She could see that Allison was getting even angrier, but that was okay because Jo was about to turn the corner. "But where those algorithms break down is the second Zane walks back into the picture." This was something that had bothered her about the matrix for a while. "It wouldn't matter what I had with Carter. If Zane tried, he could easily steal me away. Because I have never been able to resist Zane Donovan."
The other woman was only slightly mollified. "You can be that sure? Even after four years with Jack?"
It wouldn't have been four years with Jack. That was one of the the points Jo was trying to make; it would have taken a long time for things to escalate that much. She let that go. "Yes. And if you just ask him, I'm sure Carter will say the same thing. It might have taken some time to disentangle our lives in a way that was best for your kids, but there is just no way Carter doesn't choose you."
"And there's no way you don't choose Zane?" Allison sounded skeptical. "Because for the last year you've—"
Jo knew what Allison was going to say, and she did not want to hear it. "I don't care about the last year." She tried to think of why her actions regarding Zane during that time should not be held against her now. "You know, this timeline has been pretty good to you. Kevin is cured; you had Grant and Carter both throwing themselves at you, and that worked out well. I lost everything. And when I finally managed to rebuild, Zane burned it all down again." She was not just talking about the house either. "Because he is reckless and impulsive and at times, even destructive. And it is scary to love someone like that. You're lucky that your guy is reliable and safe and stable. And yes, I do think about what it would be like to be with someone like that. But Carter is not the guy for me, at least not in a world that includes Zane."
Allison shook her head. "You say that now."
Jo did not know what she meant by that. "Wait, is your problem here that you can't conceive of someone choosing Zane over Carter?"
Allison considered that. "I can definitely see Zane's appeal in the short-term, but . . ." She did not finish the thought.
"But what?" Was she really going to insult Jo's boyfriend now?
Allison paused. "I have a lot of respect for Zane as a scientist and as a person. But as a long-term romantic prospect?" She shook her head again.
Jo was not sure where this was coming from since she'd already had a long-term romantic relationship with Zane. "So you're afraid I'm going to steal your boyfriend because you don't think mine's marriage material?"
That was a dangerous area for Jo to start thinking about. There was a part of her that already knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Zane, and she also knew that he was nowhere near there yet. It was dangerous to talk about it out loud, but Allison was forcing her hand. "Zane proposed to me before you and Carter even got together. And I said yes." It did not matter that she said it to the wrong Zane; the intent was still there. "And if he ever asks again, I think, more likely than not, I'll say yes again. And I'm not just saying this because I think it's what you want to hear. I would choose Zane over Carter. And Carter would choose you. If we wanted to be together, it would have happened by now, sometime during all those years when you couldn't make up your mind."
Allison took the last part as a criticism. "He was with Tess—"
Jo cut her off. "And I was with Zane. That's what I'm saying. If we wanted to be together, we would be. We're not, because we don't. We want to be with the people we're with."
Jo heard Carter's voice come from somewhere off to the left. "I agree with Jo."
Both women turned toward him in surprise. "How long have you been there?" Jo asked. There might have been a few things she would have phrased differently if she had known Carter was listening.
"Since about the time you were talking about accepting Zane's proposal." He walked toward the center of the room where they were standing. "Speaking of proposals, I stopped somewhere before breakfast this morning." He pulled a ring box out of his pocket. "I thought this might fit better than the last ring I gave you."
Allison took the box and opened it tentatively. "It's beautiful," she said, overwhelmed with emotion that probably had as much to do with the conversation as it did with the ring.
Carter wrapped his hand over hers and the box. "Ally, Jo's right. I love you; I choose you. It doesn't matter what happened in a computer program or in the . . . shower, which was nothing. And you especially shouldn't blame Jo; she didn't do anything."
"You don't know what she did," Allison said, which caused Carter to give Jo a quizzical glance. Allison sighed, bringing Carter's focus back to her. "I know that you're both right. But you weren't there; you don't know what it was like."
Jo had to disagree. "I know something about what it was like. When I had to watch Zane flirt with every available female researcher, not to mention his date with Zoe." She did not point out that those things had happened in real life.
"You're right, I'm sorry." Allison pushed the box back into Carter's hand. "I think you're supposed to put this on my finger."
Carter's face broke out into a huge grin. Having only caught the end, he was not aware just how contentious things had gotten between Allison and Jo. Lucky bastard. Jo watched as they got engaged for the second time in about twelve hours. She congratulated them, and then she planned her escape.
She was almost out the door when Allison stopped her. Jo turned to face the other woman. "You told me me to stay. Why did you do that when you clearly don't want me here?"
"I—" Allison did not have an answer for that, not even to say that she did want Jo there. "You just said that you understand because of what happened with Zane."
This time she was going to point out the distinctions. "That was real, Allison. It didn't happen in a computer program and I didn't get to go back to the life I'd lost after a month."
Allison thought about that. "Zane's the one who's obsessed with the predictive algorithms. I just can't get the image of it out of my head. There was this family portrait Jenna had drawn, and you were . . ." She shook her head like it was too difficult to even talk about. "I just need—"
"Time, I know." Jo had heard this tune before. "Take all the time you need, and then let me know when you're ready to be friends again." At that, she walked out of the lab.
Author's Note: So that fixes nothing, but at least they had a real conversation about it. Also, I really wanted to get into how different Sophie's Choice would be with Carter's brain in Zane's body as opposed to Fargo's, but I just couldn't make it fit.